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violence in literature for 
children and young adults

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image: Ciconia, Ciconia by Andrea Petrlik Huseinović

Western Balkans Children's Literature in English Translation


During my PhD research on the topic of Western Balkans children's literature translated into English, I have developed a pretty exhaustive list of books for children originally published in Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, and Montenegro, which have been translated into English. This study aims to increase the general knowledge of the translation trends of the English translation of children’s books from the Western Balkans and the images of the Western Balkans presented in and represented by these translations. For more on the material for this research and the resulting bibliography, check my project site.

Funding: RGC Hong Kong PhD Fellowship,

Supervisors: Prof. Martha Cheung and Dr Robert Neather


image: The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Children's War Diaries from Southeast Asia

This research looks at textual and visual representations of war in first-person narratives from young Asian authors, which have been published for children in English. The article especially looks at the effect of war on women and children through an analysis of two case studies of children’s diaries related to wars in Singapore and Vietnam, in terms of a) what these children’s first-person war narratives tell about what war is and what its consequences are; b) the tools the authors use to represent sensitive and traumatic events. 

Funding: HKBU Faculty Research Grants, Senior Research Assistant, PI: Prof. Kathleen Ahrens


Todorova, Marija. Forthcoming. “War Zones, Conflict and Violence in Translated Children’s Literature.” Routledge Handbook of Translation and Children’s Literature and Media.

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Using the testimonial response method, this article analyses three war diaries written by young girls, two from Bosnia and one from Singapore, published in the English language for young readers. The analysis also explores how war first-person literary narratives can also be used to promote and teach about the importance of peace.

Todorova, Marija and Kathleen Ahrens. 2023. "Children’s War Diaries as Agents of Peace." Bookbird: A Journal of International Children's Literature.

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"This volume addresses a regional gap in the treatment of children's literature in translation, expands our understanding of the topic of violence in children's literature, and critically engages with the traditional othering of the Balkans in the imagination (and politics) of the Global North."---Professor Brian James Baer, Kent State University, USA

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Todorova, Marija. 2022. The Translation of Violence in Children's Literature: Images from the Western Balkans. Oxon: Routledge.


Pucheng Wang & Zengtao Zhao (2023) The translation of violence in children’s literature: images from the Western Balkans, Perspectives, DOI: 10.1080/0907676X.2023.2227444

Zhenyong Jin & Hongqiang Zhu (2022) The Translation of Violence in Children’s Literature: Images from the Western Balkans, Critical Arts, DOI: 10.1080/02560046.2022.2155680

Book Talk: The translation of violence in children’s literature: images from the Western Balkans, TODOROVA, M. (Speaker), SHUTTLEWORTH, M. (Speaker), NEATHER, R. J. (Speaker), Brian Baer (Speaker), Hong Kong Baptist University Library, 27 May 2022. Photos and video are available here. 

Shan, Zhong (2022) Review of Todorova (2021): The Translation of Violence in Children’s Literature: Images from the Western Balkans. 

Babel, 68:3, 467 - 470. DOI: 10.1075/babel.00272.zho

Xin, Xiaoxiao (2022) The Translation of Violence in Children’s Literature: Images from the Wester Balkans. International Research in Children's Literature 15:3, 359-361. DOI: 10.3366/ircl.2022.0475


This article gives an outline of the stereotypical representation of the Balkans as a predominantly violent culture that legitimizes violence in the English translation of Odohohol and Cally Rascal by Matko Sršen, while the novel The Teacher of My Dreams by Miro Gavran portrays a more complex image of masculinity from the Western Balkans, promoting a depiction of an emotional, intellectual, and rational male.

Todorova, Marija. 2023. "Beyond (Hyper)Masculinity: Images of Boyhood in Croatian Young Adult Novels in English Translation." Boyhood Studies 15

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The article will look at the different modes of work for interpreters for refugees in emergency situations, especially in three settings: interpreters as quasi-mediators, shuttle interpreters, and as agents for empowering the vulnerable. 

Todorova, Marija. 2021. "Western Balkans in Translated Children’s Literature: Location Dependent Images of (Self)Representation." 

Translation Spaces 10(1), 94-114.

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The focus of this article is on the classic picturebook Ježeva kućica by Branko Ćopić that has just recently been translated into English and adapted for the stage. The analysis in this article will look at how two elements—the iconic and the performative—alongside the conventional verbal signs, recreate the image of home in this particular picturebook/musical. 

Todorova, Marija. 2018. "Into the Dark Woods: A Cross-cultural Re-imagination of Home." Bookbird: A Journal of International Children's Literature 56(4), 46-52.


Using three published young adult graphic novels based on refugee life stories and interviews with authors/illustrators, we hope to initiate a discussion about the need for humanising crises through personal narratives. Translation has been understood as interlingual but also intersemiotic and intercultural practice. 

Todorova, Marija and Zoran Poposki. 2022. "Translating Personal Narratives of Crisis in Graphic Novels" In Federico Federici and Sharon O'Brien (eds.) Translating Crises. London: Bloomsbury Academics.

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This chapter examines the translation of violence in picture books through the example of Hedgehog’s Home (2011), the English translation of Ježeva kućica (1949) by Branko Ćopić. I focus specifically on the representations of direct, war-related violence in the original picture book and its translation. The analysis is multimodal and examines the text, paratext, and illustrations of each work. I also look at a musical stage adaptation. 

Todorova, Marija. 2020. “Translating Violence in Children’s Picture Books: A view from the former Yugoslavia.” In Jan Van Coillie and Jack Mc Martin (eds.), Children’s Literature in Translation: Texts and Contexts, pp. 249-262. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

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This article explores child-authored autobiographical writing of war trauma compromisingly mediated by adult agents (such as editors, illustrators, and translators), who add their own voices and perspectives in the process of commercial publication. The analysis focuses on Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo (1995).

Todorova, Marija. 2017. "Children’s Voices from War Zones: Muted by Adult Mediation." Bookbird: A Journal of International Children's Literature 55(2), 20-27.

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