Let’s Dance – Children’s Literature Touring Worldwide

Today, Children’s Literature appears in all kinds of forms and the stories do not confine to their origin place but are spreading worldwide. Children living in different parts of the world all enjoy some of the same favourite characters such as Harry Potter and Winnie-the-Pooh through translated books, movies and cartoons.

Now, let’s go through some examples of different forms that children literature is presented.

A. Ballet:

Nutcracker is one of people’s favourite ballet shows during Christmas time. Children enjoy the detailed cultural costumes, colourful Christmas decorations and beautiful dancing steps on stage. The ballet show is based on a story written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816. Tchaikovsky composes the music for it and it becomes a famous ballet show around the world.
Nutcracker on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clWKDT4TQIk (15:30-24:27: The Christmas party where Clara receives the nutcracker as her Christmas present from the magician)

B. Musical:

  1. Matilda the Musical is based on Roald Dahl´s novel. The music and the lyrics bring out the strong message of the novel to the old and young, talking about the importance of courage, or in other words, to be naughty. All of us can learn from little Matilda, fighting against all kinds of odds that can be in a child´s life, including having a pair of mean parents and a monstrous school principal.
    Naughty, an original song from Matilda the Musical:
  2. `Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue / And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true…´
    The well-known verse to almost every household in the above comes from the musical based on L. Frank Baum´s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
    The story has not only been adapted as a musical, but it also becomes an inspiration for Winnie Holzman to write another story about the witches in Oz, which is titled Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The novel was also performed as a musical on stage in Broadway and West End.
    Musicals bring the world of Oz into life through lively performance of song and dance.
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow starts at 4:12:

C. Movies

Disney plays a crucial role in transforming Children’s Literature into movies.  Girls love the princess series, including the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty—classics from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Arabian Nights, Mother Goose Tales respectively. Disney movies are always enjoyable family activities.

Shots of different Disney movies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7577YqwJRHQ

Other than animated films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe etc. are also phenomenal and have won a successful box office. The fictional magical experiences come to life with the brilliantly blended combination of visual effects and real people acting in the film.

Sometimes, the original production is a movie and then the story is published in the form of a book. For example, The Lion King and The Shrek are very successful original film production for children.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie trailor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWKj41HZBzM

Beside all the ballet shows, musicals and movies, translation is the bridge that helps to spread these stories around the world. For instance, Alice’s Adventures in the Wonderland was translated into Chinese in 1922. Thus, the book was ‘imported’ to the east. From the story, Chinese are able to catch a glimpse of the western culture such as the English-styled tea party and the Cheshire Cat.  Chinese readers are able to enjoy the story as their counterparts far in England do for Zhao Yuen-ren, the Chinese phonologist strived to keep all the original puns and playfulness in his translation. Also, the language used in movies and musicals must be translated, so the product can reach children of different nations.

However, translation would sometime undermine the power of the original story. Winnie-the-Pooh was first translated from English to German by E.L. Schiffer in 1928 and a few irony conversations were omitted.[1] Thus, the translation remains a lovely children story but less appealing to German adults as they cannot read that the writer is mocking at conversations without any content and other strange habits in the adult world.

Therefore, the quality of translation is very important to the spread of children’s books.

Certainly, Children’s Literature enriches our childhood through various means and tons of stories are translated into different languages, but it is often considered as a sub-genre in the literary field. People believe that it is easier to write for children and children books are not as serious as adult literature. However, some classic children’s books do reflect profound meanings in allegory form such as in Winnie-the-Pooh, which is mentioned in the above. Also, Children Literature offers great help to children in their social and emotional development. For instance, children can read stories about people of different races to build up their concept of the global village and to catch a glimpse of the way different people act and think. It affects children in a good way and its educational value on children, which is something that adult literature cannot achieve, should not be underestimated.

All in all, Children’s Literature is an evolving and expanding genre that worth noticing, thus more fun and meaningful stories can be created and published for children.

[1] ‘’They began to talk in a friendly way about this and that, and Piglet said, ’If you see what I mean, Pooh,’ and Pooh said, ‘It’s just what I think myself, Piglet,’ and Piglet said, ‘But, on the other hand, Pooh, we must remember,’ and Pooh said, ‘Quite true, Piglet, although I had forgotten it for the moment.’’’  is shortened and translated into ‚‘‘begannen sie, sich in freundschaftlicher Weise über dies und das zu unterhalten. Und grade als sie’’ in German.

von Vicky Chan

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