Look at the Weather by Britta Teckentrup

9781771472869_FC.jpgLook at the Weather
, originally published with the title Alle Wetter by German author illustrator Britta Teckentrup, comes to North America via Owlkids in an adapted translation by my friend and VCFA colleague Shelley Tanaka.

It’s a beautiful book, informative and clear, always keeping the young reader in mind, and the illustrations are exquisite. Using a simple direct address, the text speaks to the reader about weather in all its aspects—sun, rain, ice and snow. The final section is dedicated to extreme weather, and also addresses climate change.

Some spreads feature very little text, others lay out the physics of light or the placement of the constellations so that the reach of the book ranges from intimate to sweeping. The clarity of the writing allows the large, expansive illustrations to lead the eye. Details of place, as well as the palette employed, suggest a setting that can be interpreted as European and possibly North American.

Backmatter includes a glossary and author’s note. At 152 pages, this is a hefty book, inviting visual contemplation rather than a sequential read. But it’s also satisfying in the way that art can leave you feeling saturated–its an effect created by color and line and the suggested movement of wind and water, all held together with words that both inform readers and invite them back for more.

I don’t know of a comparable book with a wider lens, dealing with weather in a more global context, but what a gift that would be!

New Translated YA Book Prize winners

Thank you to David Jacobson for letting me know about these books, newly recognized by the Global Literatures in Libraries Initiative.

Here is the announcement from the GLLI press release: 

My Brother’s Husband: Vol. 1 & 2, by Japan’s Gengoroh Tagame (translated from the Japanese by Anne Ishii; Pantheon Books) is the winner of the inaugural GLLI Translated YA Book Prize. Administered by the Global Literatures in Libraries Initiative, it is the first prize to recognize publishers, translators, and authors of books in English translation for young adult readers.

mybrothershusbandUnknown.jpegMy Brother’s Husband is a two-volume manga that gently but effectively guts homophobia in Japanese society. When Mike, the Canadian husband of Yaichi’s late brother shows up on his doorstep, Yaichi is courteous but standoffish, while his young daughter Kana is thrilled to meet her gay uncle.

“The committee loved this sweet, nuanced story of coming to terms with one’s own prejudices and embracing a truly modern family,” said committee member Annette Y. Goldsmith.

Books in translation have received greater attention in recent years, thanks in part to the National Book Foundation’s new prize for translated literature, but they still amount to a paltry three percent of all books published.

“Books in translation for young adults remain a tiny fraction of even those in translation,” said GLLI Director Rachel Hildebrandt Reynolds, “There is an urgent need for greater international understanding and cross-cultural empathy among our young people. Reading books can help bridge those gaps.”

Three honor books were also selected. They include: La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono, translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel (Feminist Press) – EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Piglettes by Clémentine Beauvais, translated from the French by the author (Pushkin Children’s Books) – FRANCE

Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam, translated from the Swedish by Laura A. Wideburg (Flatiron Books) – SWEDEN

The winning books were selected from a field of titles translated from 13 languages and representing 13 countries, as far afield as Equatorial Guinea, Bangladesh and Norway. Works published within three years of the submission deadline were considered. The prize will be presented at the American Library Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., June 20-25, 2019.

Members of the prize committee include Annette Y. Goldsmith, international youth literature specialist; Gene Hayworth, University of Colorado; Kim Rostan, Wofford College; Laura Simeon, Kirkus Reviews; and Elaine Tai, Burlingame Public Library. They were assisted by GLLI Director Rachel Hildebrandt Reynolds.

The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative brings together translators, librarians, teachers,editors and others dedicated to helping librarians identify and raise the visibility of world literature for children, teens, and adults. Our activities include creating pan-publisher catalogs; maintaining a database of translations; sharing ideas for selecting, evaluating, using and promoting world literature for all ages; and administering the GLLI Translated YA Book Prize.

Hurray for these books without borders and for the publishers who have now brought them to new readers and markets.

Indian Poet Gulzar on Translating Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore is a legend. My mother, who knows Bangla well, has always Gitanjalimaintained that the poet’s own English translations of his masterpiece, Gitanjali, feel clumsy and pale in comparison to the original text. Poet Gulzar talks about his translations into Hindi of two Tagore poetry collections for children.

To explain the meaning in a line is easy. You are not translating a word, it’s the meter and then shades of those words. A word has many shades and you have to choose the correct shade out of it. You won’t find that meaning in a dictionary.

Julie Larios on Michelangelo’s Aching Back



Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons

Among the many great European artists of the Renaissance, he is thought to be have been the greatest. Who doesn’t recognize the storied ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Some of us even remember the collective gasp of horror that echoed around the world when a vandal broke the nose of the Pieta.

Children’s nonfiction buffs will remember Diane Stanley’s cleverly illustrated picture book biography of Michelangelo.

But a poet?

Courtesy of Numero Cinq, here is a wonderful piece by Julie Larios on Michelangelo, poetry, the doctoring of texts, politics, love, and translation.

She quotes translator John Frederick Nims on the pleasures of translating this body of work:

“Fun” is a word that Robert Frost often used of poetry. If it offends anyone when used in the aura of the divine Michelangelo, as Vasari called him, we could retrieve from ancient Greece the favorite motto of Valery…which he translates as pour le plaisir. I kept translating for the pleasure of it.

Fun. Worth remembering, as a criterion for work. It can put aching backs into perspective.