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Marsh Award for
Children’s Books in Translation

Past Winners
 

Now in its twentieth year, the Marsh Award recognises the important role that translators play in opening up the world of literature to young readers.  The award, presented biennially, was founded to celebrate the best translation of a children’s book from a foreign language into English and aims to identify the high quality and diversity of translated fiction available.  The award is administered by the English-Speaking Union on behalf of the Marsh Christian Trust.

 

1996 Winner – Anthea Bell

 

A Dog’s Life
Christine Nöstlinger, illustrated by Jutta Bauer
Andersen Press, 1990
(Translated from German)
 

Although Dog is past retirement age and a widower with grown-up children, he wants to find something worthwhile to do. He’s had a long life but not much experience, so he decides to leave home and go out into the wide world – perhaps he can make himself useful or needed.  On his travels he becomes an actor, bouncer, teacher and even a foster-parent to thirty kittens. There are hidden depths to this novel by prize-winning Austrian novelist Christine Nöstlinger with its sparkling translation, by one of the doyenne’s of translation, award-winning Anthea Bell and humorous black-and-white illustrations by German artist Jutta Bauer. A gem of a book that has as much meaning today as it did when first published in 1990.

 

1999 Winner – Patricia Crampton

 

The Final Journey
Gudrun Pausewang
Puffin Books, 1998
(Translated from German)
 

11-year-old Alice has been in hiding for the last three years, for fear she and her grandparents will be rounded up and transported to camps like her Jewish friends and relatives. When the soldiers finally come for them, Alice must endure a long and terrible journey to the concentration camp, together with a journey towards maturity and discovery of compassion, courage and the inhumanity of others. Gudrun Pausewang’s short novel protects the reader from nothing, neither the confusion of emotions among the prisoners nor the appalling indignity of the situation, in which love, life and death all happen in fear and squalor, nor the final terrible outcome. Compelling and deeply moving. (12+)* 

 

2001 Winner – Betsy Rosenberg

 

Duel
David Grossman
Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 1999
(Translated from Hebrew)
 

In the margin of the letter there were three words written in red ink – ‘Honour of Death’. So began an unusual story of the friendship between twelve-year-old David and the elderly Mr Rosenthal. When David reads the letter from the bully of Heidelburg University, accusing Mr Rosenthal of being ‘a miserable old thief’, he is full of trepidation for his friend. Somehow David must solve the mystery of the ‘stolen mouth’ and save two men from a duel to the death. A childhood memory narrated by David as he recalls events that took place 16 years before, it is a novel of love, honour and betrayal by David Grossman, one of Israel’s best known novelists. (9-11)*

 

2003 Winner –  Anthea Bell

 

Where Were You, Robert?
Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Puffin Books, 2001
(Translated from German)
 

Fifteen-year-old Robert discovers that he can travel back through time. By staring at the TV screen, a film, painting or photograph his vision blurs and he enters the scene that he is looking at. A television documentary transports him to Stalin’s Soviet Union in 1956; a film to Australia in 1946 and while looking at a photograph he ends up in his hometown in Germany, sixteen years earlier where he meets his grandmother as a young girl. Soon Robert is adrift in history, never sure where he will emerge next. A time travel book by well-known Germany author and poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger. (12+)*

 

2005 Winner – Sarah Ardizzone

 

The Eye of the Wolf
Daniel Pennac, Illustrated by Max Grafe
Walker Books, 2002
(Translated from French)
 

There is a dreamlike quality about this novel emphasised by the powerful, unusual opening of a boy standing motionless as he stares at a wolf in a zoo. Although born worlds apart, as they look at each other they gradually establish a silent but profound telepathic channel of communication that allows them to share their very different experiences. The wolf from Alaska has lost nearly everything including an eye and his beloved pack. The boy too, has lost much and seen many terrible things as he wandered through different regions of Africa. Master storyteller Daniel Pennac weaves a tale that is both magical and mysterious, a highly original story about suffering, courage and growing friendship. (9-11)* 

 

2007 Winner – Anthea Bell

 

The Flowing Queen
Kai Meyer
Egmont Children’s Books, 2005
(Translated from German)
 

The people of Venice and the lagoons have always been protected by the power of the Flowing Queen – until now! Captured Mermaids pull gondolas on the lagoon while flying stone lions patrol the skies overhead and the armies of the Egyptian Empire are camped across the water where they have laid siege to the city for over 30 years. As Merle and Junipa speed across the water on their way to the ‘Outcasts Canal’, they have no idea what lies in store for them at the house of the master mirror-maker, Arcimboldo. First part of a trilogy by Kai Meyer, this is a beautifully crafted novel with poetic language and rich descriptions that really capture the magic of Venice. (9-11)*

 

2009 Winner – Sarah Ardizzone

 

Toby Alone
Timothée de Fombelle, illustrated by François Place
Walker Books, 2008
(Translated from French)
 

Toby Lolness is a mere 1.5 millimetres tall, and his entire world is contained within the branches of the great oak Tree. Toby’s father Sim, a scientist makes a ground-breaking discovery about the source of the Tree's energy and how it could be systematically destroyed if exploited.  As a result, he and his family are persecuted, banished to exile in the Low Branches and eventually captured, imprisoned and sentenced to death.  Only Toby manages to escape and finds himself alone and on the run, hunted by his own people.  A refreshingly innovative book by Timothée de Fombelle’s that can be read on many different levels from fantasy to an environmental message. (12+)

 

2011 Winner – Martin Cleaver

 

Letters to Anyone and Everyone
Toon Tellegen, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg
Boxer Books, 2009
(Translated from Dutch)
 

This charming collection of short stories in the form of 23 letters written by a whole host of animals, captures the imagination and transports the reader to the enchanting realms of make-believe. Ant, Squirrel, Elephant, Snail, Bear, Mole and many others take up their pens to write to each other and the world around them. Their letters are delivered by the wind, sometimes with amusing consequences. Toon Tellegen’s stories allow the animals to express their dreams and philosophical musings in a gently and humorous way. An extraordinary collection of unusual stories which have been delightfully enhanced by the beautiful illustrations of Jessica Ahlberg. (6-8)



2013 Winner – Howard Curtis

 

In the Sea there are Crocodiles
Fabio Geda
David Fickling Books, 2012
(Translated from Italian)
 

This is the remarkable true story of Enaiatollah Akbari’s five-year journey from Afghanistan to Italy.  Abandoned in Quetta, Pakistan by his mother, ten-year-old Enaiat is left to fend for himself.  He endures unimaginable hardships and hazardous challenges along the way as he travels from Quetta across into Iran.  Told in the first person narrative, it is a revealing testament of the experiences faced by a young asylum-seeker.  It is Enaiat’s resourcefulness, self-belief and sheer determination that enable him to survive which makes this a truly stunningly and moving book about one boy’s remarkable journey.  (12+) 

 

2015 Winner – Margaret Jull Costa

 

The Adventures of Shola
Bernardo Atxaga, Illustrated by Mikel Valverde Pushkin Children's Books, 2013
(Translated from Basque)

Shola is a feisty little dog with attitude. She has big ideas and is out to prove that no adventure or challenge is too tough for her. Whether she is faced with the discovery that she might in fact be a lion, the prospect of going on a boar-hunt with her reluctant owner, helping a fellow canine who is plagued by a mouse or dealing with eccentric Aunt Clementine from America, Shola is determined to take charge and voice her opinions, which she frequently does. A charming collection of four short stories written by Basque writer Bernardo Atxaga that will have children giggling at Shola’s antics. (9-11)

 

To download the list click here. 

 

  Past Ten Winners of Marsh Award 1996-2015

 

   

*reviews taken from Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet, 2005 

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