Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Books Bought without Translation

Both sets of parents whose sons I nannied got some French books for me to read to the boys.  None of them speak French, but they knew I did and were eager for the boys to hear and learn it.  The selection of books purchased was rather amusing.  One family got three board books, not knowing what the titles of any of them meant.  The first one Malik est fils unique (Malik is an only child) was perfect since both boys were also only children.  The second one was a bit more complicated: Camille a deux familles (Camille has two families) about a girl whose parents divorce and remarry people with other children.  The third one was the clincher that the purchaser probably didn't know what the titles meant.

The last one was Jean a deux mamans which translates into Jean has two mommies.  I was rather confused when I picked up the brightly colored children’s board book, but I figured perhaps it was about someone who lived with their mom and also had another mother figure, perhaps a nanny or a babysitter, who helped take care of him.  (I was wrong.)
The set of French books we had at the other boy’s house included a number of Sesame Street titles, but, of course, those weren’t the ones the boys liked best.  They preferred to hear over and over again the two books involving big ships, adventure, and pirates.  In one (pictured above) a children’s grandmother is kidnapped by pirates, and they have to go rescue her.  In the other, the main character of the book is the daughter of the most famous pirate in the world, and has to travel with a crew of pirates around to different places on a scavenger hunt that leads her to her father.  

Both books are actually pretty hilarious, so I was happy to read them over and over and over again.  I had to change the words at the end of one book after the first time I shouted them out before realizing exactly what was being said.  When we reached the end of Grandmère et Les Pirates which said “Mon dieu, ou est passé le bateau?!” I replaced it with a new beginning of oh la la! followed by the French equivalent of (where’s the ship gone?!).
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