Recent Books in Wales

by Megan Farr

Below is a selection of recently published children’s books either from Wales or by Welsh creatives that I have enjoyed. This list includes books translated from Welsh into English and English into Welsh, as well as bilingual editions and books translated from Spanish and Czech that have been published by Welsh publishing houses. These titles show the diversity of children’s books currently travelling into and out of Wales, demonstrating how creatives and publishers from Wales are becoming more international.

YN GYNNAR YN Y BORE/EARLY ONE MORNING
DIM CHWARAE, MOT!/ BEDTIME, NOT PLAYTIME

Written by Lawrence Schimel
Illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa
Translated from Spanish into English and Welsh by Mari Siôn and Elin Jones
Translated from Spanish [Spain]
Published by Peniarth

These two brightly illustrated board books for ages 0-3 depict two young children who happen to have same sex parents. The books have been published with the aim to help normalise same sex parenting. These are fun, engaging stories of a girl and her two mums at bedtime, and a boy and his two dads getting up early in the morning as they both have adventures with their pets. Written by the prolific Spanish/American publisher, writer and translator Lawrence Schimel with illustrations by Latvian artist Elīna Brasliņa, these board books have been translated into over 30 languages to date. They are now available in the UK in English and Welsh, published by Welsh publisher Peniarth. Free copies are being given to every primary school in Wales thanks to Stonewall Cymru and funding from Welsh Government.

GEORGE THE BRAVE

Written by Eva Papoušková
Illustrated by Galina Miklínová
Translated by Alexandra Büchler
Translated from Czech [Czech Republic]
Published by Graffeg

George the Brave is the sequel to George the Wombat, translated from the Czech by Alexandra Büchler. These quirky picture books introduce young children to these curious and adorable animals teaching them interesting facts about wombats that children will love. The illustrations are drawn with dark cross hatching and add energy, humour and character to the story of a young wombat learning to use his bottom to defend himself from predators.

THE MAB

Edited by Matt Brown and Eloise Williams
Written by Matt Brown, Eloise Williams, Sophie Anderson, Rhian Ivory, PG Bell, Alex Wharton, Claire Fayers, Hanan Issa, Zillah Bethall, Darren Chetty, Nicola Davies
Illustrated by Max Low
Translated by Bethan Gwanas
Translated from English into Welsh, bilingual edition [UK]
Published by Unbound

The Mab is the brainchild of Matt Brown who was looking for contemporary retellings of the Mabinogi, the oldest and most famous Welsh legends, for his children and couldn’t find them, so he turned to the crowdfunding publisher Unbound to publish the book. He and Eloise Williams have curated a fantastic collection of eleven stories from the Mabinogi retold by some of best children’s writers from Wales and illustrated by up-and-coming illustrator Max Low. Each story has been told in 2,000 words with each writer using different storytelling techniques to keep the stories relevant to a contemporary audience. The stories have been translated into Welsh by Bethan Gwanes who included words and synonyms from all areas of Wales in keeping with the settings and characters of each story. The result is a gorgeously produced bilingual hardback that has been endorsed by Michael Sheen. The publisher intends to sell the language rights so that international publishers will retain the Welsh translation – a brilliant way to internationalise Welsh talent, culture and the language.

SEED

Written by Caryl Lewis
Illustrated by George Ermos
Translated by Meinir Wyn Edwards (Welsh language edition)
Translated from English into Welsh as Hedyn (Y Lolfa) [Wales, UK]
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books

Seed is the first middle grade novel Welsh writer Caryl Lewis has written directly into English, and the result is a beautifully accessible and funny book with literary nods to Roald Dahl and Frank Cottrell Boyce. It tells the story of Marty who lives alone with his hoarder mother and his friend Gracie, who is hard of hearing and neglected by her divorced parents. Together with Marty’s irrepressible grandfather, they grow a pumpkin the size of a car and sail to Paris and back in it. Seed is a story of overcoming the odds to achieve your dreams through working together and believing in yourself. This inspirational and hugely empathetic read was translated into Welsh by Meinir Wyn Edwards and published by the Welsh publisher Y Lolfa at the same time as the original so that the story is available in both languages.

PAWB A PHOPETH/WELSH ALL AROUND

Written by Elin Meek
Illustrated by Valériane Leblond
Pronunciation guide by Richard Tunnicliffe
Translated from English/Welsh bilingual [Wales, UK]
Published by Rily

This gorgeous large format hardback picture book is a treasure trove of Welsh vocabulary beautifully illustrated by French illustrator Valériane Leblond. Children and adults will love pouring over every spread, learning vocabulary for a wide variety of subjects including the body, feelings, animals, nature and space. Each word has the phonetic translation to help Welsh learners.

SHANI CHICKENS

Written by Morfudd Bevan
Illustrated by Valériane Leblond
Translated by Peter Stevenson
Translated from Welsh [Wales, UK]
Published by Y Lolfa

Shani Chickens is the real-life story of Jane Leonard who lived in Cei Bach, near New Quay, Ceredigion, in the late 19th century. She lived off the proceeds from selling eggs to the locals. Known as Shani Pob Man, Shani lived a simple life and was a local character, telling stories and people’s fortunes as well as singing songs to the children. Leblond’s evocative illustrations are in egg tempera, painted on tea-stained paper in celebration of Shani’s brown eggs. This evocative picture book brings local history alive.

Meet Megan Farr:

I am currently a PhD student researching into ‘Internationalising the Children’s Publishing Sector in Wales’ as well as working part time for the Welsh independent children’s publisher Firefly Press. I love finding out more about the growing bilingual children’s publishing industry in Wales and looking into strategies to internationalise it. When I was little I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always loved reading and drawing though so I think it was inevitable that I would end up working with words and pictures. I’m learning Welsh at the moment which is full of wonderful sounding words. One favourite is ‘esgidiau’ [eh-skid-ee-eye], shoes. If I could travel anywhere in the world, it would probably be Papua New Guinea, I always had a fascination with the country when I was little and loved drawing birds-of-paradise. I recently read Zillah Bethell’s beautiful children’s book The Shark Caller which is set in the country and really brought the place alive. I have two ginger cats, Toast and Sunny, known as the ‘ginger sisters’. They are gorgeous and great company!