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Greek museum's teddy bear travels to China through children's book

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-12-10 14:23
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"Once upon a time, a bear" has been translated into Chinese and published by China's Hebei Children's Publishing House.[Photo/Official Taobao store of Hebei Children's Publishing House]

A yellow teddy bear, found in a dumpster half a century ago, has become a star exhibits of the Benaki Museum of Toys in Athens since the museum opened in 2017. The adventurous bear, an important collection item in Europe associated with childhood, has also reached China through a children's book written by Greek educator and author Eleni Geroulanou.

In a recent interview at the museum, Geroulanou told Xinhua that literature has a wonderful role to play in building bridges. Books remind us of how much we all have in common, as the emotions and meaning that underlie great stories are universal, crossing cultures and language barriers, she said.

In her fairytale "Once upon a time, a bear" which has been translated into Chinese and published by China's Hebei Children's Publishing House, the teddy bear wanders around the city in search of his home.

He eventually finds a new home and family in the embrace of Maria Argyriadis, a Greek researcher of toys who picked up the bear from the dumpster. Since then, some 20,000 such items have been collected from all over the world and donated to the Benaki Museum, a 19th-century mansion resembling a castle, by the seaside.

"Once upon a time, a bear" is based on the true story of Argyriadis and the teddy bear.

[Photo/Official Taobao store of Hebei Children's Publishing House]

Argyriadis passed away in 2018, but was lucky to see the museum opening its doors in 2017, and the book printed in Greek.

"For Maria, this bear was unique. For the bear, Maria was his family. I was touched by this story and I wanted to make it public," the author said.

Geroulanou said her passion for toys and her family's friendship with Argyriadis inspired her to write this book.

Geroulanou said that she had wanted to work with kids since she was a teenage girl. She studied Early Childhood Education in Athens, continued her studies in Boston, the United States, specializing in Children's Museum Education and returned home to combine museum education with teaching.

As headmistress of a kindergarten in a renowned private school in Athens in recent years, she is constantly close to children.

In 2019 at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy, her Greek publisher showed the book to a Chinese publisher, who loved the story and decided to publish it in China.

Due to the pandemic, Geroulanou has not been able to visit China yet, but she said she is looking forward to, when things get better, meeting with Chinese readers of her book.

[Photo/Official Taobao store of Hebei Children's Publishing House]

Cultural exchanges are essential to the deeper understanding between people from different counties, Geroulanou said. "Through the exchange of ideas and stories, we create stronger bonds with each other, become more inspired and creative as we broaden our horizons," she said.

She said that both Greece and China have rich cultures and traditions dating back to ancient times, and that there is so much to learn from each other.

"I wish the Chinese readers, the young readers, enjoy my book, my story and travel with our bear all this journey, until he finds his home," Geroulanou said.

[Photo/Official Taobao store of Hebei Children's Publishing House]


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