Inspired at AFCC 2015

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

Last month I attended Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) 2015 as a delegate. I enjoyed exploring Chinese literature for children, as China was the country of focus.

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Cover of Chinese picture book about a laborer’s holiday reunion with family in the countryside. Published in English by Walker/Candlewick as A New Year’s Reunion by Li Qiong Yu, illustrated by Zhu Chen Liang.

At AFCC 2015, I learned of intriguing Chinese picture books in a talk by author Mei Zihan. I learned at publisher Zhao Wuping’s talk that Japanese children’s books have fans in China: Tetsuko Kuroyanagi’s Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window ranks near J. K. Rowling titles in international bestsellers.

English translation of Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Dorothy Britton, published by Kodansha USA. Cover illustration by Chihiro Iwasaki.

English translation of Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Dorothy Britton, published by Kodansha USA. Cover illustration by Chihiro Iwasaki.

I learned of a project by publishers in China, Japan and Korea to create picture books about World War II. Many listeners hoped that the books will become available in English.

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Hide-chan to yobanai de (Don’t Call Me Hide-chan), a Japanese picture book by Makoto Obo about the occupation of Taiwan. Published by Komine Shoten.

As a translator, I appreciated a debate about how to make the cultural bridge between West and East a “two-way bridge,” with Asian stories reaching non-Asian audiences. I drew inspiration from English > Chinese translator Chang Tzu-chang (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, The Tiger Rising by Kate Dicamillo) who fervently believes that children in the “global village” need world literature.

I heard Chinese > English translator Teng Qian Xi describe translating for a new anthology:

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Lion Heart, Painted Thoughts: Children’s Literature from Singapore and China, a bilingual anthology published by Pan Asia.

Teng Qian Xi’s talk showed me that Chinese > English translation involves similar challenges to Japanese > English, such as handling reduced “compactness” when ideograms become long phrases.

Finally, I saw friends and colleagues! Watch the SCBWI Japan blog for a combined AFCC 2015 wrap-up by author Suzanne Kamata, illustrator Naomi Kojima, and myself of SCBWI Japan.

AFCC 2016 will feature Japan as country of focus. A large cohort of Japan-based speakers will appear, so plan a getaway to Singapore in 2016!

AFCC 2016 country of focus

Click to visit AFCC website.

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