Travel, Translation and Children’s Books

 

Travel, Translation and Children’s Books

 

French Studies

UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER

FRIDAY 28 APRIL 2017, 10.30am – 5.15pm

Venue: Manchester Meeting Place

Guest speakers:

Kiera Vaclavik, Queen Mary College, London

Clémentine Beauvais, University of York

Anna Kemp, Queen Mary College, London

Chair: Penny Brown

 

PROGRAMME

10.30 – 11.00 COFFEE/TEA

SESSION 1: 11.00 – 12.15 paper 1 Kiera Vaclavik, QMC

The Whole World in His Hands: Globalization & Contemporary Picturebooks

Followed by conversation with respondents and general discussion

12.15 – 1.30 LUNCH BREAK

SESSION 2: 1.30 – 2.45 paper 2 Clémentine Beauvais, York

Bresse against Brexit: Provinciality in European children’s books available in Britain

Followed by conversation with respondents and general discussion

SESSION 3: 2.45 – 4.00 paper 3 Anna Kemp, QMC

Writing children’s books: translation, adaptation, travel and trust.

Followed by conversation with respondents and general discussion

4.00- 4.15 TEA/COFFEE

4.15-5.15 general discussion with all speakers

 

 

 

Abstracts

 

 

Kiera Vaclavik

The Whole World in His Hands: Globalization & Contemporary Picturebooks

 

Representations of the whole world having been a familiar feature of children’s material culture since at least the 1760s when John Spilsbury began to sell dissected maps, forerunners of the jigsaw puzzle. Children’s literature has long participated in efforts to encapsulate the world in its entirety by prominently featuring maps and/or by sending protagonists off on journeys around the world. But in today’s globalised world, globes and world maps have spread far beyond puzzles, board games and books, expanding into virtually all domains of contemporary childhood culture. Babies, toddlers and teenagers can wear the world, play with it, read books in which characters travel around it, watch programmes which depict it and have their rooms themed around it.

 

This paper argues that picturebooks are often much more successful than other products for children in conveying the complexities of globalization. It focuses on the representation of the world in two contemporary picturebooks: Laurent de Brunhoff’s Le Tour du monde de Babar (2005) and Marc Boutavant’s Le tour du monde de Mouk (2007). Both these works convey and celebrate linguistic and cultural variety. They effectively portray global mobility through the travels of the main characters but also more subtly, through the deployment of background figures.Mouk in particular manages to convey what is distinctive and recognisable about a specific place but also the multicultural, diverse, globalised character of locations (the latter being precisely what contributes to former). But despite these strengths, neither text is without its problems. Although Mouk and Babar convey a sense of global mobility through travel and tourism, they make no effort to get to grips with the global exchange of goods, trade and money of which they themselves are very much part (both are ‘Printed in China’). The paper concludes by arguing that child readers should be encouraged to view these texts critically and to be wary of assuming that they straightforwardly represent what the world is ‘really like’. It will also briefly indicate lines of research that texts such as these open up, notably the possibilities of multilocational reader response.

 

 

Clémentine Beauvais

Bresse against Brexit: Provinciality in European children’s books available in Britain

 The majority of the (small) number of translated European children’s books available in Britain feature non- specifically-European places. Conversely, British books that take place in European settings often stage a kind of British-centred Platonic love affair with Europe, condensed on only a few romanticised places. In this paper I argue that books from Europe that focus on the various guises of European provinciality (or provincialities) may provide a way out of the exoticisation or negation of European spaces in the British imagination. I base my argument first on an analysis of selected texts, and then go on to talking my experience of translating into English my YA novel Les petites reines, set in the French provincial town of Bourg-en-Bresse. To exist in Britain, such books require strong editorial commitment; I finish by discussing the way in which, in the context of Brexit, the translation and travel of European children’s literature to Britain has become by necessity political.

 

 

 

Anna Kemp

Writing children’s books: translation, adaptation, travel and trust

 

In this paper I will reflect on my experience of writing children’s books then watching what other people do with them. Writing a book for children is a highly collaborative process from the word go. I will reflect on the often fruitful, sometimes fraught, process of working with editors, illustrators and sales teams in a global book market. But the paper shall also consider what happens once the book is launched into the world and acquires a strange new life of its own. I will reflect on the various adaptations of my books for stage, television, dance and music, as well as the proliferation of translations and the ways in which these might inform my own writing process. Finally, the paper will reflect not only on what the world does to picture books, but what picture books might do to the world by briefly considering motifs of travel and remote elsewheres.