August 7, 2009

Found in Translation

One of the oddest sensations for an author (this one, anyway) is seeing one’s writing after it's been edited, illustrated, and laid out on a page. Viewing these layouts, there is an odd sense of déjà vu. Yes, these are the pictures I described, but they've been filtered through an artist’s brain in unforeseeable and delightful ways.

The illustrations are familiar, yet unfamiliar. It’s sort of like watching someone else ride off on your bike, or sitting in the back seat of the car that you always drive.

This sensation was magnified yesterday when I got the Chinese language editions of The Big Book of Boy Stuff and The Big Book of Girl Stuff. Both books have new covers and scrambled page designs. For example, the table of contents in Girl Stuff runs for a number of pages; each chapter’s contents having been enlarged upon to a very specific degree (example, left). I could see where this would be helpful, sort of like having the index of the book in the front.

Regarding the cover of Boy Stuff, I’m not sure what to make of the silhouette of the boy; is he holding a football? A rugby ball? Surely neither of these sports are popular in China? And lastly, while I have no background in Chinese, I must question some of the translations. I mean, ?? Puh-leeze!

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