Steven Lenton proves that not all pink books are dumb and that not all fairy tales are the same. With Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights we discover that intelligence and grit are far better values than strength and brutality.
The project continues and this time I’m travelling – so to speak – to the beautiful Slovenia with the wonderful book Antonov Cirkus (roughly translated as “Anthony Circus”) by Peter Svetina, a story of creativity, imagination and friendship.
Ok, not literally.
As you all know, I have challenged myself to translate a children’s book from every country in the world. It’s a very ambitious (some people would call it “crazy”) project but I’m very excited about it and it’s working out perfectly… but I need some extra help. Finding a book from different countries is not an easy task.
When I started the Project Translating the World I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. I had (have!) big plans, tons of ideas and topics and I knew all that would bring me lots of fun. Until now, I have managed to translate five lovely books and although there are still 190 to go I feel very optimistic about it because the beginnings are always harder and lately I am feeling like doing the project is getting smoother and easier, since I have more experience and therefore I know what I want and how I want to do it.
I had been looking for a Polish book for my Project Translating the World for a long, long time. There’s a lot of pressure since it’s the book from the country I live in, and Polish is the language I’m translating for all the time, so I wanted it to be special. But when I found W pogoni za życiem by Przemysław Wechterowicz (and illustration by Emilia Dziubak) I knew I had found the winner.
Daniel Napp delights us with the funny story of Dr. Brumm, a very friendly bear who struggles with human technology. In Dr. Brumm versteht das nicht our main character tries to figure out why his TV stopped working in the middle of the match, and he won’t stop until he gets a clear answer.
One of the best experiences I get whilst doing the Translate the World Project is the little surprises that appear along the way. That’s the case of the Finnish book I am translating: the Polish version is a rhymed text but the original book wasn’t written in verse! Yet children’s books are rich in literary devices such as rhyme. The texts include songs, chants, alternations of prose and verse, popular sayings, etc. That is why the fact that the Polish translator decided to adapt the original book into a rhymed version is not so shocking. However, it is very interesting in terms of translation methods and techniques.
Yet another book added to my beautiful collection of books from every country in the world. The translation of this book has proved a challenging one – it’s written entirely in verse! The wonderful Réka Király delights us with this philosophical story that tries to answer one of the hardest questions of all: What does “tomorrow” mean? Pieni suuri tarina huomisesta is a poetical metaphor of time and conciousness.
One of the perks of being a translator is that it allows you to be a (better) reader. They say that translators are better at playing Trivial Pursuit since they need to know about many different subjects and knowledge areas. The thing about translating books is that you are bound to read many different stories, some of which you probably wouldn’t choose to read given the chance.
Sometimes you find a book that you really need to buy. I remember taking this one and checking it, and putting it back in the bookstore’s shelf only to take it again, check once more, doubt, decide not to buy it, hesitate again and finally move towards the register very fast so that I can’t change my mind. How glad I am that I did buy the book. Wat zou jij doen? (in its Polish version, I co teraz?) has been a pleasure to read and translate, and now it’s standing in my personal library where I can check it any time I want.