And the Batchelder Award Goes to…


“There’s nothing wrong with making up stories to make life more bearable.”
-Gloria in A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux, translated from the French by Y. Maudet, published by Delacorte


“Slowly, one by one, more and more travelers got out of the bus. Some were clutching onto one another, others were leaning against the bus, their faces pale. Mouse chuckled. She knew exactly how they felt. Maybe she should explain to Dantzig that he ought to take it easy.”
Departure Time by Truus Matti, translated from the Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier, published by Namelos

“Pierre Anthon left school the day he realized that nothing was worth doing, because nothing meant anything anyway.”
-Agnes in Nothing by Janne Teller, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken, published by Atheneum

Publishing translations is not a lucrative business. It is expensive and time-consuming to evaluate the international literary marketplace, secure rights, and commission translations. It is the extremely rare translation that becomes a bestseller. The Batchelder Award was created “to encourage international exchange of quality children’s books,” in the belief and hope that the exchange of literature and ideas between cultures can help make a better world. It is awarded to publishers to reward them for taking a risk on something worthwhile, to draw attention to high-quality translations and expand readership. I was convinced that was important before I started my Batchelder year, but I believe it even more sitting here now.

I know there are a lot of things to read and keep up on. I know there are a lot of books you can add to your collections that might circulate more reliably with less help. These books are important, though, so I ask you: read them, buy them, promote them. It would be a sad world, indeed, if publishers decided to stop bringing the world to us.

I’m loving humanity a little too much right now. Might be time to rent a car and drive the California freeways for a few hours.


  1. Posted January 11, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    That first quote strikes me as very French. Or Russian. Actually, I can almost hear someone saying that in a Chekov play.

  2. adrienne
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Well, it is French, but the character is Georgian (as in “republic of”), so you’ve got a point on both.

  3. momster
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Congrats to all of you who put in your own time and money to evaluate these books:-) I’ve watched Adrienne do it several times now,and know it is a lot of work:-)You have to love books.Congrats.

  4. adrienne
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I do love books!

  5. Posted January 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I understood it was French from the description. It was was hard to place the proper emphasis on “very,” which I could have done more accurately in person.

  6. Posted January 14, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Congrats again! What an experience I bet it was.

  7. adrienne
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Jeffrey, I was thinking, “Well, it says RIGHT THERE it’s French,” but I didn’t want to be rude mentioning it.

    Jules, Completely. I kind of thought I’d be feeling a let-down after all the excitement, but I’m just so pleased with the outcome and enjoying being able to talk about how much I like these books. It’s great to be able to do things like this that teach me a lot and give me a little push to remember to keep things interesting.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Some of you may recall that I was on last year’s Batchelder Award committee. Through that process, I did a lot of reading about Mildred Batchelder, the librarian the award was named after. I learned some more about Batchelder recently reading this article by Barbara Bader in The Horn Book Magazine. It’s part of a series the magazine’s been doing about influential librarians, and, like the rest that have been profiled, Batchelder was a strong personality. Reading about all these women has made me feel better about the strong aspects of my own personality, and reading about Batchelder reminds me again of the importance of the Batchelder Award and books in translation in general. […]

  2. […] the new Batchelder winner, Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak, and honor, Lily Pond by Annika Thor. Here’s what I wrote after I sat and watched my committee’s selections announced at the press […]

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