A picture book named “Moving Away,” written and illustrated by Ji Yeon Lee and published by NC’s nursery school—the Laughing Peanut—in October 2022, was awarded a Special Mention in the Fiction category at the 2023 Bologna Ragazzi Award. The Bologna Ragazzi Award is considered the Nobel Prize equivalent for picture books, and it chooses its winners from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the world’s largest event of its kind. The Special Mention in the Fiction category is awarded to books that demonstrate exceptional creativity and artistry in addition to their content and editing. “Moving Away” is a picture book that showcases the value of diversity through the eyes of small things hiding around the world.
As a child, you may have encountered a swarm of ants at some point in your life. Perhaps you followed their trail or even disrupted their orderly march. “Moving Away” is a captivating picture book that takes readers on a panoramic journey through the peaceful and tumultuous adventures of ants, injecting imagination into nostalgic memories of the past.
The story takes place in an ordinary yard, illuminated by the warm rays of the sun. Here, the ants assemble one by one, commencing their great migration. The story begins from the viewpoint of a child who observes the activities of these ants. By paying close attention to the minute details of the ant trail, you can observe how they move in coordination with one another. At times, the movements are seamless, while at other times, their journey is fraught with challenges. Despite moments of relief, they also face moments of crisis along the way. Through the chain of events the ants undergo, readers gain a unique perspective on the existence of the tiny, often overlooked creatures in the yard. Moreover, readers come to appreciate that by shifting one’s perspective, a completely new world can emerge from the same scene.
Although the story primarily unfolds from the perspective of a child observing the ant march, readers also get to experience the world through the enlarged images from the ants’ point of view. In the last chapter, the yard is depicted from a distance, providing readers with a glimpse of the location where the ants’ challenging journey took place. The story implies that while the yard may appear small and peaceful to some, for others, it represents a vast and challenging world, conveying the message that readers should view the world through multiple perspectives.
Ji Yeon Lee, the author and illustrator of “Moving Away,” described her inspiration for the book as follows: “There is no fixed interpretation for picture books; A always has to be A, and B can never be C. Anyone is free to interpret and imagine, and share their thoughts with others. My intention was to convey the significance of diversity through a story and illustrations featuring ants that people of all ages and ethnicities can relate to.”
“Moving Away” was highly praised for its exceptional book editing when it received the Bologna Ragazzi Award. The judges described the book as an “invitation to appreciate the significance of the little things.”
To better portray the peaceful yet intricate movements of the ants, “Moving Away” was created in the form of a folding screen instead of a conventional picture book. While readers can turn the pages of the book as they would do with a typical publication, they also have the option of unfolding the pages to create a vast panorama and explore the scene in greater detail. Some scenes in the book depict the ants as unseeable or scattered, while others show them clustered together, creating a more dynamic representation of their movements.
“Moving Away” intentionally eschews written language in favor of a series of images, allowing readers to focus on the panoramic journey of a swarm of ants. To facilitate this, the book’s background is kept monochromatic, drawing the eye to the ants and enabling readers to use their imaginations to fill in the details of the world around them. The ants themselves are depicted in black, standing out starkly against a vibrant orange backdrop. This striking color contrast serves to emphasize the ants’ significance and convey the depth of their tiny world. The book’s creators opted to use hanji, a traditional Korean paper known for its durability and distinctive texture, to give the book a unique and memorable feel.
As the Laughing Peanut prioritizes the value of joy in its brand philosophy, it has been consistently publishing picture books that convey values relatable to both children and adults. Along with “Moving Away,” which won the 2023 Bologna Ragazzi Award, the Laughing Peanut has been acknowledged at various international book fairs. For instance, “Would You Like to Come with Me?” was a recipient of the 3rd Little Hakka International Picture Book Award in 2019, while “The Chimney Ghost” and “I Am a Cat” were selected as featured books for the Korean Collective Stand at the 2019 Guadalajara International Book Fair. Since 2015, the Laughing Peanut has published over ten picture books that incorporate educational content amassed through the management of an in-house daycare center and developmental expertise gained through the in-house foreign language program, NC CONGCONG. Keep an eye out for upcoming picture books from the Laughing Peanut that will creatively convey the importance of future generations through collaboration with talented writers.