An international affair with children’s literature – Monterey Herald

World Kid Lit is a worldwide community service organization, whose mission is to increase diversity in the English-language press, to provide an accurate representation of our multi-lingual and multi-lingual world.

Founded as a social media company in 2016, World Kid Lit Month, throughout September, is dedicated to the celebration of international literature for children and young people, focusing on fiction, nonfiction, and poetry translated into English from other languages. Throughout the month, authors and educators discuss why it is important to search beyond books published in the United States and how to access books published in other countries. another place.

Among the many benefits of introducing young people to geography is the opportunity to learn about places and scenes outside of their own, creating opportunities to see the world. In addition, those who translate children’s books from their printed language into English become part of a collaborative effort that explores culture, syntax, semantics, and explanation.

No credit required

Artist, illustrator and writer Janet Whitchurch has translated six or seven children’s books from Russian into English. Although she grew up and raised her children in Menlo Park, she began studying art at Stanford, and went on to study art history and studio photography at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton, the Monterey resident is a self-proclaimed Russophile, who speaks and reads Russian. .

“This may be a difficult time to talk about love for Russia,” he said. “But the feeling and complaint started in my youth. I am 79 now. When I was a child, I had terrible asthma, which made me bed rest. And so, I read. A lot.

At age 12, Whitchurch was rummaging through her parents’ library when she came across Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.” His love of history and Tolstoy led him, later, to “War and Peace.” Then to Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.”

Then he started learning Russian.

“I continued to take Russian classes at Stanford,” he said. “I didn’t do much about it, but I was loyal to it. My classes were full of Russian immigrants because the revolutionary and writer Alexander Kerensky was on campus. It was like living history class.

Whitchurch published Alexander Pushkin’s novel in verse in 1835, “The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish,” and independently published a second translation of the story, which he himself illustrated.

“To a native English reader,” he said, “Russia has an interesting way of using the past and present. My editor wanted me to translate the story in past, but Pushkin goes between the past and the present, and changes what confuses the story. So I admire his house.

In 2006, Whitchurch had the opportunity to travel to Russia, St. Petersburg and Moscow. He was happy to see his ability to manage the native language.

“My mind and imagination are very closely related to language,” he said. “That’s the definition, that’s why, I believe, many Russian poets and writers. It was a true oral language until the 1700s, when Peter the Great in the written language, based on Latin grammar and the Greek alphabet.

Whitchurch is translating what he sees as a beautiful and long story.

Read Russian, write English

When not translating children’s text, Whitchurch read a lot of Russian novels, which helped him retain the language and taught him how much a reader could get out of the book to read slowly, absorb the language and story, before illuminating the text or “dog it down.

He also worked on his own book, “Running North and Underground: the Salinas River,” which he published independently in 2018. A picture book with expanded vocabulary, the book explores the twists and with turns of the Salinas River and the famous valley. the source and subject of local lore over the years.

“My book on the Salinas River was inspired by an excellent book,” Whitcomb said, “written in the 1800s by two Swiss men who explored the Mississippi River, and recorded their experiences and thoughts I start at the base of the river and remember the mouth, where it meets the sea.

His favorite book is probably a story he told his little boy at breakfast in 1968 and it was illustrated and published in 2020. It’s a cross between a new Grimm’s tale and Antoine Saint-Exupery’s “Little Prince,” Whitchurch’s “Cereal Xtreem: The Fart-Powered Flight” ushered in an era, Whitchurch said, when writing about farts was frowned upon. Although dictionaries do not currently agree on the appropriateness of the word, it is true that the words medical or positive do not match its images.

Books by Janet Whitchurch are available through River House Books at The Crossroads Carmel.

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