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“Moment of joy” for York academic chosen to translate J.K Rowling’s new children’s novel

Posted on 8 June 2020

A University of York academic has been chosen to translate J.K. Rowling's new children's novel into French.

Dr Beauvais is a huge J.K Rowling fan

The Ickabog - which J.K Rowling wrote years ago and dug out of her attic during lockdown - is out in free online instalments to share with families around the world currently enduring the pandemic. The story is set in an imaginary country called Cornucopia and is about a swamp monster called the Ickabog who may or may not exist.

Dr Clémentine Beauvais from the Department of Education said the call from the publishers asking her to translate the novel into French came out of the blue.

Pure happiness

Dr Beauvais said: “I am a huge J.K Rowling fan. The Harry Potter series defined my teenage years and so when I was asked to translate this book into French it was a moment of pure happiness and joy.”

The academic is an experienced writer and translator of children’s books including titles by Sarah Crossan, Elizabeth Acevedo and Meg Rosoff.

Dr Beauvais added: “The Ickabog is a lovely old-fashioned tale full of J.K Rowling’s trademark humour and wit. It has a beautiful atmosphere which I've tried to emulate in my translation.

“J.K Rowling is very good at using short anglo-saxon words with nothing superfluous and that’s tricky to translate in French as the language is naturally more inflated.

“Translation is complicated and is one of those arts that get overlooked. First you have to dive into the voice of the text and that then sets the parameters for how you translate.”

“During lockdown I think a lot of writers have felt a special mission to reach children stuck at home and help keep them busy. For some families the lockdown has been a time for the recovery of storytelling which can help amplify family bonds.”

Illustrations

The Ickabog is out in free instalments online and children are being asked to send in illustrations, some of which will be used in the final printed versions which are expected out later this year. The French version, which is also currently being released, will be published by Gallimard Jeunesse in book form in November.

J.K Rowling plans to donate all royalties from the book to help people who have been affected by the coronavirus.

As well as writing and translating, Dr Beauvais teaches children's literature, creative writing and literary translation in education at York, and researches the theory and practice of literary translation in the classroom.

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