Today I’ve my last review for this month as part of Gathering Books’ Award Winning Book Challenge, and again it’s a picture book which has won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (German Youth literature prize).
One, Two, Three, Me by Nadia Budde is a board book for the pre-school / nursery crowd. It is a quirky take on the “learn about the world around you” type of book with an exploration of colours, shapes, weather, locations, clothes, sizes and emotions/characteristics. Told in rhyme with naive, childlike drawings that reminded me a little both of Finnish illustrator Hannamari Ruohonen and Dutch illustrator Babette Harms, this is not your average toddler learning book, and is so much more fun for all that.
The choice of vocabulary is interesting (eg “gigantic, average, wee” when talking about size, or “spotted, plaid, pale” when talking about colours and patterns), and the animals modelling the cloths / locations / emotions etc are unusual: you’ll meet boars, cockroaches, rats, moose and a gnu!
The unusual lexical and illustrative choices made by Nadia Budde ensured that was this book inherently more interesting to read than many of its ilk. Whilst I wouldn’t be surprised if some parents felt happier with a more conventional approach, for example Kali Stileman’s Big Book of My World (which I reviewed here), the slightly anarchic slant taken by this book meant I loved reading it aloud, my enjoyment came across to J, and she too discovered a new book to love.
So now for a slightly geeky diversion, if you’re interested in translation. As a rhyming book, and a book where there is a close connection between the text and the images I was curious to find out how it had been translated.
Nadia Budde’s book is called Eins Zwei Drei Tier (One Two Three Animal) in the original German. A little rooting around has shown that not only has the translation been creative, Nadia Budde also must have redrawn some of the images for the English language version. Here are some images from the original book side by side with the corresponding images from the translated version.
I’d love to know more about the process that went on here – the conversations between writer/illustrator, translator and publisher. If you’re a writer/illustrator and have ever had to make such substantial changes to a book of yours, in order for it to be published in another language, I’d love to hear about it.
But moving on…
J loves to rhyme so it seemed very natural for us to make our own sing-song version of One, Two, Three, Me. J came up with the rhymes and then illustrated them for her own book about her world. Here’s her poem in full:
Ewan, Alfie, Molly, Dolly
In a dress, in a t-shirt, in a cloak, what a joke!
triangle, semi-circle, square, chair
in the clouds, in the sun, in the light, bike
Ginormous, medium, teeny, what a meanie
red, blonde, black, sack
filled with snacks, filled with bread, filled with presents, elephant
trumpetty-trump, raa, moo, you!
I gave her prompts for each line but J had tremendous fun “filling in the blanks” and especially coming up with the rhymes. Whilst not the most detailed of books, she’s tremendously proud of it and it’s become a favourite to read together at bedtime alongside the original which inspired it.
Whilst helping J make her book we listened to:
Other activities which might work well alongside reading One, Two, Three, Me include:
Can you recommend any picture books that are particularly interesting from the translation point of view? Books that posed particular problems for translation, but that were nevertheless translated successfully?