I made it! It’s May 31st, the end of the Blogathon. I’ve learnt a lot, discovered some lovely new blogs to follow and had fun along the way. I hope you’ve also enjoyed reading my children’s books in translation series, and here’s one more recommendation to round it off…
I was unexpectedly thrilled when browsing through the Outside In World website to rediscover Fattypuffs and Thinifers by André Maurois (French title: Patapoufs et Filifers). It’s a story I read as a child, from the same rather battered copy that my Dad read in his childhood. Out of print for years, it was reissued in 2000 by Jane Nissen Books, translated by Norman Denny. It never occured to me that it was a translation then, but now it is clearly incredibly French!
It tells the story of two boys, one fat and one thin, who find their way into an underground world divided between two warring nations – the Fattypuffs and the Thinifers. Whether or not it is intended as an allegory of Franco-German relations, it has a lot to teach about tolerance, jingoism, stereotyping and the futility of war – written in 1930, it is clearly informed by the First World War.
Now I know it’s still available, I really am going to have to track a copy down – I imagine the copy I remember is long lost, but I will enquire! An abiding childhood memory is of making Fattypuff and Thinifer footprints on the beach by walking on my heels and digging in the edge of a spade. (It was my Dad who started it, so maybe he did that as a child too…) And that’s what a good book does – it sticks in your head, gets passed on and creates new worlds, new games.