Bookbird 4 / 2015

True to its name Bookbird promotes lofty visions and high ideals. But these aspirations need at the same time to be grounded in reality. “Bookworm” and, perhaps, “Book-tortoise” can teach us something too, I believe. We need the bird’s eye view but also the closeup, the snout to the ground. Wings are great, but so is legwork, and slow and steady work. If only Tortoise had remembered that! On the cover of this issue of Bookbird we see Piet Grobler’s drastic and colorful illustration of Tortoise – out of his element – falling towards earth.

In this issue Beverley Naidoo writes about why and how she
 became a writer, but also why and how
 children’s books matter. It is from her
 book of retellings of Aesop’s fables that 
we have picked the cover. From another
 angle Steven Withrow discusses the hows
 and whys of translation. The work of
 translation is often overlooked, which is a
 pity; without translations all countries and 
languages – even the biggest and most
widely dispersed – would be poorer.
 Translation makes it possible to connect 
with peoples and cultures all over the
world. One of the featured articles, Lisa
Chu Shen’s “Translation, Children’s
 Literature, and Lu Xun’s Intellectual
 Struggles,” brings up one such case.
 Moreover, besides the topic of translation
 there is also a geographic connection here
 to two other China-themed texts in this 
issue. Xu Xu writes about “The Image of
 China in Red Scarf Girl: Promoting
 International Understanding or Reinforcing Western Hegemony?” And Qi Tongwei contributes with a Letter: “Traditional Culture in Children’s Fictions in China after 1980s.” Speaking of geographical connections, a very specific application of geography – or should I say cartography – and children’s books is demonstrated in Jochen Weber’s contribution – “Around the world in 70 maps” – an article based on an exhibition displayed by the International Youth Library. The map is a way of figuring and making sense of the world. And although maps are common in children’s books, and fulfill various purposes, the study of this book feature has long been neglected. Many other things can of course be found in this Beautiful Bookbird, such as reviews and postcards, as well as the fantastically named article “Faithful Frogs and Titillated Toads” by Victoria Tedeschi and, perhaps, a more down to earth presentation called “Ghana Libraries Celebrate 25 Years” by Deborah Cowley.

But, certainly, nothing could be more down to earth than Piet Grobler’s plummeting tortoise on the cover of this Bookbird.

Björn Sundmark (editor)