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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Guest Post: Laura Taylor Celebrating World Kid Lit Month

10 More Fabulous Reads from Around the World

How are you celebrating World Kid Lit Month?

September is a month-long feast of diverse, global and translated children’s literature. Twitter is abuzz with reviews, recommendations, news and stories (see #worldkidlit and #worldkidlitmonth for more), and there are some great posts on the World Kid Lit blog too.

To mark the month, I’ve selected ten more of my favourite picture book titles from around the world to share with you. Some are funny, some sad, some quirky, some serious. Together, they show the rich variety of books we can all enjoy by exploring titles first published in another country and/or another language.

1. SWEDEN
Valdemar’s Peas by Maria Jönsson, translated from the Swedish by Julia Marshall (Gecko Press, 2018).

Valdemar is a young wolf who absolutely hates peas, but his papa won’t give him an ice cream until he’s eaten them. So, Valdemar comes up with a cunning plan. A delicious portrayal of mealtime antics in a young family. If you are after a story with bags of humour, fabulous characterisation and a touch of naughtiness, then say ‘yes peas’ to this one.

2. EL SALVADOR/SPAIN
Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Alfonso Ruano, translated from the Spanish by Elisa Amado (Groundwood Books, 2016). Bilingual edition.

Thousands of children from Central America leave their homelands to seek out a better life in the United States. This bilingual collection of poems tells their stories: the physical and emotional challenges, the danger, and their courage, resilience and hope. Narrated from a child’s perspective with beautifully poignant illustrations.

3. POLAND
Welcome to Mamoko by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński, translated from the Polish by [unknown] (Big Picture Press, 2013)

Welcome to an appealing cast of animal characters, gloriously detailed double spreads and a set of prompts to encourage exploration. In this (largely) wordless picture book, readers will delight in the opportunity to tell their own stories – and with so much action in every illustration, they will be kept busy for days!


4. VIETNAM
The First Journey by Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien (Scholastic, 2017). A Vietnamese edition of this picture book is also available.

It is the floating season on the Mekong Delta and a young boy, An, sets out alone in his sampan to travel to school for the first time. Waves crash around him and snakes and crocodiles lurk in the darkness, but An’s courage and determination carry him safely to his destination. A visually stunning picture book debut – winner of the 2015 Scholastic Picture Book Award.

5. COLOMBIA/PERU
Walk with Me by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng, translated from the Spanish by Elisa Amado (Groundwood Books, 2017)

A young girl asks a lion to accompany her on the long walk home from school. Sparse text and evocative illustrations reveal the hardships her family is facing and raise questions in the mind of the reader. A subtle and powerful book where courage and imagination shine amidst the challenges of everyday existence.

6. CHINA
Express Delivery from Dinosaur World by Yanan Dong, translated from the Chinese by Helen Wang (Candied Plums, 2017)

An interactive dinosaur book with ten challenges for readers to complete before they can return to their own world. Explorers must find a camera in the forest, mix and match dinosaurs, locate a baby raptor in a nest of eggs, and more as they move through the adventure. Gloriously intricate artwork, multiple flaps and folds and polished text make this book a delight.

7. SAINT LUCIA/USA
The Field by Baptiste Paul, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara (NorthSouth Books, Inc., 2018)

Two young Saint Lucian children gather their friends together for a spontaneous game of soccer – and nothing can dampen their enthusiasm, not even a heavy downpour of rain! A fun and energetic story peppered with words in Saint Lucian Creole, paired with vivid illustrations that evoke the colours, architecture and people of the island.

8. TUNISIA/BELGIUM
Azizi and the Little Blue Bird by Laïla Koubaa, illustrated by Mattias de Leeuw, translated from the Flemish by David Colmer (Book Island, 2015)

Tih and Reni are the despotic rulers of the Land of the Crescent Moon. One day a little blue bird escapes from the cage in their courtyard and its tweets wake young Azizi from his slumber. Set in Tunisia, this sumptuous picture book shows the power of communication to promote and achieve change. Bright and bold illustrations combine with beautiful language and the scent of jasmine.

9. INDIA/GERMANY
Hic! by Anushka Ravishankar, illustrated by Christiane Pieper (Tara Books, 2017)

Forget drinking a glass of water backwards, the young girl in this book experiments with all sorts of crazy remedies to shake off a pesky case of hiccups. Will she find the ultimate cure? A light-hearted, high-spirited read with colourful illustrations featuring overladen rickshaws, roaming elephants, flying fish and squirty mustard.

10. This is for all the picture book titles I have added to my TBR list during World Kid Lit Month – so many wonderful titles from so many different countries. A world of reading awaits!

For more world picture books, see my ‘Ten Fabulous Reads from Around the World’.

Laura Taylor is a writer and translator, and a mother of two. Born in the UK, she now lives near Newcastle, Australia and facilitates Planet Picture Book. She has set out on a quest to discover picture books from all the 193 member states of the United Nations, and share them with everyone through reviews on her site. KBR interviewed Laura a few months ago about her ambitious and thrilling reading challenge. You can read it, here.

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