This is a story about understanding and tolerance. The fat man lives on the east side of the river. The thin man lives on the west. They argue over trivial things and forbid their children to play with each other, and in turn, even the children stop their dogs playing with each other. They are always fighting over something until one morning, when the two families are cooking breakfast. The family on the east side of the river is using wet firewood, giving off black smoke, while the family on the west side is using dried firewood, giving off white smoke. The black smoke and white smoke float gently up into the air towards each other...and things start to change...
Cao Wenxuan won the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award for his body of work. The International Board on Books for Young People's jury, announcing the award, said: "The unanimous choice of the jury, Cao writes beautifully about the complex lives of children facing great challenges. He is a deeply committed writer, whose own difficult childhood has been deeply influential on his writing in which there are no easy answers. Cao Wenxuan's books don't lie about the human condition; they acknowledge that life can often be tragic and that children can suffer. At the same time, they can love and be redeemed by their human qualities and the kindness they sometimes find when they are most in need. Cao's writing about the natural world is lyrical and beautiful. And Cao is a great example of how writing wonderful prose and telling stories about brave children facing tremendous difficulties and challenges can attract a very wide and committed child readership as well as helping to shape a literary tradition in China that honors the realities of children's worlds."
Cao Wenxuan is a Chinese novelist best known for children's literature. Vice president of Beijing Writers Association. He also a professor and doctoral tutor at Peking University. His novels have been translated into English, French, Japanese, and Korean. He won the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award and other awards include: Goats Do Not Eat Heaven Grass - 3rd Song Qingling Literature Prize, National Five Top Project Award; The Grass House - Bingxin Literature Prize, 4th National Book Award, National Five Top Project Award, 5th Song Qingling Literature Prize, 19th Golden Rooster Award for Best Writing (1999), Huabiao Award (1998), 14th Tehran International Film Festival - the Golden Butterfly Prize; Bronze and Sunflower - Bingxin Literature Prize, National Book Award, National Five Top Project Award; Dingding and Dangdang; - selected as one of the 2015 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities