Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Syntax (word order) or how to get surprises in a foreign country

Occasionally when I’m speaking in a foreign language, I don’t say what I thought I said.

Yesterday some of my family visited the castle and old city in Bad Homburg.
Here are a couple photos I took:

We stopped for a snack at a small café just a few meters down the hill from the castle.
I thought I asked for chocolate ice cream. But because I reversed the position of two words I got ice cold chocolate milk, with vanilla ice cream scoops inside it, and whipped cream on top. I was surprised when they brought it out to my table. Eis Schokolade is excellent, so it was a good mistake to make.

Syntax, or where words are placed in a sentence, is critical. It not only changes meaning, but can create voice, atmosphere, and tone. It can also mean that you get an eis schokolade instead of ice cream in a cup.

Monday, May 17, 2010

News and Link Medley (and link to free e-book)

If you go here, (Children's Book Council Website) you can download a wonderful essay, part of an e-book project, written by Katherine Paterson (National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.) It is free until May 24th.

Kathi Appelt has started blogging! Check it out. Her first post introduces us to her cats and her writing studio.

Recently published books to look for:

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
Sisters and sibling rivalry, birthday parties, cultural understanding. The real story behind the story (the actual story and the writing of it) can be found here.
Guess which character is Rukhsana.

I love picture books. I'm glad I bought this picture book!
(I usually buy novels--as my my teens enjoy reading them.)

Keeper by Kathi Appelt
What an awesome cover.

I look forward to reading this, as soon as I get my copy. She is my advisor this semester (of course I'm biased). I'll get her to sign my book when I see her this summer.

Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner

Fantasy, Iceland, sagas and Norse myths all combine in one book.
An incredible book. Janni creates real characters, and page turning plots. Plus, I could see the locations in my head when I was reading--she accurately describes real places in Iceland.

Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams

An attic, 3 girls, a journal--great middle grade novel, both contemporary and historical. I love the voice and the way the main character comes up with such fun and unique names for colors.

Shadow by Jenny Moss

Fantasy. This book was like chocolate; it was like curling up with my favorite comfort food. What a delight. I love this genre of fantasy.

Panthan's Crucible by Meredith Wood

Paranormal (admittedly not my favorite genre), but this is a story I enjoyed. A lot. Great characters and plot. Those who love fantasy and paranormal will love this book. A sequel is in the works. Hurray!!!

Faithful by Janet Fox

I've not read this book yet, but it is on my list for the next time I order books. This is historical fiction, set in Yellowstone Park.

Is it better when I include the covers?

Multilingual Publishing and translation

Uma Krishnaswami on her blog shared the following link from Tulika Books about multilingual publishing. (I look forward to Uma's upcoming posts about translation.)

"Multilingual Publishing - Walking the Tightrope" is a great slide show which discusses language, culture, translation and the importance of multilingual publishing in children's books.
I was so impressed with this slide show, that I wanted to share it.

I love reading translated books (or the books in the original language) that are published all over the world. I love browsing through the Frankfurt and Bologna Book Fairs and dreaming about buying and reading so many incredible books that are not available in English or in the US. A picture book or novel lets me explore and access a culture in wonderful ways. The only way I can have that experience in an even closer manner, is to live within that culture.

I believe it is essential to expand our reading to include books from other cultures and books that are written in other languages and to also share these books with children. We need greater cultural understanding and respect and peace and one way readers can gain shared experiences is within story, and in the pages of books.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Castles--Exploring Mosel River Valley

I wanted to share a few photos of a recent day trip I took with my family. Some day, I think, perhaps I'll write a story set in a castle.

Thurant Castle. (13th century) This one has a 3 bedroom vacation apartment available, next to the tower on the right. I'd love to stay in this castle for a few days.

Some small plants and flowers grew on the top of the tower. This photo also shows some nice details of the stonework.

These stones now decorating the garden are the same that were used in catapults.

Ehrenburg. (1120) This fortress is just a few miles away from the one above.

Look at the details around this door. The carving in the stone is spectacular. It made me wonder what the castle looked like 300 years ago, when it was still in pristine condition.

Detail of the stone work on the upper tower.

I've been in a few places where there were paintings on the walls and ceilings that were 500-800 years old, that also had tile floors that were at least that old. I imagine that the nicer rooms in these castles were also decorated in a similar manner.

We visited several other castles on the same day we visited these two. But one was undergoing renovations and photos were not allowed inside. One was ruins. And the other, though very old, wasn't nearly as impressive.

What I look for when I go through a castle is unexpected details.
That is also what makes writing and reading fun--the unexpected details of plot, characters and setting.