2016. Forest Book
The story began in the fall of 2014 when Jenni and Reka from the Etana Publishing House in Finland came to me and ask to work together for the children's book. I was very excited about the idea of doing a book for both Chinese and Finnish children.
At the early spring in 2015, I contacted the headmaster of one primary school named Shixi Elementary School in Jing'an dstrict, Shanghai. The principle was very interested in this cross-cultural project. At the same time, Etana also contacted a 100-year-old primary school in Finland, Helsinki Tehtaankatu Primary School. We got two group participants, one was a class with around 40 students from China, another was a group with 23 Finnish children.
We decided forest as the theme of the book. The forest is familiar to children because it is the background of many fairy tales and stories. Meanwhile, the forest is also very special since it is far away from the daily life, especially for children living in Shanghai city. Furthermore, forests play the different roles in the society of Finland and China from geographic, bioeconomic and cultural perspectives.
Several workshops were conducted through online platforms, for example, we opened a blog for children who can discuss online. Later, we collected the questions and answers from both sides as the materials for the Forest Book. In August 2015, three teachers from Shanghai Shixi Elementary School with 12 Chinese children came to Finland to continue the story of the forest with their Finnish friend face to face.
Children in both countries are so curious about the differences in the forests. These questions and dialogues have finally become the main content of our book.
"What kind of feeling does the forest give you?"
"Who is the king of the forest?"
"Is there a panda in the forest?"
“Who is taking care of the forest?”
Besides the text content, all the drawings in the book are from the participants. We only filled the Finnish children’s materials with blue color and yellow for the materials from Chinese children. Magically and surely, when the blue overlapping with yellow, the green color appears. We use this printing skills to represent how the experiences, discussions, and friendships happened between the two groups.
On August 22nd, Forest Book participated in the Shanghai Book Fair. The teachers and children from Shanghai took to the stage to introduce the process of creation and called on everyone to join in the action of protecting the forest.
In November 2016, Forest Book participated the Nordic Innovation Design Week and introduced to more children.
We hope this is not just a book, but a conversation, an action, a seed.