Published On: Wed, Nov 9th, 2011

New Kituwah working on developing Charlotte’s Web into Cherokee language book

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

                The New Kituwah Academy is currently working on a solution to a problem.  Children are learning to read in the Cherokee language.  That is a wonderful thing, but it does create a problem.  As their reading levels increase, they need books to read and there aren’t many. 

                The school needs chapter books.

                So, they’re making their own. 

                “I chose Charlotte’s Web to be the first children’s chapter book to be translated because it is a well-written and illustrated classic,” said Bo Lossiah, curriculum specialist at the Academy.  “It is a book for all age groups that speaks to us about discrimination, kindness, the natural process of death and friendship.” 

                Charlotte’s Web will be translated into the Cherokee language for the students.  It is planned that a total of 201 copies of the book be printed and the book will not be sold. 

                 “I would like to thank all those at The E.B. White Estate (author), The Garth Williams Estate (illustrator), Harper Collins Publishers and International Creative Management that helped us on this project.” 

                Renissa Walker, Kituwah Preservation and Education program manager, commented, “This project was prompted by two involved parents, Esther and Bo Taylor.  They were concerned, and as advocates for the program, spoke to the importance of chapter books for the second grade.  We began immediately working towards meeting the needs of the children.”

 

The New Kituwah Academy is working on translating the children's classic Charlotte's Web into the Cherokee syllbary. Shown above is an example of one of Charlotte's webs in the syllbary. (Illustration by Billie Jo Rich from original work by Garth Williams)

                 “What started out as our basic translation project grew into something grander and very important and significant for us.  We are ecstatic to have the gained the right from the estate of E.B. White and the illustrator to officially and legally reprint Charlotte’s Web in the Cherokee syllabary.  We are honored and look forward to more and bigger projects for our students.  We are very hopeful that the next project will be gaining the movie rights to dub over the English for the children!”

                Lossiah said the actual translation of the book is being addressed.  “Myrtle (Driver) will start translation next week.  It will take a few months.  The editing process is just as time-consuming as the translation.  The entire book will be written in Syllabary with the exceptions of the publishing credits, the name of the author, E.B. White, and the name of the illustrator, Garth Williams.” 

                With permission granted to use the original illustrations in the book, some changes will have to be made. 

                 Lossiah related that Charlotte will write her messages in the Cherokee syllabary.  Billie Jo Rich will be doing the illustrations for the syllabary for Charlotte’s webs throughout the book.   

                “It is my hope that one day our children will author and illustrate a story of their own,” said Lossiah.  “I can only hope that having a classic of this caliber might inspire someone.” 

                Walked added, “We encourage anyone interested in assisting us with book translation, illustration or just being a pair of hands to give us a call.  Everything that our children need must be made and we are hundreds of years behind.  All help is welcome.”

                Charlotte’s Web was originally published in 1952 and was a Newberry Honors Book in 1953.  According to bibliodyssey online, the book was named the best-selling children’s paperback of all time as of 2000 by Publisher’s Weekly.

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