Re: Picturebook titles crossing the Atlantic Dear Virginia,

I have yr Stories, Pictures and Reality and it’s fascinating.  Thank you for spending all those years keeping the diary and then writing the book, it is a very special publication.

Thank you also for these comments, they raise all sorts of issues again.  I am in absolute agreement that picturebooks help children understand other cultures and peoples, they play and essential role in this and it’s one of the (many) reasons we use picturebooks when teaching English as a second or foreign language around the world, ( I am an English teacher and trainer in Portugal where English is considered a foreign language).  

I am enjoying reading such personal comments based on experience from the list, thanks.  Do keep them coming.


On 9/4/11 01:35, "Virginia Lowe" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Dear Sandie, some Australian thoughts.
When my children were young, and I was keeping the reading diary (to become Stories, Pictures and Reality, much later) we only got English editions (apart from a few Australian ones) and they had access to all the ones mentioned – Zozo the clown, Millions of Cats (particularly important to my daughter), The Snowy Day (actually irrelevant, though they did have it, and my daughter called her son Ezra – but Whistle for Willie much more relevant and important). Also things like Mike Mulligan and his Steam shovel (which my son loved) and Make Way for Ducklings. We owned most of them, so they were available here in Englsih editions.
Without actually checking it up, my memory is that they were mainly Bodley Head and World’s Work (I’m mystified by someone’s reference to Billy King in this regard!). Also Picture Puffins did a lot – the Ezra Jack Keats ones were certainly theirs and Virginia Lee Burtons . I actually did a table one time, for a never-written article, on the proportion of titles originally from UK and USA. No doubt I could find it again if it were to be of any use – let me know. I do  think libraries got editions from America so the children would have had access that way.
This was, for picture books, between 1972 and 1984, roughly. I have the same record for when they are older of course. They still only had access to American titles that were republished in Britain.
As far as ‘translation’ is concerned, it still happens a lot – maybe more than ever. I have both the Australian (Penguin/Viking) and the US (Random House) editions of isobelle Carmody/Declan Lee’s The Wrong Thing (even retitled in US as Magic Night). Carmody’s lyrical text has been radically changed, for no reason that I can see. The whole idea of a ‘wrong thing’ (a baby pixie or fairy) in a normal home, has been lost and become a ‘strange thing’. All allusiveness has gone. I hate to say it, but it’s as if American publishers don’t want their audience to be able to make assumptions and fill in gaps – everything has to be spelt out in words, even when it’s quite clear from the illustrations.
And I know that, despite Australian and British children having to cope with occasional illustrations of cars driving on the’wrong’ side of the road, for instance, illustrators here have to be careful to have no writing on shops or otherwise in street scenes if they are likely to go to America, because they will be printed back the front to get the cars on the ‘right’ side of the road. (Our children have to learn that different people do things differently) And there are all the restrictions about bare bottoms (Margaret Wild/Ann James’ The Midnight Gang, has still not been published there I think, because Baby Molly scrapes off her nappy in going out the cat flap. What about Mickey’s penis in In the Night Kitchen? It seems that the US has become more conservative)
(I’m waiting to be shot down by my US colleagues!)
Hope this helps,

Dr Virginia Lowe
Create a Kids' Book <>
PO Box 2, Ormond Victoria 3204
ph:   03 9578 5689
mob: 0400 488 100
"Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two children tell" (Routledge 2007)

From: Academic discussion of all aspects of children's literature [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Sandie Mour ã o
Sent: Friday, 8 April 2011 10:39 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Picturebook titles crossing the Atlantic

Dear all,

I am hoping the collective knowledge on this list will be able to help me in a query.

In a paper I’m writing I am referring to a picturebook which is available and well known in the US, but is not usually found on bookshop shelves in the UK, (though of course is available via online books shops like and The book Depository).  I want to make the point that there are a number of picturebook titles which do not cross the Atlantic, and remain with either a US related readership or a UK one.  This is based on a gut feeling, but also from experience working as a consultant here in Europe (as an ex-pat Brit) and discovering so many different authors and titles I’d not come across in the Scholastic US catalogues. If it hadn’t been for this experience I would never have discovered Peggy Rathmann or Chris Raschka for example.

I’m also aware that there are Australian titles we don’t get either, and that the publishing markets are different in their demands and what they think their national readers actually want / will accept.  

Can someone confirm this is more than a gut feeling? And is there anything published which I can refer to in the paper?  I have  a vague memory of this being mentioned somewhere, but can’t quite focus the reference.

Much appreciate any responses, and many thanks in advance.

Sandie Mourão

Sandie Mourão