Two HK artists who created the look of a new Cantonese version of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 classic will trade notes with a French author-illustrator at the Hong Kong Book Fair this weekend. reports.
It was a stroke of genius by the French writer Antoine de SaintExupéry to have a small child interpret the world for his adult companion in The Little Prince. For while an adult’s understanding of the world could be colored by experience and the exigencies of the moment, a child’s perspective is often more direct and insightful, leading, quite effortlessly, to the things that really matter.
The Little Prince of the eponymous book is from an asteroid. During his travels through the space, the Little Prince lands on planet Earth in the Sahara desert, where he meets a pilot stranded in a plane crash. The two make friends and together set off on a journey across the universe, meeting an atypical cast of characters along the way.
The story has enchanted generations of both children and adults since it was first published in 1943. A Hong Kong edition entitled The Little Prince
was released earlier this year with a Chinese text and illustrations by local designers Michelle Chan and Aria Lui. Lui worked on the main illustrations in the book, creating watercolor images based closely on SaintExupéry’s original drawings, while Chan created the book’s two Hong Kong scenes.
Both illustrators will take part in a crossover event at the Hong Kong Book Fair on Sunday, in a session moderated by Nicolas Delsalle-Mun, president of the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation. They will talk about the book and their creative process. Joining them will be Cédric Fernandez, a French author and illustrator who lives in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. Fernandez works on the “Saint-Exupéry” comic strip series, which tells the story of the life and adventures of the French aristocrat and author who was a pilot during World War II.
The trio of illustrators will also give live demonstrations of their art and invite the audience to participate. Lui, who is studying product design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Design, will offer a glimpse into how she added color to SaintExupéry’s sketches. Chan, a freelance illustrator who designs iPhone cases, will demonstrate how she used digital software to create fresh images that would sit easy with the look and feel of the original.
Fernandez works mainly as a comic strip illustrator. Brush and ink are his main tools but he also works with other mediums and illustrates books and games, among other things. At Sunday’s event he will explain his work in telling the story of Saint-Exupéry’s life through images. “I’ll show my work process, the difficulties of talking about such a subject, and I’ll show my creation techniques,” he says.
Fernandez says he is curious to find out about the extent to which The Little Prince resonates with the readers in Hong Kong.
“In France, everyone has read The Little Prince,” he says. “It evokes many things for me, as it does for many. It’s a human story, a discovery of the world of adults through the eyes of a child, a critique of the stupidities of the world and also a homage to all the beauties that it overflows with. For me, it’s a book that everyone should read.”
Other works by Saint-Exupéry have touched him even more, he says. “Terre des Hommes (Land of Men), for example, is a wonderful book that teaches us a huge amount about the author and his way of looking at the planet we live on.”
Chan read The Little Prince for the first time as a child. She said she found it equally intensely moving when she read the book again as an adult. “I cried again,” she says, touched especially by the deep bond of friendship that develops between the Little Prince and the Fox. However, re-reading the book as an adult, she found layers of meanings about how human relationships are fraught with both destructiveness and re-generation — an idea inherent in the story that had eluded her as a child.
Lui, who also read the book as a child, feels she didn’t quite get it at that stage either. “I completely didn’t understand what it was about,” she says. The meaning contained in the book seems to have expanded with time. “To me, The Little Prince is not only a story with wisdom and philosophy. It is also my life coach. It reminds me to use my heart to feel things deeply when dealing with matters. It has
Cedric Fernandez, one of the creators of the comic strip series based on the life and adventures of Saint-Exupéry, will speak about his work at the Hong Kong Book Fair.
Aria Lui created watercolor images based closely on Saint-Exupery’s original drawings for