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Mudoo’s Papa: Sketching a father’s love

“Just call me Mudoo’s Papa. That is how everybody addresses me now,” Dong Yuqing said. Tall and long-haired, Dong has the sturdy build of a worker and quiet look of an artist. His big and slit eyes are soft and kind, always filled with smile and lit up whenever the topic touches his daughter, Mudoo.

Mudoo, or 木朵 in Chinese (Muduo in pinyin), is the nickname of his little girl. Mu, meaning tree or wood, is part of the girl’s first name given to her because it is one of the Five Elements missing from her birthday (Note: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth, called Wuxing in Chinese, which is an ancient belief that the possession of different numbers of each element at birth influences a person’s fate). Dong, who is an interior designer, does take Fengshui and Wuxing seriously. And Duo, meaning flower, is a phonetic variation of the family name Dong and spelt as Doo for easier pronunciation.

By profession, Dong is a licensed interior designer. His studio is named Origo, which is derived from Origin. “It means to go back to where it all begins,” Dong explained. But to many people, particularly his fans, he is known more as a picture book author. Starting from 2010, he has been sharing the stories of his daughter, the now four-year-old Mudoo on Weibo with his sketches and cartoons. They became so popular that Dong is now a bona fide Weibo celebrity with over 210,000 followers on his account @速写本子. His two picture books, My Daughter Mudoo and Kiss My Mudoo, published in 2012 and 2013 respectively, which chronicled the little girl’s two years of life with lovingly drawn pictures and beautifully written stories, have been flying off the shelves.

Photo: Courtesy of Dong Yuqing

Sketches of a father’s love

The initial fame came as a series of sketches of the then infant Mudoo in her sleep went viral in 2011. The 100 pictures captured the adorable and occasional hilarious poses of the little girl in her sleep. The loving father named each picture in a way that is both vividly descriptive and mirthfully funny. It is this palpable paternal love that strikes a chord as much as the cuteness of the little girl.

Dong said he started doodling Mudoo before she was born. “All I drew were sketches of little girls. I guess I just really wanted a daughter,” he said with a smile. “Mudoo was a year and four months old when I created my Weibo account.” In the beginning, Weibo was more like Facebook, where people were mostly communicating within their own circle of friends. As the popularity of Weibo grew, so did Dong’s pictures.

A selection of pictures taken from Mudoo's Papa's My Sleeping Mudoo collection Season One and Season Two. Photo: Courtesy of Dong Yuqing

Besides the sketches of the sleeping Mudoo, Dong also recounts the stories of the little girl with his drawings which he completes with captions that are light-hearted and at times thought-provoking. Every festival and special occasion, such as the World Earth Day, the World Autism Awareness Day, anniversary of the 1976 Earthquake in Tangshan (where Dong came from), etc. are marked with paintings of Mudoo. Over the course of three years, through the Weibo account, the little girl and her loving father have won the hearts of thousands of Weibo users.

Browse Dong’s Weibo for a few minutes, and you will find yourself in a better mood. In a way, reading his posts is like reading a book of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Soothing and inspiring, they serve as a reminder that life could be full of sunshine and happiness just like that of Mudoo’s.

“I don’t want to fill my Weibo with the inevitable pains and sorrows of life. I want to focus on spreading the positive energy,” Dong said, “Being with Mudoo keeps me happy, even more so when her stories help other people to feel the same way.”

“Doodling the images of Mudoo has become a daily routine for me. It not only gives me joy, it also calms me down,” wrote the doting father in his Weibo posts. “I am lucky that I did not make painting my career. Because however much you love your job, you will get bored. But I will never be bored with painting my lovely Mudoo.”

- "Mudoo is MJ Mudoo."

- “Why?”

- "Because Mudoo is so handsome!"

Both the father and the daughter are fans of Michael Jackson. Stories like this abound in Mudoo's Papa's Weibo account @速写本子. Photo: Courtesy of Dong Yuqing

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