Ukrainian Children Need Books!
In support of refugee families from Ukraine, Cbj and Penguin Junior have had four popular picture books from their program translated into Ukrainian and are now as free PDF documents. The four books are “Little Badger & Big Badger,” “Minus Three Wants a Pet,” “Make Way, Deer!” and “Little Dragon Coconut.”
“Ukrainian Children Need Books, Books, Books!” ran the headline in the German trade magazine Börsenblatt on April 1. The article reported that German bookstores are desperately looking for Ukrainian children’s books following the arrival of waves of refugees from Ukraine. By then, Cbj and Penguin Junior, the two children’s book publishers in the Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe, had long since begun translating four popular picture books from their program into Ukrainian. Now the four titles have been published and are available as free PDF downloads. They are “Little Badger & Big Badger – The Huge Argument” by Annette Herzog and Olga Strobel (Penguin Junior), “Minus Three Wants a Pet” by Ute Krause (Cbj), “Make Way, Deer!” by Stephanie Schneider and Susan Batori (Penguin Junior), and “Little Dragon Coconut - My Picture Dictionary” by Ingo Siegner (Cbj).
The stories were translated from German into Ukrainian by Olga Strobel, Lesya Skintey, and Olha Rachynska. “Overnight, Ukrainian children were deprived of the possibility to grow up protected and carefree in their homeland. In the middle of Europe. In the 21st century,” translator and illustrator Olga Strobel said of the action. “Unbearable to think what suffering and horror they have been exposed to. After being scarred by their ordeal and traumatized by what happened, they are now finally safe. As a native of Ukraine, helping them, on my own or as part of the initiative, is my top priority in these difficult times. Lovingly written, fun stories, read to them in their native language, give the refugee children a sense of security and support and help to distract them from dark thoughts. So it was an honor for me to translate the story about badgers, written by Annette Herzog and illustrated by myself, into Ukrainian. And if we can bring a light to the sad children’s eyes - even if only for the short time spent reading the story aloud - that would already be a small victory of light over darkness.”
Susanne Krebs, publishing director of Cbj and Penguin Junior, was also immediately excited about the idea: “We wanted to do something as quickly as possible to make it easier for the many Ukrainian children to settle in here, at least in the way we know how: with stories. Picture books for downloading are especially well suited for this purpose, and can perhaps be used with the support of volunteers in the context of comforting read-aloud scenarios and to help overcome speechlessness. We have chosen titles that can be used even with early elementary-school age children, such as Ingo Siegner’s ‘Little Dragon Coconut’ picture dictionary, which will help with developing a bilingual approach to acquiring elementary vocabulary. ‘Minus Three Wants A Pet’ by Ute Krause also has appeal for slightly older children. ‘Make Way, Deer!’ by Stephanie Schneider and Susan Batori has a beautiful message that strengthens community, and ‘Big Badger and Little Badger’ by Annette Herzog and Olga Strobel was translated with great enthusiasm by the illustrator herself, as Olga Strobel is Ukrainian. We thank our authors and illustrators and the translators for their spontaneous and loving support of this campaign!”