Foreign fields

23rd February 2001 at 00:00
Imagine, for a moment, that Heidi had never been translated into English, or that the Moomintrolls had been reserved only for those who could read Finnish. Clearly, good books should be made available in as wide a range of languages as possible, but since the 1970s there has been a steady decline in the number of children's books that are translated into English. Thankfully, the Marsh Award (established in 1996 and presented biennially) appears to be reversing that trend.

The judges for this year's award reported an increased number of entries. Two of the shortlisted books ere teenage novels, but the winning title, Duel by David Grossman (translated from Hebrew by Betsy Rosenberg, Bloomsbury Children's Books pound;4.99), and the fourth shortlisted book, The Frog Castle by Jostein Gaarder (translated from Norwegian by James Anderson, Orion pound;3.99) are both worth noting for older primary readers.

Duel, a multi-layered novel about love and betrayal, would make a fine subject for guided reading with an able Year 6 group; The Frog Castle, exploring philosophical issues through the medium of a humorous fairy tale, would do the same at Year 5.

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