World Kid Lit Review: The treasure of Barracuda by Llanos Campos, trans. Lawrence Schimel

Today’s book review is one that my son and I have really enjoyed together: The treasure of Barracuda by Llanos Campos, translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel.

Dominic (8): It’s really exciting. There are lots of silly words that keep making me laugh – you big mackerel! I also like the glossary at the back. I’d recommend this book to my friends.

So originally, I purchased this book as reference material for my MA, to see how renowned Spanish translator Lawrence Schimel had dealt with various translation issues. Not only did I get a masterclass in doing just that, but my son and I heartily enjoyed reading this fabulous story together.

The plot follows a group of pirates led by Captain Barracuda who have been searching for Phineas Krane’s long-lost treasure. In the first few pages, we join narrator Sparks, Two Molars, One-Eyed Boasnovas and the rest of their gang on the brink of uncovering the treasure. But as they open the chest, the pirates discover … a book. But what use is a book to a group of illiterate pirates? From here, we accompany the pirates on their journey of discovery, as they learn to decipher the letters and words included in the book. We see their joy and astonishment at the realisation that they can now understand the world around them from a whole new perspective. It’s a clever plot highlighting the importance of reading in a really fun and exciting way.

One of the things for me to gauge the success of a book is on its target readership. I must admit, Dominic was a bit reluctant to give this a try, so I decided I would read it to him, something we don’t do as much as we used to. Cue several reading sessions together. I think it is testament to the plot and to the translation that he very quickly engaged with the story and at the end of each chapter, I was badgered with “keep going, keep going, read the next one!” There were frequent bursts of laugh out loud laughter from both him and me. He also made sure he had a good view of any illustrations along the way, spending time working out which pirate was which and they really added to our experience.

At the end of the book, Sparks alludes to the group’s next adventure. Dominic was very interested in knowing the name of the next book in the series. Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet been translated into English so for non-Spanish speakers, that’s frustratingly as far as it can currently go. Dominic has tasked me with coming up with a translation – “chapter one by bedtime tonight, ok Mummy?” (tough client!). But what better praise do you need than an 8-year-old-boy wanting to read more!

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