… or what I really wanted to say if I had more characters, was able to edit, and was not autocorrected
Paula Holmes is a stellar #WorldKidLitMonth champion who reviews translated children’s books daily throughout September on Twitter. Here she tells us why she loves World Kid Lit and recaps three of her highlights, giving a little more detail than you can fit into a 280-character tweet…
By Paula Holmes
This is the third year that I have participated in World Kid Lit Month by tweeting out a book a day with the hashtag #worldkidlitmonth, remembering to #namethetranslator. I absolutely look forward to it but hadn’t really expected it to be anything more than a one-time thing.
I stumbled into #worldkidlit Twitter by way of the Mildred L. Batchelder Award. I was Budget Chair and Fiscal Officer for the Association for Library Service to Children who award numerous Children’s Literature Awards at the American Library Association Youth Media Award Ceremonies. As the awards are announced I have watched sales figures for titles fly up the chart. Some awards have sponsors or endowments, all have fans. The Mildred L. Batchelder Award does not have a sponsor or endowment and most people don’t recognize her oval seal. As a finance person I wanted to know, “Does this award really matter and to whom?” It turns out it mattered to me.
Post a tweet on the Batchelder Award and you will find her audience rather quickly. They are a delight – they will remind, gently, to name the translator. After tweeting along with this group for three years of Septembers I was asked if I would share my top ten this year and I am honored. My top ten pile kept growing back to thirty that I tweeted out throughout the month. I decided I would focus on three titles and ask you kindly give consideration to all the books that received the coveted #worldkidlitmonth hashtag.
The Apartment: A Century of Russian History
My original tweet highlighted that I had missed this book in 2019. It was my most popular tweet, a big favorite, and thoughts that ‘others’ had missed this as well. “How did I miss this for 2019 #worldkidlitmonth? The Apartment: A Century of Russian History by Alexandra Litvina, illustrated by Anna Desnitskaya, translated by Antonina W. Bouis: part picture dictionary, timeline, and history of the Muromtseva family Moscow apartment from 1902- 2002”
This is the cautionary tale that publishing continues beyond September and world kid lit month. My search for translated titles typically centers around library conferences at the beginning of the year and in early summer, this allows me to share my interest in translations with publishers, pick up ARCs when available and sometimes purchase advance or new titles at a discount. Almost a year after publication, I purchased The Apartment after hearing it recommended at an Emma Press Webinar this August featuring Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp. As soon as it arrived my husband grabbed it and has been singing it praises. I am keeping it as a bedside companion perfect for Russian historical fiction.
Chirri & Chirra Under the Sea
This charming series from Japan can be read in any order, the book size is perfect for younger children and the paper texture enhances the illustrations. The illustrations create imaginary worlds where Chirri & Chirra explore the world on their bicycles, encouraging children to get outside and explore nature and the environment.
“Dring-dring, dring-dring! Kaya Doi’s Chirri & Chirra Under the Sea: the bicycling twins ring in the star of #worldkidlitmonth! Translated from the Japanese by David Boyd. Sweet enchanting illustrations, tea in a conch shell sofa and attending a musical with a family of squid from Enchanted Lion.”
A series like this presents a risk to the publisher and the reader. I have given this book and others in the Chirri & Chirra series to my friends and colleagues, because I want to encourage the publisher to print more of this series, that it will provide a return on their investment. Plus, they just make me smile.
“Edward van de Vendel & Marije Tolman have created a masterpiece with Little Fox translated from the Dutch by David Colmer. The pop of PMS 804 C orange on photographic prints creates dimension and matches brilliantly with the drama of little fox. Thank you, Levine Querido, #worldkidlitmonth.”
If I had more characters on Twitter, I would have added that the photographic prints are of the dunes and forests of the Netherlands. I am hopeful that the newly launched Levine Querido’s (with an established & powerful rolodex) focus should increase the number of translations for children published in the United States and continue the momentum of worldkidlit.
Throughout the month of September, I create my own lists of books based on the wonderful #worldkidlitmonth recommendations to read. A break from my typical financial focus. Searching for new translations to read, I often now search by translator. Appreciating the craft and noting what their skill brings to the edition I read is a gentle reminder that #namethetranslator is working.
To see all thirty (30) of my favorites of this September’s #worldkidlitmonth you will find them on Twitter @Qsprite.
Paula Holmes is the former Fiscal Officer for the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) and currently chairs their task force on Diversifying Revenue Streams. She also is a member of the USBBY Dorothy Briley Memorial Lecturer Selection Committee for 2020-2021.