Although translations still flood the Arabic children’s book market (Barney, Smurfs, Clifford, Scholastic titles, Spiderman, more) I think we saw slightly fewer translations in 2010 than in past years.
Perhaps this is due, in part, to the encouragement of awards like the two-year-old Etisalat prize: Publishers can win (big!) by encouraging Arabic writers and illustrators.
Which is good. Great. Excellent!
Nonetheless, I believe there is an ongoing role for high-quality translations.
This year, we’ve particularly enjoyed حتى الآن كل شيء تمام! (published in 2007, but new to us this year, from Kalimat) and هناك ما هو أسوأ! (published in 2005 but new to us this year, Al-Balsam). And I think we’ve read enough ميكي comics to last a lifetime. (I look forward to hearing about new, regionally written comic books coming out of the first-ever Arabic ComicCon in March 2011.)
But, if we focus on titles published in 2010, our favorites included:
حينما كان للشوارع أسماء (Randa Jarrar), شيء آخر (Kathryn Cave and Chris Riddell), and the big favorite:
I realize that الغرفول isn’t really a “discovery” (the book’s been popular around the world for some time now). But it’s nonetheless worth highlighting that the Arabic translation is fun, light-hearted, and does the book justice.
And translating a children’s picture book—while it might seem “easy” (fewer words! simpler words!)—turns out to be quite difficult. If you doubt me, check out an Arabic translation of children’s poet Jack Prelutsky’s “A Very Boring Day“.
Then go ahead and try your own version. (If it turns out well, please post it below!)