A few weeks ago my Arabic teacher assigned us to each write a short story. I decided to write, illustrate, and a bind a children’s book because it was more fun than doing French Diction transcription. Here’s a few pages–I uploaded the entire story here, with English translations. This was homework, so there are notes from my wonderful professor’s corrections. As noted below, the spelling, grammar, and vocabulary are those of a 6 year old.
Why a children’s story? When people ask how well I speak Arabic, I usually say: “I know enough to have a really good conversation with a 6 year old, and navigate roughly as an adult.” With this level of understanding, I cannot express complex ideas with any amount of subtlety. Case in point: in class today, we were discussing the Arab Spring. My professor asked what caused them. A direct translation of what I said was: “The economy in the Middle East is hard for youths and the youths wanted democracy not dictatorships.”
While arguing about current politics is my favorite way to use my new language, my current vocabulary better prepares me to tell children’s stories about the land frog who bumps his nose on things and envies his cat-friend’s whiskers. In addition to beating sufficient vocabulary into my brain to allow me to express more complicated political opinions, I enjoy expressing myself in a medium where delicate parsing is not necessary. Thus, the frog and cat story. Enjoy the samples.
Note: why is the grandmother a duck? Because I am capable of drawing 3 animals: ducks, cats, and (sort of) frogs. Thus, all stories with animals will be about those animals. Why is she wearing spectacles? Because she’s wise.
“Coming to a great mountain, she finds an old woman playing with a golden apple. She asks if she knows the way to the castle east of the sun and west of the moon. The old woman cannot tell her, but lends her a horse to reach a neighbor who might know, and gives her the apple. The neighbor is sitting outside another mountain, with a golden carding-comb. She, also, does not know the way to the castle east of the sun and west of the moon, but lends her a horse to reach a neighbor who might know, and gives her the carding-comb. The third neighbor has a golden spinning wheel. She, also, does not know the way to the castle east of the sun and west of the moon, but lends her a horse to reach the East Wind and gives her the spinning wheel.
The East Wind has never been to the castle east of the sun and west of the moon, but his brother the West Wind might have, being stronger. He takes her to the West Wind. The West Wind does the same, bringing her to the South Wind; the South Wind does the same, bringing her to the North Wind.
The North Wind reports that he once blew an aspen leaf there, and was exhausted after, but he will take her if she really wants to go. She does, and so he does.”–Synopsis of part of the Norwegian folk tale, “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.”