Archive for the ‘Event and Exhibit News’ Category

When Translating Japanese Children’s Literature Helps You Meet Ruth Stiles Gannett

Dover Publications edition of My Father’s Dragon

Every once in a while, being a translator of Japanese children’s books puts you in the best place to learn about children’s books of another country. Such was the case when Deborah Iwabuchi agreed to translate the only biography (in Japanese) of Ruth Stiles Gannett, author of My Father’s Dragonand assist Ms. Gannett on her summer 2018 visit to Japan.

By Deborah Iwabuchi, Maebashi, Japan

First of all, a little background for how this came about! In 2010, Ruth Stiles Gannett came to Japan at the invitation of a Japanese newspaper. The well-known author, aged 87 at the time, captured the heart of Akie Maezawa, the interpreter assigned to accompany Ms. Gannett on school visits. Maezawa subsequently made a trip to Ithaca, New York, to visit and talk to Ms. Gannett.

The result was the only book-length biography of the author of the Elmer books, The Woman who Wrote My Father’s Dragon, Ruth S. Gannett (published in Japanese by Fukuinkan Shoten).

I met Maezawa—let’s call her Aki, as Ms. Gannett does—when she attended an SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016 in search of a translator for her book, which has been well-received by Elmer fans in Japan.

The Japanese biography of Ruth Stiles Gannett, written by Akie Maezawa, published by Fukuinkan Shoten

One look at the cover, with a photo of a smiling Ruth Gannett holding a huge stuffed Boris doll surrounded by a sunny background of white and yellow stripes, and I was sold! (That’s another story, and yes we are looking for a publisher.) Meanwhile, Aki became involved with Puk, a Japanese puppet theater company. Puk was planning a production of My Father’s Dragon and was facing various problems with copyrights. Aki became their point person to garner support from the author of the book. After the production got the go-ahead, the people at Puk decided they wanted more than anything to have Ruth Gannett in Japan to see it. The author, 94, had recently had an accident that left her bedridden, but in typical style, she miraculously recovered and, accompanied by two of her seven daughters, she made the trip to Japan.

Ms. Gannett and her daughters made it safely to Tokyo at the end of July 2018 and, among side trips to Hakone and other places, attended a Puk performance, much to the joy of the audience and cast. On August 4, a separate event took place at Kinokuniya Hall in Shinjuku: a panel discussion by four people closely connected to the Elmer books in Japan, followed by Q-and-A session with Ms. Gannett. To my great pleasure, Aki asked me to help interpret the event for the three guests of honor.

On the evening of August 4, Ms. Gannett and her lovely daughters, Louise Kahn and Margaret (Peggy) Crone, arrived wreathed in smiles and ready for the big evening. The looks on the audience members’ faces as we all entered the packed Kinokuniya Hall told the story of how much everyone loved the books: My Father’s Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon, and The Dragons of Blueland. Many families in the room had three generations present, eager to see a beloved author. Feeling like a celebrity myself, I settled with Ms. Gannett’s family in seats about halfway back in the hall, until it was time for Ms. Gannett to go onstage.

Above: Ms. Gannett, her daughters, and a cutout of Ms. Gannett backstage at Kinokuniya Hall.

The first half of the program was a panel discussion with Mr. Shibasaki, the director of the Puk production, Aki Maezawa, Tetsuta Watanabe—son of the late Shigeo Watanabe who translated the Elmer books—and Tomoko Shirota, a member of JBBY who has successfully used My Father’s Dragon for twenty-four years in library programs to get children reading. The initial talks by these four were delightfully full of episodes about Ruth Stiles Gannett, Elmer Elevator, the puppet production and children and adults who have read and loved the books over the years. I wish I had the room to include all the stories here.

Japanese edition of My Father’s Dragon, translated by Shigeo Watanabe, published by Fukuinkan Shoten

Since this is a translators’ blog, let me talk about Shigeo Watanabe, as described by his son Tetsuta, who traveled all the way from Australia to be with Ms. Gannett that evening. The elder Watanabe was a member of the ISUMI group: writers and translators who met regularly in the years following the end of World War II to discuss the direction in which they hoped to take children’s literature in Japan. Watanabe had first read My Father’s Dragon in 1952, just four years after its publication in the US. He and the ISUMI group eventually chose the book as one they wanted Japanese children to read. In Tetsuta’s words, “They were looking for a book Japanese would enjoy, but probably not write.” My Father’s Dragon was published in Japanese as “Elmer’s Adventure” (Erumaa no boken) in 1964.

Tetsuta, a small child at the time, recalls his father ruminating over aspects of the book—things that would warm the cockles of a translator—such as the relationship of the two wild boars who make appearances throughout the story. Were they siblings? Friends? A married couple? He had to know so he could decide the type of language to use. Inverting parts of words as the excitable Mouse did in the English proved to be an easy task as Japanese syllables are easy to play with. Once the book was out, Watanabe, a young man with a family to support, kept careful records of the number of copies My Father’s Dragon sold, comparing it to Rieko Nakagawa’s Iya-iya-en, a bestselling Japanese book, which came out at about the same time. (Note: It turns out that Nakagawa and her son, Kanta, are both huge Elmer fans! Shirota told the rapt audience how young Kanta had begged his mother to use her publishing contacts to rewrite the book with his name in it and title it Kanta’s Adventure. The little boy only gave up his tearful pleas when Nakagawa explained about copyrights.)

Above: Tetsuta Watanabe and Akie Maezawa pose backstage; Ms. Gannett signs her autograph.

Shigeo Watanabe went on to become a prominent translator of children’s books. I have never read his Japanese translation of Elmer, but I’m sure he deserves his share of the credit for how the books have stood the test of time and remained consistently popular in Japan for the past half-century—as well as for the excitement in Kinokuniya Hall on August 4.

The second part of the program that evening was devoted to Ruth Stiles Gannett. Frail, but elegant and sure, she took the stage flanked by her daughter Louise, who assisted her mother with some responses (the interpreter’s interpreter) and me (the plain old Japanese-to-English interpreter). Aki, who knows Ms. Gannett well, took the job of summarizing and interpreting the author’s responses into Japanese. Ms. Gannett’s English was easy to understand and the audience was perfectly silent as they hung on every word, and remained captivated as they listened to the Japanese that came afterwards. Here are a few of the questions.

Anniversary edition of the Elmer trilogy

Why did you decide to write the books? I had been working at a ski lodge, the snow had melted and I had nothing to do. My parents were busy with their work, so I got busy writing! I did it mainly to entertain myself. I never intended to publish it until someone suggested it.

Why did you choose a dragon for Elmer to save? I was writing a book about my father, and I wanted him to save a creature that was large, strong and unusual.

Why did the dragon have yellow stripes? I drew a different picture of the dragon, and the stripes were the choice of my stepmother, Ruth Chrisman Gannett, who did all the illustrations in the book.

Why did you choose for Elmer to eat tangerines (mikan)? When I was young we got tangerines in the toes of our Christmas stockings. They weren’t available much before the Christmas season. Fruit like that was a rare treat for us.

What do you do every day? Oh not much, I like to read, get exercise, do yoga, bake bread and cookies . . . (note: there was more, but I can’t remember it all!).

Ms. Gannett had a question of her own that she mentioned several times during the short time I was with her. I’ll put it out there and would love to hear from anyone who has ideas on the subject so I can let her know. In publishing My Father’s Dragon, she intended it for middle graders to read, but she has found that in Japan it is overwhelmingly read to preschoolers, and she wonders why that is.

The two hours sped quickly by. Just before the evening ended we were joined on stage by Peggy and the Puk cast as the entire hall sang “Happy Birthday” to Ms. Gannett, who will be 95 on August 12. “Don’t forget!” Aki reminded the audience, “Her name is Ruth. Make sure to get the ‘r’ and the ‘th!’”

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My selfie with Ruth Stiles Gannett. I worried that we would wear her out, but Ms. Gannett and her daughters were gracious and she had a beautiful smile for everyone! —D.I.

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Working with U.S. Agents, Editors and Publishers: Followup and Further Ideas

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

SCBWI Japan’s recent event Working with U.S. Agents, Editors and Publishers generated discussion both on-site and online. See this followup post by Ayanna Coleman of Quill Shift LLC, which offers a reflection on the event plus further revision and marketing tips, useful to translators as well as writers and illustrators. Many thanks, Ayanna!

Working with U.S. Agents, Editors and Publishers: Event in Tokyo on June 30

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

Working with U.S. Agents, Editors and Publishers 

Time: Saturday, June 30, 2018, 6-8 p.m.

Place: Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Audiovisual Room B, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (by the United Nations University; map)

Fee: 500 yen SCBWI members; 1,000 yen nonmembers

Reservations required. To reserve, email japan (at) scbwi.org by Thursday, June 28.

Is your work submission ready? How will you know? And how can you make your illustration work or your writing stand out from the crowd when you submit? What are some common errors made when submitting? How can you better your website and social media presence before you submit? How should you handle requests from agents, editors or art directors? What should you do if you receive an offer for publication before you have an agent? Join this workshop with discussion, Q&A and exercises to ensure your best chances at breaking into and thriving in the U.S. children’s book market.

This workshop will be led by the SCBWI Japan Regional Team: Mariko Nagai and Holly Thompson, co-Regional Advisors; Naomi Kojima, Illustrator Coordinator; and Avery Fischer Udagawa, Translator Coordinator.

What to prepare and bring:

Illustrators: Portfolio for group review and discussion; sample postcards for art directors; sample dummies; sample submission-ready picture book manuscript text; device for sharing and reviewing your online presence

Writers: Sample first page of a submission-ready manuscript (or entire PB manuscript); MG/YA 500-word novel synopsis; device for sharing and reviewing your online presence; query letter

Translators: Translated work summary or pitch (your own or examples by others); MG/YA 500-word novel synopsis; sample first page of a submission-ready translation; device for sharing and reviewing your online presence

Cathy Hirano Papers and More, at the Kerlan Collection

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

Have you ever wondered where the drafts of a children’s book translation go after publication? Did you know that “typescript, corrected typescript, front matter, correspondence, page proofs and corrected page proofs” for three MG/YA novels translated from Japanese by Cathy Hirano, may be found in the Cathy Hirano Papers in the Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota?

Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the Kerlan Collection, spoke to SCBWI Japan on April 14, in an event described here by writer Mari Boyle and translator Andrew Wong. Take a look for more surprises!

Creative Exchange in Tokyo on Dec. 17

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

Creative Exchange and Year-End Bonenkai Lunch

Time: Sunday, December 17, 2017, 9:45 a.m.–11:45 a.m. (Creative Exchange), 12:00 – 1:30 pm (Lunch)

Place: Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Audiovisual Room B, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (by the United Nations University; map) followed by Un Café, Tokyo Cosmos Aoyama Bldg. B2, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (www.uncafe-tokyo.com)

Fee: 500 yen SCBWI members/800 yen nonmembers (Creative Exchange); order individually at Un Café (Lunch—1,000-1,500 yen)

RSVP:  Reservations required. Please state in your email: 1. Creative Exchange only, Lunch only (as space allows), or Both Creative Exchange and Lunch; 2. if you would like to reserve a critique slot and in what category. To reserve, email japan (at) scbwi.org by Tuesday, December 12, 2017Reserve early—space is limited!

This event will be in English for writers and translators; English and Japanese for illustrators.

Join us for an SCBWI Japan Creative Exchange followed by a casual lunch at Un Café restaurant (in the same building).

Sign up in advance to bring your children’s or YA work-in-progress to share with the group for constructive feedback at the Creative Exchange. SCBWI Japan Creative Exchanges are open to published and pre-published writers, illustrators, and translators of children’s and young adult literature. SCBWI members will have priority for the critique slots.

What to prepare for the Creative Exchange:

For MG and YA Fiction: Send up to 2,000 words of a story or chapter, per instructions received after making your reservation.

For Picture Books: Illustrators: bring 1–5 copies of a dummy or story board; Writers: send a picture book manuscript (recommended no more than 600 words) per instructions received after making your reservation.

For Translations: (Japanese to English picture book, MG or YA) Send up to 2,000 words of a story or chapter, per instructions received after making your reservation.

Attendees without manuscripts, dummies or storyboards are welcome to participate!

japan.scbwi.org

Japanese Children’s Books Today with Yumiko Sakuma on Nov. 11

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

Japanese Children’s Books Today with JBBY President Yumiko Sakuma

Time: Saturday, November 11, 2017, 6:30-8 p.m.

Place:  Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Conference Room 2, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (by the United Nations University) map

Fee:  800 yen SCBWI members; 1,000 yen nonmembers

Reservations required. To reserve, email japan (at) scbwi.org by Thursday, November 9.

Note: This event will be in Japanese with English interpretation provided.

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Translator, editor, Japanese children’s literature critic, and current president of the Japanese Board on Books for Young People (JBBY), Yumiko Sakuma will present the history and current state of children’s book publishing in Japan. She will explain the aims of JBBY and discuss the latest issue of the English-language JBBY booklet Japanese Children’s Books, which showcases Japanese children’s books for enhancing international understanding. Sakuma will also describe recent trends in children’s books in Japan and offer recommendations of favorite new titles.

Yumiko Sakuma was born in Tokyo and worked as an editor before becoming a freelance editor, translator and Japanese children’s literature critic. She taught children’s literature at Aoyama Gakuin Women’s College, has translated more than 230 children’s books into Japanese, and has garnered many awards, including the Sankei Juvenile Literature Publishing Culture Award. She also researches African literature and is the current director of the Japan Africa Children’s Books ProjectHer own website バオバブのブログ (Baobab Blog) provides valuable information about Japanese children’s titles. Yumiko Sakuma is the President of the Japanese Board on Books for Young People (JBBY), and her essay「翻訳ってなんだ」 (“What Exactly Is Translation?”) is available in English translated by Deborah Iwabuchi in this post“Pianyan, Little Keys, and Yumiko Sakuma.”

japan.scbwi.org

The Creative Collaboration Behind “Are You An Echo?” and SCBWI Japan Showcase on Feb. 4

are-you-an-echo-cover-1024x855The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

The Creative Collaboration Behind Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko

with author David Jacobson, co-translator Michiko Tsuboi and illustrator Toshikado Hajiri

followed by

SCBWI Japan Showcase of New Works

with authors Michael Currinder, Suzanne Kamata, Trevor Kew, Leza Lowitz and Holly Thompson, author-illustrators Keiko Kasza and Izumi Tanaka, and translator Ginny Tapley Takemori

Date: Saturday, February 4, 2016

Time: Presentation 1-2:30 p.m. | Showcase 2:45-4:30 p.m.

Place: Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Audiovisual Rooms A & B, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (by the United Nations University; map)

RSVP: Reserve by sending an email to japan (at) scbwi.org

Full Details: See the SCBWI Japan event page

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misuzu-kanekoThe Creative Collaboration Behind Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko (1-2:30 p.m.)

Join three of the creators of the stunning picture book published by Chin Music Press about the life and poetry of Misuzu Kaneko. David Jacobson will share about his role in crafting the biographical text and the forming of the book’s creative team. Michiko Tsuboi will address challenges faced in translating the seemingly simple poems of Misuzu Kaneko and her collaborative process with co-translator Sally Ito. Toshikado Hajiri will discuss his research, process, approach and technique in creating the many detailed illustrations for the book. There will be plenty of time for Q&A. Please feel free to bring your pre-purchased books for signing; please note that books will not be available for purchase at this event.

david-jacobson-732x1024David Jacobson is a longtime journalist and writer with a specialty in Japan. He has a BA in East Asian Studies from Yale University and was awarded a Mombusho scholarship to study at Tokyo’s Hitotsubashi University. While a journalist in print and broadcast media, his news articles and TV scripts appeared in the Associated PressThe Washington PostThe Seattle TimesThe Japan Times, and on NHK and CNN. Since joining Chin Music Press in 2008, David has edited or copyedited titles including Yokohama YankeeThe Sun Gods and Why Ghosts AppearAre You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is his first book. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

toshikado-hajiri-868x1024Toshikado Hajiri is a graphic artist and illustrator in Tokushima, Japan. After graduating from Ritsumeikan University in international relations and working at a trading company, in 2009 he decided to pursue his love for painting full-time. His work has appeared in school textbooks, advertisements, calendars, and in 12 children’s picture books. He was awarded 2nd prize in the 2006 International Illustration Competition sponsored by the Japan Illustrators’ Association, and his work was selected for inclusion in the illustrator’s gallery of the 2016 Asia Festival of Children’s Content. Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is his first book for michiko-tsuboi-680x1024international publication. For a gallery of his work, visit hajiritoshikado.com.

Michiko Tsuboi lives in Shiga, Japan. She majored in English literature in Doshisha Women’s College and has studied Canadian literature in Edmonton, Canada. She taught English at a high school and still teaches it at her home. Are You an Echo: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is her first published book of translation.

 

 

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SCBWI Japan Showcase of New Works (2:45-4:30 p.m.)

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Join us for the SCBWI Japan Showcase 2017! SCBWI Japan member authors, illustrators and translators will present their recent or forthcoming children’s and YA books to the public in brief, lively presentations. Authors and illustrators will share excerpts, ideas that inspired the work, creative process, techniques, curriculum tie-ins, related activities, and more. Speed Q&A will follow the presentations.

Michael Currinder grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and ran cross-country and track at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Running Full Tilt is his first novel and is a fusion of his collective experiences as a talented high school runner and his close, yet complicated, relationship with his older autistic sibling. Mike has been an international educator for close to two decades, having lived in China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. He and his wife are now on year nine in Tokyo with their rescue dog, Leo.

Suzanne Kamata is the author of four novels including the award-winning Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible, Screaming Divas, which was named to the ALA Rainbow List, and The Mermaids of Lake Michigan, which was a finalist for the Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize. Her short fiction and poetry for young readers  have appeared in YARN, Ladybug, Cricket, Cicada, and the anthology  Tomo. She serves as Publicity Assistant for SCBWI Japan, and teaches EFL and Creative Writing at Tokushima University. www.suzannekamata.com

Keiko Kasza was born on an island in the Inland Sea of Japan. She moved to the U.S. in 1973 and graduated with a B.A. in graphic arts from California State University at Northridge. Her first picture book was published in 1981 in Japan, and she continued to publish in her native language. The Wolf’s Chicken Stew, a 1987 ALA notable book and the winner of the 1989 Kentucky Bluegrass Award, was her first work published in the U.S. She has now published 21 picture books. Keiko Kasza currently lives in Tokyo, but she is planning to return to her home in the U.S. in a few years. www.keikokasza.com

Trevor Kew hails from the small mountain town of Rossland, BC, in Canada. He is the author of six children’s novels including Trading GoalsPlaying Favourites, and Run for Your Life, which was published in January 2017. He also contributed a story to the young adult anthology Tomo in 2012. Trevor teaches MYP and IBDP English at Yokohama International School. He is fast closing in on his first decade of living in Japan and definitely will write about Japan one day. http://trevorkew.com

Leza Lowitz is a poet, fiction writer and memoirist. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Shambhala Sun and others. She has published over 20 books, including Yoga Poems: Lines to Unfold By, Jet Black and the Ninja Wind (Winner of the APALA Award), her memoir Here Comes the Sun, and Up From the Sea, her first verse novel for young adults. Other awards include the PEN Josephine Miles Award, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, NEA and NEH grants, and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the translation of Japanese Literature. She also runs Sun and Moon Yoga studio in Tokyo. www.lezalowitz.com

Ginny Tapley Takemori is a British translator based in rural Ibaraki, Japan, who has translated fiction by more than a dozen early modern and contemporary Japanese writers. She studied Japanese at the universities of SOAS (London) and Waseda (Tokyo) and earned her MA in Advanced Japanese Studies from The University of Sheffield. Two of her translations for young people are published by Pushkin Children’s Books: The Whale That Fell In Love With a Submarine, a short story collection by Akiyuki Nosaka, and The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui.

Izumi Tanaka was born in Kumamoto and grew up in Nagasaki. She loved to walk in the mountains during her childhood and still does now. After studying Japanese traditional gouache painting for several years, she began writing picture books. In 2005, she self-published her first picture book No no Hana no yōni (Like Wildflowers), a story set in Mongolia. In March 2017, her second book, Mame-chan no Bōken (Mame-chan’s Adventure) will be released as an e-book. http://izumi-picturebooks.jimdo.com

Holly Thompson is a longtime resident of Japan and author of the verse novels Falling into the Dragon’s Mouth, The Language Inside and Orchards; picture books The Wakame Gatherers and the forthcoming Twilight Chant; the novel Ash; and other works. A graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program, she writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction for children, teens, and adults, and teaches creative writing in Japan, the U.S., and places in between. www.hatbooks.com