From Lamouche to McFly: blog tour day 7

Look what arrived on our porch today

DAY SEVEN. For today’s chapter in the Davide Cali Blog Tour, we tell you how we adapted Davide Cali and Vincent Pianina’s forthcoming 10 Little Insects from French into English.

In the world of kids’ books, Wilkins Farago has become quite well known for publishing books from other languages and cultures. While publishing an existing book can be quicker and easier than originating a new book from scratch (which is why publishers across the globe do it all the time), it can still be quite a demanding process.

The first step, of course, was to translate the text from the original French, which was done by two native French speakers, Elsa Klockenbring and Philippine McDonald, working in harness with Wilkins Farago’s Director Andrew Wilkins. Elsa and Philippine focused on making sure the meaning of the original French was carried through into English, while Andrew’s job was to make sure the English translation flowed nicely.

In some cases, the text was straightforward to translate; in others, we had to create new jokes and change the names of some of the characters to try and reflect the original intentions of the creators, who are rather fond of puns.

For instance, the stick insect Johnny Nail was originally called Jean-Clou; Longshanks was called Longuepattes; McFly was called Lamouche; Gracey Gold was called Dorinda Dorée; and Mr Krikkit was Sigal. Changing names is a time-honoured activity—have a look at a French language Asterix book and you’ll see what I mean.

Once the translation was done, we sent it to the original publisher so the creators could approve it.

Next, the book had to be re-typeset in English. The original French text was written by hand and we didn’t have time (or the heart) to ask the illustrator to do the book all over again in English, so it was typeset. Mostly, the French edition helpfully kept text and images separate, but where the text was part of Vincent Pianina’s original artwork (as was the case with many of the sounds that are a vital part of any comic book—VROUM! YAAAAA! PAF! etc), we had to open up the original art in Adobe Photoshop and do some every careful editing. Our modus operandi was to make only those changes that were absolutely necessary to make the book work in English, so you’ll see the spellings of some French sounds have remained where we thought they worked in English too.

If you compare our edition with the original French one, you will notice the lack of cursive type in the English language edition. The French are taught cursive from a very early age and cursive script is very common in French kids books. Less so in Australia or elsewhere in the Anglo world, so these words had to be re-set in (for us) a more readable font.

Finally, the book’s spine had to be re-sized to reflect the different thickness of the paper we wanted to print the book on. Our edition is three millimetres thinner than the original French edition and weighs just ten grammes less!

The Davide Cali blog tour is taking place from 1 to 15 May, as a countdown to Davide’s first visit to Australia from 16 to 28 May. Every day, some of Australia’s most interesting book bloggers will be posting interviews with him, reviewing his books, offering giveaways and maybe giving a sneak peak of his award-winning new book, 10 Little Insects.

You can check out the full blog tour here.

Davide Cali’s 2012 Australian tour is an initiative of the National Year of Reading