Each week we will write an entry that will give you an insight into the world of Tiny Owl Publishing, the inspiration and stories behind our titles, our authors, translators and talented illustrators behind our beautiful books and our aim to bring high quality global literature to an English reading audience. To begin with, we have decided to tell you a little bit about how Tiny Owl Publishing began.
Noticing a severe lack of translated children’s fiction in the UK, Delaram Ghanimfard and her husband (originally from Iran but currently living in London), set up Tiny Owl Publishing towards the end of 2013; with the aim to bring the cream of the crop of global children’s stories to the UK. Less than two years on, the independent book publishers have released eight titles, one of which was the winner of the Hans Christian Anderson award, received praise and accolades from key figures in the book publishing industry and are establishing ourselves as company to go to for culturally diverse children’s books.
My husband and I have been here for a while and had a background in publishing journalism. We noticed that in the UK translated literature is under-represented and we thought we could represent it a bit better.
One of Tiny Owl’s most acclaimed releases is The Little Black Fish by Samad Behrangi. A tale of a fish who dares venture out of the pond into the stream, then the river, then the sea, which was first published in 1968 and is arguably Iran’s most famous children’s book. Tiny Owl’s translation of the story, with stunning illustration from Farshid Mesghali, saw us become the first publishing company to translate the famous tale with award winning, original illustrations back in January 2015. The beautiful adaptation has helped introduce the story to a whole new audience and ties in with Ghanimifard’s aim to portray a side to Iranian culture unknown in the UK:
I think it’s good to talk about diversity and know about diverse cultures and the way people live. Iran is different from how it is portrayed in the media, you never seen anything about the culture or people.
There really is no better way to introduce different cultures and diversity to children than via beautifully illustrated picture books. Stories read at a young age stay with us throughout our lifetime and help shape who we become as adults.
Titles such as The Little Black Fish and The Parrot and the Merchant, based on a fable by Rumi, have been well received and have attracted attention from prominent figures and the media. The Little Black Fish actually came first in David Cadji Newby’s top 10 quests in children’s books (The Guardian), which was a huge honour for us, and famous British author, David Almond had these kind words to say after meeting with Tiny Owl:
It was great to meet you both. Thanks for sending these books. They’re beautiful, and deserve to find an audience in this country. It’s wonderful that you’re bringing stories from your country to ours, and introducing us to these fine writers and artists. Your publishing venture is important – especially when there is so much ignorance and suspicion about Iran.
Such wonderful support from people we admire has been hugely appreciated and really helped us as we introduce our work to the UK.
Tiny Owl have now published eight books, most recently Alive Again and Tahmineh’s beautiful bird, and the next title is due to be released in October. We’re already working towards next year’s titles and in the coming months Anahita Teymorian, the author and illustrator of two of our books, and Ali Seidabadi, our Persian language editor, will be in the UK for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. With this weekly blog, we hope to keep our readers updated with all that is happening and allow you to learn more about Tiny Owl’s journey.
Have you got any suggestions to what you’d like to see on this blog? Perhaps more of an insight to the inspiration behind the stories we choose? How we decide which titles to translate? More information about our talented authors and illustrators? We’d love to hear your suggestions, so please do not hesitate to email us your ideas or tweet us!
By Zoe Yvonne Delaney