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Since "Harry Potter" JK Rowling has not written such a mesmerizing children's book - Walla! culture


With a lot of charm and resemblance to classic works, "Jack and the Christmas Pig" is an overwhelming, exciting book full of positive messages for children

Since "Harry Potter" JK Rowling has not written such a mesmerizing children's book

With a lot of charm and resemblance to classic works, "Jack and the Christmas Pig" is a sweeping, exciting book full of positive messages for children.

And yet, if every other author had signed the book's cover, no Israeli publisher would have bothered to translate a children's book about the magic of Christmas.

Living Room Fellow


Thursday, 25 November 2021, 07:58 Updated: 08:08

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Magnifying Glass.

Rowling (Photo: GettyImages)

In a fascinating article published on this site on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the release of the first book in the "Harry Potter" series, Ilan Kaprov recounts the complex life story of JK Rowling until she became the most successful writer in human history. Among the many justified superlatives thrown at the article, one fact was almost lost: "Until the publication of 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone', children's books did not receive much criticism in the UK. How amazing to think of it, that until Rowling came along, we were content to just know that children's books exist. Their "thinness detra" was to be a children's book.

Rowling is today estimated to be worth more than $ 1 billion. It is important to remember that she did not make her capital from a good investment in cryptocurrencies or groundbreaking technological developments. Every cent she has earned in the last 25 years has come from her rare talent for writing children's books. The fact that from now on and forever her entire book will stand under a magnifying glass of reviews and analyzes is a small price she will have to pay.

Indeed, Rowling's new book "Jack and the Christmas Pig" is a children's book of the kind that 25 years ago literary critics would not have bothered to waste time on.

This does not mean God forbid that he is bad, but rather that there is some silly feeling in his literary analysis.

The story is quite simple, as a children's story is supposed to be: a 7-year-old boy loses his favorite pig doll, and through the magic of Christmas goes out with a replacement pig doll to look for her in "Lost Land", where all the things lost to humans over the years reach.

Jack has a limited time - until the end of Christmas - to save his "best friend" from the jaws of the "loser", the grinder of the lost toys.

Spoiler: There's a happy ending.


This is a children's story, what did you think?

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happy ending.

Book cover (Photo: Yachz)

It is an excellent story, written by an artist, with a modern and sympathetic frame story about two stepbrothers who suffer from their parents' choices. The fantasy world that Rowling creates into this sad universe is complex and full of twists, including some really surprising and exciting ones towards the end. But the truth must be told: probably if the book had been written by any other children's author, and the name "JK Rowling" had not been smeared with gold letters (literally) on the cover of the book, there was no chance you would be reading a review of it right now.

To sharpen the claim, it can be said with a fairly high degree of certainty that if it had not been written by Rowling, no Israeli publishing house would have bothered to translate a book about a pig (!) Who goes on a magical Christmas adventure (!!) in a story that can be seen as a clear analogy. Of Jesus (!!!).

If you go to the bookstore closest to your home and ask to buy Charles Dickens' "Christmas carol," one of the most beloved and best-selling books since the invention of printmaking, you will surely get puzzled looks. Although the novella was translated into Hebrew in 1956 as part of an anthology of British stories, it has since disappeared from print and become a collector's item. "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas", one of the favorites in Dr. Suss' books, was not translated into Hebrew until 2018, more than 60 years after it was published, and that too only thanks to a successful animated film that was released in Israel. Choose to give it the name "The Grinch," and omit the words "Christmas" from the cover.

And that makes sense. Although we are part of the small global village, the children of Israel still do not celebrate Christmas, and stories in the spirit of the holiday do not speak to the average Israeli reader. But apparently Rowling's charm (which is also expressed in the commercial potential) is greater than the Israeli anxiety about anything that smells of gentile holidays, and here not only has the book been translated, but the words "Christmas" have remained largely on the book's cover.

The person who translated the book into Hebrew is Gili Bar-Hillel Samu.

An almost obvious choice, in light of the fact that, among other things, she translated all the "Harry Potter" books into Hebrew and also made the children of Israel fall in love with Rowling's library.

The Hebrew version is readable and fluent as expected, although it is difficult to ignore a few jarring translation choices.

For example, the choice to turn the magical and ambiguous name "Land of the Lost" into the dry and monotonous "Land of Lost" feels streaked.

Another puzzling choice is the choice of the name "the loser" for the menacing entity that rules the land of the lost with a heavy hand, despite its simple English name: The Loser.

It seems that every translation except the "loser" does injustice to the author's original intention.

On the other hand, the translation does manage to cope nicely (in fact, already in the first word of the book) with English language distortions of toddlers.

Can I compare?

Harry Potter (Photo: Warner Bros.)

There are quite a few allegations that can be raised against the book. First, it is similar to quite a few stories we are already familiar with. Dolls and toys that are resurrected while no one sees? We've seen it in four "Toy Story" movies, and even before that in a thousand versions of "The Nutcracker." Not to mention the cliché of "The Magic of Christmas" about to expire at midnight, and the boy shrinking to a miniature size, familiar to us from "Alice in Wonderland." And in general, the wandering journey that Jack and the Pig go through in Lost Land also feels like a homage to literary classics. From Goethe's Faust, through Dante's 'Divine Comedy' to Homer's Iliad, with a dripping seasoning on the verge of the religious sacrifice of the New Testament style.

But the truth?

The children will not pay attention to all this at all, it is doubtful that the tired parents who will read the book to them will notice the resemblance between "The Lost Lair" and Hades' kingdom from Greek mythology, just as they will not notice the resemblance between "Favorite Island" and Homer's Elysium fields.

Rowling weaves all of these illusions naturally into the text, in a way that does not detract from the flow of the story.

What's really impressive is that it makes it all seem so simple.

Makes everything look simple.

Rowling with "Harry Potter" (Photo: GettyImages)

The inside cover of the book states that Rowling is "one of the greatest storytellers in the world" and it is hard to argue with that fact after half a billion of her books were sold in dozens of languages ​​around the world. Is it possible to compare the new book to the "Harry Potter" books? Certainly not, but that's just because she's always set herself so high in the past.

At the back of the book you will see Jim Field's beautiful color illustration showing the shrunken Jack hiding from his grandparents' dog. A rather likable idea, but clearly not original, since it has already been executed in "Honey, the kids have shrunk." It sucks a bit, because from the woman who invented the Quidditch game out of nowhere there is an expectation of a minimum of creativity that does not appear in this book.

And yet, the very comparison is not fair at all.

Just as we do not judge every new Paul McCartney album compared to "Sergeant Pepper," so we should not judge every new JK Rowling book compared to "The Prisoner of Azkaban."

If you look closely at "Jack and the Christmas Pig" you will find a fantastic tale sweet and full of positive messages for children in the spirit of the time, in mesmerizing language and fluent translation that can not stop reading.

A real Hanukkah miracle.

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Source: walla

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