Galician Children’s Literature

This week we welcome back Charlotte Graver to tell us about childrens’ books from Galicia that have yet to be translated into English…

By Charlotte Graver

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Cervantes Institute’s conference, Riveting Writing from Multilingual Spain. Organised by the University of Warwick’s Dr Olga Castro, the event sought to highlight the literary heritage of the Spanish state and discuss how current cultural diplomacy initiatives are contributing to changing the landscape of literary translation in the Anglosphere.

As well as leaving me in awe as fantastic unpublished translation extracts were read, I was also left saddened to learn that, despite 25% of Spanish authors writing in a language that isn’t Castilian, the degree of Asturian, Basque, Catalan and Galician literature on the British market is strikingly low. The reason for this lack of representation is unclear; however it is thought that through greater discussion and promotion, steps could be taken to change this. In other words, to ensure that more literature from the co-official languages is being both translated and published, it is generally understood that we need to talk more about this literature, share grants and award opportunities that encourage translation from minority languages, and promote and support any successful publications.

Already there are some fantastic initiatives focused on achieving these goals. For example, The European Literature Network’s The Riveter seeks to make international writing accessible to readers everywhere. Moreover, the grants offered by Acción Cultural Española seek to promote the international presence of Spanish creators from all regions. However, more still needs to be done.

It is in this spirit that I would like to share some of my favourite Galician children’s stories that have not as yet been translated into English.

A Dog (Original Title: Un Can)
Written by O Hematocrítico
Illustrated by Alberto Vázquez
Target Age: Three years +
Publisher: Xerais (March 2022)

This story for first readers is about Moncho. Moncho is a dog, although some people might think he should be a sheep. It’s a humorous and heart-warming tale about the right to be different and the right to embrace who you are meant to be. It may be short, but it certainly packs a punch.

The faces of my rain (Original Title: As caras da miña choiva)
Written by Kristina Sabaite
Illustrated by Kristina Sabaite
Target Age: Five years +
Publisher: Editorial Galaxia (November 2022)

Anyone who knows Galicia knows that rain is very much synonymous with the region. It rains so much that Galicians have a plethora of different words for all the different types of rain. For example, are you experiencing a very fine rain that somehow has the ability to seep deep into your bones? That’ll be babuxa … or orballo … or chuvisca. As with all types of rain, there are quite a few words to choose from and in this story, Kristina Sabaite chooses to personify these names.

From Escarabana to Arroiada, the little girl narrating the story informs the reader of the names and personality traits her grandmother taught her for all the different types of rain. However, not just anyone can identify these names as their faces are hidden. It’s only those who know how to stand still and look very closely who are able to identify them.

Dreams (Original Title: SoñoS)
Written by Pere Tobaruela
Illustrated by Víctor Boullón
Target Age: Three years +
Publisher: Alvarellos Editora (April 2022)

The next story I’d like to share is one that I’m certain would be a challenge to translate! Do you know what palindromes are? They are words that can be read either from left to right or right to left – they’re symmetrical in essence. Well, this story is made up entirely of palindromes! But it’s not just the words. The images too encourage us to search for the symmetries present. It’s truly unique and even if you can’t read Galician, I’d highly recommend having a peep at this story.

Journey to Dragonia
(Original Title: Viaxe a Dragonia. Castilian Title: Viaje a Dragonia.)
Written by Xan López Domínguez
Illustrated by Xan López Domínguez
Target Age: Eight years +
Publisher: Tucan Laranxa (February 2015)

If you’re looking for a chapter book, rather than a picture book, then Viaxe a Dragonia is a wonderful place to start. Xan López Domínguez brings us a world full of witches, giants and dragons, but these aren’t just any old dragons. Thanks to a book known as DRAGONIS TERRIBILIS, these are dragons that have been created from all sorts of everyday objects: coffee machines, boots… even bagpipes! Wielding such a power, it is no surprise that DRAGONIS TERRIBILIS is incredibly valuable and incredibly dangerous. You can therefore imagine the chaos that might ensue should it ever disappear…

Abundant with exquisite illustrations, Viaxe a Dragonia is utterly hilarious and is sure to take you on a thrilling, although somewhat mad-cap, escapade.

Escarlatina, the Deceased Chef
(Original Title: Escarlatina, a cociñeira defunta. Castilian Title: Escarlatina, la cocinera cadáver)
Written by Ledicia Costas
Illustrated by Víctor Rivas
Target Age: Eight years +
Publisher: Merlín (September 2014)

The last book I’d like to share with you is the oldest on our list and another chapter book that will take you on a fabulous adventure. Rather than a magical world of dragons, however, Ledicia Costas’ story takes you to the slightly darker setting of the Underworld.

Román Casas dreams of becoming a true chef. So, for his tenth birthday (which just so happens to be on el Día de los Difuntos – The Day of the Dead), Román asks for a cooking course. But, instead of the traditional style cooking lessons, what Román receives is a coffin containing instructions on how to bring Escarlatina back to life – a cook who died in the nineteenth century. Hopping on board the deadbus, Escarlatina and Román travel to the Underworld where an exhilarating (and slightly macabre) quest awaits them.


Charlotte Graver is a Spanish to English translator who works as a Translation Project Manager. Her interests are predominantly children’s literature and the way in which children’s literature translation can be used to aid children’s development and nourish creativity. Having lived in Galicia for a year as part of her university studies, she cares deeply for the region and the language and is passionate about encouraging others to discover its beauty.