China’s publishers of children’s books have burst on to the international publishing scene as major players. Book Expo America in New York has had a significant Chinese presence since 2015, while Italy’s Bologna Book Fair, the premier childrens lit event in the book industry, has declared China itsguest of honor for 2018.
This past decade has become known as the golden age of publishing of children’s books in China. In 2003, the country had only 20 publishers specializing in children’s books. That number now has jumped to more than580. Some may consider the market saturated, but what we are seeing now is a switch to emphasizing quality over quantity and a focus on producing more original content.
In the year 2000, Harry Potter was translated into Chinese, sparking a major trend in importing translated children’s books from the West. In the years that followed, many foreign works became staples of children’s bookshelves, whether in translation or used for English practice.
Popular titles include Peppa Pig (which my neighbor’s five-year-old son in Changzhou absolutely loved), The Magic School Bus picture book, and Disney Baby Story Book. While these continue to outsell local works, there are a good number of Chinese authors of children’s books enjoying significant success. These include Shen Shixi, author of Dream of Being a Wolf King and a series of Animal Novels, and Leiou Huanxiang, author of Monster Master and Charlie IX & Dodomo. As the market continues to grow, I expect to see more and more Chinese authors stepping up to create quality content for kids.
As the owner and managing director of Pushkin Press, his mission in life is to sell translated literature from around the world to the English-speaking market. And many of the authors that he works with are Israeli and/or Jewish.
Last year saw the publication of Waking Lions, the second novel Pushkin has published by contemporary Israeli writer Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, who won the Sapir Prize for best debut with One Night, Markovitch. Her third novel will be published by Pushkin in 2018.
Since buying Pushkin in 2012, sales have grown tenfold, culminating in the publication of 60 striking-looking titles this year— up from fewer than 10 in 2011. He says he is lucky that many European countries are keen for books to be translated, so offer subsidies of up to 100 per cent of translation costs. In January, he will publish his first Estonian novel, taking up to 24 the number of languages translated.
Finding the right translator is an art in itself, involving sifting through samples to find the one most suitable. It’s more than just ensuring that nothing is lost in translation. “They make something read so smoothly that you are not even aware it’s a translation.”
Freudenheim, now 42, and his family are members of Belsize Square Synagogue. His three children Susanna, 13, Max, 12, and Nina, nine, are all big readers, sometimes acting as his test audience for a new book. When Max, (then aged eight) read the second half of Laura Watkinson’s translation of The Letter for the King, by veteran Dutch children’s writer Tonke Dragt in a single sitting, he knew it was going to be a hit. It sold so well, that it’s now in its eighth print run. Pushkin has recently published a third book by Dragt, The Song of Seven .
Children’s reading charity BookTrust is launching a new children’s books in translation initiative, called ‘In Other Words’, to encourage UK publishers to publish more works from around the world.
BookTrust will pay for sample translations from 10 outstanding works and present them to the UK publishing community in an event at the Bologna Book Fair.
BookTrust invites foreign publishers, agents and scouts to submit outstanding works of fiction for 6-12 year olds to a panel of expert judges who will select 10 titles for translation.
Chaired by literary critic, Nicolette Jones, the panel includes award winning translators Sarah Ardizzone and Daniel Hahn, Waterstones’ Florentyna Martin, Emma Langley from Arts Council England and BookTrust’s Director of Children’s Books Jill Coleman. The judges will select 10 outstanding entries, with up to 4 declared BookTrust In Other Words Honour Titles. A special event will be held at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair on 4th April 2017 showcasing the Honour Titles, with information about all 10 extracts included in a rights guide.
Any UK publisher acquiring rights to publish one of the texts will be given a £1500 grant per book from BookTrust to promote the author and translator with UK marketing, publicity and touring in the UK.
The project is funded by Arts Council England.
Submissions open on 1st September and close on 26th September. Full information about the project can be found at http://www.booktrust.org.uk/in-other-words
The project will be launched to UK publishers at an event on 4th October 2016. This will involve discussions around barriers to translation, and guidance on how best to work with authors and their translators when promoting books in the UK.
ACHUKA recommends two upcoming events organised by the Society of Authors:
Adventures in the real world: factual books and reading for pleasure
[ACHUKA reader discount being offered on this event]
19 July, 5.45-8pm, Waterstones Piccadilly, 203-206 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9HD
Children love reading about pirates, animals, robots, space, monsters… anything and everything wondrous and exciting. They love adventurous stories and bizarre inventions. And they don’t love it any less if what they read is true – so why does Reading for Pleasure so often focus on fiction?
Our panel of experts discusses the huge benefits of reading factual books for pleasure, engaging young readers who might not enjoy fiction, and broadening the horizons of those who do. Jenny Broom is a publisher at Quarto, producers of the award-winning Atlas of Adventures; Dawn Finch is President of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, a vociferous library campaigner, trained librarian and children’s author; Nicola Morgan, Society of Authors’ Children’s Writers and Illustrator Group Chair, author of award-winning novels, factual books and an expert in the science of readaxation and reading for wellbeing; and Zoe Toft of the Federation of Children’s Books Groups, an independent children’s book consultant who oversees Non-Fiction November. Chaired by Anne Rooney, author of around 150 children’s information books on many subjects and Chair of the Society of Authors’ Educational Writers Group.
The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.
Tickets for Achuka readers cost £10 online booking as SoA members using an offer code SOA16
or £12 offline by calling the Society of Authors on 0207 373 6642.
Please quote event code 571.
and coming up in the autumn:
Diverse voices: children’s literature in translation
20 October 2016, 2-4pm, English Speaking Union, Dartmouth House, 37 Charles Street, London, W1J 5ED.
Some of the most loved children’s books in the UK have been translated into English from their original language – Pippi Longstocking, Emil and the Detectives, Heidi, as well as Tintin and Asterix. Despite this, translated literature makes up a very small percentage of the total number of children’s books published in the UK each year. In a globalised world, where intercultural exchange is widespread and multi-faceted, this lack of access to children’s literature which has been produced outside the English-speaking world could be seen as a problematic gap in young people’s cultural education; as Skellig author David Almond puts it: “children need to read the best books by the best writers from all parts of the world… (or) our children are missing out.”
After the discussion with panellists Annie Eaton (Penguin Random House), Gill Evans (Walker Books), Sarah Odedina (Pushkin Press) and chair Joy Court (Schools Library Services) the shortlist for the 2017 Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation will be announced.
Refreshments (tea and cakes) will be served.
Tickets are £10, with a concession of £5 available for students.Book now
First published in Persion in 200y, this new English edition has ‘major amendments’.
Translated by Azita Rassi.
Named after İbn Battuta from Morocco, a famed traveler who went on a 28-year adventure around the world, the ‘Turtle Battuta’ is the creation of Zeynep Sevde Paksu and opens a new horizon for children in colorfully designed travel books
At the end of September I spoke at the Brooklyn Book Festival as part of a panel on translating children’s books that included Claudia, Mara Lethem (translator of the Macanudo volumes), Julia Heim (one of the translators of the very popular Geronimo Stilton series, originally published in Italy and featuring a detective mouse), and moderator Alex Zucker, the co-chair of the PEN Translation Committee. We started off with a question about the importance of publishing translations for young people and acknowledging that these books are translations. Claudia observed that books in translation open up a dialogue about the countries from where these books come. Reading is a way that children learn about things that are unfamiliar. Mara, who recently returned to the United States after many years of living in Barcelona, Spain, described U.S. literary culture as insular, more of a culture of export than import. Julia pointed out that acknowledging translators supports their work; after many years of working on this series for Scholastic, she was finally given credit as a translator. I added that when young readers in the United States aren’t exposed to the literature of other countries because publishers and other gatekeepers see these books as “weird,” they are consigning our young readers to second-class global citizenship. If young people don’t have exposure to diverse cultures, they will be less able to adapt, leaving them at the mercy of local and global economic and political forces, with opportunities closed off to them.
We spoke about how translating for children is different from translating for adult readers. I mentioned the role of gatekeepers because the younger the readers are, the less likely they are to choose their own books. Julia talked about the “dumbing down” of children’s books in the United States, as children in Italy are exposed to longer words at an earlier age. Mara talked about onomatopoeia and how it’s represented in different languages, how to translate fart jokes, a barking dog in Spain that goes “boop boop,” and whether “zzzzz” is the universal representation of snoring. She pointed out that when fewer words are involved, each word carries greater importance. Both Mara and Claudia discussed the process of working with illustrators and the special challenges of translating a children’s book that may not coordinate with the illustrations in the new language. Often, the illustrations must be changed, not only for linguistic but also for cultural reasons. This was the case of one of The World in a Second’s illustrations, which featured topless pin-ups in a barbershop in the Azores. Now it shows volcanoes.
full piece via Why We Need More Children’s Books in Translation – Waging Peace.
When I was a child, a fair whack of the books I read were translations – either from the classics like The Arabian Knights, Anansi or Heidi to contemporary stuff like The King of the Copper Mountain or the Moomins.
I don’t think the same is true any more. Apart from Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and Tonke Dragt’s The Letter to the King, I’m hard pressed to think of a popular book that wasn’t written in English. How has this happened? In London you can find native speakers of almost any language on Earth, but you’d be hard pressed to find any of the literature of those languages. Publishing – maybe the English language – seems to be becoming a one way street. Given the recent decline in the teaching of modern languages in our schools, it’s a one way street that may soon become a cul-de-sac.
… …Writers are campaigning at the moment to make our children’s books reflect the diversity of our society. It’s called DiversityMatters. But surely real diversity involves listening as well as talking, translating as well as writing. So to those of you reading this whose first language is not English – what are we missing? What books were written in your native tongue that never made it to ours?
Includes Q&A interview with the author (follow the link below)
On May 26, Other Press will publish The Travels of Daniel Ascher, a debut novel by Déborah Lévy-Bertherat, translated from the French by Adriana Hunter. Of particular note about its publication: Other Press is marketing the book as a YA crossover, the first time the press has dealt with such a book in its nearly 17-year history.
The Adventures of Shola, by Bernardo Atxaga, Pushkin Children’s Books, 2013, translated from Basque Margaret Jull Costa.
and the full shortlist:
Other Titles on the The Shortlist
Waffle Hearts, by Maria Parr, Walker Books, 2013, translated from Norwegian by Guy Puzey.The judges say: ‘An extremely funny story. It captures brilliantly the relationship between the young and the old, above all, the growing realisation of the narrator that he has a best friend in the character of Lena. A total delight.’
The Letter for the King, by Tonke Dragt, Pushkin Children’s Books, 2014, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson.
The judges say: ‘A hugely satisfying read; traditional in style, fast- paced and full of action. It is an odyssey peopled with strong, well-drawn characters, told in rich, flowing language that makes it hard to put down. It tells of a quest, of love, loyalty and bravery. It is a book full of heart.’
My Brother Simple, by Marie-Aude Murail, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2012, translated from French by Adriana Hunter.
The judges say: ‘A moving, often very funny story, in which well-rounded characters face an all too common difficulty: how do we care for someone who does not fit into society’s norms? Describing the diverse young cast’s first forays into sex and real love with humour and warmth, this excellent translation is a riveting page turner from start to finish.’
The Good Little Devil and Other Tales, by Pierre Gripari, Pushkin Children’s Books, 2013, translated from French by Sophie Lewis.
The judges say: ‘A great rediscovery by Pushkin Press. This is a collection of surreal and magical stories. A potato and a Sultan fall in love, a pig swallows the Pole Star, a great hero gets no credit for his heroic deeds because his name is just too awful – it is all really timeless and often utterly odd. Sophie Lewis’s clever and imaginative translation brilliantly preserves the stories’ humour and their offbeat charm.’
Anton and Piranha by Milena Baisch, Andersen Press, 2013, translated from German by Chantal Wright.
The judges say: ‘Anton is deeply disappointed when his grandparents take him on holiday to a caravan park without the swimming pool of his dreams, so he seeks consolation with a pet perch named Piranha. Baisch gives the reader subtle insights into a child’s insecurities in a story told with plenty of humour and accompanied by witty, expressive illustrations from Elle Kusche.’