7 Day Book Cover Challenge

I do love a good challenge, especially if it’s involving books! I’ve been nominated by die Bücher Frauen for Göttingen-Kassel, Anna Rokosz and Antje Althans to post seven book covers of seven books I love. The idea is just to post a photo the cover with no comments! Each day I post, I have to nominate a friend to do the same. It looks like this has been doing the rounds for while but I’m looking forward to rummaging through by book shelves and perhaps reminding myself of some forgotten favourites!

Bring it on!

World Kid Lit Book Review: Lost and Found Cat

Lost and Found Cat by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes. Illustrated by Sue Cornelison (Crown Books).

This is a story again about refugees fleeing their homes but this time with a bit of a twist. A bit like the Austrian fictional story Flucht by Niki Glattauer and Verena Hochleitner that I reviewed back in September, this story is about a family that take their cat with them. The story line focuses on the cat’s journey to a new home. Rather than a fictional tale however, this one is true.

Dominic (8): I thought the photos at the end were interesting because I hadn’t realised it was a true story. 

Emma (5): The cat’s really cute!

The story begins with the family leaving Iraq and, unwilling to leave their beloved cat Kunsush behind, they take him with them, hiding him in a basket. It all goes well until the boat-crossing to Greece, when the cat basket gets broken in the chaos and Kunkush runs away in fear.

The family are distraught at the loss of their cat but have to move on to their next destination. Kunkush meanwhile tries to fit in with a group of local cats but is rejected by them. Some volunteers come across a starving, bedraggled Kunkush and, having heard the story of the family who lost their cat, set out to reunite them.

It is a really moving story of people’s love for animals and the lengths people will go to out of human kindness. The fact that the story was shared so far and wide on social media before the book was produced, shows how it has touched a core with many people. I find it incredible to think that the family managed to hide the cat in a basket for so long without him being discovered.

The book produced an emotional response in Dominic, who found it difficult to listen on once Kunkush went missing. He wanted to skip through to where Kunkush had been taken in and then reunited. The rejection by the other cats can also be seen as a metaphor for the rejection of people by other people. By concentrating on the cat’s journey, it opened up discussion about the human journey, too. The map at the back really helped to visualise just how far this family and their cat had travelled.

Emma has come back to this time and again, wanting to read about Kunkush’s long journey and smiling happily at the end when the family are reunited with Kunkush.

For more books on a similar topic, please see the following links

The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye Books)

Tomorrow by Nadine Kaadan, translated from Arabic by the author (Lantana Publishing)

Dazwischen: ich by Julya Rabinowich (Hanser)

Flucht (Flight) by Niki Glattauer and Verena Hochleitner (Tyrolia Verlag)

Mama’s Nightingale, A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub (Dial Books)

Do you speak chocolate by Caz Lester

Apfelblüten und Jasmin by Carolin Phillips


CPD Reflections: YTI SEO Translation Workshop

The other CPD event that I attended this weekend was an workshop in Search Engine Optimization, run by the Yorkshire Translators and Interpreters at the University of Leeds. The workshop was run by David García Ruiz of Trust Your Brand.

The workshop itself was very interesting. I had very little knowledge of SEO before the event and David started off by explaining what SEO is and the most important factors that are involved in SEO. This section of the session will be really useful in terms of running my own website and as we look to develop a website for the EMRG.

After a quick coffee break, the workshop moved on to SEO translation, what this involves and how it is different to standard translation. After lunch we had a chance to put our new-found knowledge into practice, carrying out an exercise that David had put together to test our wings. It was an interesting activity, making us aware of the keywords that we were creating and then making sure that we then included them in our translations.

While I’m not sure I’m quite ready to start offering this as an added service to my clients, I feel I have a much better understanding of SEO and how this could work for me. At the very least, I will be making some changes to this website in line with some of David’s recommendations for creeping up Google’s results pages.

The other great aspects of attending this workshop was networking with members of the YTI. Particularly interesting was a discussion on YTI events and what has worked for them and how they have grown their membership; some interesting ideas to bring back to the EMRG.



East Midlands Regional Group Fuddle and AGM

The last couple of weeks have been really busy, with a big revision job in the week and CPD events on both weekends. It’s now Monday morning with a quieter week ahead and time to reflect on my recent CPD.

East Midlands Regional Group of the ITI – Fuddle and AGM

As Coordinator of the EMRG, the AGM is always a big date in my calendar. We tie the AGM in with a “fuddle”. For those of you outside the East Midlands, that’s a local term for a bring-and-share meal. This year we had a record turn-out with 19 of our members joining us. With them came an amazing array of food – Chinese spring rolls, Japanese salad and an amazing meringue cake were just some of the highlights.

It was great to see so many people turn out for the event, some travelling an hour and a half from the more southern areas of our region. While lovely to see the usual crowd, it was particularly pleasing to welcome five new members to the group, both established translators and students.

We always begin the AGM with a recap of the previous year’s events and it was great to revisit some of the year’s successes: our inaugural Building Bridges event with Leicester University, an SDL workshop at Nottingham University, a successful walk at Rutland Water and our monthly evening socials.

As well as celebrating our past successes, we also look forward to the coming year. Plans for our second Building Bridges event at Leicester University in May are already underway. Following positive comments from members about our weekend walks, we have decided to run fewer weekday evening pub visits and more weekend activities. By making these changes, hopefully we will be more inclusive as a group, inviting people to bring along partners, children and pets as well as welcoming those who perhaps don’t feel comfortable in a pub environment.

While some may say that the Coordinator position requires a lot of time and effort, I feel immensely proud to be in the driving seat of such a positive, motivated group of people. I have learnt so much from my co-members and I would say the EMRG has been not only a hugely positive influence, but one of the most important factors as I begin my career as a translator. The opportunities to meet with other translators and to talk to them about their experiences are priceless.

For anyone wishing to join the EMRG, please email emrgmembership@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @ITI_EM

Blackout by Marc Elsberg – terrifyingly good read

I’ve just finished reading Blackout by Marc Elsberg, translated from German by Marshall Yarbrough (Sourcebooks). It has been recommended to me by a translator friend who said that not only was  it a good book, the translation was great too. When something is built up so much, it can sometimes disappoint. This one certainly didn’t.

The action takes place in various countries across the Europe and is a terrifying look at what might feasibly happen were our electricity supply to be tampered with by terrorists. Across Europe, the power is cut leaving the population to deal with the consequences. And it’s not just things like lights and TVs, it’s electric pumping systems for petrol stations, electric door systems, electric milking systems for dairy farmers, electrically-managed ordering systems for supermarkets – the list goes on!

The writing is fast-paced, cutting from one country to the next in short bursts, often ending on a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting to read on to find out what happened. One of those books where you say to yourself, “just one more page,” and finallytear yourself away half an hour later! The different stories and protagonists are cleverly interwoven so while there is a lot going on and a lot of people involved, it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly complicated. I think the appeal lies also in the scope of characters – there are parents with young children, there are older people, infirm people, people with medical conditions – everybody can identify with at least one of the groups. There’s also a love element in the background as well, so this book really has a lot going for it. But be warned, after you finish it, you may feel the need to install a wood burning stove and start stockpiling food, just in case…



World Kid Lit Book Review: Press Here by Hervé Tullet

The kids received lots of goodies for Christmas from very generous friends and relatives. Among them were a few lovely World Kid Lit titles, including today’s review book, Press Here by Hervé Tullet (Chronicle Books), translated from French by Christopher Franceschelli.

Dominic (8): This is an exciting book. It tells you what to do on one page and it does something on the next page because you did it. I like the way the dots have finger prints on it as if to suggest other people have already touched them. And the layout is good too.

Emma (5): I like this book. You have to do lots of different activities like pressing the dots or shaking the book.

Having seen this on a few lists, this was a title I was really drawn to. The simplicity of the illustrations – yellow, red and blue spots – is really clever and I love the way it instructs the reader to interact with it, pressing dots, shaking the book and blowing. It reminds me of the book Open very carefully by Nicola O’Byrne which has a similar way of engaging the reader. They both enjoyed the page where two dots in the pattern have changed place from a previous picture and they have to try and work out which dots have moved. I’ve enjoyed watching Dominic reading this to Emma and them doing to actions together. Emma delights in starting it all over again! A great addition to our bookshelf!

December Reading Round-up

This month I’ve been getting back into my Masters studies and I’ve been reading mostly in English on the side. Here’s a few of my favourites from the last few weeks.

Two Brothers by Ben Elton

This is a novel about a Jewish family during the Second World War. Twin boys are born but sadly one of them is still-born. On the same day, a mother dies during childbirth and the mother of the twins is asked if she would take on the new orphan as her own. She and her husband adopt the child but never tell anyone in the family about it. They raise the boys as twin brothers and nobody is the wiser. Until the war breaks out and everyone now has to prove their parentage. The medical records come out and the adopted son is now removed from the family because he is in fact a perfect Aryan. A really moving story, I must admit I was surprised to read such a serious novel by a comedian. In the section at the back, Ben Elton explains that many of the characters are actually based on members of his own family. If this is the sort of thing you like, it was really well written and had me hooked from the very beginning.

How not to be a boy by Robert Webb

In his autobiography, Robert Webb takes various statements about boyhood and manhood and sets out to disprove them. It’s an honest reflection on his own adolescence and adulthood. Statements include: Boys aren’t shy, Boys don’t cry, Men know who they are. As a mum of a boy, I think it’s so important that these messages are challenged and boys are told it’s ok to feel nervous, or sad, or scared. My husband read it as well and he sniggered to himself while he was reading it, perhaps emphasising how true to home some of Webb’s situations are. I’ve put this one on the shelf and when my kids are older, this will be one I’d encourage them to read.

A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie, illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino

Leading on, in a way, from the previous one, this is a book the kids can definitely enjoy! In our house we talk about having big feelings and that it’s ok to have big feelings and that we all have them from time to time. This book is a great reinforcement to that idea. It takes a pair of siblings (a girl and a boy) and then tells their story, visiting all our different emotions along the way. It covers angry, embarrassed, frightened, happy, grumpy, nervous and loved among others. It takes a fictional situation and explains how the people are feeling. Mum was worried when she saw the kids playing with fireworks but that came across as anger. Sam’s friend Pete was jealous because Pete wished he had a Dad like Sam’s who spent time with him and because he was jealous, he started bullying Sam. The kids recognise the situations and can laugh at some but also empathise with others. I love the ending: “As the years passed, Sam came to see that Kate wasn’t all that bad … these days Sam and Kate are quite good friends – most of the time…”