Translation – Sweden – Kenta och barbisarna

And so the project begins!

My first translation for this project is a Swedish book: Kenta och barbisarna by Pija Lindenbaum.

I found it one day when I was checking my local bookstore. I don’t know what caught my attention first, maybe the cover, maybe the title. I opened it and absolutely adored the illustrations and the theme. Then, when I was back at home and had the chance to read it, I was glad that I chose it for I found an awesome book with a beautiful story.

Technical details: 

TitleKenta och barbisarnaTitleIgor i lalki
AuthorPija LindenbaumTranslatorKatarzyna Skalska
IllustratrorPija Lindenbaum
Year of publication2007Year of publication2009
Publishing companyRabén & SjögrenPublishing companyZakamarki
Original languageSwedishLanguage of translationPolish
Country of originSwedenCountry of translationPoland

Review of the book

This book tells the warm-hearting story of a boy called Kenta who is great at playing football with his friends. His classmates always wait for him in the mornings to play ball with him in the playground. During the day, Kenta enjoys spending time with his friends, but he also feels curious about the girls’ games, since they seem to enjoy playing with their dolls so much. One day, Kenta decides to bring his own doll to school and tries to engage in the girls’ game. At first the girls are a bit reticent to let a new player into their game, but soon after Kenta becomes an active team member. The children have a lot of fun inventing scenarios for their dolls and Kenta proves to have a great imagination.

What seems like an innocent book has a very deep and tender meaning. The gender roles are depicted in the beginning as being very fixed  the boys play football and the girls play with dolls. Nowadays, however, there is not such a clear line. Children are encouraged to exchange gender-typed toys and the companies are trying to build more gender neutral toys in order to empower kids and let them have the opportunity to develop more skills than the ones that are associated with their gender. When the original book was published in 2007 (almost ten years ago), this debate was just starting, so this book could still have been regarded as quite controversial. And these days there are still people who believe that playing with toys that are originally designated for the opposite sex could be damaging for the development of the kids’ personality.

Nonetheless, the book is beautifully written. The reader can empathise with the hero of the story, who struggles with his fear to let his father down and be mocked by his male friends and his curiosity for the games that the girls are playing. Kenta ends up being a wonderful teammate with a great imagination for wild adventures and exciting stories. Proving that to have fun you don’t need to stick to your gender-typed toys.

I would also like to add a comment on the brilliant illustrations by Pija Lindenbaum and the hilarious dialogs that contrasts with the seriousness of the topic.

A great read that I would recommend to all readers, both boys and girls 😉

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