Vintage Mystery Book

Today's vintage children's book is a bit of a mystery, to me at least. I purchased it at my local library book sale. The illustrations are very good and look to be watercolor or gouache. I'm guessing this book is Chinese or Korean, but since I can't read either one of those languages, I can't say. It also looks to be a war time book. Any thoughts on that? Any information to enlighten us as to the origins of this little paper book would be most welcome.

My apologies for the lapse in posting, I have been very hard at work on a wedding invitation for my niece.


  1. Pretty sure that script is Chinese (plus note the flag in your second scan).

    Is this your book?

  2. Sorry for the slow reply, my computer has been down. It might be the same book, since there isn't a picture and I can't read the info on mine
    I can't say. But thanks for the info and link!

  3. This book is indeed a Chinese one and the title of which is “The Animals of the Ocean”. It was published by the Xinhua Bookstore in April 1975 in Shanghai. The book is written in simple verses and the style in which the first and last few pages of the book is illustrated, reflects somewhat the Communist fervor which China was going through at the time. This can be seen in the flag of the Peoples’ Republic of China in the background and the red star on the cap, and it is especially apparent in the last few verses of the book where it compares the hardship that one needs to go through in the harvesting of the produce of the sea, with that which is required to start and sustain a revolution. We will perhaps be better able to put the Communistic/revolutionary nature of the above into perspective when we understand that 1975 is the time when China was going through the height of the Cultural Revolution, which will come to an end the next year in 1976.

    Political undertone aside, the book is ultimately about the animals of the ocean as the title indicates. The book starts by providing a brief description of the nature of each of the animal illustrated in the book through its verses. But what is interesting is, apart from informing us that some of these animals, such as fishes, prawns and jellyfishes (which happens to be a delicacy in Chinese cuisine) are harvested as food, others like starfishes, clams and sea horses are also known for their medicinal qualities in traditional Chinese medicine. The book also informs us of the use of a seal’s pelt for leather and the coral as a form of construction material.

    What is of interest to me is not so much the content of the book but the fact that it provides us with a glimpse into a certain period in history. I hope this has given you a bit more insight into this very interesting book you found.

  4. Thank you Theng for all the information! That gives us all a much better understanding of the book. I think the illustrations are wonderful.