Yang Hongying once met Thomas Brezina, an Austrian writer of children's detective books, at a forum. Facing questions raised by the media and young readers, Yang found most of their answers were amazingly similar.
"It might be that children's book writers think alike, with a childlike heart," Yang said.
Here are some of the remarkable works by the prolific Chinese author:
The novel is written in the form of diaries by a senior elementary school girl, who's about to step into adolescence. It has sold 1.5 million copies so far and was Yang's first hit book.
Yang wrote it when her daughter was in the sixth grade at primary school. From the daily talks she had with her daughter, Yang captures the delicate psychological uneasiness of children that begin with the onset of sexual maturity.
Many adult readers of the book look on it as a milestone as the novel transfers a positive attitude toward being mature in body and mind.
Mo's Mischief (Naughty Boy Ma Xiaotiao)
The 20-volume series is Yang's best-loved creation and has had many adaptations in various mediums. The series has sold 20 million copies in China.
The books are respected for their vivid and realistic depictions of school children, especially the ordinary but good-hearted Ma Xiaotiao. Yang thinks readers love the books because Ma shares their real problems and happiness while providing imaginary relief and adventures.
The books also have a strong sense of humor, arising from wild imagination and unique ways of understanding the world.
The series is now available in Chinese, English, French and Korean.
Diary of a Smiling Cat
The ongoing series is Yang's newest creation. The books are animal stories featuring a cat that can smile, think and talk. The cat first appears in Mo's Mischief. Children can't resist tales about animals, Harper Collins' Stella Chou says.
Yang says the series is her best so far because her observations of the world are made through the smiling cat, including thoughts on real topics such as the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, emotions like jealousy and love, and subjects like death.
The Smiling Cat series is available in German and Chinese, and other language versions will also be published.
(China Daily 12/24/2010 page19)