Translated American Children’s Novel Presented in Almaty

“Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie,” a book aimed at children and young teenagers by American author Jordan Sonnenblick, was presented in the Sapargali Begalin State Children’s Library in Almaty, according to Today website.


Potential readers at the launch of “Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie” in Almaty. Photo:

“We will estimate readers’ reaction to American literature. It would be great if Kazakh novels, tales and other pieces of art are translated to English,” said U.S. Consulate General Public Affairs Officer Charles Martin. As he greeted visitors to the event, Martin noted the importance of such cultural exchanges between the two peoples.

An English teacher and former student of author Frank McCourt, Sonnenblick was inspired to write the novel by the real-life story of one of his pupils. The book is about 13-year-old Steven, who has a totally normal life: he plays drums in jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in his school and is constantly annoyed by his 5-year-old brother, Jeffrey. But Steven’s world is turned upside down when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia. He is forced to deal with his brother’s illness and his parents’ attempts to keep the family in one piece. “Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie” contains humour and devastating realities and narrates a year in the life of the family in hard times, according to Amazon’s website.

Kazakh actor and protagonist of the movie “Reketir” Sayat Issembayev read some parts of the book, containing funny and tragic moments.

Book translator, international journalist and politologist Mukhtar Sengirbai spoke about the time he discussed the future translation of the book with children’s library director Sofiya Rayeva. He noted she was interested in his family. Sengirbai mentioned that Rayeva considered only a man with children could accurately translate this book.

“It is necessary to know children’s psychology, to know the problems in his life and understand who helps him in hard times,” she said.

Children discuss the newly translated book at the launch.

Children discuss the newly translated book at the launch. Photo

Sengirbai discussed Jeffrey’s victory over cancer, both biological and psychological, and the issues in Steven’s life, who has a lot of dilemmas like many thousands of other teenagers. He also spoke about the illness, feelings and great trial for the whole family. He added it was very difficult to translate slang terms from English to Kazakh.

Three girls, Adelina, Yana and Aigerim, talked about the book after reading it in English. They explained that the story is not only very interesting for children and teenagers, but it is very useful for their parents, too, because it helps to understand the inward kid. The girls felt the story described a lot of typical teenage problems, such as looking after younger children, the requirements of parents to act as adults and others.

The U.S. Consulate General book translation project has existed for five years and five stories by famous American writers have already been transcribed. Martin stated he hopes one more book will be translated into Kazakh in the next year.

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