Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Only Pupil in The School by Liu Hsukung, Translated by Xinlin Wang (Balestier Press)

New publisher Balestier Press aims to bring the best of Taiwanese children's book talent to a whole new audience and we've been taking a look at one of the first books they've released, the utterly idyllic "The Only Pupil in the School" by Liu Hsukung...
Imagine you're a young child and you turn up for school on your very first day. You're a little nervous, apprehensive even, worried whether you're going to make friends or not, whether you're going to meet that nasty girl who pulls your braids or that annoying boy who picks his nose and wipes it on the back of your coat.

But imagine for a moment if you turned up and you were "The Only Pupil in the School"!

This is what happens to a young girl, but the teachers are determined that they're going to keep their jobs - so they set out to turn the young girl into the school's star pupil (which should prove no problem at all as she's the only pupil!)

The teachers are a little pushy, each clamours loudly about the virtues of their particular subjects and fields of expertise and rather than engaging the girl's interest, it makes her want to curl up into a ball and hide away.

During one lesson the girl slips out of the window of school - and discovers a whole world of amazing things right on her own doorstep. Can the young girl learn far more from the world by experiencing it first hand than she ever could in a class? And can the teachers understand her point of view - that lessons can be learned in and out of school?

This is a hugely impressive book and if this speaks of the sort of quality we'll see from Balestier then we'll be keeping a very close eye on their output from now on. Hsukung's glorious pastel drawings are truly lovely, child-like as is the intention as the book is written from the girl's point of view - but really beautiful and ethereal - particularly the section where the girl makes her own book about her experiences.

There are many, many reasons to cover diverse books from across the world on our blog but "The Only Pupil in The School" demonstrates perfectly what exploring books from other countries and cultures can unlock. We really can't wait to see more from Balestier - do go and visit their awesome website for more incredible books from Taiwan and beyond.


Charlotte's favourite bit: The girl makes an awesome friend, a busy and cute little dog and they have tons of fun together.

Daddy's favourite bit: Loved the bit where the girl is encouraged to make her own book by a lovely librarian (and her drawings are wonderful!).

(Kindly sent to us for review by Balestier Press)

The Only Pupil in School

Written and Illustrated by Liu Hsukung

Translated by Xinlin Wang

Published by Balestier Press

Release date: 25th May 2015