The final day began with Jamila Gavin, Elizabeth Laird, and Beverley Naidoo and then moved on to a brilliant session of storytellers: Dashdondog Jamba, Sonia Nimr and Michael Harvey. Michael Harvey did a wonderful story in English and Welsh, Sonia Nimr did an Iranian one that was especially funny, and Dashdondog Jamba blew us away telling and singing his in Mongolian. I took a few videos of this and will post them somewhere when I figure out how to do so.
After a coffee break we returned to Patsy Aldana who spoke compellingly of multicultural issues and Michael Rosen who both spoke and performed his prose poems about similar issues. One of everyone’s favorite of these was “Ban the Santa” which you can read in the comments here.
After lunch I heard Kai Meyer in conversation with Anthea Bell (who is rightly one of the most well-known translators). It was fascinating. I managed a few tweets/notes. Anthea said she liked translating dialog. Kai said that he did not consider them collaborators. When he is done with the book he is done — what she is doing is her own thing. They rarely even communicate while she is doing the translation. Kai commented that since he can’t read most of his books in translation the only way he even knows they are his is because he recognizes his name on the covers. He commented that the “Holy Grail” for German writers is to get your book translated into English. (From conversations with others at the Congress I suspect this is true elsewhere too.) Kai also made clear that there is no artistic worry about translation — writers WANT to get their books translated and thus into the hands of as many readers as possible, he reminded us. Anthea noted that the translators are the craftspeople while the writers are the artists. It was a great session!
In the afternoon I went to a discussion on “creating and publishing children’s books.” Participants were mostly published or aspiring authors and were from Russia, Lebanon, Argentina, Brazil, Flemish, Indonesia, Australia, United Arab Emirates, UK, Japan, Estonia, Spain, India, Romania. (Over 22 people, only two from North America!). We discussed ebooks, funding, pricing, and audience among other things. Fascinating differing issues. For example, there was a young man from the UAE who set up a small publishing company to publish an Arab-centered Manga. Fascinating the issues, say that people are more used to reading manga in English so are resistent to it in Arabic. So he is releasing Arabic versions before the English to encourage more Arabic reading. A Spanish writer who is published in ten other countries and works with several publishers does it all himself; there is no agent culture as in the US. A woman from Indonesia said it was hard to go literary as the parents who buy the books think of children’s book as being necessarily didactic.
Then we returned for the Closing Ceremony where things were handed over to Mexico where the next Congress will be held in two years and poet Lemn Sissay performed.
I am still absorbing this amazing experience, but do say that if you ever get a chance to go —do so! Being in a truly international environment of children’s book creators and appreciators was amazing, amazing, amazing. (You can get a taste of this by checking out the IBBY tweets here.)