In Hunt for a ‘New Pippi Longstocking,’ We Need to Look Beyond Europe

The Guardian has a write-up about BookTrust’s new grant scheme for samples of children’s literature, headlined “Hunt is on for the new Pippi Longstocking“:

Certainly we understand it to be shorthand: What we want isn’t a new Pippi, but a new book (series) that blows us off our feet the way Pippi did when we first discovered her.

Pippi, Asterix, Moomins,  Mrs. Pepperpot, Heidi, Emil (and the Detectives), The Neverending Story, Inkheart, Eye of the Wolf, The Letter for the King, Babar, and Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder — all mentioned in the story — have a large common point: All are from Western Europe.

These are all great books, and we should continue to seek out the greatest new work among Western European authors.

But we need more efforts like Tiny Owl, which is working to bring great Iranian kid lit into English, all those bringing the great wealth of Japanese children’s literature into English, as well as Bangla, Arabic, Turkish, Eastern European.

It isn’t easy to find the best literature in an unfamiliar language, or even to know how to judge it. But there are translators who can help ease publishers’ paths; over the rest of the month, we hope to feature several of translators and their lists of what should be published.

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