Pandas' Scottish voyage inspires book

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 February, 2012, 12:00am

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The voyage of two of Scotland's most popular new residents has been immortalised in a children's book launched in Central yesterday by its best-selling Hong Kong author.

The fictional tale of a panda with princess tendencies was inspired by the real-life events that took two pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, to Edinburgh Zoo in December.

Sarah Brennan, a former medical lawyer who has penned a series of best-selling children's books based on the Chinese zodiac, wrote The Tale of the Pin Yin Panda last year with the title's character travelling to the Scottish capital. Each of the books have been illustrated by Harry Harrison, a political cartoonist for the South China Morning Post.

Brennan, from Pok Fu Lam, was invited to launch her book at the zoo during Chinese New Year celebrations last month where she also got the chance to met Tian Tian.

'She was gorgeous, chewing away on bamboo and smaller than I expected,' Brennan said.

The author also landed a personal meeting with former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten in London where she presented copies of her book to Patten's eight grandchildren.

'He was so lovely and sweet.' Brennan said 'I had always been a fan, so I was chuffed to meet him.

'I asked him if he still loved egg tarts and he said he had been in Hong Kong over Christmas with all his grandchildren.'

Brennan wrote to Patten's press secretary and was surprised to get a response which led to Patten providing a blurb for the panda tale.

'I think it was the Hong Kong connection which made it happen,' Brennan said.

The Australian-born author moved to Hong Kong in 1998 with her husband after working as a lawyer in her home country and the United Kingdom. She started writing a parenting column after the birth of her two children and had always wanted to write children's books.

'I always loved the Dr Seuss books,' she said.

One of her first books, about a dragon named Chester Choi, is a favourite among Hong Kong youngsters and sold ahead of the Harry Potter series for six weeks in Hong Kong bookstores when it was released several years ago, Brennan said.

Over the past five years, Brennan has gained a loyal following in the city with regular visits to international primary schools as well as book tours in Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and the UK.

She will be a guest at the Shanghai literary festival next month after a sold-out session at last year's event.

'I'm working harder now than when I was a partner at a London law firm,' she said. 'And it's more fun.'