Thursday, August 7, 2008

Guji Guji

While I was excited to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at SF MOMA, the kids had fun with the Contemporary Chinese Art exhibit. Can you see the Made in China stamp on the belly of this giant red dino? Or is it a godzilla-like creature? Or is it Guji Guji the "crocoduck?"

Guji Guji, by Chih-Yuan Chen was first published in Taiwan. It's an ugly duckling tale without the teasing (at least not from the ducks) and a twist.

Guji Guji was hatched by ducks and was completely comfortable as a duck until he met 3 nasty crocodiles who pointed out that Guji Guji was indeed a crocodile just like them. And crocodiles were supposed help each other eat fat delicious ducks. What a dilemma. Guji Guji felt terrible. "I am not a bad crocodile. Of course, I'm not exactly a duck either." Ultimately he gave those nasty crocodiles a mouthful and it wasn't of fat delicious ducks! He is a "crocoduck" hero!

On the jacket flap Chih-Yuan Chen says she was inspired by an American friend of Korean ancestry who was adopted as a baby by a non-Korean family, and how he often felt isolated for being noticeably "different" looking. She goes on to say, "It is my hope that childen from all over the world can learn to accept different people and things, and see the world with broader views and minds. The birth of every single child is a miracle, worthy of our respect."

I am reminded of the lovely Motherbridge of Love , illustrated by Josee Masse, with the text submitted anonymously to Mother Bridge of Love, a charitable organization founded by Xinran that reaches out to Chinese children and helps bridge a cultural gap for those children living outside of China, and also, "to help bridge the huge poverty gap that still exists in China." The book is beautifully presented and read by Amy Tan HERE. Really if you haven't already seen it, or even if you have it will tear at your heart-strings. Lastly I thought I would end this post with a little musical love from the past.


  1. Looks like a fun exhibit! My kids would love that big red rubber dinosaur.
    I love the pink flowers/ background in the video clip and oooh, I see young Mick in the audience!!

  2. I have to say I have a strong dislike for Gugi Gugi. I think it portrays the "birth" family in a really bad light. They come sneering around trying to get Gugi Gugi to betray his sweet adoptive parents so they can eat them. They accuse him of not being a real croc if he won't do it. With all the difficulty adopted kids have in identity, especially in transracial adoptions, I don't think we need more stereotypical behavior illustrated in stories about adoption.

    I didn't know the author felt she was identifying with an adopted friend's feelings of isolation. That makes me even more horrified that she portrays the biological family as being the evil influence on the adoptee. What kind of a message is that?

    A book like Stellaluna, where the bat mother is sweet and nurturing, and the adopted bird brothers are still bonded with the bat after reunification seems like a healthier view of adoptive families, IMO. I think it's realistic that Stellaluna feels intimidated and misunderstood by her adopted bird mama too.

    I do like the Mother Bridge of Love book, because both mothers are shown in a good strong light.

  3. Wow! that's an interesting insight. I was reading the story on a more superficial level with a total disassociation of the crocs being from Guji Guji's gene pool. I see why you didn't like it.

    Stellaluna is a good one to compare with. I wonder what cultural differences there might be underneath the stories to explore. Did the author assume Guji Guji was abandoned and she had it in for the crocs? We don't know that from the story necessarily. Motherbridge of Love is, of course lovely in all ways.


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