Thursday, May 17, 2018

Summer Reading Feature: Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I

Second only to reading a book by the pool or in a hammock, our favorite time for a good summer read is during a thunderstorm. Of course, the rain lends itself to a different kind of summer reading, and we have the perfect book. To mix up the summer reading lists, try some historical fiction.

Told from the perspective of Darling, a dog living during World War I, this wartime adventure begins when the British military asks for dogs to help the war effort, and Darling’s family reluctantly sends her to be trained as a mercy dog. Through gunfire and poisonous gases, it’s Darling’s job to find injured soldiers on the battlefield and fetch help from the medics. After saving the lives of numerous soldiers, Darling suddenly finds herself in need of rescue. Will she ever make it back to England?

Darling, Mercy Dog of World War Ithe first installment in Alison Hart’s Dog Chronicles series, is a touching and exciting introduction to World War I. Darling’s story of bravery and devotion reminds readers that dogs can be so much more than pets.

Read an excerpt and take a look at the teacher's guide for summer book club discussion questions and activity ideas! 

Get Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I from your indie bookstoreBarnes & Noble, or Amazon! For more reading suggestions this summer, check out our summertime reading and summer-themed round-ups.

Monday, May 14, 2018

15 Fiction Books Featuring Characters of Color

For many readers, the love of a book comes from seeing themselves within the pages. We celebrate unique voices here at Peachtree, and we know it’s important for children to see characters from all backgrounds and experiences in the books they read. From making inventions, to solving mysteries, to figuring out life after high school, these recommendations all feature characters of color with diverse backgrounds.

Babies in the Park Series
Ages 2-6
by Kathryn O. Galbraith
illustrated by Adela Pons

This brand-new board book series features adorable babies playing in the park throughout the seasons. Featuring diverse characters and highlighting early concepts like shapes and repetition, these books encourage an appreciation of nature and outdoor imaginative play. The first two titles, Autumn Babies and Winter Babies come out September 2018!

In the Weather Series
Ages 2-6

This gently rhyming board book series celebrates all types of weather, comes rain, wind, or snow! Featuring a young girl of color and her adorable dog, In the Wind, In the Snow, and In the Rain are perfect for a sit-in-your-lap reading experience for toddlers.

Ages 2-6
by Nicola Moon
illustrated by Alex Ayliffe

Friday is “special” day in Mrs. Brown’s class, but Charlie can’t think of anything special enough to bring. His mom is too busy with his baby sister to be of much help. But Charlie makes an important discovery about just how special baby sisters and big brothers can be.

Ages 2-6

“Papa, why can’t I fly?” a boy asks his father. His father’s simple answer leads to another question, and then another, until the father playfully demonstrates to his son all the things the child can do. In the end the boy discovers that with a little imagination and some help from his dad he can fly—even without wings!

Izzy Gizmo
Ages 4 - 8
by Pip Jones 

Izzy Gizmo’s inventions are marvelous, magnificent and they often malfunction. But when she finds a crow with a broken wing, she just has to help! Izzy tries again and again to build him a new pair of wings, but nothing is working. And that makes Izzy really cross! Can Izzy overcome her failures? Or will her crow friend never fly again.

by Kashmira Sheth
illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi

Experience the magic of a traditional Indian wedding! Sona’s big sister is getting married and she’s been given an important job to do. She has to steal the groom’s shoes. She’s never attended a wedding before, so she’s unfamiliar with this Indian tradition—as well as many of the other magical experiences that will occur before and during the special event. But with the assistance of her annoying cousin Vishal, Sona finds a way to steal the shoes and get a very special reward.

Ages 4 - 8
illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

Sometimes it’s almost impossible to get your big sister to read your favorite book to you. Sometimes you have to go to great lengths even to get her attention! But if you’re really creative and use your imagination, you might just get what you want. Take care, though, not to go too far. Once you conjure up a tiger, there’s no telling where it might lead…

Every day, Rupa’s grandmother wears a beautiful sari. “Don’t you ever want to wear a gray skirt and red blouse with round buttons like Mommy or a green dress like me?” Rupa asks. But Dadima prefers to wear her traditional saris. She shares with her granddaughter all the wonderful things that saris can do—from becoming an umbrella in a rainstorm to providing a deep pouch to carry seashells. Soon Rupa’s imagination is sparked as she envisions saris protecting her in the scary Gir jungle, bandaging up an injured knee, and holding a special secret for her and Dadima to share.

Ages 4- 8
illustrated by Judy Love

Jake and his fellow students are getting ready for a celebration. Tomorrow is the 100th day of school and everyone is going to share their collections of 100 things. The day of the celebration arrives, but Jake forgets the 100 family pictures he has glued into a special memory book at home. Disaster! Thanks to Jake’s ingenuity and the sensitivity of his principal, Mrs. Wadsworth, Jake does have a collection to display that day… and something special to share with the class on the 101st day of school.

Seed Magic
Ages 4-8
by Jane Buchanan
illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb

In a barren, gray city, Rose dreams of gardens full of red and yellow and blue flowers. So when Birdman fills Rose’s hands with slick, black seeds and tells her they are magic, she plants the seeds outside her window and waits. Soon, like Birdman promised, a garden appears before her eyes—a singing flurry of red and yellow and blue, drawn to Rose’s window by seed magic.

Follow Kayla and her adorable pup King as they follow clues and solve mysteries together. From missing dog treats to secret encryptions, there’s plenty of detective work and laughs to be had with this sleuthing duo.

by Farhana Zia 

Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in, feeling confident enough to talk to the cute boy, or brave enough to stand up to mean kids—the fact that she’s Muslim is just another part of her life. But then Marwa, a Moroccan girl who shares Aliya’s faith, if not her culture, moves to town. Marwa’s quiet confidence leads Aliya to wonder even more about who she is, what she believes, and where she fits in.

Ages 8-12
by Shan Correa

Paul Silva lives in a paradise—a little farm high in the hills of a lush, green island in Hawaii—where he can see the ocean from his front porch. His disabled father, who makes a living by raising, training, and caring for roosters, has sheltered Paul from the harsh reality of the ties between the family business and the underworld of cockfighting.  But after his schoolmate Honey reminds him of the terrible fate of these roosters, Paul begins to question his family’s role in such a cruel sport.  At a cockfight, Paul is shocked by what he sees and vows to find a way to get his family out of the business altogether, only to come up against a disturbing quandary: raising roosters may be the only way the Silvas can continue to live in this idyllic place.

Child of Spring
Ages 8-12
by Farhana Zia

Basanta longs for the beautiful ring worn by her young mistress, but when it is finally hers, she realizes that it’s not the wonderful possession she expected. Increasingly aware of the struggles of her less privileged friends, Lali and Bala, she finds a way to improve their lives and entertain their community—and the beautiful ring takes on new meaning. Set in a 1960s Indian village and filled with a cast of distinct, endearing characters and humorous, thought-provoking events, this novel provides an insightful look at relative privilege and opportunity.

Sophia—former child prodigy and 17-year-old math mastermind—has been having panic attacks since she learned that after high school, former prodigies either cure cancer or go crazy. It’s a lot of pressure. Joshua—a highly intelligent and cheerfully unambitious amateur magician—has admired his classmate Sophia for as long as he can remember. He thinks the time is perfect to tell her how he feels. He doesn’t know how wrong he is. Full of diverse and quirky teenagers, this story intricately explores the idea of what it takes to feel comfortable in one’s own skin.

Monday, May 7, 2018

10 Children's Books for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a special holiday to celebrate motherhood and all of the maternal figures in one's life. Mothers may look different in every family, but the love and care that every maternal figure brings is special and invaluable. These children's books showcase the special bonds between children and maternal figures, whether it's a mother bear and her cub, a grandmother imparting wise advice, or a woman giving some motherly love to a rescued baby bird. So celebrate all the mother figures in your life this Mother's Day with these ten books honoring motherhood.

Written and illustrated by Jo Weaver 

With gentle text and stunning black and white illustrations, Jo Weaver reveals the strength of a mother’s love, wonder of nature and the first steps of independence. There is so much for Big Bear to teach her new cub as they step out into the forest. Together they eat, swim, fish, and play as one season becomes the next. With his mother’s help, Little One grows more and more confident, until winter comes once more and it’s time to head. (And be on the lookout for Jo Weaver's second book, Little Whale, coming October 2018.)

Written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale 

In straightforward language and bright, colorful pictures, author-illustrator Susan Stockdale shows young children how animals around the world transport their young. Some tote babies on their backs. Others dangle them from their mouths or prop them on their shoulders. From kangaroos carrying babies in pouches in the Australian Outback to penguin babies perched on their parents’ feet in the frozen Antarctic, each animal family is shown in its natural habitat. The story ends on a reassuring note with a human baby snuggled in her mother’s arms.

Written by Lester L. Laminack
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche

Day after day as Henry observes his Aunt Lilla work with the beehives on their Lowcountry farm, he becomes fascinated with her bee suit and her ability to communicate with the bees. So when he learns that the bees are getting ready to look for a new place to live, can he find a way to communicate with the sister bees and convince them to stay? Through is lyrical prose, Lester Laminack presents a sweet portrayal of a young boy’s special relationship with his aunt as they bond over their bees.

Written by Sandra Markle
Illustrated by Leslie Wu

One late afternoon in early September, Jilly sees something that looks like it’s raining black pepper from a clear blue sky. Then the black rain becomes a wispy mist, and then a shimmering orange cloud. What can it be? Jilly and Mom set out to identify the mysterious orange cloud. The closer they get, the more curious Jilly gets, and gradually, the hidden world of nature opens to mother and daughter. This sensitive, eloquent mother-daughter story and imaginative depiction of monarch butterfly migration from author Sandra Markle reminds us that a loving parent can empower a child to discover the mysteries of the natural world—and to enjoy that discovery again and again.

Written by Lester L. Laminack
Illustrated by Constance R. Bergum 

This poignant tale tells of a woman residing in a nursing home who seems to live in a world of memories. Although Miss Olivia is unable to respond and doesn’t always seem to notice her family, her daughter Angel and great-grandson Troy know better. Anything from a beautiful sunset to the mention of her porch swing can take her back into her past. She can no longer do the things she used to do, but she’s still their Momma Olivia. Laminack treats a difficult topic with great care, reminding us of the love that holds a family together in the difficult scenario of seeing a loved one slip into the past.

Written by Doris Gove
Illustrated by Marilynn H. Mallory 

In this story about a special mother-daughter relationship, as Laura’s mother greets each tree, mentioning its unique features, Laura grudgingly begins to take note. Slowly her curiosity overcomes her embarrassment. By the time they’re almost home, Laura has made the acquaintance of many special trees in her neighborhood. In the end, she has been infected by her mother’s contagious enthusiasm for nature and she begins to develop her own relationship with the natural world. Doris Gove’s charming tale shows the knowledge imparted through mother-child relationships as well as a source for inspiration of budding young naturalists.

Written by Kashmira Sheth
Illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi 

“Don’t you ever want to wear a gray skirt and red blouse with round buttons like Mommy or a green dress like me?” Rupa asks. But Dadima prefers to wear her traditional saris. She shares with her granddaughter all the wonderful things that saris can do—from becoming an umbrella in a rainstorm to providing a deep pouch to carry seashells. Soon Rupa’s imagination is sparked as she envisions saris protecting her in the scary Gir jungle, bandaging up an injured knee, and holding a special secret for her and Dadima to share. This intergenerational story offers a unique view of Indian culture and tradition through this affectionate, sensitive portrait of a grandmother and her American granddaughter.

Written and illustrated by Quentin Blake 

When Angela Bowling rescues a baby bird after a storm, she finds her very own Loveykins. She names him Augustus, and he quickly becomes more to her than just a bird to be looked after. But Augustus is growing larger and rounder and soon requires a special garden shed to house him. He seems content enough…until another night brings even stronger winds. From the UK’s first Children’s Laureate, this entertaining tale about the improbable relationship between a determined, eccentric matron and a young bird is classic Quentin Blake. With his quirky, humorous watercolors and his distinctive storytelling style, Blake gives readers a charming and sensitive treatment of the issues of loving and a child’s steps into independence.

Written by Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrated by Michael Austin

Sometimes grandmothers know best. In this hilarious folktale, Martina the beautiful cockroach doesn’t know coffee beans about love and marriage. While some of the Cucarachas offer her gifts to make her more attractive, only Abuela, her grandmother, gives her something really useful: un consejo increíble, some shocking advice. At first, Martina is skeptical of her Abuela’s unorthodox suggestion, but when suitor after suitor fails the Coffee Test, she wonders if a little green cockroach can ever find true love. Soon, only the gardener Pérez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. But what will happen when Martina offers him café cubano? Also available in Spanish and audio, Carmen Agra Deedy delivers a deliciously inventive Cuban version of the beloved Martina folktale, complete with a dash of café cubano.

Written by Lester L. Laminack
Illustrated by Chris Soentpiet

In this poetic memory, a young boy rides his bicycle every Saturday up and down country roads past farms, a graveyard, and a filling station, until he reaches his beloved Mammaw’s house. She is waiting for him. While she picks tomatoes, he pushes the lawnmower through the dew-wet grass. Afterwards, he always helps her make teacakes from scratch, breaking the eggs and stirring the batter. But the best part, he remembers, is eating the hot, sweet cakes fresh from the oven. Lester Laminack’s richly detailed prose perfectly portrays the special relationship of a young boy and his grandmother. 

And if you're looking for an adult book for an expecting single mother...

Written by Joan Anderson

More than 14 million women in American are single mothers, facing the headaches and heartaches of their challenging role as sole head of the household. This comprehensive guide features practical solutions for surviving and succeeded as a single mother. Drawing on her own experience as a single parent, Anderson inspires confidence and offers comfort and hope.

Find these titles and more at your indie bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Author Interview: Leslie Bulion on The Universe of Fair

Miller Sandford’s parents think he’s too young to explore the annual town fair alone. But when his mother can’t attend the Fair and his father has to cover her volunteer booth hours as well as he own, Miller ends up with more responsibility than he can handle. Instead of enjoying a freewheeling day on his own, he is drawn into a series of mishaps involving everything from his dad’s prize-worth lemon meringue pie and his own ill-fated science fair project.

Author Leslie Bulion answered some questions about the story behind The Universe of Fair.

Q: Your novel takes place at the Holmsbury Fair. I understand that the setting is inspired by a similar event in your town. Is it as fun and crazy as the one Miller attends?
A: For kids, our fair is a magical, Brigadoon-ish place that materializes for three days each September, then disappears until the next year. Daily life is suspended and everyone in the community—friends, family, teachers—hangs out and volunteers at the fair from morning ‘til night to host the tens of thousands of visitors we get from all over Connecticut and beyond. Being set loose in this giant playground of delicious food, rides, games, exhibits, performers, activities, animals, contests, and prizes is a local rite of passage. Disclaimer: turning in fair entries the night before the fair as they do in Holmsbury is pure fiction!

Q: The Universe of Fair features fantastic illustrations by Frank Dormer. We hear that you two know each other. How did you meet? Does he ever attend the fair?

A: Frank doesn’t live in my town, but he has been going to the fair since he was younger than Miller—way longer than I have. We’ve known each other through our local SCBWI critique group for at least a decade. Early on, at an NESCBWI annual conference, I had such positive feedback on a manuscript that I was physically unable to sit in my next workshop--I had to go out into the hall to jump around and hyperventilate…where I ran smack into Frank, who’d just had an effusive reaction to his portfolio and he couldn’t sit still, either. We were giddy. I babbled. Frank is so brilliant and talented. I love his kid-centric, king-of-quirk sense of humor and have (selfishly) always wished we could do a book together. His art ratchets up the book’s humor by at least six orders of magnitude.

Q: You’ve written picture books, middle grade fiction and nonfiction, and poetry collections. Do you have a favorite category or subject?
A: I never know what inspiration might strike, so I won’t rule out any genres or subjects, but I think my mind and heart tend toward middle grade fiction and poetry. I feel like I’m always writing to my fourth-grade self; I loved that total engagement with books as an independent reader. Nothing makes me happier that to come along for that adventure with young readers. Middle-grade readers are wide open, creative, and capable, and when I visit their classrooms they share such interesting and insightful connections. Also, in my writing arithmetic, gross = funny, so developmentally, I’m still right there.

Get The Universe of Fair from your indie bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon! The Universe of Fair is one of our summer reading book club features! Find more information and resources here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Summer Reading Feature: The Universe of Fair

Every year as the weather becomes perfect for picnicking and walking outside with bare feet, a phenomenon happens in every neighborhood, town, and city in the country. Whether it's called the fair, a festival, or a carnival, everyone joins in, eating things they didn't know could be deep-fried and entering in competitions they're determined to win this year.

For Miller Sanford, attending the Holmsbury Fair is going to be a freewheeling day without his annoying little sister, but when his mother can't attend the fair and his father has cover to her volunteer booth hours as well as his own, Miller ends up with more responsibility than he can handle. He is drawn into a series of mishaps involving everything from his dad’s prize-worthy lemon meringue pie to his own ill-fated science fair project.

The Universe of Fair is the perfect middle grade chapter book to help kids dive into their summer reading. Frank Dormer’s kid-friendly illustrations enliven the pages of Leslie Bulion’s lighthearted take on growing up and learning to be responsible.

Read an excerpt and take a look at the teacher's guide for summer book club discussions and activity ideas! Also make sure to follow us on Facebook for the giveaway starting May 7th!

Get The Universe of Fair from your indie bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon! For more reading suggestions this summer, check out our summertime reading and summer-themed round-ups.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Children's Book Week Giveaway

It's the 99th annual Children's Book Week! This is a very important week at Peachtree Publishers since children's books, and the people who write and read them, are our passion. We love creating books that educate, entertain, and endure.

So to celebrate, we're giving away five children's books that you're sure to enjoy! Check out the titles below, and comment on this blog post by May 4th to enter for your chance to win all five books.*

by Susan Stockdale

With engaging rhymes and bright, bold images, award-winning author and illustrator Susan Stockdale introduces young readers to a wide range of unusual flowers. Can you imagine a flower that looks like a ballerina? A baboon? A napping baby? Back matter tells a little bit more about each flower (including color photographs) and describes the pollination process.

by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan
illustarted by Grace Zong

Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan brings readers an amusing and touching story about transitions and the importance of observing them. With Grace Zong’s charming illustrations, the distinct cast of lively characters comes to life on the page.

by Lester L. Laminack
illustrated by Jim LaMarche

As Henry observes his Aunt Lilla work with the beehives on their Lowcountry farm, he becomes fascinated with her bee suit and her ability to communicate with the bees. When he learns that the bees are getting ready to look for a new place to live, he tries to find a way to communicate with the sister bees to convince them to stay.

by Don Tate

In this powerful biography of George Moses Horton, the first southern African-American man to be published, Don Tate tells an inspiring and moving story of talent and determination.

by Leslie Bulion
illustrated by Robert Meganck

Nineteen poems in a variety of verse forms with accompanying science notes take readers on a decomposer safari through the “brown food web,” from bacteria through tardigrades and on to rove beetle predators. Glossary, hands-on investigations, and resources are included in the back matter.

Looking for more ways to celebrate Children's Book Week? Check out all the great resources online and find events happening in your area! What are you doing to celebrate Children's Book Week? Comment below and enter to win!

*No purchase necessary to enter or win. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington, D.C. who are 18 years of age or older as of date of entry. Void where prohibited.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Summer Book Club: Chapter Books with Discussion Guides

Just because the school year is almost over, doesn't mean reading has to end! Having a summer book club is a great way to encourage children to continue reading outside of school. These fast-paced middle grade books are sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats, while also offering plenty of opportunities to discuss characters, themes, and plot with the discussion guides. Look to add these books to your summer book club, or start a book club of your own this summer!

Discussion guide
The Universe of Fair
by Leslie Bulion, illustrated by Frank W. Dormer

For a young science whiz, an eagerly awaited day at the fair turns into a wacky adventure with more twists and loops than the Gravity Whirl ride!

more contemporary fiction:

The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine by Henry Cole
Do You Know the Monkey Man? by Dori Hillestad Butler
Winners Take All by Fred Bowen
Giving Up the Ghost by Sheri Sinykin

Discussion Guide
Crossing Jordan
by Adrian Fogelin

When African-American Jemmie moves in next door to white Cassie, the two girls must learn how to address their parents' deeply held prejudices.

more from Adrian Fogelin:

My Brother's Hero
The Big Nothing
Anna Casey's Place in the World
Sister Spider Knows All

Discussion Guide
Quake! Disaster in San Francisco, 1906
by Gail Langer Karwoski, illustrated by Robert Papp

Jacob tries to find his family who are missing in the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

more historical fiction:

Privateer's Apprentice by Susan Verrico
Chasing the Nightbird by Krista Russell
The Other Side of Free by Krista Russell
Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis & Clark by Gail Langer Karwoski

Discussion Guide
Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I
by Alison Hart, illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery

When the British military asks families to volunteer their dogs to help the war effort, Darling's family sends her off to be trained.

more from Alison Hart:

Murphy, Gold Rush Dog
Finder, Coal Mine Dog
Leo, Dog of the Sea
Gabriel’s Horses

Find these books and more at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble! For more reading suggestions this summer, check out our summertime reading and summer-themed round-ups.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Translators Interview: Teresa Mlawer and Georgina Lázaro

A fictionalized first-person biography in verse, and now in Spanish, Miguel y su valiente caballero follows the early years of the child who grew up to pen Don Quixote, the first modern Western novel. The son of a gambling barber-surgeon, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra looks to his own imagination for an escape from his family's troubles and finds comfort in his colorful daydreams. At a time when access to books is limited and imaginative books are considered evil, Miguel is inspired by stortellers and longs to tell stories of his own. When Miguel is nineteen, four of his poems are published, launching the career of one of the greatest writers in the Spanish language.

In this interview, Spanish translators Teresa Mlawer and Georgina Lázaro share their experience translating Miguel's Brave Knight and explain the importance of translating literature for children.

Q: What are your own connections to Cervantes’s story of Don Quixote? 

TM: My own connections to Cervantes’s story of Don Quixote go back to when I was a child growing up in Cuba, and my father used to read passages of Don Quixote to me. 

GL: Spanish is my mother tongue, so as a small child Don Quixote was kind of a children’s story character. Later I read some children’s adaptations and portions of the book in grammar school and the whole book in high school. But the real connection happened when I read it freely, on my own, later in life. That’s when I laughed and wept with it, when I delighted in it and realized its importance.

Q: What in Miguel’s Brave Knight did you respond to most? 

GL: I liked very much the structure of the text, this kind of outline or sketch, of short and poetic fragments of the life and dreams of young Cervantes, using always his most famous book as background. But what attracted me most was the use of the language and its music.

I also consider Raúl Colón’s illustrations a very important piece that adds harmony to the book as a whole and shares not only the telling of the story, but also the atmosphere, the tone and the poetic essence of the text.

Q: Georgina, did you find any interesting connections between your previous work on Don Quixote Forever (2016) and your most recent work on Miguel’s Brave Knight?

GL: Yes, the fact that Miguel’s Brave Knight is about young Cervantes dreaming about the knight he wants to write about someday and my Don Quijote para siempre (Don Quixote Forever) and Don Quijote a carcajadas (Don Quixote’s Laughter) are about that same knight as children will see him, makes a connection. The previous works and this translation are intended for young readers, and one of the goals of all three is not only to tell a story they will enjoy but also to familiarize them with one the most important books of all times, and to make them appreciate the beauty of our Spanish language.

Q: What does your translation process look like?

TM: I read the book in English a few times before I start to work on the translation. Then I proceed to translate page by page. When I have finished the translation, I let it “rest” for a while, then I go back to the translation to see if it sounds right, or if I need to make some changes to the text before submitting the final translation.

GL: My translation process looks very much like my writing process. I think about it as part of my work. Although the book is already written, translation demands not only lots of attention to words and language. It involves, contrary to what many people think, imagination and creativity to transmit not only words and ideas, but also feelings and cadence.

To start, I read the original text several times and do some research. If it is poetry, I consider the structure, its rhyme and rhythm. When I’m working sometimes I write down several options for some words. Then, at the end of a verse or a page I read it aloud and choose the one that is closer in meaning to the original, that reproduces better the music of the text, and that delights the most.

Every day, as I do when I’m writing a book, I read what I have done the day before and then go for some more until the end. When the work is finished, I let it stand for several days and read it with “new eyes” later to modify or add, if necessary, the finishing touches. Sometimes translating feels like a challenging game. Like solving crosswords puzzles, translating offers me lots of special moments, knowledge, inspiration, vocabulary, and skills to improve as a writer.

Q: What kind of research, if any, do you conduct in order to select the correct form or context of translation?

GL: I read the book several times to be sure I understand it completely and to immerse myself in its tone and atmosphere. Usually I read about the author and some of his or her books and writings to learn more about his or her style and voice.

I also read information in Spanish on the theme of the book to learn more about it and to familiarize myself with its vocabulary.

For Miguel’s Brave Knight, I researched about Miguel de Cervantes, especially his childhood and youth, and read again some chapters of Don Quijote de la Mancha to focus particularly on the vocabulary and idiomatic expressions of the time and place in which the novel takes place.

Q: What about translating Miguel’s Brave Knight was most challenging?

GL: I had never translated free verse poetry. When I write I use the traditional poetic forms. For me it comes naturally and effortless. And it has an advantage: if you follow the rules you are sure to achieve music and rhythm. With free verse it is more subjective. You have to trust the words you choose and your ears to capture the music of the original text. I had never attempted that, so I spent lots of time and effort choosing the right words and reading the text aloud many times, over and over again, to be sure our translation was as delicate, and delightful to the ear as the original.

TM: Translating Miguel’s Brave Knight was definitely a challenge because of Margarita’s free verse style. However, I believe that Georgina and I were able to accomplish this goal.

Q: Is communication with the author important to your process? 

TM: I don’t always communicate with the author when doing a translation. I only reach out to the author or the editor if I need to clarify something. In the case of Miguel y su valiente caballero I did communicate with Margarita Engle. Her style is so unique that I wanted to make sure that Georgina and I preserved her style and were truthful to her voice.

GL: In this case it was not only very important, but advantageous. Teresa knows Margarita Engle and had talked to her and knew what she wanted to achieve and what was in her heart and mind when she wrote the book. A few times we were not sure about a particular word, phrase, or idea. It was a blessing that she was accessible and willing to dispel our doubts.

Q: How many drafts of translation did you produce before the finished product was achieved?

GL: Oh! That I cannot tell. Many. Lots. This translation was very different from the others I have done before because I was not working alone.

We assigned ourselves one or two pages each week and we both translated those same few pages. Then each one of us read the work of the other, and chose words, phrases, or even verses of one translation or the other. Sometimes we ended up with a different new page. By this point we already had three or four drafts of a page.

Q: What was it like working with another translator on Miguel’s Brave Knight?

GL: This translation was very different from all the others I have done. I have worked a lot with Teresa Mlawer but in a different way. Usually I write or translate and she edits. Sometimes I help her with the rhymes and metrics of some of her translations. On this occasion, for the first time, we both worked as translators of the same text. As I have said earlier, we assigned ourselves one or two pages each week and we both translated those same few pages. Then each one read the work of the other, and chose words, phrases or verses from one translation or the other to achieve the best end results. We talked a lot on the phone considering each other’s point of view. Sometimes we thought about our differences and options for a few days or even looked for a third opinion.

To write is a solitary work. Working with another person can be a real challenge. I thought it was going to be difficult to work with another translator. Working with Teresa was different, but also stimulating and fun.

TM: I have worked with Georgina Lázaro before. We make a good team and complement each other. This was indeed a team effort and a work of love for both Georgina and myself.

Q: How important are cultural appropriateness, language authenticity, and accuracy of locale to the translation of a text such as Miguel’s Brave Knight? Do you feel it is important to have a Spanish translation of this text? 

TM: Cultural appropriateness, language authenticity, and accuracy of any text to be translated is extremely important. Because of the subject matter of the story I feel it was extremely important to have this book translated into the language of Miguel de Cervantes.

GL: Yes, I think it is important and necessary to have a Spanish translation of this text. Such a beautiful book about the author of the most famous and important book written in Spanish needs to reach Spanish readers.

To take notice of cultural appropriateness, language authenticity, and accuracy of locale is essential to be able to have a trustworthy text, without disparities, and to succeed in getting the reader to feel as if the new text is not a translation.

Q: Is language or intent more important to a work like Miguel’s Brave Knight?

TM: I would say that both are important, but when it comes to Cervantes, the language is extremely important.

Q: What is the crucial difference between authentic literature and translation literature?

TM: To me there is no crucial difference between authentic literature and literature in translation, as long as both are well written.

Q: What are some of the differences between translating literature and poetry?

TM: Poetry is definitely more of a challenge, especially if you are translating the words of someone as talented and unique as Margarita Engle.

GL: To translate an informative text or a cookbook, for example, you have to be meticulous and precise; there’s no room for creativity. To translate literature and poetry is more difficult. As in all translations, you have to look for accuracy in the words you choose. But besides meaning you have to consider the sound of the words, the music and the tone they create, the rhythm and cadence of the sentences. Especially with poetry the translated text should be read as a poem written in the new language and the translator becomes kind of a creator. This question makes me think of something actress Marta Poveda says: “To do prose is like running by the beach, to do poetry is like running through water.”

Q: What do you enjoy most about translating?

GL: What I enjoy most about translating is the challenge and the fun of it. It reminds me of the days I used to solve crosswords puzzles with my father, especially if it involves the rhyme and rhythm of traditional poetic forms. It is like a game, like a riddle. Like this:
What one syllable word rhymes with frown and is the name of a color? 
What one syllable word rhymes with team and means yell? 

Do you have any advice for aspiring translators?

TM: When I look back to my career as a translator I like what I see. It has been and it continues to be a very rewarding experience for me. Therefore, I would say to any aspiring translators: If that’s what you really like to do, go for it!

Q: What do you hope to inspire through your work in translation?

TM: I have to admit that I do translations because I love language and I love children’s literature. However, my goal is to be able to translate into Spanish many of the wonderful children’s books published in English so that Hispanic children will have the opportunity to read all these books in their language.

GL: What I want with my translations is to expose the work of other writers, to make available good books written in English to Spanish-speaking readers or to readers who are learning Spanish. As with my own books I expect children to discover that reading is fun, exciting, and stimulating.

Find  Miguel y su valiente caballero at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble! For more information about the story behind Miguel's Brave Knight, check out our interview with author Margarita Engle and illustrator Raúl Colón as well as a guest post from Margarita Engle about why she wrote this important and inspiring story.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Celebrating Libraries: Books about Books

For many readers, the origin of their love for books and reading began at a library or with the gentle encouragement of a librarian. We celebrate and appreciate libraries all year-round here at Peachtree, but in honor of National Library Week, we just had to recommend these books about books. Happy reading!

Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. But she DOES want a gold star from her teacher. But, stars are for good readers, for understanding words, and for saying them out loud. Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn’t so bad; when Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn’t mind. As it turns out, it’s fun to read when you’re not afraid of making mistakes. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it’s okay to go slow. And to keep trying. Check out the Activity Kit for fun games and a dog treat recipe! And don't forget to download your own Madeline Finn poster! Can't get enough of Madeline Finn? Read more about the upcoming sequel: Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog.

illustrated by Brad Sneed

Every day after school Melvin goes to the library. His favorite people—Marge, Betty, and Leola—are always there behind the reference desk. When something interests Melvin, his librarian friends help him find lots and lots of books on the subject. As the years pass, Melvin can always find the answers to his questions—and a lot of fun—in the library. Then one day he goes off to college to learn new things and read new books. Will he leave the library and his friends behind forever?

illustrated by Ted Papoulas

A hearing boy and his deaf parents take an outing to Coney Island, where they enjoy the rides, the food, and the sights. The father longs to know how everything sounds. Though his son does his best to interpret their noisy surroundings through sign language, he struggles to convey the subtle differences between the “loud” of the ocean and the “loud” of a roller coaster. When the family drops in at the library after dinner, the boy makes a discovery with the help of a thoughtful librarian who introduces him to poetry. Perhaps the words he needs are within reach, after all. In the author's note, Myron Uhlberg explains the significance of his discovery of the library and how that influenced his own love of words.

illustrated by Michael P. White

When Sunrise Elementary School advertised for a thick-skinned librarian with a burning love of books, Miss Lotta Scales knew she was perfect for the job. Who could guard books better than a REAL dragon? But when she won’t let any of the children take a book from the shelves, the teachers form a delegation. Not even sweet Miss Lemon can convince Miss Lotta Scales that “the library belongs to the children.” Can an open book temper the flames of the school’s hotheaded librarian? Check out the Teacher's Guide for fun classroom activity ideas!

illustrated by Michael P. White

After 557 years of faithful service, Miss Lotty is retiring from guarding books. But before she can check out of Sunrise Elementary for good, disaster strikes. Someone has ordered to have all the books removed from the library and replaced with machines! It’s enough to make Lotty feel a little…dragon-like. When she bursts into a fiery rage, only one thing can make her shed her scales: assurance that someone will fight to keep her precious books in the hands of Sunrise’s children.

Everyone knows Benjamin Franklin was an important statesman, inventor, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. But did you know he started the first public library in America? Franklin was always a “bookish” boy. Ben wanted to read, but books were expensive. He wanted to go to school and learn, but his family needed him to work. Despite this, Ben Franklin had lots of ideas about how to turn his love of reading and learning into something more. First he worked as a printer’s apprentice, then he set up his own printing business. Later, he became the first bookseller in Philadelphia, started a newspaper, published Poor Richard’s Almanac, and in 1731, with the help of his friends, organized the first subscription lending library, the Library Company.

Find these books and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble.