Award-Winning Chinese Kid’s Books to Be Made Into Movies

  • Cao Wenxuan won the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award
  • Demand rising for locally-produced kids’ content
  • Lack of  film ratings system means Chinese kids often see age-inappropriate films
Chinese children's book author Cao Wenxuan (Center) (File photo)

Chinese children’s book author Cao Wenxuan (Center) (Creative Commons)

One of China’s most acclaimed authors of children’s books will see his works made into movies as demand grows for locally-produced kids’ content at a time when imports dominate animated theatrical releases and the lack of a national film ratings system means Chinese kids often see age-inappropriate films.

Cao Wenxuan, who teaches at Peking University and is the vice president of the Beijing Writers Association, won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for children’s writing in April, along with Rotraut Susanne Berner, a German illustrator. His books Iron Mark and Bronze and Sunflower will be made into films, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper. No production partner was named.

Cao, 62, has been publishing since 1983. He is the first author from China to win the Andersen Award, considered the highest such prize in children’s literature. In May,The New York Times described him as “among the most beloved writers in China.”

However, the native of coastal China’s Jiangsu province writes not about sugar nor spice, but instead about human privation, with stories featuring children facing difficult times. His stories often lack a happy ending.

His novel, The Grass House, not among those books set to be turned into a film, may have sold 10 million copies in China, the Times reported.

Although modern Chinese literature provided the source material for much of post-1980 China’s classic films, such as Zhang Yimou’s Red Sorghum and To Live, children’s literature has been slower to make it to the big screen, despite government support for locally-developed stories and content with China-centric themes, such as family and a stronger China, aimed at curbing the influence of foreign characters and stories.