An Anniversary and What’s Coming Soon
Congratulations to Pam Watts, winner of the signed copy of Patrice Kindl’s new YA novel Don’t You Trust Me? And thank you, Patrice, for the honest and conversation-provoking guest post! On this blog, it’s never too late to join the debate.
This past week marked the fourth anniversary of my blog, which began modestly as a way of keeping friends and family informed when we lived in Portugal in 2012. Since then, it has taken on a life of its own — as a go-to source for people traveling to Portugal and looking for places to go and eat that aren’t the usual tourist haunts, and as a commentary on a variety of issues related to writing, diversity, and LEGO building and storytelling. Each year, around the time of the anniversary, I highlight popular posts of the year and earlier posts that have once again become timely. So here’s my fourth anniversary feature:
With the beginning of the trial over the closing of the George Washington Bridge in fall 2013, the actions of New Jersey governor Chris Christie are once again under scrutiny. In case time has erased memories of that event, here’s a summary using my LEGO town, Little Brick Township, and its minifigure residents. And, yes, Little Brick Township is a takeoff on the New Jersey coastal community of Brick Township, though Little Brick Township didn’t have a coastline until this year.
My webmaster tells me I have Google Ad credits, which I’m contemplating using to help people NOT spend money. Specifically, there’s no need to rent a car in Portugal if you plan to spend your time in Lisbon and environs, or Porto and its neighbor across the river known for the port wine caves, Vila Nova de Gaia.
My most popular post of the year was the announcement of the 2016 We Are the People Summer Reading List, highlighting new and classic books for children and teens, from picture books to adult books suitable for teen readers, written or illustrated by authors of color. In addition to listing the books, the piece describes the selection process and what we’re looking for in future years.
The second most popular post was my summary of the first panel in the Bridge Translation Series last spring, which talked about how to break into translation. It offers useful advice for beginning translators, from working with mentors to the advantages of small presses.
And that brings me to my next topic — the blog moving forward. I have a very busy fall and winter, with panels at two conferences and three translations about to be published. In November, Enchanted Lion Books will bring out my translation of Ruth Rocha’s picture book O Menino Que Aprendeu a Ver (The Boy Who Learned to See), illustrated by Madalena Matoso and published in Brazil by Salamandra. The translation will have the title Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words. (Yes, titles often change in translation.)
A wide-eyed child looks out at the world with curiosity and pleasure, finding it endlessly surprising. But there is mystery too, as in the puzzling pictures he sees, made up of elusive lines and squiggles. They don’t form recognizable images, though they don’t make anything else he can understand either.
But when our little hero starts school, his great curiosity grows even greater as he learns his ABC’s. With each letter he learns, his way of seeing changes, as the lines and squiggles become letters and words!
And in February, Three Balls of Wool (Can Change the World) comes out from Enchanted Lion. The novel was originally published in Portugal by Planeta Tangerina with the similar title Com 3 Novelos (O Mundo Dá Muitas Voltas). Written by Henriqueta Cristina and Yara Kono, the picture book for elementary-age readers portrays a family in Portugal in the late 1960’s, forced to leave their country because of a dictatorship that won’t let people speak their minds and won’t let children go to school. (This was a real dictatorship.) The family ends up in Communist Czechoslovakia, where all children go to school, but people still can’t speak their minds. And worse yet, all the sweaters are the same three colors. The mother of the family gets to work and with her knitting skills turns a bleak reality inside out and upside down. Ultimately, these immigrants from Portugal spark a small movement for change in their new country that turns into something bigger.
Finally, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers is bringing out The Queen of the Frogs, published in Portugal as A Rainha das Rãs by Bruaá Editora. Written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Marco Somà (who are both Italian but the book was first published in Portuguese, a much more common occurrence in Europe), the picture book features a pond full of frogs where things change when one of the frogs finds a small crown that has fallen into the water. She sets herself up as the Queen of the Frogs, with her advisers, and all the other frogs are forced to work for them. But when one of them dares her to prove she’s fit to rule, the unexpected happens.
I’m excited about these forthcoming translations and my current projects, and in the next few weeks my website will sport a new page for all my translations, their reviews, and information on where one can find the books. So the blog and website are growing and changing, and I’m looking forward to the new year!