Page 295 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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GOTTL IEB /JWB JEWISH BOOK COUNCIL
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Excellence in children’s books in translation is recognized
yearly by the presentation of the Mildred L. Batchelder Award
for Translated Children’s Books. Ginny Moore Kruse, director
of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University
of Wisconsin-Madison, spoke of the many award winners from
such countries as Japan, the Soviet Union and Sweden that con­
tribute not only to Jewish literature but to all children’s liter­
ature in this country. Finding books to translate can be a chal­
lenge.
Christopher Franceschelli, publisher and vice president of
Dutton children’s books, regularly travels to Bologna and
Frankfurt in search of titles to bring back to the United States.
“It’s not easy to find books to publish here,” he said. “We are
in some ways a remarkably insular culture. We also view child­
hood differently than other cultures do,” he said. “Americans
envision childhood as a magical time. Many other cultures see
childhood as a training period for adulthood.”
Margaret K. McElderry, the noted children’s publisher, and
Susan Mandel Glazer, a professor of education and director
of the Reading Language Arts Clinic at Rider College, both
spoke of the need to use international organizations to further
reading and the exchange of books throughout the world. But
it was Ronald S. Lauder, former U.S. Ambassador to Austria,
who brought an unexpected perspective to the translation of
children’s books and books with Jewish values.
Lauder’s service in Austria acquainted him with the small Jew­
ish communities in that country and throughout Eastern Eu­
rope. In particular, he observed a trend in Poland. The Gentile
foster parents of children saved during the Second World War
are for the first time revealing that these children were born
Jewish. These Jews are searching for books that translate Jewish
values into their languages so they can study in their middle
age and pass their discovered culture down to the next gen­
eration. Lauder concluded: “We must do what we can to supply
them with books that tell them about their history and their
faith.”