Visiting the Marantz Collection at Kent State University, Ohio

In August/September 2016, I had the very good fortune to visit the Marantz Picturebook Collection at Kent State University in Ohio as their research fellow. My project was examining the dual language picturebooks in the collection, and there were about 250 of those. Most of them were Spanish-English, but there was also some indigenous languages (and English) such as Cree, Inuktituk, Navajo and Cherokee, as well as Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Swahili, German, and even a Māori language dual language picturebook called Kei hea te taniwha?. It was very interesting seeing the different techniques used to present the two languages. Often they were presented on the same side of the page, usually English first; and some used other techniques, like Kei hea to taniwha? Which was a folding book with the Māori text on one side, and the English text on the other when you flipped it over. The illustrations were identical.

It’s interesting to consider the purpose of bilingual books and who they are written for and used by. In New Zealand we tend not to have both languages on the same page. Either two versions of the books are simultaneously published (Huia Press does this for many new picturebooks- see Haka by Patricia Grace from this year’s Book Awards), or one language comes on the first so many pages, and then the other language is at the back, usually on fewer pages. Another award winner from the Book Awards called Hush (by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Bruce Potter) does this with English and full colour illustrations first, and then Māori with more text on fewer pages and reduced illustrations in the second section of the book.