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International Children's Literature

November/December 2004

What do the Little Mermaid, Little Red Riding Hood, Babar, and Tintin have in common? As familiar to Americans as childhood itself, these characters all originally appeared in foreign languages, translated into English. Words Without Borders continues this noble tradition by publishing never-before-translated tales from seven different nations: “Marked by the Moon,” an exquisite Persian Cinderella story; “The Angel’s Feather,” in which a lost angel heals an Italian family; “Please Leave a Message,” an Israeli tale of a child’s first phone messages; “It’s a Chick Not a Dog,” in which an Egyptian boy learns about friendship between humans and animals; “Viktoria Was Home All Alone,” where a strong-willed Austrian girl tops Jack and the Beanstalk; a lovable Japanese monster story, “Granny Long Tongue”; and the experience of a French Canadian boy swept up in his mother’s passion for commerce, “My Mother’s Garage Sale.” Have your child draw his or her own illustrations, and send a thank-you note to guest editor Larry Venuti for finding the stories and the translators who made it possible for us to read these stories in English.

An Interview with Nuria Amat
Q. Here we are in Sarri , Barcelona, your birthplace and the scenario for your previous two novels. How come you decided to set your most recent novel, Queen Cocaine, in Colombia, between Bogotá…
Translated from Spanish
from In Other Words
These are among the words discussed by Christopher Moore in In Other Words: Arabic taarradhin Many commentators have pointed out that Arabic has no word for "compromise," in the sense of reaching…
Please Leave a Message
By Nira Harel
Dina and Shlomo went out shopping. Their son, Dudi, stayed home.He didn’t stay alone. Tally, his baby sister, stayed with him. His dog Rexie stayed with him too.Before Dudi’s mother and father…
Translated from Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger
Marked by the Moon: An Ancient Tale
By Nasser Yousefi
Once upon a time, a long time ago—a very, very long time ago—in a corner of the world that was neither faraway nor near, there lived a girl whose name was Moon-Fairy. Moon-Fairy was kindhearted and helpful…
Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand
Memories of Lily-Colored Photographs
By Jung Mi Kyung
Photographs of a former girlfriend develop into a problem in Jung Mi Kyung’s short story.
Translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim
Iraq Stories
By Najem Wali
Journalists who visit Iraq hear many stories, yet they are prevented from recording the majority of them because they must chase after the hot story, the quick journalistic news piece. A journalist might…
Translated from Arabic by Jennifer Kaplan
The Angel’s Feather
By Angela Nanetti
Once upon a time an angel lost a feather. It hardly ever happens, only once every two or three hundred years, but it does happen. The angel was flying over a solitary lake, through the bluest waters of…
Translated from Italian by Lawrence Venuti
A white chick.
Photo by Osman Kahraman on Unsplash.
It’s a Chick, Not a Dog
By Jar al-Nabi al-Hilw
My mother knew he was walking after her. Almost certainly she knew. Do you want me to tell you why?
Translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth
Granny Long Tongue
By Chiba Mikio
This story is set in the time when monsters were still living up there in the mountains and down here in the forests. Granny Long Tongue and Red Ban the Ogre lived high up on Mt. Okuyama, at Okumata Pass.…
Translated from Japanese by Michael Emmerich
By Fumiko Enchi
But remember, no matter how upset you feel, you mustn't lose your composure.
Translated from Japanese by S. Yumiko Hulvey
Viktoria Was Home All Alone
By Martin Auer
Everybody was gone, and Viktoria was home all alone.“When everybody’s gone, my house is a magic place.”She went to her parents’ bedroom and pulled back the bedspread. A big bear…
Translated from German by John E. Woods