February 7, 2011

Chinese Children's Magazine of my childhood

 (picture is down loaded from Google)

兒童樂園was first published in 1953. I was then just a toddler (smile...keeping my real age a secret)

It was a coloured children's magazine from the beginning when many other magazines were still in black and white. I remember my father's Spring and Autumn Magazine was very simple without any colour at all. And I asked him if magazines  printed in black and white showed their "level of difficulty". LIFE magazine was in colours and I could understand most of the captions!!

It was amazing as my siblings and I reminisced during the Chinese New Year we spoke for a long time about the magazines we read and Er Tung Le Yuen in particular. We loved the serial stories and the games. And even at that time we were particularly interested in the riddles and world legends for children. I suppose that was how we learned to read our Hang Yu (Chinese) from young - from this magnificent publication.

But most important of all Siaw Chiang the little hero and his episodes shared with us the important values of playing fair...of sharing things with others and being kind. May be the bullies in the schools never read Er Tung Le Yuen.

I did not realise that this magazine stopped publication in 1994 actually. In total for 41 years it published 1006 issues. Thus on record it was really one of the longest running publications for children from Hong Kong for children of Chinese speaking communities world wide. My siblings and I are glad that we were part of its readership.

What was more important was how my father would go to the bookshop in Sibu to collect the magazines for us and all of us would read the pages eagerly. My father did not read Benjamin Spock nor did he attend classes for parenting. But he had very enlightened ideas about getting his children to love learning as he was a voracious reader himself and trained by Mrs. Mary Hoover and perhaps even Rev James Hoover. Amongst his teachers were also our grand uncle and aunt Mr and Mrs. Chong Jin Bok.

For a long time my siblings and I kept the magazines very well. However when we grew older  and we "outgrew" the magazine we gave most of them away to our cousins and friends who wanted to read them. Each copy was only about 30 cents. But may be to some families it was a large sum of money.

It never crossed our mind in those days to keep a few copies as souvenirs. But it is too late now.

It was good of my parents to "subscribe" to this magazine. (It did not come in the mail but from the local bookshop. The proprietor would roll the magazine up with a rubber band and put a name tag along with it.) We learned a great deal from the pages and very often we still talk about Siao Yuen Yuen and the other characters. Later when we "graduated" to Charlie Brown and Archie we continued to value what the comics in English taught us and remember the lessons from Er Tung Le Yuen.

All of us in a way thank these magazines for helping us become bi-lingual. Thinking about our daily reading of this square shaped magazine from Hong Kong I just feel so good inside...and feel so grateful to my father who saw the importance of reading from an early age. I just never have the opportunity of thanking him as he died too suddenly and too prematurely and we were all too young then to be expressive.



23 comments:

sintaicharles said...

Er Tong Le Yuan was inseparable from my childhood. My favourite comic character happens to be Siaw Yuan Yuan too. She is the eldest child in her family who has a strong sense of responsibility over the well-being of her siblings. Her brother Siaw Pang, who always gets himself into trouble, never failed to crack me up. The other comic series featured in the children magazine is Doraemon. It is called Ding-dang in the magazine. By the way, Roald Dahl's children novel'The Enormous Crocodile' was once featured in comic form in one issue of Er Tong Le Yuan.

sintaicharles said...

My copies of Er Tong Le Yuan were destroyed in a fire that razed my home in 1991.

sintaicharles said...

Oops, forgot the apostrophe-s.children's novels and children's magazine.Sorry.

Anonymous said...

how about other Chinese serial magazine like Lau Fu Tze? You have any stories on that?

Pretty Pauline said...

Wow. I would love to come across a copy. I wouldn't be able to read it, but the illustrations are beautiful! Thanks for sharing this.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Charles...Didn't know you can read Chinese ! am not a fan of DD although later my son was an avid reader in the 90's. Wah...Roald Dahl featured in ETLY. I am delighted.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Charles - I am sorry to hear about the fire ..it must have been very very heart breaking ..or even traumatic for every one. I can understand.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

C - you have always been very careful with dotting the i and slashing the t....your errors are acceptable...slip of the fingers on the keyboard is no fault of the mind....

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear P Pauline - Volume 25 would have been the first anniversary publication in 1954. And the illustrations remain similar for many years. The children are all very "rounded" in their features - very true to the 50's comic illustration art style.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear P Pauline - I must go around some of the recycle centres in Miri and see if I can buy a copy or two of ETLY...just to read and then give away again! It would be very nostalgic. Charles...what say you? Shall we look for some?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Anonymous - Yes we read every single Lau Fu Tze comics we could lay hands on...even today!!
I will write an article or two about LFT...and his philosophy...the creator is definitely a genius.

Ann said...

I read them too, someone must have borrowed them, because it was too expensive for my dad.

I remembered the day your Dad died, my parents were talking how tragic it was. Then when I read your posts, it confirmed to me you were CY.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Ann
Thanks for writing. I think Early Learning Academicians are now trying their very best to inculcate reading and traditional values amongst their children....but sometimes they forget that the family play an important role too. Reading skill will always remain important ....

Nancy said...

Hey,I remember buying the ETLY for my eldest girl when she was 1 or 2 then (1993-1994).Methodist Message also include a copy of it when I paid for my annual subscription then.Since my girls were more keen on English books,I pass the ETLY to my colleagues" kids.
Why not ask Meng Luk if he kept a collection of the ETLY?
I used to read them too when I was a kid.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Nancy...I must ask Meng Lei if he kept a collection of the ETLY. This was really a great magazine...and I do believe that all of you who read them are now VERY GOOD people because of the values learnt!! Well done!! (Besides going to Sunday School).

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarawakiana,

Remember boys in those days like lau hu men?
Does that ring a bell?
Cheers!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Anonymous...Lau Hu Men? I don't have a clue regarding this pin yin. One of those swordsmen?
Give me some hints!!
thanks for writing in.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Sarawakiana, interesting reading this childhood memories.
Wishing you and all at home the very best of the rabbit year.
Keep well. Lee.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Uncle Lee
thanks for dropping by...and I hope the Rabbit Year would also mean more warmth and love in your life...joy and peace and lots of properity....Have a great day!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry it should be:

龙虎门 - Oriental Heroes (Long Hu Men)

Ring a bell?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Anonymous....yes...I was an avid reader..and imagined myself as one of the sword women...fighting for justice and remaining stern and poor...the heavens as my roof and the road my home....thanks.....

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous...You can also watch a movie of LHM with Wang Yu and Lo Lieh. The latter was a fantastic guy - man of few words but good actor. Wang Yu is a little soft in my opinion but very popular because of his good and gentle looks. I think the DVD is now available in Sarawak.

aleena John said...

Nice Blog..Thanks for sharing it..
Book Printing in Hong Kong

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