“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

Terrifying children's books

By Helen Wang, published

A recent piece on this website, raised the issues of racism and sexism (perceived or real) in fiction.

These are just some of the issues that face translators, publishers and readers. For a heated discussion on what is and is not acceptable in children's literature, including children's literature in translation, see this recent piece in The Guardian and the 100+ comments that follow it...

Terrifying French children's books - in pictures
When Jenny Colgan moved to France, she was so alarmed by the children's books that she decided to blog the scariest.

"I don't know why so many French children's books are so bafflingly, needlessly frightening. Before moving there, we lived in the Netherlands; they had the same rabbits with ethnically varied chums and dinosaur mummies tucking up dinosaur babies as we do in the UK. I also can't envisage the publishing meeting in which someone says 'Hey! I've got this great kids' book where a girl puts her head in a plastic bag!' ('La Tête dans le Sac') and everyone thinks what a fine idea, but - tant pis. Here are a few examples (more on my blog), all courtesy of the Médiathèque d'Antibes, which is shut on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, Thursday and Friday mornings, and 12-2pm Wednesday and Saturday, but when open has the most helpful (and rested) librarians to be found anywhere."

Comments

# 1.   

Well, if anybody who doesn't read French is going to read that Grauniad piece, please pay careful attention to the several comments ripping into Colgan's weak French and straight out wrong translations of some of those book titles. Also, the comments pointing out that several of those books are not French, but translations, and that France has, of course, just as wide a range of children's lit as anywhere else.

Chris Waugh, June 2, 2012, 9:42p.m.

# 2.   

What are the cultural reasons behind French children's books being perceived as more frightening? Any interesting sociological theories?

Patent Agent, September 7, 2012, 10:21a.m.

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