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10 Translated Books

Chosen by creators, publishers, translators and specialists of the Children’s Book World

As the year of our tenth anniversary comes towards a close, we asked ten children’s book creators, publishers, translators and specialists to each select a translated title from the last ten years – and to tell us why they chose it.  Their selected book might be a title they have translated or published, their all-time personal favourite or just a book they feel deserves more public attention. Here is the result - an eclectic and exciting list of translated books with something to appeal to any and every young reader.


Selected by Jane Ray (Illustrator and Author)

Jane, the Fox and Me
Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault
Translated from French by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou
Walker Books (2016)

Jane says: “I fell in love with this book, a graphic novel, as soon as I saw it. Even at my advanced age, it takes me back instantly and completely, to those agonising teenage years. It is tender, painful and full of hope.”

Selected by Delaram Ghanimifard (Co-founder of Tiny Owl Publishing)

Bijan and Manije
Translated from Persian by Azita Rassi
Tiny Owl Publishing (2016)

Delaram says: “This is a tale from the Shahnameh, or Book of Kings - a poetry collection of Persian myths and legends, by the 10th-century poet Ferdowsi. It's a beautiful story of love across borders, with an empowered princess and Iran's greatest hero. Translating stories like this into English ensures that we can keep bringing wonderful ancient tales to new modern audiences.”

Selected by Julia Marshall (Publisher and CEO of Gecko Press, New Zealand)

Duck, Death and the Tulip
Wolf Erlbruch
Translated from German by Catherine Chidgey Gecko Press (2008)

Julia says: “This has given something unmatchable to the English world. But there are lots of other books in translation that have made the book-world a better place, if not the world-world.”

Selected by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Author, Translator and Poet)

The Book of Pearl
Timothée de Fombelle
Translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon
Walker Books (2016)

Kevin says: “Oh! This captivating novel, set in the here and now and the world of fairy tale, is alive with love and magic.  I read it with a catch in my throat, delighting in de Fombelle's command of plot, rich imagination and, above all, flowing clean style - all this, and an unfailing sense of being in thrall to an outstanding writer.”

Selected by Caroline Royds (Publisher, Walker Books)

Bronze and Sunflower
Cao Wenxuan
Translated from Chinese by Helen Wang
Walker Books (2015)

Caroline says: “I didn’t work on this book, but when I read it a door opened. And through that door, against a communist background that felt so foreign, the children’s gentle innocence, their growing friendship, and the breathtaking descriptions of their world shone a different – and lovely - light.”

Selected by Nicolette Jones (Journalist, Writer and Broadcaster)

Bessora and Barroux
Translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone
The Bucket List (2016)

Nicolette says: “This is an important story – the biggest story of our time – with such economy and dexterity in the images and such moving and terrible truths. Expertly translated by Sarah Ardizzone.” 

Selected by Helen Wang (Translator)


In the Sea There are Crocodiles
Fabio Geda
Translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis Tamarind Books (2015)

Helen says: “Based on the true story of ten-year-old Enaiatollah Akbadi, and his journey from Afghanistan, through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, to Italy, this is a remarkable book about a young asylum seeker.  Told in his voice, from his perspective, dotted with foreign words, and, above all, showing the resilience, bravery and ingenuity of children.”

Selected by Adam Freudenheim (Publisher and MD of Pushkin Press)

The Murderer's Ape
Jakob Wegelius
Translated from Swedish by Peter Graves
Pushkin Children’s Books (2017)

Adam says: “I love this book.  My 12-year-old son tells me it's the best book I've ever published, and he may be right!  It's a completely original work of fiction for readers 9+ following the adventures of a unique and memorable gorilla from Lisbon to India and back.  The detailed black and white illustrations are knockouts.” 

Selected by Lawrence Schimel (Writer, Translator and Anthologist)


Two White Rabbits
Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng Translated from Spanish by Elisa Amado Groundwood Books (Canada)

Lawrence says: “Moving and poetic, this is a child's eye view of being a migrant, but without her quite yet knowing what that means. So the message (as in most of Buitrago's books) is understated instead of heavy-handed or moralistic.”

Selected by Denise Muir (Translator)

The House in the Tree
Bianca Pitzorno, illustrated by Quentin Blake Translated from Italian by Stephen Parkin
Alma Books (2017)

Denise says: “There’s nothing better as an adult reader than finding something that captures your imagination like your most favourite childhood read (in my case Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree). To have another chance to be transported into a faraway world, by a writer who pens stylish, amusing stories featuring protagonists who rely on their wits to tackle tricky social and even political problems, was a rare treat, and now I can share this wonderful, inspiring world with my own daughter.”

To see full reviews of some of the above books click on book title

Celebrity Anniversary List Dec17



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