What We’re Missing: Gems of World Kid Lit

During the past 6 months, I have edited a series of articles on “What We’re Missing:  Gems of World Kid Lit.”  Taking a page from the UK’s Times Literary Supplement, which styles itself as “the only major English-language publication to review books published in other languages,” I thought we could introduce the concept on this side of the pond, in a more modest fashion, to shed light on outstanding children’s literature that hasn’t been translated (yet).

In case you have missed any or all of the series, here is a complete list of all the posts, with links.

Introduction: “Beyond 3 Percent: Translated Children’s Literature in the U.S.”  An Introduction to the series, in which I examine the unexpected recent growth in translated world literature in the US and offer suggestions how we might attract more in.

#1. Books from Spain, Slovenia and Italy including an account of war in Italy, a collection of stories and poetry from Slovenia, and a tale of two boys growing up in a poverty-stricken barrio in Medellin, Columbia.

#2. Books from China, Japan and Korea featured in the “Peace Picture Book Project” , in which artists and writer are revisiting their shared history of World War II, and publishing their work in all three countries.  A follow-up piece with reviews of even more titles appears as War and Peace in China-Japan-Korea Picture Books, on the Chinese Books for Young Readers blog.

#3. Books from Greece and Switzerland:  A look at a graphic novel about divorce by a prominent Greek political cartoonist, and a novel about an 8-year-old Swiss boy who suffers from a rare condition:  having dreams so vivid dreams that they spill into his real life.

#4. Books from Russia, Finland, and in Yiddish:  A rare Finnish verse novel confronting sexual assault, a Russian story concerning a very unusual 10-year-old and the Yiddish tales of a crime-fighting puppy in Depression-era New York.

The series came about thanks to the assistance of librarian and uber-blogger Betsy Bird, who gave me this opportunity to publish on her blog, Fuse 8 Productions, which is hosted on the School Library Journal website.

I also benefitted from the work of the Hans Christian Andersen Award Committee, which during the last two award cycles (the HCA Jury Recommends…) has recommended (though not reviewed) titles from other countries that deserve cross-language publication.  Many though not all the titles mentioned above come from that committee’s recommendations.

And finally, I owe a big thanks to the slew of contributors, too, who put up with months of delays and multiple edits and rewrites: Kymm Coveney, Lilijana Burcar, Matilda Colarossi, Minjie Chen, Reiko Nakaigawa Lee, Sunny Wu, Veronika Bond, Vassiliki Vasilou, Mia Spangenberg, Olga Bukhina, and Miriam Udel.

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