Jan 13, 2013

Numbers Do and Ears Hear are a pair of bilingual books for very young children written by Chu-Ren Huang & Kathleen Ahrens and illustrated by Marjorie Van Heerden. The stories are told in as few words as possible to encourage multiple readings, as it is through multiple readings that a child’s linguistic competence is developed as the brain scaffolds information from a previous reading onto the following reading. Published by Sun-ya Press in Hong Kong, these books are a wonderful example of international collaboration between two Asia-based writers and their South African illustrator

Covers of Numbers Do and Ears Hear


Numbers Do  數數
Written by Kathleen Ahrens and Chu-Ren Huang (in English & Chinese)
Illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden
Sun Ya Publishers (Hong Kong) - 2012 

(See a selection of double spreads from the published book below)

This story is about the power of a young child's imagination to create a world that is both safe and exciting. Written as both a counting book and a classic bedtime story, in it the young child leads her elder sister on an adventure that ends in the sweet realm of dreamland.

This book was written in short simple sentences so that it could be read aloud over and over again. Reading the same text aloud repeatedly helps a child implicitly become familiar with a language's structure. In addition, the warmth and safety that comes from reading and re-reading a story strengthens the caring bond between the person reading aloud and the child being read to. Both the English and Chinese versions introduce the most basic sentence patterns and also allow the child to practice counting from 1 to 10. The Chinese version also introduces the use of classifiers.

 Ears Hear 耳朵 聽見
Written by Kathleen Ahrens and Chu-Ren Huang
Illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden
Sun Ya Publishers (Hong Kong) - 2012

 (See a selection of double spreads from the published book below)

The story in this book was written to engage all the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. It was also written to capture the joy human beings feel when they spend time in fresh air and sunshine, admiring the animals and insects that share the world with us. Lastly, this book celebrates the love shared between a father and his child. 

Written in short simple sentences, this book is meant to be read aloud over and over again. Reading the same text aloud repeatedly helps a child implicitly become familiar with a language's structure, and at the same time it strengthens the caring bond between the person reading aloud and the child. The sentence pattern is expanded compared to the minimal sentences in Numbers Do. The verbs used in this book often have both subject and object. Readers may also notice the difference between Chinese and English, where subjects can often be omitted in Chinese.

Numbers Do - selection of double spreads


Ears Hear - Selection of double spreads


Numbers Do and Ears Hear were launched 
at the 2012 AFCC (Asian Festival of Children's Content) Conference in Singapore.

Kathleen Ahrens and Marjorie van Heerden

Leonard Marcus and Kathleen


More about the Writers and the Illustrator

Kathleen Ahrens is an Advisory Board member and the International Regional Advisor Chairperson of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.  She is also Professor and Head of the Language Center at Hong Kong Baptist University. Professor Ahrens received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California at San Diego after receiving her M.A. in Chinese Language and Literature from National Taiwan University and B.A. from University of Massachusetts at Amherst.Formerly a kindergarten teacher, and later a Professor at National Taiwan University, she has been invited to give talks around the world on topics relating to children's picture books, picture book evaluation, and the creation of literature for children.

Kathleen is a linguistics professor who currently lives in Hong Kong. A former kindergarten teacher and camp counselor, she is an experienced public speaker who regularly gives large-scale presentations to English-language teachers on various topics, including how to integrate picture books into the second language classroom.

She has extensive publications in the academic world, as well as publishing credits in Skipping Stones, Wee Ones, Highlights, and Chicken Soup for a Preschooler’s Mom’s Soul. She has also co-translated several best-selling picture books from Chinese to English. In 2005, her teen novel Life Saving Secrets was nominated for the SCBWI Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award, and this same novel also received the SCBWI 2005 Work-in-Progress Runner-Up Grant for a Contemporary Young Adult Novel. 

Kathleen joined SCBWI in 1998 and become the Regional Advisor for Taiwan in 2001. In her role as Regional Advisor, she plans events to help writers and illustrators develop and hone their craft. In 2005, she became the SCBWI Assistant International Advisor, as well as the editor for the International Column in the SCBWI Bulletin. In 2008, she stepped up to become the International Regional Advisor Chairperson. In this role she oversees the running of all the regions outside of the United States, as well as the organization of the Biennial SCBWI Bologna Showcase. SCBWI has opened many doors for her as a writer, and she hopes that her leadership role in this supportive organization will help other writers and illustrators achieve their professional goals as well.

You can find out more about Kathleen at her webpage: www.kathleenahrens.com

Chu-Ren Huang  is a Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Humanities and Chair Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He grew up in Taiwan and did not travel abroad until flying to America to study for his Ph.D at the age of twenty-four. He has since travelled to more than twenty-five countries.

Chu-Ren Huang is a research fellow at the Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics from Cornell University in January 1987. Since then, he has played an active role to promote research on Chinese computational and corpus linguistics. He has directed or co-directed the successful construction of the following Chinese language resources: CKIP lexicon, Sinica Corpus, Classical Chinese Corpora, Sinica Treebank, Academia Sinica Bilingual Ontololgical Wordnet, and Chinese WordSketch. His linguistic research focus shifted from earlier work on GPSG and LFG to recent emphasis on lexical semantics, which led to the development of the MARVS theory. Both lines of research lead to his current work on Chinese WordNet and ontology.

Chu-Ren Huang is the President of Linguistic Society of Taiwan, permanent member of the International Committee of Computational Linguistics, an executive council member of OLAC, and co-chair of the Asian Language Resource Committee under AFNLP. He has taught theoretical and computational linguistics as an adjunct professor in graduate program in Taiwan and abroad. He is the founding director of the CLCLP international doctoral program at Academia Sinica. His previous academic administration and service includes the founding vice-director of the Institute of Linguistics of Academia Sinica, President of the Association of Computational Linguistics and Chinese Language Processing in Taiwan (a.k.a. ROCLING), as well as founding executive board members of ROCLING, IACL, LST, and GHYX. He is one of the founders of the PACLIC conferences in Asia, the ROCLING conferences in Taiwan, and the CLSW workshops among Chinese speaking communities.

He is the Associate Chief Editor of Language and Linguistics, an associate editor of Journal of Chinese Linguistics, and is a board member of several international journals such as Computational Linguistics, Language Resources and Evaluations, Computational Linguistics and Chinese Language Processing, and Taiwan Journal in Linguistics.

On top of his over 300 journal and conference papers, he is currently co-editing a Cambridge University Press book entitled Ontologies and the Lexicon, and a LRE special issue on Asian Language Technology. In additional the on-line versions of the language resources mentioned above, he also directed two linguistic digital archives sites for general users: SouWenJieZi and WenGuo. He was the chief editor of a national standard of Segmentation Principles for Chinese Information Processing (CNS14366).

This is his first children’s book (although he did publish a classifier dictionary for children by Mandarin Daily a long time ago.)  

You can find out more about Chu-Ren at his webpage: http://cwn.ling.sinica.edu.tw/huang/huang.htm

Marjorie van Heerden grew up on a farm in the Hex River Valley in South Africa. From an early age she loved drawing animals and fairies and people and dinosaurs and children and dragons and monsters and today they appear in all shapes and sizes in the more than 120 books that feature her work. Since the publication of her first children’s picture book in 1983 Marjorie has been published as  illustrator or illustrator/author in 35 languages in Africa, England, Europe, Canada and the USA. Recently she has also illustrated Andre P. Brink's Afrikaans translation of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 

Although she and her husband have travelled far and wide and lived for extended periods in the USA and Europe, they always returned to South Africa and now live in Gordon’s Bay, a coastal village near Cape Town. Her studio is in the loft of their house, with windows overlooking False Bay and she can look at an ocean full of monsters and all kinds of thingies while she writes and illustrates her children's books. They have two children (a daughter and son) and three granddaughters.

Amongst the awards she has won for her books, Marjorie has been awarded the prestigious M.E.R Award for best South African illustrated children’s book twice; in 2008 Marjorie, with children’s book author, Wendy Hartmann, won it for Nina and Little Duck published by Human & Rousseau (SA) in 2007 (also available in Afrikaans) and in 2012 Marjorie and author, Alex D’Angelo, won the M.E.R Award for Goblin Diaries, published by Tafelberg Publishers (SA) in 2011. In 2011 Marjorie won the W.B. Mkhize Award, given by the Usiba Writers’ Guild for Uhambo LukaLulama Olude, the Zulu version of Lulama’s long way home,  which she wrote and illustrated (2007, Giraffe Books, an imprint of Pan MacMillan). 

Marjorie tirelessly works for the development of South African children’s book writers and illustrators and in 2003 she started the South African chapter of the international Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) based in Los Angeles and active in more than 40 countries around the globe. She is currently the co-regional advisor of the SA chapter. (She also started the SCBWI chapter in Greece in 2000). 

You can find out more about Marjorie at her webpage and blog: www.grafikon.co.za/; 

Prelim test illustration and rough sketches done by Marjorie 


Rough spreads for Numbers Do


Rough spreads for Ears Hear