(written by Ali Seidabadi)
In a few days, we’ll move to our new place. I’m busy with renovating the new flat these days. One of the good bookshops in Tehran can be seen through the window of Kian’s (my 9-year-old son) bedroom. The very day that the British Foreign Secretary was re-opening the British embassy in Tehran and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister was re-opening the Iranian embassy in London, I was quibbling over the wall paint with the painter. I saw the bookshop from Kian’s bedroom window and thought of something. I decided to find out how the cultural relations stood between Iran and the UK as far as children’s books were concerned. Ending my discussion with the painter, I crossed the street, entered the bookshop, and went straight to the section for children’s books.
The first thing I saw was a box set of 20 teeny books by Beatrix Potter, the same famous Peter Rabbit collection that has been translated to Persian and Kian and I had enjoyed reading.
Then I saw Roald Dahl titles and there were a couple of translations for each of his books. I guess Iran is the only country in which you can find several translations of a good book all available at the same time!
Then I saw the translation of “Roald Dahl Funny Prize Winners” collection, which I hadn’t read yet, and I made a mental note to buy the collection for Kian after we moved, so that we could read it together. There were also some books by David Almond, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Anthony Horowitz, and J. K. Rowling in the bookshelves of this bookshop.
I could remember some other books by English authors in the small bookshelf in Kian’s bedroom. There was this collection of classic illustrated children’s books that Peter Hunt, the British scholar, had suggested for Iranian children and it had been translated; among the titles in this collection, I’d found Michael Rosen’s “We’re going on a bear hunt” particularly enjoyable. There were also books by Michael Morpurgo, Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Jacqueline Wilson, and Anthony Browne.
However, the number of books by British authors that are published and read in Iran far exceeds what I just mentioned. John Christopher, C. S. Lewis, Terry Deary, Enid Blyton, etc. are also among the British writers whose works have been read by Iranian children.