The Pet Dragon – A whimsical girl-meets-dragon story that also introduces Chinese characters


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

The Pet Dragon by Christopher Niemann Greenwillow Books 2008, 40 pages, 9 x 11.8 x 0.4 inches (hardcover) $16 Buy a copy on Amazon

Chinese characters are wonderfully expressive, straddling the fine line between the written word and illustration. Esteemed graphic designer and picture book creator Christoph Niemann realized as much with The Pet Dragon, a whimsical story about a Chinese girl who raises a baby dragon to adulthood. In his introduction to the book, Niemann states that he had fun imagining connections between the calligraphic characters and their meanings. Reading the book, it’s clear that the author has a love of his subject and was very much enjoying himself.

The story is straightforward. A young Chinese girl named Lin receives a baby dragon who grows too quickly to stay in her home. After breaking a vase, Lin’s father condemns the baby dragon to its cage. The wily dragon escapes, leading Lin on a quest to find her beloved pet. Niemann enriches his tale by transposing Chinese characters on top of his illustrations to demonstrate the relationship between each symbol and what it represents. A forest is shown as a series of trees with the symbol for tree superimposed on them, the curving lines below indicating the roots and the extended lines at the top stretching outward for the branches. The upraised slashes and crossed lines in the symbol for father become the raised eyebrows and nose on his face, while the character denoting mountain has its three upward prongs displayed over a towering mountain range. Read the rest

A peek inside Iraq's most notorious weapons market


The fun-loving Chinese journalists in this segment manage to out-VICE VICE. 侣行 On the Road is billed as “a homemade outdoor reality show” featuring an "extreme couple" who love adventure. The pair and their team got some great footage of an open-air weapons market in Sadr City.

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China gives outlaw artist Ai Weiwei his passport back. Finally. For now.

Ai Weiwei posted this picture on Instagram on Wednesday after the Chinese authorities returned his passport.
Chinese art-provocateur whose work so very consistently pisses off the Chinese government, says he was given back his passport this week after being barred from traveling abroad since he was detained in 2011 in Beijing.

Gassy Glamour Girls: Chinese artist crafts pinup babes from cabbage

Chinese artist and photographer Ju Duoqi works with vegetables. She was born in Chongqing in 1973, and studied at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. Shown here, selections from her 2010 series, “The Fantasies of Chinese Cabbage.” Read the rest

Tibet: China's bloody crackdown on Tibetan protesters escalates, as self-immolations continue

Ethnic Tibetans throughout Tibet this week held some of the largest demonstrations against Chinese rule in four years. Chinese forces responded by shooting protesters. Up to 5 are said to have been killed and more than 30 wounded, according to Tibetan advocacy groups.

On January 9, a 42-year-old monk became the latest in a continuing string of desperate protesters who burned themselves alive to protest Chinese military rule and cultural repression.

A New York Times report gathered accounts from a number of human rights groups. NPR's Morning Edition today aired an extensive report on the worsening human rights crisis in Tibet (MP3 link).

Details are hard to confirm, as foreign press access to the areas involved is all but impossible. Free Tibet has more, and Radio Free Asia has compiled various reports.

Dr. Lobsang Sangay of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, issued a statement on the conflict, published in video on YouTube (and embedded above).

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