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Book translations deserve some love – School Library Journal

Buy The Little Black Fish 

Buy The Parrot and the Merchant 

The fantastic School Library Journal have been celebrating “super” translated books out now in the US. We’re thrilled that our books The Little Black Fish and The Parrot and the Merchant have made their list! Read what Elizabeth Bird had to say about these two wonderful books below.

The Little Black Fish is the perfect translation

The Little Black Fish

The shelves of your average everyday American children’s room are not fair overflowing with Iranian picture book imports. After reading The Little Black Fish, I think maybe they should be. I mean, this book originally came out in 1968 in Tehran and it’s very much in the same vein as Swimmy, if more socially responsible. Really, the book I think it’s closest to, in a lot of ways, is Alvin Tresselt’s The Frog in the Well. In both cases you have a character that has a very limited worldview, manages to see the world, and encounters others that have their own limited worldviews due to their circumstances and lack of curiosity. According to the publisher, this book was banned after it came out in Iran. I don’t find that particularly surprising considering what it’s advocating. With its woodcut-like illustrations this should be a classic worldwide. Hat tip to Tiny Owl for getting it back out there and to Azita Rassi for the perfect translation.

The Parrot and the Merchant is a strong and interesting fable

The Parrot and the Merchant 

If the title sounds familiar, that may be because this tale was adapted into a picture book around 2010 called The Secret Message by Mina Javaherbin. I loved that book, but I’m quite drawn to this one too. Vafaeian is Iranian, and made it a point to cast the merchant in this story as a woman, which I thought was interesting. It helps that it’s a strong fable too.





  • Read a blog: Celebrating 50 years of this classic children’s story with a reflection on the messages it shares
  • Watch our introductory video about the Little Black Fish
  • An article at the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava: The most influential children’s books are made for the sake of art
  • Read David Almond’s words about The Parrot and the Merchant in the Guardian. Link

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