01 July 2017 by Suyen Hu
I arrived at the school today and put the books the girls have chosen to read on the table. I was reading and waiting for the first girl to come when some pupils walked by the table. Some of them stood behind me and looked at the picture book Daughters of the Land God for a few minutes. One even tried to pick up the book. When I turned to them, one ran away and one was still looking at the book. ‘Do you want to read the book?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ she said, and wanted to hold the book, but it was time for her to go to the classroom. I saw her go and welcomed Evie who was waiting to see me for the one to one reading time.
Evie once said she loves reading chapter books and would like to read a chapter book every Thursday, and a picture book on Wednesdays. So I showed her the book she was reading last week and asked her if she would like to carry on reading the chapter book that she hasn’t finished as it was Thursday. She said, ‘No, I think I would like to read more Chinese stories.’
She picked up Daughters of Land God which is the book she said she would like to read last Wednesday because she saw my necklace of the Land God which I received from our famous Temple of the Land God who pays for the tuition for all the children in his village. Evie wanted to know the legend about the Land God.
As usual, she showed her interest in reading in Mandarin after the English. She read page by page and talked about her thoughts while reading. On one page, she touched the picture gently and said, ‘I can see how the artist drew the picture; the picture was drawn carefully like this.’ It was as though she was feeling how the artist drew the picture when her finger followed each stroke. It was good to see how our pictures come alive.
She was smiling when she was reading the story, until she saw the page with the white snake crying in the rain in the jungle. ‘Oh! How sad!’ She covered her mouth and said, ‘Is the rain dropped on her face or it’s actually her tears? Oh no, this is so sad.’ The story says that Little White (the white snake) loved to eat eggs and the neighbour suggested to the owner to send the snake away because the snake should be back in the jungle. But Evie seemed not to be impressed by this idea; she said, ‘Why did they send her away? Only because she loves to eat eggs?’ She covered her eyes and told me to turn the page for her because she said she couldn’t face to see the next page because it was too sad. The next page wasn’t too bad; there was a terrified man falling down on the ground when he heard Little White talking in human language. However, the story went to be sad again because the terrified man went back to his village and told everyone there was a big snake that ate many people!! Of course that was not true. People started to set traps in order to catch Little White. Evie sighed, ‘Little White, Little White, what a beautiful name. She is good and only loves eating eggs. Why do people all want to catch her?’
‘Maybe because she is a big snake and people are so scared of big snakes. When she just looks like a snake, I mean her appearance, no one will notice actually she is not a normal snake and she is good and different,’ I said. ‘Are they all gods coming to protect Little White?’ Evie pointed at the animals around the white snake in the picture and hoped the snake would be okay. ‘No, they are not from Heaven, they are animals from Taiwan; you will see them all if you travel to Taiwan. They are Little White’s friends so Little White is alright.’ Evie seemed a bit pleased and turned to the last page that showed the temple for the Land God who was actually the owner of the white snake. People worship him because people believed he could talk to the snakes and protect people from being harmed by them.
Luckily, Evie didn’t cry after she read the story or I wouldn’t know what to do to comfort her. It’s just a legend though it’s a bit sad.
*The child's real name has been changed.