The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle was published in 1990. This means that it has been around for twenty-five years. Over the years it has been translated into many languages. Now I have gotten word that it is about to be published in Romania. When these translations happen, I’m never told why, what brought on the interest, or how, if at all, it has some relevance to the world of children’s’ books in, say, Romania. Not capable of speaking Romanian, much less reading it, I will have no idea as to the quality of its translation, or how, if it at all, it changes the book. Perhaps it makes it better.
What I can see and evaluate is the design of these translations, and of course, the covers. They vary enormously. They can be quite ugly (the “what could they have been thinking?” variety) to quite beautiful. The South Korean edition of Crispin is by far the best looking edition (among many) of the book, with stunning illustrations.
Years ago I had a string of my books issued in Denmark. It turned out a publisher happened upon my books, liked them and published them. Shortly thereafter I was traveling to Europe, went to Denmark, met the publisher, and spent a little time in Denmark.
When I was in Denmark I was invited to a school, and met with a class of students who were studying English. They were comparable to our 8th or 9th graders. At one point a girl stood up and in struggling English, told me how meaningful my book Bright Shadow was to her. Her struggle to speak brought tears to her eyes, making it very clear that this book of mine spoke to her in some special way and she wanted me to know it.
It was an equally moving moment for me that I, who lived so far away across the sea, had, in some degree of isolation, written something that touched this stranger.
It was a reminder that for writers our closest friends are often strangers.