Latest Latvian Children's and Youth Literature in Bookstores Abroad

2017, October 18

Latest Latvian Children's and Youth Literature in Bookstores Abroad

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We are truly excited every time Latvian literature is published abroad. This time around, we celebrate the latest translations published in children's and young adult literature category. UK's publishing house The Emma Press has recently published Daina Tabūna's collection “The Secret Box” (“Slepenā kaste”), comprised of short stories from her debut book “Pirmā reize” (“The First Time”), as well as Ieva Flamingo's “Skaļā klase” (“The Noisy Cassroom”). Inese Zandere's “Trīs draugi vienas upes krastā” (“One House for All”) was published by Book Island, UK. The Finnish publishers at Paperiporo have published Juris Zvirgzdiņš's book for children “Leijonan ärji” (“Lion's Roar”).

Daina Tabūna's short story collection Pirmā reize” (“The First Time”, published by Mansards, 2014) was nominated for the Annual Latvian Literature Award 2015 as best debut of the year. The book instantly won over Latvia's readers and critics and has now become a cult book of its time. UK publishing house The Emma Press have published three short stories from the book: “Liesa, mans mīļākais orgāns” (“Spleen, my favourite organ”), “Darījumi ar Dievu” (“Deals with God”), and the title story “Slepenā kaste” (“The Secret Box”), translated by Jayde Will.

“Daina Tabūna has a simple and witty way of saying things, nowadays too rarely used when discussing a teenage girl's engagement with the complexity of the adult world. Many things in her stories can be said to be Latvian literature's firsts. Daina uses this pioneer privilege with piety – carefully treading the freshly cut narrow paths”, describes Ilmārs Šlāpins, chairman of the judge panel for the Annual Latvian Literary Award 2015 (LALIGABA).

Put in the author's own words, she “intended to write about seemingly small and insignificant events that have emotional impact of epic proportions. About the funny and sad details of everyday life that compose the entirety of horror and beauty, usually called childhood, puberty and youth. All in all, about the often contradictory requirements for being a girl or a woman in today's world.”

On 15th of September, The Emma Press announced the launch for “Skaļā klase” (“The Noisy Classroom”, published by Pētergailis, 2015) by Ieva Flamingo (alias of Ieva Samauska). “The Noisy Classroom” is a collection of poems about school for children, illustrated gorgeously by Vivianna Maria Staņislavska and translated from Latvian by a group of translators – Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini, Sara Smith and Richard O’Brien.

“Ieva Flamingo captures just the right tone, conveying the emotional charge of school life incredibly precisely. It’s extremely appealing. The pupils’ existence is dominated by social media, modern technology and the various demands made upon them by their school and parents.” Juris Petraškevičs, professor at the Art Academy of Latvia and the jury member of the 2016 Jānis Baltvilks Prize for Children’s Literature.

Ieva Flamingo is one of the most prolific Latvian children’s authors writing today. She won the Pastariņš Prize for Latvian Children’s Literature in 2015, and her books have been nominated for the International Jānis Baltvilks Baltic Sea Region Award four times.

Book Island, an indie publisher of translated picture books in the UK, exporting to New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands, has published Inese Zandere's book “Trīs draugi vienas upes krastā” (Liels un mazs, 2014) with the title “One House for All”, adapted by Lawrence Schimel. This universal story for young readers about compromise and collaboration has been made especially compelling by Juris Petraškevičs' wonderful and colorful illustrations.

The characters, Raven, Crayfish and Horse, have always been best friends. They’re grown up now and would like to start a family. They want all their families to live together, so they start planning to build a house. But what should that house look like? Will they find a solution that works for all of them?

Inese Zandere has written more than 20 books for children and is actively involved in projects connected to children's literature and cultural education. Her conceptual book of poems for children “Līze Analīze un citi slimnīcas skaitāmpanti” (“Medicine Maddy and Other Hospital Nursery Rhymes”, Liels un mazs, 2012) has been awarded the Annual Latvian Literature Award for best original children's book, the National Book Art  ‘Golden Apple Tree’ Award, and the Latvian Children’s Jury Award. One of Zandere's   most popular book series about “Shammies”, (Liels un mazs, 2015) can now also be enjoyed by children reading in Estonian and Arabic.

Meanwhile in Helsinki, Finland's Paperiporo has published Juris Zvirgzdiņš' book “Leijonan ärji” (“Lion's Roar”, Pētergailis, 2015), translated from Latvian by Mirja Hovila, illustrated by Lina Dūdaitė. This is already the second work by Zvirgzdiņš that has been published in Finnish by Paperiporo. 2016 saw the publishing of a Finnish-Latvian-English edition of “Ensimmäinen joulukuusi – Pirmā Ziemassvētku eglīte – The first Christmas tree” (Pētergailis, 2011).

In 2016, “Lion's Roar” was also published in Lithuanian, translated by Audrius Musteikis as  “Liūto riaumojimas”, published by Debesų ganyklos.

The book is inhabited by the writer's good old friend teddy-bear Tobiass, and some entirely new characters – the five-year old girl Rasa, puppy Zorro, and the unlucky lion Leo who has lost his Roar and awaits to be exiled from the Zoo. Rasa and her friends will never let this happen. Not on their watch!

This book is made even more special by the friendship between the Latvian writer Juris Zvirgzdiņš and the renowned illustrator Linu Dūdaiti, both collaborating in creating the amusing and fascinating plot of the book. Juris Zvirgzdiņš is the author of 23 children's books, a two-time winner of the International Jānis Baltvilks Baltic Sea Region Award (2013, 2009), and a recipient of the Annual Children's Literature Award for his book “Bebru atgriešanās: stāsts par bebrēna Bruka un viņa ģimenes piedzīvojumiem” (“The Return of the Beavers”, Zvaigzne ABC, 2005), and other awards.

All of the book projects were supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, the State Culture Capital Foundation, and the Latvian Writers’ Union.