Planet Picture Book


Last September, just a few months after starting this picture book journey, I discovered it was World Kid Lit month, an online celebration of children’s and YA books in translation. Imagine, a whole month of posts, lists and recommendations! I scampered to keep up and, on the way, managed to note down a few bits and pieces, including the first book on my newly created list for Colombia: Walk With Me by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng and translated by Elisa Amado. Buitrago and Yockteng are something of a dream team having also collaborated on, amongst others, Jimmy the Greatest! a picture book about a boy in Latin America, who is inspired to train as a boxer by Muhammad Ali, and Two White Rabbits about a young child’s experiences as a migrant as she travels with her father towards the US border. All three titles are published in English by Groundwood Books, an independent (and utterly fabulous) children’s publisher based in Toronto, Canada.

I’ve seen the second book on my list, As Time Went By by José Sanabria, in various places. It was a Batchelder Honour Book (a great source for contemporary children’s books in translation) and ALA notable book in 2017. The title also featured on this magnificent list of books from Latin America, compiled by Marcia Lynx Qualey, who co-launched WorldKidLit Month. As Time Went By follows the varying fortunes of a steamship and those aboard her. The title was originally published in Spanish, then translated into German by Gabriela Stöckli for publication in Switzerland. The same year, it was translated from Spanish into English by Audrey Hall and released in the United States and Canada. Some voyage! (Btw, I do know that Switzerland is landlocked ?)

Then, I hunted around for a third book to feature. I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I stumbled on this 2014 post on Spanish language publishing by translator and Spanish children’s book expert, Teresa Mlawer. I greedily highlighted all the authors from Colombia: Triunfo Arciniegas, Ivar Da Coll, Gloria Cecilia Díaz, Yolanda Reyes, Irene Vasco, Claudia Rueda, Julia Mercedes Castilla (Jairo Buitrago was, of course, listed as well). But when it came to finding English-language versions of their award-winning titles (of which there are many), I really struggled. Only books by Julia Mercedes Castilla and Claudia Rueda, both of whom now live in the US, appear to have made it into English. Please correct me if I’m wrong! I would so love to be wrong . . .

After some deliberation, I have chosen to feature Is It Big or Is It Little? by Claudia Rueda as my third title. It’s a fun little (or perhaps big) book, originally published in Spanish in 2011; the English-language version was released in 2013 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. I have no idea who the translator was, because s/he is not mentioned.

There’s the story behind my Colombian selection. Here is a recap of the three titles, minus the chatter:

Walk with Me by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng and translated by Elisa Amado (Groundwood Books, 2017)

As Time Went By by José Sanabria, translated by Audrey Hall (NorthSouth Books, Inc., 2016)

Is It Big or Is It Little? by Claudia Rueda (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2013)

As always, reviews of each title will follow over the next couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy this selection!

[Image: La Biblioteca EPM and Parque de las Luces, Medellin, Colombia by Jorge Láscar made available under a creative commons licence. Source:]

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