White Ravens 2011
The International Youth Library (IYL or IJB; Internationale Jugendbibliothek), the world's largest library of international books for children and young adults, compiles an annual list of best children's books from around the world called the White Ravens list. It is based on a selection of titles drawn from books that the IYL receives as review or donation copies from publishers and organizations around the world. The many language specialists at the IYL in Munich read and review these books and select the most noteworthy for inclusion. The "White Raven" label is given to books that deserve worldwide attention because of their universal themes and/or their exceptional and often innovative artistic and literary style and design.
These titles are then compiled into the annual White Ravens Catalogue, which is introduced each year at the Bologna (Italy) Children's Book Fair. The lists since 1996 are available in an online database which can be accessed by country or language. These efforts are also supported by the ICDL (International Children's Digital Library) in the U.S.
The 2011 list includes 250 titles in 30 languages from 40 countries. The White Ravens books are displayed at the IYL booth at the Bologna Book Fair. I pored over them (and their published catalog) to identify the poetry books and I found 14 poetry titles-- from 12 different countries. I took pictures of each of the books and found volunteers to read selections from 7 of them for a short video. I'll feature all these in the days ahead.
We'll begin with France. Here are two poetry selections from France which made the White Ravens list with annotations provided by the language specialists of the IYL.
Henry, Jean-Marie (ed.)
Poirot Cherif, Sandra (illus.)
Une baleine dans mon jardin. 60 comptines d’écrivains
(A whale in my garden. 60 literary nursery rhymes)
[Paris]: Rue du Monde, 2010. – 51 p.
(Series: Oh! Les comptines!)
Rhyme – Pun – Poetry
Jean-Marie Henry has put together an excellent anthology of 60 children’s rhymes and in the process introduces entirely new material. All the rhymes were written by important poets. Readers will find rhyme specimens forged by the likes of Andrée Chedid, Federico García Lorca, Victor Hugo, Raymond Queneau, Max Jacob, Philippe Soupault, Claude Roy, and Boris Vian, to name a few. Reading and browsing, one travels in amazement through a still unknown linguistic landscape full of absurdity and the most enigmatic shenanigans. In addition one falls under the spell of Sandra Poirot Cherif’s illustrations. This book inspires one to play around with letters oneself, to invent word games, and to embark on many a journey of discovery into the realm of language. (Age: 3+)
Here is Nathalie Beau, from the Centre national de la littérature pour la jeunesse- la Joie par les livres at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, reading a poem in French from this White Ravens book (above). Enjoy!
And below is information on the second poetry selection from France on the White Ravens list-- a fascinating French-Russian collaboration.
Tretiakov, Serge (= Tretjakov, Sergej) (text)
Stepanova, Varvara (paper cut-outs design)
Rodtchenko, Alexandre (= Rodčenko, Aleksandr)
Rouzeau, Valérie (transl.)
Animaux à mimer = Samozveri
Nantes: Éd. MeMo, 2010. –  p.
(Series: Collection des Trois ourses)
(Text French and Russian)
Constructivism – Animals – Arts and crafts
The avant-garde artists Sergei Tretiakov and Alexander Rodtchenko left behind an unpublished book project, made in the 1920s. It is a pioneering work of Russian constructivism, published for the first time in this loving bilingual edition from MeMo publishing house. Tretiakov’s poems deal with the humorous metamorphosis of children Vanja and Katja into animal forms – giraffes, ostriches, seals –, which seem timelessly modern to us in their geometrical formal language, expressed in paper figures designed by Varvara Stepanova. Alexander Rodtchenko’s photographs set the scene for the animal shapes by means of sophisticated light and shading effects cast on little stages. The book is a feast for the eyes for children and art lovers alike, and thanks to the cut-out figures, there is much incitement to reach for the scissors right away. (Age: 8+)
Image credit: SV;IYL
Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2011. All rights reserved.