Guest Blogger for Lantana Publishing

I’m feeling very privileged to have been asked to contribute to the Lantana Publishing Blog, newly relaunched to celebrate their fifth birthday. You can read my thoughts on why translated and world books are so important for our children.

You can also find out more about their fantastic initiative A BOOK FOR A BOOK in collaboration with ReadforGoodUK !

Just So Festival Highlights

Thingumabob & The Thingumajigs waking up the Just So Festival

This weekend we went to the Just So Festival at Rode Hall in Cheshire. This festival has become something of a regular in our family diary and we’ve been looking forward to it for ages. This year was set to be something special with the festival celebrating its 10th Anniversary.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Just So Festival, it is a celebration of the arts, creativity and imagination, mixing outdoor theatre, music workshops and performances with clay modelling, campfire songs and dressing up. Where else do you see whole families in sparkly sequin fish costumes or dressed as a pride of lions, trying to win golden pebbles for their tribe? This year, we chose to be bees with our tribe coming a respectable 4th place in the Tribal Tournament.

An absolute highlight of the weekend was seeing Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers. If you haven’t come across their music and you have young children, you really should. They have some ridiculously funny songs including David Attenborough, the Skeleton’s Foxtrot and the kids are still running around this morning singing their favourite: I’ve got my finger up my nose!

Clearly the weather decided this year needed to memorable too and checking the forecast on the run up to the festival, it soon dawned that this year was going to be soggy, soggy, soggy and muddy, muddy, muddy! So muddy in fact, we had to be towed off the car park by a tractor at the end – what could be more fun when you’re 8!

Here’s a selection of our some of our highlights.

5 Books about Cats for International Cat Day

Today it’s International Cat Day, and so to celebrate our furry friends, here are five books all about cats.

  1. Mog by Judith Kerr. There are loads of Mog books, like this Christmas book in the picture. Written by the late great Judith Kerr, who could fail to be charmed by Mog.
  2. To be a cat by Matt Haig. What would you do if you woke up tomorrow as a cat? Barney Willow is about to find out.
  3. Oi Cat! by Kes Gray and Jim Field. Rhyming galore in the fabulous second Oi! book. If you haven’t come across these yet, they are well worth a read!
  4. Lost and Found Cat by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes. A real-life tale of a family fleeing Iraq who take their cat with them. On arrival in Lesbos, Kunkush the cat gets lost. Thanks to volunteers and a campaign on social media, Kunkush is eventually reunited with his family.
  5. Flucht by Niki Glattauer and Verena Hochleitner (in German). A family fleeing from war, written from the cat’s perspective.
My cat Smudge, doing what cats do best!

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Reflections on the Warwick Translates Summer School

Attendees of the Warwick Translates Summer School 2019

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Warwick Translates Summer School. Last year I participated in the BCLT Summer School on the Spanish strand, so this year I took my place on the German workshop with the amazing Katy Derbyshire.

We had been given a selection of texts to prepare before the event, and while I say prepare, this wasn’t to translate in advance but rather read through and understand. We had one long text to work on every morning – an excerpt from a book – and then each afternoon we looked at a shorter text from a “literary-adjacent” field. These ranged from biographies for a museum to a humorous newspaper column and even included my favourite: a children’s picture book!!

It was great to be working in such a supportive, encouraging environment, taking a line or a sentence at a time to produce a finely honed translation. There’s always a fear that your suggestion is going to be wrong or you’re going to look ridiculous. Within the larger German group, we split down into smaller groups of 3-5 people which allowed suggestions to be put forward in relative safety; if it was a silly suggestion, at least you were only saying in front of 3 other people! But this also meant that it felt like a safe place to put forward more daring solutions and learn from others whether they thought those solutions were successful or not. I can imagine group dynamics play a large part to creating that security, but in this I was very fortunate to find myself with a roomful of lovely and talented people.

In addition to the workshops themselves, there were also a number of lunchtime and evening sessions, some of the most useful being about how to pitch to publishers and conversations with publishers and editors.

One of the things I have learnt in this industry is how important it is to talk to people and make connections. This was a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and to forge those connections. Working alone in an office with a computer can sometimes feel quite isolated so it’s great to know that there are others out there at the end of an email.

It was a very intense few days with lots of information but I left with my head full of ideas and the conviction that this is the area I want to work in. It’s now down to me to move my business forward and make it work for me.

World Kid Lit Book Review: Cuentos Criminales by Pedro Mañas and David Sierra Listón

The book I’m reviewing today is a hilarious illustrated middle-grade book from award-winning Spanish author Pedro Mañas and illustrator David Sierra Listón: Cuentos Criminales (Editorial Libre Albedrío). I’ve spent the last year or so working with this book for my MA Dissertation and I have to say, it’s a great book!

The premise for the book is a detective-turned-writer who shares with the reader all the gory details about the cases he has worked on throughout his career as a detective. But this is no serious crime writing; this will elicit belly laughs at the ridiculous situations the detective finds himself in as well as the puns and witty wordplay woven in by Mañas.

The cases take place in cities both around the world and in imaginary places. Some cases are based in reality, adding a twist, for example, to the real-life scam where a man sold the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal. A later case involves Sherlock Holmes in London. There is a real sense of adventure and fun.

The illustrations and layout of the book also really draw the reader in. The text is occasionally written as if in a notebook, at jaunty angles on the page. The colourful pictures throughout the 252 page book are a real bonus and something that isn’t often seen for this age group – full-colour images have often been replaced by black and white line drawings by this stage.

All in all it’s a fantastic book that will keep your children giggling!

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I passed my Masters Degree in Translation Studies!

Just a short blog post today to celebrate the fact I’ve passed my MA in Translation Studies. Not only have I passed, but I have been awarded a Distinction – hurray! It feels like it’s been a long time since I began the course, way back in September 2015 and I don’t officially graduate until January 2020, but it feels amazing to have finished and to know that I can now move on to the next stage of my career in translation.

Inspiring the Future at a Derby inner-city school

A while back I was invited to participate in an event organised through Inspiring the Future. Today was the day and so, armed with Harry Potter, Pokemon and Disney’s Let it go, I headed to a junior school in the inner city of Derby.

Going in, I knew that this particular school had a high volume of children with Asian and Eastern European backgrounds. What I recognise from this is the language skill base these children have to offer. I’ve often heard people say that “X child doesn’t speak English at home.” I’d like to challenge that perception and ask “well what do they speak?”

I spent my time circulating around three Year 5 classes (9/10 year olds) and the linguistic spread was astounding. Asking what languages the children spoke, we discovered Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Romanian, Polish, Greek, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Kurdish, Latvian, Swedish, Italian – what a mix!

We talked about what jobs we could do with language skills, discussing languages in a business setting. We looked at book translation, dubbing and subtitling – they particularly enjoyed Let it go in 25 languages. We also talked about interpreting in schools and hospitals, settings where some of the children already have experience of meeting interpreters, or indeed sometimes acting as interpreters themselves. A Google search had revealed that in Derby, the “in demand” languages were many that were sitting on the floor in front of me.

I hope that if nothing else, the children from today’s sessions leave knowing that their language skills are an asset to them. For the rest of the world, multilingual is normal. Here in the UK, language take-up in schools is dropping (another article about this was published just today). These children are our future linguists and should be cherished and encouraged. It’s not “just” a language they speak at home.

To volunteer your time to inspire the future, please register with Inspiring the Future.