Guest Blog by Ana Siqueira
Are you an author who speaks multiple languages? Are you curious about how to write a book using more than one language? 24 Carrot Writing has invited Spanish-language elementary teacher, and award-winning Brazilian children’s author Ana Siqueira to share her tips for writing bilingual books and her thoughts on translated books.
On Bilingual Books
My books BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS (art by Geraldine Rodriguez- Beaming Books 2021), IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA (art by Irena Freitas - Simon&Schuster 2022), ABUELA’S SUPER CAPA (art by Elisa Chavarri- HarperCollins 2023) and ROOM IN MAMI’S CORAZON (art by Nomar Perez - HarperCollins 2024) are all bilingual books.
What are the tricks to writing a bilingual book that readers can understand, even when they don’t know the language? My tips are:
On Translated Books
Remember that bilingual books are different than translated books.
Some of my bilingual books will be published simultaneously in English and Spanish. IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA will be CUANDO TU NIÑERA ES UNA BRUJA, ABUELA’S SUPER CAPA will be LA SUPERCAPA DE ABUELA
and ROOM IN MAMI’S CORAZÓN will be translated, but we don’t have a title translation yet.
I am proud of having these books published in Spanish. Children can read in their own language and that makes me excited. I can’t wait to hear parents’ voices proudly telling stories in their own language.
I relied on her experience writing and translating in Spanish to help me with that task. When you translate a picture book, you can’t only translate the words. You must work on flow, rhythm, and structure. So Mariana and I had to go back and forth many times to translate sentences, rhythm, and flow.
For my book IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA, the Spanish version is also bilingual, that is the text is mostly in Spanish sprinkled with words in English.
Here is the first page of the Spanish version:
Si ya es casi Halloween y tienes una nueva niñera…¡Cuidado!
¡Podría ser una bruja! A witch!
Si vuela en una escoba, con un sombrero negro en la cabeza, graznando como un cuervo…
When the books get published, I will learn the challenges of marketing both versions. It’s naturally easier to market the version in English. So where can I market the Spanish version? That’s something I need to research and work on.
The third challenge, for me, is how to get these books translated into Portuguese. I would love to see Brazilian children reading it in their own language. This is a battle I will be pursuing.
But no matter if readers choose to read my bilingual version or the Spanish version, I hope they can have fun and learn an important lesson: Don’t judge a bruja by her sombrero.
Ana Siqueira is an award-winning author from Brazil. In addition to Bella’s Recipe for Success and If Your Babysitter Is a Bruja, Ana has also published a Spanish early reader for the education market. Ana was born in Rio, Brazil and lives in Tampa with her Cuban husband. When she’s not writing or reading, she is playing with her Cuban-Brazilian-American grandkids. To learn more about Ana visit her website here.
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