Posts Tagged ‘Yoshitake Shinsuke’

AFCC 2022 (Part 1): Shifting Perceptions

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

The 2022 edition of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content unfolded in hybrid format—partly online, and partly in-person at Singapore’s National Library. I joined in online, and while I dearly missed traveling to the Little Red Dot, I enjoyed seeing several colleagues grace my screen.

From SCBWI Japan Translation Group, Singapore-born Andrew Wong (top right above) spoke about translating the The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out, edited by Yoshimi Kusaba and illustrated by Gaku Nakagawa, in a session on picture book translation. Emily Balistrieri discussed aspects of translating Soul Lanterns by Shaw Kuzki and Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, the latter in a panel on the translation of humor, moderated by Holly Thompson. I spoke about “shifting perceptions” of translations in English-language children’s book publishing, so that more human languages can be preserved and represented. It was a pleasure to do the Q-and-A with moderator and fellow J-E translator Malavika Nataraj.

A benefit of the hybrid format is that ticket holders can view online sessions on-demand for a month. I am beginning to watch this conversation between Eriko Shima and internationally beloved Japanese picture book artist Shinsuke Yoshitake. I hope they will discuss why translators are not (yet!) credited on the covers of English-language editions of Yoshitake’s works. Here is a New York Times piece that came out on this subject (vis-à-vis adult books) just as AFCC ended.

Here’s to shifting perceptions so that many more international authors, illustrators, and translators can be embraced and enjoyed by young readers everywhere!

World Kid Lit Month Review: It Might Be An Apple by Shinsuke Yoshitake

By Andrew Wong, Tokyo

Shinsuke Yoshitake’s witty and amusing picture books have enjoyed a growing following since his debut title Ringo kamoshirenaiIt Might Be An Apple—appeared in Japan in 2013. Since clinching the Art Award at the 61st Sankei Juvenile Literature Publishing Culture Awards in 2014, this title has also been published in Chinese, Dutch, French, Korean, Swedish, and English (by Thames & Hudson, 2015).

Left: UK edition of It Might Be An Apple. Right: Shinsuke Yoshitake (Belio.com).

In It Might Be An Apple, Yoshitake turns an entirely mundane non-event on its head: A boy comes home to find an apple sitting on the table. His imagination jumpstarts a mish-mash of stories and plots, about what the apple might contain inside, what it might actually be, or what it could have been and could turn into. (Click on the cover above to see illustrations.) Taking things a step further, the boy wonders if the apple has desires, wishes and feelings, and whether it has a family.

Driven by an imagination that is simply inspired, the boy ponders how the apple ended up on the table, where it might have been before that, and where it might be planning to go. A bit of fear takes hold when the boy suspects that the “apple” was just waiting for a chance to take the boy’s own place in the world, or was deviously put there as kid-bait.

Eventually, hunger pangs rein in the boy’s want-away thoughts, and he gives the apple a mighty bite. He reunites with reality and the apple as it is.

The English translation stays close to the spirit of Yoshitake’s quirky original, retaining the sense of humor while offering a few subtle variations. The fun of shaping the rooms of an apple-house (by eating through its walls) is expressed by a pitch for the best house ever, complete with edible interior! The culture gap of the distant-yet-familiar Japanese ancestor is bridged by a grandma in apple disguise. Finally, a spread with all apple-kinds lined up according to a Japanese kana table, in the original, sports creative renaming in English based on the apples’ shapes and appearances.

Both the original and the translation let us journey into the world of imagination, and show us the plenitude of stories our minds can conjure at a whim.

 

 

Other English translations of Yoshitake’s work include What Happens Next? and Can I Build Another Me? (Thames & Hudson) as well as Still Stuck (Abrams), for which the original Mo nugenai (Bronze Publishing, 2015) won a Special Mention at the 2017 Bologna Children’s Book Fair Bologna Ragazzi Awards. Still Stuck is released in the US today. Happy World Kid Lit Month!

Andrew Wong joined the SCBWI Japan Translation Group listserv in 2015, when in search of a community focused on translated books for children. A business translator by trade, he finds time to introduce Japanese picture books and stories that speak to him on his blog, in hopes that they will one day find a worldwide audience.