A Prize-Winning Mix
Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such Nashville Office
Weather: Low 90s
Looking at the American Library Association’s lists of awards and prizes over the years, I see several authors and books from other cultures. The Mildred L. Bachelder Award for best work of translation is probably the best known of these. Begun in 1966 and named in honor of a children’s librarian whose work had international influence, the award is intended to promote communication between the peoples of the world. In 2003 author Cornelia Funke won that award for The Thief Lord, originally published in German. Funke has written several best-sellers since then and is now part of a promotional tour in the US along with several other juvenile authors.
In 2009 the Bachelder Award went to Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi, originally published in Japanese. Even though it was published in the U.S. by Arthur A. Levine of Scholastic, the same imprint that brought us Harry Potter from Britain, the book has not appealed to readers in the same way as Funke’s. It has also been outsold by a Bachelder honor book that same year, Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis, originally published in German.
I may be making too much of this, but I feel several things are at play here: The American taste for intrigue and mystery rather than for spiritual symbolism. There may also be some underlying feeling of more ethnic identity with Germanic culture than with Asian. Or it could be something more obvious–page count, helpful glossary in the back, etc.
Within the realm of Christian publishing for children and youth, I feel we have too few books about children from other cultures, and I wonder why. Are we too preoccupied with the moral development of our own kids that we focus on the culture in which they are growing up? Why aren’t we publishing and promoting stories about our children learning, giving, and receiving with children from other countries? Eager to hear your answers.