#WorldKidLit Wednesday: Meet Translator Avery Fischer Udagawa

Meet my wonderful co-#WorldKidLitWednesday blogger, Avery Fischer Udagawa!

Avery grew up in Kansas and has lived in Bangkok, Thailand, for over a dozen years.  But does she translate from Thai into English?


That would be far too straightforward a situation for this busy, accomplished translator.


Avery is a multiply published translator of Japanese into English for children’s and adult books, and even movie subtitling. She also co-translates an annual catalog put together by the Japanese Board on Books for Young People for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Avery first became interested in Japanese through the toys and decorations her parents brought back from a trip to Japan when she was a child, along with the regular Japanese foreign exchange students her family hosted while she was growing up.  The deal was sealed as soon as she began studying Japanese at St. Olaf College, and she went on to win a Fulbright to study at Nanzan University, in Nagoya for roughly two years, continuing for another year at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Yokohama. She holds an MA in Advanced Japanese Studies from the University of Sheffield.  

Since then, Avery has gone on to wear many hats, including translator, writer, blogger, mother, and advocate. In the latter capacity she played a primary role in getting translators added as members to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), of which she is the Japan and International Translator Coordinator. In addition, she and her co-coordinators regularly blog for the SCBWI Japan Translation Group.  On a personal note, we e-met through SCBWI around five years ago—we’ve never met in person—and she interviewed me for the SCBWI blog in 2015.

Avery’s translations include:

J-Boys: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965

By Shogo Oketani

Translated from Japanese by Avery Fischer Udagawa

Stone Bridge Press, 2011

Reissued by CreateSpace, 2018

Bilingual Japanese/English edition: IBC Publishing, 2013


Publisher’s description: Kazuo Nakamoto’s life in inner-city Tokyo is one of tea and tofu, of American TV and rock ‘n’ roll. Kazuo is nine. It is the mid-1960s, just after the Japan Olympics, and Kazuo dreams of being a track star. He hangs out with his buddies, goes to school, and helps with household chores. But Kazuo’s world is changing. This bittersweet novel is a deft portrait of a year in a boy’s life in a land and time far away, filled with universal concerns about fitting in, escaping the past (in this case World War II’s lingering devastation), and growing up.

Reviews: Publishers Weekly, Kyoto Journal

“Festival Time” in The Best Asian Short Stories 2018

By Mogami Ippei, illustrated by Saburo Takada

Translated from Japanese by Avery Fischer Udagawa

KITAAB, 2018


Reviewer’s description: “Avery Udagawa’s translation of “Festival Time,” by Ippei Mogami, with illustrations by Saburo Takada, was selected by editor Debotri Dhar, as one of the top four stories of the collection. In Mogami’s story, villagers have had to alter their spring festival due to the seasonal labor migration of farmers to cities and rural depopulation.”

Review: The Japan Times

“House of Trust” in Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories

By Sachiko Kashiwaba

Translated from Japanese by Avery Fischer Udagawa

Stone Bridge Press, 2012


Editor’s description: “Tomo (meaning “friend” in Japanese) is an anthology of young adult short fiction in prose, verse and graphic art set in or related to Japan. This collection for readers age 12 and up features thirty-six stories—including ten in translation and two graphic narratives—contributed by authors and artists from around the world, all of whom share a connection to Japan. English-language readers will be able to connect with Japan through a wide variety of unique stories, including tales of friendship, mystery, fantasy, science fiction and history. “

Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, The Horn Book Out of the Box 

More info: http://www.tomoanthology.blogspot.com

Want to find out more about Avery?  Check out this list of her translations and two recent interviews with her:

Don’t miss her upcoming middle grade fantasy novel translation: Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba.


Award-winning opera singer Nanette McGuinness is the translator of over 40 books and graphic novels for children and adults from French and Italian into English, including the well-known Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novels. Two of her latest translations, Luisa: Now and Then (Humanoids, 2018) and California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas (First Second, 2017) were chosen for YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens.

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