Children’s books from Latvia translated abroad


2020, February 22

Children’s books from Latvia translated abroad

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New translations of children’s books are published in Italian, Armenian, Estonian and Korean languages.

The amazing story of a baby rhino’s travel from Northern Europe to Africa “Muffa” (Mufa, liels un mazs, 2011) written by Juris Zvirgzdiņš and illustrated by Reinis Pētersons was translated into Italian by Margherita Carbonaro and published by Sinnos Editrice as “Rinoceronte alla riscossa”. Muffa is an orphan; zoo keeper Ibu assumes care for him. Soon Muffa learns to speak and read and hides from cold and heat by wrapping himself up in
the newspapers he has read. Muffa speaks the HUMAN language: no matter which country the two friends end up in, Muffa understands everybody and everybody understands him. But when Muffa reaches Kenya where a huge variety of animals live on the lakeside, they are attacked by poachers. However, remembering everything he has read, Muffa leads the animals like a true commander. A happy reunion with Ibu and other friends, who have arrived to help African animals, await him. 

And other two books by Juris Zvirgzdiņš were translated into Armenian by Naira Khatchatryan and published by Vernatun Media. “Toby, Charlie and the Invisible Ghost” (Tobiass, Čārlijs un Neredzamais spoks, Pētergailis, 2017) illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa, tells a story of two curious and reckless bears - Tobias and his friend Charlie – who embark on a series of mischievous adventures. Responding to an advert they find impossible to resist they go to the home of one family. There they meet an invisible creature who changes their lives entirely - a creature who makes them experience a wide range of feelings from shyness and fear to interest and compassion. The bears are very good-natured and always eager to help - it is these personal qualities which ensure the story has a happy ending.

The main character of “The Little Bee’s Big Journey” (Mazās bitītes lielais ceļojums, Pētergailis, 2016), illustrated by Gita Treice, Zuzu doesn’t get honey simply by landing on a linded tree or in a field of heather. By making Zuzu collect medicinal honey for the sick Ilze, Juris Zvirgzdiņš introduces the reader to the nature, climate and religions of distant lands. For example, the statue of Buddha in India next to the river Ganges opens up a view of a stone lotus plant, where Zuzu can collect some wonderful nectar. In London, an orchid is awarded the first prize by the Queen during a flower show, and here Zuzu collects nectar in a very special way. Having listened to the littlebee’s story, it is the thistle who lets her drink from its flower.

The imaginative picture book “Riding High” (Zirgā, liels un mazs, 2017) written by Inese Zandere and illustrated by Anna Vaivare was published by Päike ja Pilv in Estonian language translated by Contra under the title “Tuhatnelja edasi!”. It is a story of a boy learning to play a piano. The author compares learning to play a piano with learning to ride a horse. Both melody and horse can be slow and steady, wild, galloping and unpredictable. Poetry of Inese Zandere is musical and cheerful, yet serious and philosophical at the same time and Anna Vaivare’s colourful and lively illustrations welcome readers into a world where anything is possible.

Two books written by Rūta Briede were translated and published in the Republic of Korea. A beautifully written and illustrated book about sadness and healing “The Dog Who Found Sorrow” (Suns, kurš atrada skumjas, liels un mazs, 2018), illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa, was published by Arte Publishing and the story of a middle-aged lady Renata, who cannot stand seagulls “Queen of Seagulls” (Kaiju karalienes noslēpums, liels un mazs, 2017), illustrated by the author, was translated by Kim Inae Sujung and published by Mirae Media and Books.

Suitable for all ages, “The Dog Who Found Sorrow” tells a story of a dog who, waking to find his hometown covered in thick black clouds, goes out in search of the source of sorrow. The brave dog takes a ladder and climbs up to the sky to see what’s up. It turns out the clouds are filled with very sad beings called Sorrows. The dog takes out his harmonica and starts playing  to lighten the mood.

The main character of the “Queen of Seagulls” Renata lives in a city where seagulls disturb the quiet life she longs for. To ruin the life of these birds she hates, she picks up a gull’s food in the yard and eats it for lunch. She spends mornings writing complaint letters to the city council, but never receives any answer. And then a new neighbour with a fondness for seagulls arrives in Renata’s difficult life. Why does she have to suffer so much? The truth is found on a rocky island, far out in the open sea, where the sun never sets.