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Mysterious lives in Forbbidden City! Cartoon books illustrate history

By Zhang Zixuan  (China Daily)

11:17, January 22, 2013

We All Live in the Forbidden City introduces the history of Palace Museum in a fun way to attract young readers. Provided to China Daily

The Forbidden City and emperors' mysterious lives have been transformed into cartoon books by a Hong Kong team to promote traditional culture among children, and the series is now available in simplified Chinese.

The We All Live in the Forbidden City series comprises seven individual books put together by Hong Kong designer Chiu Kwong-chiu and his Design and Cultural Studies Workshop. It's published by the Palace Museum Press and the Guangxi Normal University Press.

"I hope the books offer a fun way for kids to develop a basic understanding of, and love for, traditional culture," Chiu says.

Sponsored by the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, a Hong Kong-based NGO promoting Chinese art and culture, the series originally came from the namesake education program initiated by the foundation and Chiu's workshop in 2008.

The seven books come in different sizes, and each focuses on a specific theme.

For example, In the Forbidden City is designed as a long, folded scroll with hand-drawn renderings of the palace and cartoon figures.

It tells the history of the world's best-preserved royal complex, and depicts rituals and royal lifestyles. Several readers can pore over the unfolded scroll at one time.

In Happy Bowls, renowned Hong Kong cartoonists Alice Mak Ka-pik and Brian Tse Lap-man use their iconic Mcdull - a pink pig, who's the main character of the popular namesake animated film - to introduce Chinese porcelain bowls.

The series' traditional Chinese-character version was published in Hong Kong in 2010.

The corresponding workshops converted the content into interactive games and activities, and brought them into Hong Kong's schools and bookstores.

"With the books and educational programs, young Chinese can learn about and appreciate their own culture," Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation CEO Ted Lipman says.

Relevant educational workshops will accompany the simplified-character series' release in Beijing this year, he says.

An English-language version is also under way.

Palace Museum Press director Wang Yamin says: "The Forbidden City is like a giant book. This series helps children understand it."

Guangxi Normal University Press chief director Liu Ruiling says: "We hope children can get in touch with qualitative understandings since they're young. This series is a good start."

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