On January 24th, the American Library Association announced the winners of its Youth Media Awards. Particularly of interest to us here at World Kid Lit is the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for children’s books in translation. We’re delighted today to welcome back Paula Holmes to tell us more…
By Paula Holmes
The Mildred L. Batchelder Award is announced annually at the American Library Association Youth Media Awards. “The Batchelder Award is awarded to a United States publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originating in a country other than the United States and in a language other than English and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States during the preceding year.” (From the website of the ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children).
For me, (and I know that I am not alone) this is THE award I await with anxious anticipation. Over the last few years, I have focused my kid lit diet on translations. The Batchelder has a loyal and dedicated fan base, but I realize that for some viewers of the Youth Media Awards (YMA), the announcement of the Batchelder is their only exposure to translations for children. These titles may be the only translations they purchase/read.
One tweet that stuck with me after the January 24 YMA announcements was, “the Batchelder awards are always great because how much works in translation fly under my radar.” I hope that this year’s Batchelder having five honor books and one award winner, which hasn’t happened since it was first awarded in 1968, will provide a core collection and serve as an introduction to the fabulous work that these translators and publishers are doing. This ultimately benefits children’s librarians and the families they serve.
This years’ awardees deserve a featured place in youth librarians’ (and personal) collections: these are picture books and middle grade fiction published by Elsewhere Editions, the children’s imprint of Archipelago Books (one 2022 Honor Book), Enchanted Lion Books (three 2022 Honor Books), Levine Querido (one 2022 Honor Book), and Yonder, the children’s imprint of Restless Books (winner of the 2022 Award). You can read the official Batchelder Award announcement here.
Not to go off on a tangent, but please take a moment to savor the tactile properties of these books: the paper quality, embossed covers, the selection of fonts, and all the little beautiful details.
Winner of the 2022 Batchelder Award
Yonder (Restless Books for Young Readers) for Temple Alley Summer
Originally published in Japanese [Japan], as “Kimyōji Yokochō no Natsu,” the book was written by Sachiko Kashiwaba, illustrated by Miho Satake, and translated by Avery Fischer Udagawa.
This is Yonder’s first Batchelder Award Book, having previously been awarded an honor title.
“The Batchelder Award comes as such an encouragement, not least because fellow WorldKidLit fans pay close attention and have gotten in touch,” says translator Avery Fischer Udagawa. “This is such a wonderful community! I am relieved and overjoyed that members of the Batchelder committee seem to have enjoyed Temple Alley Summer the way I did when I first read 帰命寺横丁の夏. I am thrilled that the award is receiving coverage in Japan, as well as in the US, and I hope that this will help Sachiko Kashiwaba’s story make its way to more young readers. I could not be more grateful to Restless Books.”
Read more about Temple Alley Summer on World Kid Lit Blog:
- Nanette McGuinness reviews Temple Alley Summer
- Interview with Editor Alison Gore and Translator Avery Fischer Udagawa
2022 Batchelder Honor Books
Elsewhere Editions for In the Meadow of Fantasies
Originally published in Persian/Farsi [Iran], written by Hadi Mohammadi, illustrated by Nooshin Safakhoo and translated by Sara Khalili.
A rhythmic lullaby of traveling with your imagination. Beautifully illustrating the concept of sharing, it grows richer with each reading. This is the first time a title from Iran has been honored with a Batchelder. This is Elsewhere’s second honor book. In the Meadow of Fantasies was also recognized by IBBY in their Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities.
Enchanted Lion Books for Coffee, Rabbit, Snowdrop, Lost
Originally published in Danish [Denmark], written by Betina Birkjær, illustrated by Anna Margrethe Kjærgaard and translated by Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov.
A bittersweet portrayal of how dementia, through the loss of words, both in the text and illustrations, and how it not only impacts the relationship between a child and grandfather but a changing relationship of a grandmother and grandfather. Back matter is included.
Enchanted Lion Books for The Most Beautiful Story
Originally published in Norwegian [Norway], written by Brynjulf Jung Tjønn, illustrated by Øyvind Torseter and translated by Kari Dickson.
Enchanted Lion excels in publishing books on comforting and understanding, weaving grief, a brother’s death and a magical woman in the lake, into The Most Beautiful Story. This is the fourth Batchelder for a translation by Kari Dickson; her translation of Brown by Håkon Øvreås, also illustrated by Øyvind Torseter, was the 2020 Batchelder Award winner (you can see past awards and honor titles here).
Enchanted Lion Books for Sato the Rabbit
Originally published in Japanese [Japan], written and illustrated by Yuki Ainoya and translated by Michael Blaskowsky.
A long-time Chirri & Chirra fan, I was immediately drawn to this imaginative series of a boy in a rabbit suit. Each title is made of up of little vignettes that start with something simple like cutting a watermelon in half and by the end Sato is sailing the sea in his watermelon boat. The third book in the series, Sato the Rabbit: A Sea of Tea comes out May 2022. All books in the series are translated by Michael Blaskowsky.
- Review by Jackie Friedman Mighdoll on World Kid Lit
Enchanted Lion Books took home three Batchelder honors, to add to their previous 5 winners and 6 honors. They have now published 14 titles that have been honored with the Batchelder Seal.
Levine Querido for The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas
Originally published in Spanish [Mexico] as Diccionario de Mitos de América, written by María García Esperón, illustrated by Amanda Mijangos and translated by David Bowles.
Levine Querido also published Cuentos Sagrados de Ámerica (a companion Spanish edition of The Sea-Ringed World). This is LQ’s first honor book, but publisher Arthur Levine is no stranger to the award.
All the Batchelder titles announced on January 24 named the translator on the cover and/or the title page. On January 12, 2022, the ALSC Board passed the following motion regarding the Batchelder Award Criteria.
MOTION: move to revise the submission criteria for the Batchelder Award to include:
“The translator(s) shall be named on all titles submitted for consideration. The translator(s) name(s) shall appear, at minimum, on the title page along with the author(s) name(s), and ideally the translator(s) name(s) shall appear on the cover along with the author(s) name(s) as well.”
“recognize the translator(s) of Batchelder Award winners and honorees with a certificate.”
ACTION: Staff will work on a notification plan for publishers as well as changes to submission criteria. ALA Vice-President Amy Koester and ALSC Board Member Amber Creger will be available to assist with implementation.
For me, the next big translation event that I am already thinking about is #WorldKidLitMonth in September. I will use this time to look for titles from US publishers that may be the next recipients of the Batchelder seal.
Paula Holmes has served in a variety of volunteer capacities for the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) including Fiscal Officer and is currently the Committee Chair for ALSC 2022 Nominating and Leadership Development. She is currently taking ballet to improve her interpretative dancing, creating tiny collage art, reading translations of children’s literature, and attempting to learn Finnish.