100 More Translated Children’s Books from Around the World

Last World Kid Lit Month, I put together a list of 100 translated children’s books from around the year. This year, translator Avery Fischer Udagawa took up the challenge to put together 100 more:

By Avery Fischer Udagawa

Image courtesy Elina Braslina. People swimming and reading.
Image courtesy Elina Braslina

September is World Kid Lit Month, a time to notice if global stories are reaching kids in the form of translations. I learned about many translated children’s titles (picture booksthrough young adult) in a post by Marcia Lynx Qualey for Book Riot one year ago, in September 2016: 100 Great Translated Children’s Books from Around the World.

When September 2017 arrived I wondered, could I come up with 100 more?

Turns out I could—with some help from Marcia.

Below are 100 recommendations discovered through my work as a kidlit translator (from Japanese to English) and through posts by Marcia and friends at the September is #WorldKidLit Month public Facebook group. This list also draws on resources from the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, and from threads on the SCBWI Translation listserv of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (learn more by writing Finally, this list draws on the January 2017 publication Riveting Reads: A World of Books in Translation by the School Library Association.

Feel free to recommend more titles in the comments, being sure to #namethetranslator!

For more on why #worldkidlit, see “Outlandish: Braving New Perspectives Through Books in Translation” by Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal cover story, April 2017.


1) Press Here by Hervé Tullet, translated from French by Christopher Franceschelli. New York Times bestseller and preschool hit. Press the yellow circle and see what happens!

2) Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi, translated from Japanese by Amanda Mayer Stinchecum. Appeared in the movie Dan in Real Life. Comic relief for toilet trainers and -ees.

3) Me Tall, You Small by Lilli L’Arronge, translated from German by Madeleine Stratford. Playful vignettes about two weasels incorporate rhyme, onomatopoeia, and wordplay.

4) Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words by Ruth Rocha, translated from Portuguese by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. A child sees words as squiggles until he goes to school and begins to read.

5) Hedgehog’s Home by Branko Ćopić, illustrated by Sanja Rešćek, translated from Serbo-Croatian by S. D. Curtis. Hedgehog shows a bear and a boar what home means.

6) Sky Blue Accident/Accidente celeste by Jorge Luján, illustrated by Piet Grobler, translated from Spanish by Elisa Amado. A short poem about crashing a bicycle into the sky.

7) The Story of Babar, by Jean De Brunhoff, translated from French by Olive Jones. First book in the series beloved by generations, featuring Babar, Celeste and the rich old lady.

8) Animals at Night: A Glow-in-the-Dark Book, by Anne Jankéliowitch, illustrated by Delphine Chedru, translated from French by Eve Bodeux. What do animals do when we’re asleep?

9) Hot Air, by Sandrine Dumas Roy, illustrated by Emmanuelle Houssais, translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone. Empoweringly informs young children about global warming.

10) The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy by Beatrice Alemagna, translated from French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick. Winner of the Batchelder Award, and a perfect birthday present.

11) The Orange House by Nahid Kazemi, translated from Persian by Azita Rassi. The old brick Orange House is about to be torn down, but she finds surprising new friends.

12) Hannah’s Night by Komako Sakai, translated from Japanese by Cathy Hirano. Hannah (about four) wakes at night and enjoys a host of adventures while her parents and sister sleep.

13) Nora the Mind Reader by Orit Gidali, illustrated by Aya Gordon-Noy, translated from Hebrew by Annette Appel. Bubble wand photo overlay magically reveals people’s thoughts!

14) Samira and the Skeletons by Camilla Kuhn, translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett. After learning about the skeletal system, Samira wants to escape her skeleton!

15) Line Up, Please! by Tomoko Ohmura, translated from Japanese by Cathy Hirano. This title has been called “the perfect book about queuing.” Double page gatefold at the end.

16) You Can’t Be Too Careful by Roger Mello, translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. Mello became the first Latin American illustrator to win an Andersen Award in 2014.

17) The Family of Fourteen series by Kazuo Iwamura, translated from Japanese by Arthur Binard. Inviting books about a clan of mice who live in ways quintessentially Japanese.

18) Don’t Cross the Line! by Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho, translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. Slapstick tale about peaceful revolution.

19) Walk with Me by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng, translated from Spanish by Elisa Amado. Recently shortlisted for the fourth annual Kirkus Prize.

20) Rain Won’t by Kenji Miyazawa, illustrated by Koji Yamamura, translated from Japanese by Arthur Binard. In bilingual form, a classic poem of strength. “Rain won’t stop me.”

21) Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved, illustrated by Charlotte Pardi, translated from Danish by Robert Moulthrop. Winner of the 2017 Batchelder Award.

22) The World In A Second by Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho, translated from Portuguese by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. One second, 26 places worldwide.


23) My Valley by Claude Ponti, translated from French by Alyson Waters. Journey through imaginary landscapes inhabited by Touims (monkey-like), giants, flying buildings . . .

24) Flame by Chengliang Zhu, translated from Chinese by Helen Wang. After her cubs are trapped, a mother fox tracks their hunters. Themes of conservation, parental love.

25) The Midsummer Tomte and the Little Rabbits by Ulf Stark, illustrated by Eva Eriksson, translated from Swedish by Susan Beard. Midsummer story in 21 short chapters.

26) Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, illustrated by Jun Takabatake, translated from Japanese by Cathy Hirano. A penguin tries to become a giraffe just like his pen pal.

27) Mister H by Daniel Nesquens, illustrated by Luciano Lozano, translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel. A hippo tries to escape the zoo and make his way back to Africa.

28) My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson, translated from Swedish by Julia Marshall. The daughter of a single father goes to school for the first time.

29) Lilly and Fin: A Mermaid’s Tale by Cornelia Funke, translated from German by Oliver Latsch. Full-color illustrated short novel about two sassy, smart merpups. Part of series.

30) As Time Went By by José Sanabria, translated from Spanish by Audrey Hall. A steamship and a family journey through time, encountering everything from loss to luxury.

31) Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee, translated from Swedish by Julia Marshall. Detective Gordon must catch the thief stealing nuts in the forest!

32) Bicycling to the Moon by Timo Parvela, illustrated by Virpi Talfitie, translated from Finnish by Ruth Urbom. Funny chapter book about a cat with ideas, and a dog with patience.

33) Clementine Loves Red by Krystyna Boglar, illustrated by Bohdan Butenko, translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones and Zosia Kradomska-Jones. A quest in the woods.This book also made the inaugural longlist for the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.

34) Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, translated from Japanese by Dorothy Britton. One of the world’s most-translated books, about a unique school.

35) Who Built That? Bridges by Didier Cornille, translated from French by Yolanda Stern Broad. Nonfiction. Ten famous bridges and their designers. Spine on top—book opens up!


36) The Pasta Detectives by Andreas Steinhöfel, illustrated by Steven Wells, translated from German by Chantal Wright. Funny mystery starring two improbable boy detectives.

37) The Treasure of Barracuda by Llanos Campos, illustrated by Júlia Sardà, translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel. The swashbuckling adventures of pirates who read!

38) Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, illustrated by Fulvio Testa, translated from Italian by Geoffrey Brock. A light, humorous treatment of the tale known worldwide thanks to Disney.

39) The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly by Luis Sepúlveda, translated from Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden. International bestseller, subject of feature film.

40) Catlantis by Anna Starobinets, illustrated by Andrezj Klimowski, translated from Russian by Jane Bugaeva. A house cat turns out to be descended from the magic Catlanteans.

41) The Birth of Kitaro and sequels by Shigeru Mizuki, translated from Japanese by Zack Davisson. Manga by legendary artist who revived interest in yokai spirits in postwar Japan.

42) A Faraway Island by Annika Thor, translated from Swedish by Linda Schenck. Batchelder Award winner about two Jewish sisters who flee Nazi-controlled Vienna for Sweden.

43) The Lily Pond by Annika Thor, translated from Swedish by Linda Schenck. Batchelder Honor winner and sequel to A Faraway Island. Sisters grow in exile during World War II.

44) The Friends by Kazumi Yumoto, translated from Japanese by Cathy Hirano. Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction. Three 12-year-old boys befriend a man they once spied on.

45) Mekong Kids by Khemachat, translated from Thai by Peter Ross. Nine-year-old Boom lives in a village in northeastern Thailand and wonders how to make friends.

46) J-Boys: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965 by Shogo Oketani, translated from Japanese by Avery Fischer Udagawa. Nine-year-old Kazuo grows up in Tokyo after the 1964 Olympics.

47) Nine Open Arms by Benny Lindelauf, illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova, translated from Dutch by John Nieuwenhuizen. Ghost story/history/fantasy about moving into an old house.

48) Night Guard by Synne Lea, illustrated by Stian Hole, translated from Norwegian by John Irons. Poetry collection that explores friendship, fear, and loneliness in a family.

49) The Mystery of the Scarlet Rose by Irene Adler, translated from Italian by Nanette McGuinness. Part of the Sherlock, Lupin, and Me series about a teen who sleuths with his friends.

50) The Wild Book by Juan Villoro, translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel. From a prominent Mexican author, a literary fable in the spirit of M. Ende’s The Neverending Story.

51) The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, translated from German by William Godwin. Another for the category of “I never knew this book was a translation!”

52) Samir and Yonatan by Daniella Carmi, translated from Hebrew by Yael Lotan. Novel of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that won a Batchelder Award. Hard-earned healing.

53) Somos como los nubes/We Are Like the Clouds by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Alfonso Ruano, translated from Spanish by Elisa Amado. Poems about Central American child refugees.

54) The Happiness of Kati by Jane Vejjajiva, translated from Thai by Prudence Borthwick. International bestseller. A girl in Thailand must come to terms with her mother’s ALS.

55) The Pull of the Ocean by Jean-Claude Mourlevat, translated from French by Y. Maudet. A modern play on Charles Perrault’s Tom Thumb. Winner of the Batchelder Award.

56) The Ballad of a Broken Nose by Arne Svingen, translated from Norwegian by Kari Dickson. Coming-of-age story about relentlessly positive teenager who loves opera.

57) A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux, translated from French by Y. Maudet. A refugee boy makes a harrowing, five-year journey through the Caucasus to France.

58) The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, illustrated by Rotraut Susanne Berner, translated from German by Michael Henry Heim. A mathematical adventure.

59) The Story of the Blue Planet by Andri Snær Magnason, illustrated by Áslaug Jónsdóttir, translated from Icelandic by Julian Meldon D’Arcy. Magic ecological cautionary tale.

60) Maps by by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński, translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. An atlas that is also a “visual feast” with sumptuous illustrations.

61) Under Earth, Under Water by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński, translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. From the Maps team, a book that delves “under.”

62) Jackal and Wolf by Shen Shixi, translated from Chinese by Helen Wang. Two natural enemies develop a bond. Riveting read by China’s bestselling “king of animal novels.”

63) Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko by David Jacobson, illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri, translated from Japanese by Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi. Mesmerizing.

64) The Oxford India Illustrated Children’s Tagore, translated from Bengali, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri. Tales of daily life and fantasy by 1913 Nobel laureate Rabidranath Tagore.

65) Night on the Galactic Railroad & Other Stories from Ihatov, by Kenji Miyazawa, translated from Japanese by Julianne Neville. Six stories focused on space, the galaxy, and meaning.

66) The Secrets of the Wild Wood by Tonke Dragt, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson. The further adventures of knight Tiuri in this sequel to The Letter For the King.

67) The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui, translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori. A family of Little People rely on a girl who evacuates Tokyo during wartime.

68) The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler, translated from Dutch by Susan Massotty. The diary kept by Anne Frank for two years.

69) Hidden Like Anne Frank by Marcel Prins  and Peter Henk Steenhuis, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson. True stories of children hidden away during World War II.

70) The Girl with the White Flag by Tomiko Higa, translated from Japanese by Dorothy Britton. True story of young girl struggling to survive the Battle of Okinawa on her own.

71) Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, translated from Chinese by Helen Wang. Author is the current Andersen Award (“little Nobel”) laureate. 2017 Marsh Award winner.

72) I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached, translated from Arabic by translated by Edward Gauvin. Sequel to A Game for Swallows; memories of childhood, Lebanese civil war.

73) Zlata’s Diary, by Zlata Filipović, translated from Bosnian by Christina Pribichevich-Zoric. Published at the height of the Bosnian conflict. Portrays war engulfing Sarajevo.


74) The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang, illustrated by Kazuko Nomoto, translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim. “A Korean Charlotte’s Web.”

75) Heartsinger by Karlijn Stoffels, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson. Tells of Mee, a singer of sorrows, and Mitou, a spreader of joy. Folktale novel full of music.

76) Playing A Part by Daria Wilke, translated from Russian by Marian Schwartz. A coming-of-age, coming-out story set against the backdrop of a Moscow puppet theater.

77) Before We Say Goodbye by Gabriella Ambrosio, translated from Italian by Alistair McEwen. Two families’ lives change completely one day in Jerusalem, 2002.

78) The Head of the Saint, by Socorro Acioli, translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. Quirky story by leading Brazilian author about “love, mischief, and forgiveness.”

79) The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves. “Blood-soaked” adventure story for young adults set in 1930s Calcutta.

80) Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi, translated from Japanese by Cathy Hirano. Balsa, a spear-wielding female bodyguard, defends the land of her birth.

81) Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis, translated from German by Anthea Bell. Fantasy set in India at the time of the British Raj. A bittersweet Young Adult fairytale.

82) A Hundred Hours of Night by Anna Woltz, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson. An Amsterdam teen runs away to New York, only to experience Hurricane Sandy.

83) The Color of Earth by Dong Hwa Kim, translated from Korean by Lauren Na. First book in graphic novel trilogy evokes two generations of women in early 20th-century Korea.

84) The Ventriloquist’s Daughter by Man-Chiu Lin, translated from Chinese by Helen Wang. In the wake of family tragedy, Luir grows alarmed by a doll her father brings home.

85) The Last Execution by Jesper Wung-Sung, translated from Danish by Lindy Falk van Rooyen. True story of the last execution in Danish history. Did a 15-year-old deserve this?

86) The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius, translated from Swedish by Peter Graves. Nominated for 2018 YALSA Books for Young Adults list. Perfect for mystery, detective fans.

87) As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka, translated from Finnish by Owen F. Witesman. First volume in murder mystery trilogy. Nothing shows as red against snow as blood . . .

88) Nothing by Janne Teller, translated from Danish by Martin Aitken. An unsettling, even dark YA novel that explores whether life has meaning. Echoes of Lord of the Flies.

89) Deep Sea by Annika Thor, translated from Swedish by Linda Schenck. Young Adult sequel to A Faraway Island and The Lily Pond, following Jewish refugee sisters in Sweden.

90) Letters from Thailand by Botan, translated from Thai by Susan F. Kepner. A young man immigrates from rural China to Bangkok in the 1940s. SEATO Prize for Thai Literature.

91) Joothan: An Untouchable’s Life by Omprakash Valmiki, translated from Hindi by Arun Prabha Mukherjee. An autobiography of life as an untouchable, or Dalit, in India of the 1950s.

92) The Whale That Fell in Love with a Submarine, by Akiyuki Nosaka, translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori. Heartbreaking symbolic stories set at the end of World War II.

93) Goat Days by Benyamin, translated from Malayalam by Joseph Koyippally. Migrant Najeeb longed to work in the Gulf, but a slave-like life awaits him in the Saudi desert.

94) The Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata, translated from the Indonesian by Angie Kilbane. Village students strive to escape poverty. Nominated to receive the Alex Award.

95) The Hedgehog by Zakaria Tamer, translated from Arabic by Denys Johnson-Davies and Brian O’Rourke. Collection of simple, elegant stories that fuel discussion of power.

96) Tree of Pearls, Queen of Egypt by Jurji Zaydan, translated from Arabic by Samah Selim. 1914 novel about the only woman in the medieval Arab world to rule in her own name.

97) Aya by Marguerite Abouet, illustrated by Clément Oubrerie, translated from French by Helge Dascher. Children’s Africana Book Award. Graphic novel series set in Ivory Coast, 1978.

98) Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam, translated from Swedish by Laura A. Wideburg. Nominated for 2018 YALSA Books for Young Adults list.

99) Math Girls by Hiroshi Yuki, translated from Japanese by Tony Gonzalez. This unusual novel combines rigorous mathematics with a story of high school relationships.

100) The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel. YA/adult novel narrated partly in a cat’s voice. Guaranteed to hook non-cat people.


Three-time Batchelder Winner Laura Watkinson Talks Translation for Young People

Laura Watkinson is a translator and translation-activist who brings books into English, from Dutch, Italian and German. Watkinson, a three-time Batchelder Prize winner, talks here about the challenges of translating books for young people.

Part 2 of this interview will appear on BookRiot as part of #WorldKidLit Month.

What attracted you to translating children’s literature? Are there skills, do you think, that mark a successful children’s-lit translator that are in any way different from the skills of an grownup-lit translator?

Laura Watkinson: Well, I translate books for readers of all ages, although I do particularly enjoy translating children’s literature. I think it’s important to feel a connection with the book, regardless of the age group for which it’s intended. If it’s not the kind of book that I’d want to read for myself, then I’m probably not the best translator for it either. I have a longstanding interest in children’s books – it goes all the way back to childhood and never stopped – and I have a great respect for authors who write books that appeal to younger readers and capture their interest. My bookshelves have a large children’s section in a range of languages, and a lot of my friends and professional contacts are from the world of children’s literature, so that’s always been an interesting and rewarding area for me.

I think there is a perceived barrier there for some literary translators, though, when it comes to children’s books. One translator friend told me that she’d be too scared to translate children’s books because she doesn’t “get” them. That’s probably a wise decision. If you haven’t read a children’s book for, say, thirty years, you’re probably not going to suddenly start enjoying them now, as a reader or as a translator. Another translator, though, told me that he’d translated a picture book for free because it was “easy”. Ouch. Through my work with picture-book writers and with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (I founded the Dutch chapter of the SCBWI in 2008), I know just how difficult it is to write a picture-book story that works well. The task of translating picture books is also one that needs to be approached with care, and no one should ever be working for free.

So, as for skills, I’d say: translate what you like to read. If you don’t normally read children’s books or YA literature, that probably isn’t going to be a good match for your writing style. You need a certain playfulness to translate poems and puns and funny names in children’s books, but then again, playfulness is a useful tool for all literary translators.

What did you particularly enjoy about bringing Tonke Dragt into English?

Honestly, it felt like a massive relief! I was so pleased to be able to help The Letter for the King and its sequel The Secrets of the Wild Wood into English, for Pushkin Press. Translating a third title by Tonke Dragt, The Song of Seven, also for Pushkin, was a delight and a bonus. But those first two books had been such an obvious omission from English translation for so long that it felt as if it would never happen. They’re part of the canon for readers of Dutch children’s literature, and it was about time they were translated into English, after having been written in the 1960s and reaching so many readers in Dutch and other languages. They have such great characters and cracking stories – just the kind of story I love as a translator and a reader. I’ve recently been approached to translate a couple of Italian children’s classics, too, which I’m excited about. We have some catching up to do in the English-speaking world!

If you met someone who currently translated Thai or Arabic or Kiswahili or Korean literature into English—and wanted to switch to translating literature for young people—how would you advise them?

I’m not sure it’s a matter of making a switch as such. It’s perfectly possible to translate literary novels and stories for young people in tandem, as long as you feel that connection to the story. For instance, I recently translated a beautiful novel by Otto de Kat for MacLehose Press, The Longest Night, which is very much a reflective story for adults, written from the point of view of an old woman who is approaching death, as she thinks back on her lost loves and regrets. And now I’m working on a picture book about a bunch of animals who are queuing up to use the loo! So I’d just say again, think about what kind of books you enjoy. If you’re reading a book and it starts to translate itself as you’re reading, that’s probably a sign that it’s a book you’ll enjoy working on.

What is the role of prizes in the ecosystem of translated children’s literature? Is there a need for more? For more attention to them? For any changes to how they work?

Oh, that’s a difficult one. Yes, there’s some publicity around prizes, which can raise the profile of translated children’s literature. But all translated books deserve a warm welcome and a little celebration. The beauty contest aspect, with its winners and losers, does make me feel uncomfortable at times. And to what extent does that publicity help? Do those books reach many new readers as a result?

From a personal point of view, it’s great to have your favourite books recognised, especially as a translator in the English-speaking world, where responses to translations can be a little on the hostile side and expectations sometimes appear to be different than for books originally written in English. Some readers seem to focus on what they think might have been “lost in translation” (that old chestnut…), or you see comments, even in respected publications, along the lines of “Why did the translator use that word?” “I found a spelling mistake! It must be a bad translation.” That’s a kind of sentence-level thinking that’s more suited to language classes at school than to literary criticism, and it’s not something that you’d typically find in a review of literature originally written in English.

What I’d like to see even more of is publicity for translations as a whole and, yes, mention of the translator’s name, coupled with a mature and positive response to literature in translation. I think we’ve seen great improvement in these areas in recent years, partly because of the work of the Translators’ Association, for example, and because of initiatives such as #namethetranslator.

A healthy aim would be to encourage the continued growth of strong networks within literary translation, along with the recognition of translators and decent remuneration and royalties. So much depends on good, long-term connections. Fair pay and positive, trusting relationships help to create an ecosystem in which literary translators can develop sustainable careers and networks, and in which publishers have trusted readers who can help them to find and bring wonderful stories to readers. This ideally results in happy translators, publishers and readers – and even more great books in translation!



Meet the 3 Translations Nominated for 2018 YALSA Books for Young Adults list

The Young Adult Library Services Association — a key US organization that supports library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face — has rolled out its nominations for 2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) Awards.

There are three translations that make the cut:

Bronze and Sunflower. By Cao Wenxuan. Illus. by Meilo So. Tr. by Helen Wang. 2017. Candlewick Press. $16.99 (9780763688165). When Sunflower’s father dies in a freak weather accident, she is taken in by a poor family across the river. China’s Cultural Revolution provides the backdrop for Sunflower and her adopted brother Bronze as they grow up in the impoverished but happy village.

The Murderer’s Ape. By Jakob Wegelius. Illus. by Jakob Wegelius. Tr. by Peter Graves. 2017. Penguin Random House/Delacorte. $17.99 (9781101931752). Despite being a gorilla, Sally Jones is an excellent typist and she uses her typewriter to tell the adventure of her attempts to exonerate best friend and sailor Henry Koskela, who was wrongfully imprisoned for murder after the two of them were caught in the middle of a smuggling operation.

Wonderful Feels Like This. By Sara Lövestam. Tr. by Laura A. Wideburg. 2017. Macmillan/Flatiron. $17.99 (9781250095237). Steffi, bullied at school, finds solace in jazz music and in a new friendship with a retired man and former jazz musician who coaches her through learning a new instrument and tells her about his own teenage years as a musician in Sweden during WWII.

Congratulations to all translators and their authors!

Translated Books Make up Half the Finalists for Kirkus Young Readers’ Prize

Kirkus Reviews yesterday announced the six finalists for the fourth annual Kirkus Prize in the categories of “Fiction,” “Nonfiction,” and “Young Readers’ Literature.” An amazing three of the six shortlisted books in the Young Readers section are translations.

The translations are bolded!

Picture Books:

  • Walk With Me by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng and translated by Elisa Amado (Groundwood)
  • Me Tall, You Small by Lilli L’Arronge and translated by Madeleine Stratford (Owlkids)

Middle Grade:

  • Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang, and illustrated by Meilo So (Candlewick)
  • It All Comes Down to This by Karen English (Clarion)

Young Adult:

  • The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (DCB)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)

This year, there were 31 translated titles nominated for the young readers’ award. They were:

by Cao Wenxuan, illustrated by Roger Mello, translated by Chloe Garcia Roberts

by Grégoire Solotareff, illustrated by Grégoire Solotareff, translated byClaudine Mersereau

by Alex Alice, illustrated by Alex Alice, translated by Anne Smith, Owen Smith

by Beatrice Alemagna, illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna, translated by Jill Davis

by Caitlin Dale Nicholson, Leona Morin-Neilson, illustrated by Caitlin Dale Nicholson, translated by Leona Morin-Neilson

by Angnakuluk Friesen, illustrated by Ippiksaut Friesen, translated byJean Kusugak

by Brigitte Findakly, Lewis Trondheim, illustrated by Lewis Trondheim,Brigitte Findakly, translated by Helge Dascher

by Eva Lindström, illustrated by Eva Lindström, translated by Julia Marshall

by Paloma Valdivia, illustrated by Paloma Valdivia, translated by Susan Ouriou

by Kaya Doi, illustrated by Kaya Doi, translated by Yuki Kaneko

by Tatsuya Miyanishi, illustrated by Tatsuya Miyanishi, translated byMariko Shii Gharbi

by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal, translated by Adriana Domínguez

by Mariam Petrosyan, translated by Yuri Machkasov

by Susanna Isern, illustrated by Daniel Montero Galán, translated by Jon Brokenbrow

by Vanina Starkoff, illustrated by Vanina Starkoff, translated by Jane Springer

by Roger Mello, illustrated by Roger Mello, translated by Daniel Hahn

by Megumi Iwasa, illustrated by Jun Takabatake

by Mårten Sandén, illustrated by Moa Schulman, translated by Karin Altenberg

by Cao Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang, illustrated by Meilo So

by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng, translated by Elisa Amado

by Claude Ponti, illustrated by Claude Ponti, translated by Alyson Waters

by Sara Lövestam, translated by Laura A. Wideburg

by Yanan Dong, illustrated by Yanan Dong, translated by Helen Wang

by Éric Veillé, illustrated by Éric Veillé, translated by Daniel Hahn

by Catherine Buquet, illustrated by Marion Arbona, translated by Erin Woods

by Jakob Wegelius, illustrated by Jakob Wegelius, translated by Peter Graves

by Kerascoët, illustrated by Kerascoët, translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick

by Margriet Ruurs, illustrated by Nizar Ali Badr, translated by Falah Raheem

by Didier Cornille, illustrated by Didier Cornille, translated by Yolanda Stern Broad

by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Alfonso Ruano, translated by Elisa Amado

by Sonja Danowski, illustrated by Sonja Danowski, translated by David Henry Wilson

Three Yiddish Retellings for Children

This post, by Danielle Winter of the Brooklyn Public Library, first appeared on the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative website, where you can find many suggestions for WorldKidLit Month.

Growing up, I knew very little about Yiddish literature with the exception of The Wise Men of Chelm. My elementary school librarian read us the tales of the people so wise they tried to repopulate a river with canned herring. In middle school, I played Dorothy in the Solomon Schechter production of the Wizard of Chelm, befriending rabbis in need of a hat and jacket. By the time I began studying Yiddish in graduate school, I still didn’t know many Yiddish writers and stories until I began teaching myself.

During my second year teaching in a Reform day school in Miami, I was looking for a Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) book to read to elementary school students when I stumbled upon three retellings of I.L Peretz’s Even Higher. Each adaptation left me with a growing sense of warmth. The story is about the Nemirov rabbi who disappears during Slichos, the special prayers recited at dawn around the time of Rosh Hashanah. The townspeople believe their dear Nemirov Rabbi has ascended into the heavens to provide comfort to the sinners in the coming new year. One man–a Litvak– is suspicious, “Not even Moses rose into the heavens!” The Litvak follows the rabbi with the intention of proving the Rabbi’s disciples wrong. Instead, the Litvak finds the rabbi dressed as a peasant secretly helping a poor, elderly woman light her fireplace. From that point on, whenever the townspeople said their rabbi ascended into the heavens, the Litvak says, “even higher.” Human acts of kindness are divine. We are all capable of changing our world and making it more beautiful.

Even Higher is based on Hasidic folklore like many of I.L Peretz’s stories. Although Peretz (1852-1915) was not raised in Hasidic traditions, he had attended Hasidic religious services. I.L Peretz, often called one of the founding fathers of Modern Yiddish literature, was born Yitskhok Leybush Peretz to a mostly-observant Jewish family in Zamosc, a culturally diverse and multilingual city in Poland. From a young age, Peretz was exposed and drawn to several Jewish ideologies. Zamosc was the second largest center in Europe for maskilim, Jewish proponents of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) yearning to acculturate into their non-Jewish European surroundings. Zamosc was also home to Hasidim and Misnagdim. The Misnagdim, not unlike the skeptical Litvak in Even Higher, rejected Hasidic enthusiasm and spirituality. Traditionally, Litvaks were portrayed as “cold and calculating” in literature (YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.) As Barbara Cohen calls them in her retelling of Even Higher, Litvaks have to see something to believe it. Literary critic, Irving Howe, writes Even Higher would have been known in Hasidic circles, but the skeptical Litvak was Peretz’s creation, resembling Peretz’s own attitudes on Hasidism as an outsider. Although not observant, Peretz had a special appreciation for Hasidic imagery, exuberance and the strength of their cohesive community.


Barbara Cohen, beloved author of the Passover story The Carp in the Bathtub and Molly’s Pilgrim, retells Even Higher in picture book form and translation as if Peretz himself published the second edition for readers eighty years after original publication. Cohen modestly writes, “I did not adapt the story because I thought I could improve upon the efforts of a master like Peretz. That would be impossible. I adapted it in the hope of making it more accessible than the original to contemporary American children of all creeds.”



Richard Ungar, author and illustrator, replaces the character of the Litvak with three curious boys in his adaptation of Even Higher. The story is especially appealing, resembling a school-age mystery adventure where readers collect clues as to who is the woodcutter and where is he going. Ungar also expands on the story’s Tzedakah lesson. The rabbi declares, “One kind of giving to the poor is to give after you have been asked. A higher kind is to give before you have been asked. And an even higher kind of giving is when the identity of the giver is not known to the person receiving the gift.” Ungar plays with Peretz’s language, explicitly stating the “even higher” types of charities. Peretz and his Yiddish readers would have been familiar with the rabbi’s sermon from Maimonides’ Ladder of Tzedakah that regards anonymous giving as the third highest form of Tzedakah.



The most recent adaptation was written by the celebrated children’s author Eric Kimmel, most well-known for his folklore retellings. Kimmel veers off from Peretz’s original work, stating, “I let her [the old woman] dance in memory of the time when my grandmother, at eighty-five, pulled me out of a kitchen chair and tried to teach me to dance the Krakowska Wesele.” Kimmel also incorporates a Ukrainian drinking song sung before Rosh Hashanah every year. Although observant readers might have been offended by the mixed dancing sequence and elimination of Slichos for a drinking song, the crucial message remains,  “The miracle is that there are no miracles. We don’t need them. Ordinary kindness and compassion are enough to save the world.”


For a bilingual reading of Oyb Nisht Nokh Hekher, visit Yiddish Far Kinder.

By Danielle Winter (Brooklyn Public Library)

Petra Dünges Recommends: 4 Great Kids’ Books to Translate from Arabic into World Languages

Petra Dünges is one of a handful of European specialists in Arabic children’s literature and the translator of the first children’s book from Arabic to appear in the German language. Children’s books by authors and illustrators such as Walid Taher, Ihab Shakir, and Samira Shafik have appeared in her translation from the German publishing house Edition Orient. She presents books of Arab authors and illustrators, which would be interesting to children outside of the Middle East and North Africa at her website,

International publishers may ask her for preliminary translations of these books into German, for short descriptions, and for contact to the publishers of the Arabic originals.

The list of four:

Haltabees, Haltabees!

(Author: Rania Zaghir, illustrator David Habchy, publisher: Al-Khayyat Al-Saghir, Beirut)

A picture book full of fantasy about the unrequited love between the shy Haltabees, an alien from the distant star Zoranees who has landed on earth, and the girl Lamees, who rejects the kind feelings of Haltabees, preferring the company of silly buffaloes instead. This sad but charming story is told in poetic language and with modern mixed-media illustrations with a Lebanese flair. For children and youth. Both author and illustrator come from Lebanon. A witty picture book by the same author with illustrations by Racelle Ishak has already appeared at Edition Orient, where it is now available in  bilingual versions in 20 languages.

The Oppressed Princess

(Author: Ragy Enayat, illustrator:  Helmi el-Touni,  publisher: Dar al-Shorouk, Cairo)

A multi-layered tale about a courageous princess who opposes her uncle, a tyrannical king. The beautiful modern illustrations are inspired by traditional oriental art. The book can be read as a suspenseful story for older children but also as a political tale for adults about peaceful resistance against an overpowering despot.  Both author and illustrator come from Egypt.

The Dreamer of Baghdad

(Author: Nabiha Muhidly, illustrator: Fadi Adila, publisher: Dar-Al-Hadaek, Beirut)

A poor man in Baghdad keeps dreaming of a treasure in Cairo which will make him rich some day. When he arrives in Cairo to search for his fortune, he is first beaten up by police, then thrown into prison and finally interrogated by a police officer. The police officer tells him about his own recurring dream of a treasure in Baghdad, declares the poor man to be crazy as he followed an empty dream, and sends him back to Baghdad. In the end, the poor man finds his luck, when he returns home.  This story goes back to the Thousand and One Nights and beyond. It is retold for our modern times in a picture book with innovative and expressive illustrations. For the youth and for adults, for dreamers and for realists alike. The author comes from Lebanon, the illustrator from Syria.

The Zucchini Story

(Author: Samah Idriss, illustrator: Jasamin Naschaba Taan, publisher: Dar al-Adab, Beirut)

This funny picture book with lively illustrations is a part of a series about adventures in the daily life of a little boy in Beirut. The protagonist is persuaded by his mother to eat up his disliked vegetables with the promise that he will get ice cream afterwards. Even though he eats lots of zucchini, his plate always stays full. And the phone keeps ringing all the time. What is going on? Both author and illustrator come from Lebanon.

Two Books for Kids Make Inaugural Warwick Prize for Women in Translation Longlist!

Organizers announced yesterday that 16 titles had been longlisted for the first-ever Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, a prize that aims to “address the gender imbalance in translated literature and to increase the number of international women’s voices accessible by a British and Irish readership.”

The 2017 competition received a total of 58 eligible entries, and the longlisted works include 11 of prose fiction, two poetry collections, one work of literary non-fiction, and two children’s books!

Most of the books, unsurprisingly, were translated from European languages — German, Polish and Dutch were the most represented — with two others, translated from Russian and Japanese.

The two books for young readers on the longlist are both from Pushkin’s excellent new children’s book imprint. They are:

  • The Song of Seven by Tonke Dragt, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson (Pushkin Children’s Books, 2016)
  • Clementine Loves Red by Krystyna Boglar, translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones and Zosia Krasodomska-Jones (Pushkin Children’s Books, 2016)