When I first started researching picture books from Portugal, one name leapt out at me: publishing house and graphic design studio, Planeta Tangerina. Founded in 1999 by four friends, Isabel Minhós Martins, Bernardo P. Carvalho, Madalena Matoso and Joāo Gomes de Abreu, Planeta Tangerina publishes titles that redefine what a picture book is.
“We like the idea of everything being open, everything being possible.”
And it’s a concept that works! Planeta Tangerina’s unique approach to picture book publishing has garnered many awards, including the BOP for Best European Children’s Publisher at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2013.
There are other publishing houses, of course. Kalandraka, which has its HQ in Spain, has an extensive catalogue of picture books in Portuguese, but many of the ones listed were initially published in another language. The same applies to a couple of smaller publishers I researched, Bruaá and Orfeu Negro – most of the titles I saw (and there were some beautiful ones) had been translated into Portuguese. One to watch, I think, is Trinta Por Uma Linha, which features a range of original picture books written in Portuguese on its site; however, I am not aware if any titles from this publisher are currently available in English. I should note here that I have gleaned all this information from websites where the information I am after is written in Portuguese of which I have no knowledge. I apologise for any inaccuracies and strongly suggest you take a look at these websites for yourself if you are interested in picture book titles from Portugal.
So, on to my picture book selection for Portugal. All three titles were – surprise, surprise – originally published by Planeta Tangerina. They are all very different and they definitely push the boundaries. The first is a wordless picture book that reads in both directions; the second is a historical picture book that starts in Portugal during the Salazar dictatorship and ends in the 1968 Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia; the third is written in speech bubbles and plays with the form of the book throughout. I am also super-excited to be featuring my first translator interview on Planet Picture Book during our stopover in Portugal – more to be revealed in due course . . .
Here is the selection:
Follow the Firefly/Run, Rabbit, Run by Bernardo P. Carvalho (first published in Portuguese in 2014 by Planeta Tangerina; this edition, Book Island, 2014)
Three Balls of Wool (Can Change the World) by Henriqueta Cristina, illustrated by Yara Kono, translated by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (first published in Portuguese in 2015 by Planeta Tangerina; this edition, Enchanted Lion Books, 2017)
Don’t Cross the Line by Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho, translated by Daniel Hahn (first published in Portuguese in 2014 by Planeta Tangerina; this edition, Gecko Press, 2016)
I hope you enjoy these picture books as much as I do.[Image: Livraria Lello e Irmão, Porto, by diegoperez74, made available under a creative commons licence. Source: flickr.com Now there’s a bookshop I’d like to visit!]