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Review 6.1: Soft Closing Ceremony


Held at the Viva Mall, Fu Li.

Authors: Antje Damm, Clare Azzopardi, Piret Raud.

Time: 13:30 – 14:30pm

Date: 01-06-2019

International Children’s Day – A perfect day to coincide with the 4th Annual EU China Book Festival as parents and children alike flooded the open space on the first floor of the Viva Mall, Shuanjing to hear stories from four accomplished European authors who were going to be sharing their stories and illustrations with them. This, being one of the final events of the festival was held under a charged atmosphere with lots of children holding their blown-up balloons while being treated to candies and a brilliant stage the festival organizers had mounted.

The day, significant all around the world focuses on issues concerning children, under various themes that center on children’s education, health, care and well-being among others. The event today was in celebration of creativity through story-telling and creation of characters that engage children and expand their chances of learning new vocabulary through reading.

Gracing the giant colorful teddy-bear-styled stage was the Master of Ceremony, who performed some magic tricks to the delight of the children. His welcome act was engaging and interesting and the children were delighted to see him use his cards and hat to pull out different stunts. One could not fail to feel the energetic aura that filled the venue.

German author, Antje Damm was the first author to grace the stage. As a first-timer in Beijing, she expressed her excitement to be part of the festival and described her stay so far as a very nice one. As a writer of about thirty books in the past eighteen years, she was delighted to share one of her stories. Her book, Waiting for Goliath tells a story of a bear who sits and waits since dawn for Goliath who is her best friend. After being expectant and waiting through all four seasons for her best friend Goliath, Goliath finally shows up. He tells the bear how some obstacles have prevented her from seeing her friend.

Antje Damm narrated the inspiration behind the story. Projecting the images on the screen, Antje said the story was inspired from an experience with her daughter who returned home with a snail in her hand. The snail looked very ill, with its shell almost falling apart. The snail was kept in the house’s backyard and well attended to. The snail lived for five years in the garden. After the whole experience, her daughter told her how about how great the idea would be in a picture book. Antje then came out with this beautiful story.

Clare Azzopardi, author from Malta also read to the audience her book about little Max who visits a candy store to buy some candy. A very disappointed candy store tells Max how people are no more coming to the shop to buy candies anymore. It is afraid all the candies are going to expire. The story narrates how the two friends go out and share the candies with many unsuspecting people, even to a girl who is alone on the street alone. The story is an adventurous one and Clare, a teacher from Malta, shares the story passionately with the parents and children as she gestures with exuberance, accompanied by the illustrations on the screen, giving the audience every cause to enjoy the reading of the book.

The third story to be read was by Adina Rosetti, who said “I am not used to going on stage”. She said this in reference to being a writer who loved to write in a very silent, meditative and quiet environment. Adina expressed her appreciation to the Festival for making her a part of the experience and giving her the chance to share her books with the children present. She asked if any of the children had heard about Romania to which most of the children raised their hands. Adina was pleased. She said writers are magicians also because they make their magic from the words they put together.

Adina’s book told a story of dragons. The dragons she said had seven heads, with each head trying to do something different. She said dragons live very complicated lives and they need at least seven heads to organize themselves. She took the children through the magical story and they were excited to guess along with her the magical characters in the book and what their role was.

The event, being a “soft-closing” of the entire book festival was graced by the Program Director of the EU China Book Festival, Peter Goff, William Fingleton, Head of Press and Information with the Delegation of the EU to China and Manager of Citic Press, Shi Hong Jun. They all expressed their gratitude to the authors, parents and children who had come in their numbers to support the festival. William Fingleton, Head of Press and Information with the Delegation of the EU to China led the children in singing the anthem of the European Union.

Magicians Zhang Kemin, Li Xueyi, Kong Kong, Lu Yi all thrilled the audience to several magical tricks. The feedback from both children and parents was very encouraging. The event provided both education and entertainment. Illustrator and Author, Piret Raud from Estonia also shared her work with the audience and drew lots of images for the children who also painted them.

The event was a huge success and both parents and children enjoyed the International Children’s Day.

Report by

Robert Chireboah-Ansah