Upon receiving a new Chinese textbook, every student in Taiwan must have at one time flipped through to look at all the pictures within and get a better understanding of what they are to learn in the upcoming school year.
The classic reading “Summer Night” by children’s literature poet Yang Huan (楊喚) recently underwent a makeover through a collaboration with a famed Japanese artist, attracting the attention of Japanese media.
The quality of Japanese illustration art is famous worldwide. From novels to literary works, the role of illustration has become more and more important as excellent drawings can add many highlights to literary works.
Textbooks in Japan have increasingly featured the works of illustrators in recent years too, including on book covers and inner pages. Against this backdrop, textbook publishers in Taiwan cooperated with a Japanese illustrator in 2018 to illustrate a textbook too.
Such cross-border cultural exchanges have resulted in a new style for Taiwan textbooks.
Tamae Mizukami is a well-known copperplate painter in Japan. She is a noted magazine and book designer too. She has drawn covers and illustrations for many publishing houses, and she has held several solo exhibitions and group exhibitions. Her well-known works include “The Worry-Free Grocery Store” for Keigo Higashino (東野圭吾) and “Silver Spoon” (銀之匙) for Kansuke Naka (中勘助).
The works of Tamae Mizukami have not only appeared in Taiwan’s best-selling Japanese literary novel but also in a textbook from Taiwan’s Kang Hsuan Educational Publishing Corp.— a top achievement for a Japanese illustrator.
The first lesson in “Classical Chinese Literature” in the first grade of Taiwan’s junior high school always centers on “Summer Night.”
This text, which is easy to understand and full of creativity, is a staple of Taiwan’s literature textbooks. Despite the many curriculum changes, “Summer Night” has never been replaced.
“Summer Night” has its particularity and importance in Taiwan textbooks. It is not only the first lesson for junior high school students who study classical literature, but also a common memory of the Taiwanese people.
Taiwan’s textbook publishing company Kang Hsuan Educational Publishing Corp. (康軒) invited Tamae Mizukami to illustrate “Summer Night.” With her simple and natural painting style, she has accurately highlighted the core concepts of the book and offered a brand-new reading experience to this classic text.
Taiwan has put more emphasis on “aesthetic education” in recent years. As a result, textbook publishing companies have not only introduced new cultural and creative design teams to review the layouts but also cooperated with many illustrators to add more illustrations to the text.
Such “cross-border” cooperation has transformed textbooks into picture books or magazines, which are not only easy to read, but also arouse students’ interest in their studies.
This cooperation between Tamae Mizukami and Kang Hsuan Educational Publishing Corp. not only takes the first step of cross-border cooperation between Japanese and Taiwan textbooks but also creates a new reading experience for this classic text in Taiwan.