I just read a bedtime story to my youngest one. A picture book about a knight, his horse and some magic that went wrong. You guessed it, this one was written by a British author. As are about half of the books in my daughters’ shelf. And then there are those by Americans. Not to forget these by Dutch writers. Oh, and the Belgian, the French and the Swedish.
Well, we are German and live in Germany. Why, I asked myself, are there only a couple of books in y kids shelf that were originaly written in German? Don’t get me wrong! I rarely read books in German myself. I like crime novels and there are not a lot of German crime novels that I like – a ot of them contain too much verbal wanking and sentences that never seem to end. I am sure there are those German writers who write funny and witty like Colin Cotterill or Lawrence Block, but I suspect they don’t get published.
With children’s picture book it seems to be the same way. A literary agent ones told me that Lauren Child is lucky to be English. A German publisher would have never published her fabulous work. Of course the books are translated and sell quite well – she has her own page on amazon.de.
German publishers happily get the rights for succesful books from abroad, regardless of their weirdness. But they just don’t seem to have the guts to try some local weird stuff. A moral lesson seems to be mandatory. There are exceptions, but if the book is finished and father and daughter grin -it was mostly a translated book. Ah well, at least there will be always a lot of work for translators around here.
“Jibonka” will not have the words “translated by” in it. We wrote it in German and English from the start. Anyway, in a few month there will be a really colourful addition to my kids’ shelf.