Behind the scene: El Cuento de Hermana Sol y Hermana Luna.

It takes a team to publish a book and I thought it would be nice to share with readers the story behind the scene on this bilingual book, El Cuento de Hermana Sol y Herman Luna. Published in 2018, The Story of Sister Sun and Sister Moon is the original, English version of this story. In fact, Kathleen Renninger, a local graphic artist, modified the original book to allow room for the upcoming Spanish version. So, I have always wanted this book to have a bilingual version. The challenge was finding a translator and having a graphic artist to modify the original version by adding the Spanish to an existing file.

My Spanish is not strong and translating a book in this beautiful language had to be entrusted to someone who was not only bilingual but a perfectionist. Think about this; how am I to really know if the translation is correct? My Spanish is…in the process let’s say. Beginning where I knew there would be integrity, I reached out to Ellen Green, a very talented illustrator who helped with one of the most beautiful books I have, The Rescue of Princess Topaz. Ellen referred me to an associate of hers in Hagerstown who could help with finding a translator. This introduction leads me to Jay Trovato. The minute I met this fellow, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. And, to my good fortune, Jay was preparing for a journey to Columbia, where he would consult with a dear friend of his that is native to that area. “Amazing,” I thought, “to find Jay and have him take my book to Columbia where his friend, Paola Ruiz Rodriguez, a professor at Columbia University, will both work on my book. Wow, I’m so lucky!” It’s a special project because The Story of Sister Sun and Sister Moon is a rhyming book in its English version and, has meaning to the story that could be lost in translation. It’s a short book but packs a powerful message; we are all needed in this world and we all have equal value regardless of who we are. Paola provided exactly what this project needed. Native to Columbia, her education and upbringing gave her a view of the book that only a Spanish speaking person, born into that language. And, Paola is fluent in English so she helped Jay to keep the message of this story while translating it into Spanish using terms and phrases that Latino people will relate too. No, there was no possibility of making the Spanish version rhyme, but we all knew that going into this work. So, I was blessed to have two, bilingual perfectionists on the job!

After Jay returned from Columbia, he emailed me the translation. I reached out to Kathleen Renninger to see if time allowed her work to put the Spanish words into the book. Sometimes, Kathy has over projects going on, and I understand that I might have to wait for her to have time. But, again, l am lucky because Kathy was between projects so she had time. She worked on the original version of that book and helped with my very first children’s book, My Bumblebee and Me. Always the perfectionists, she had Jay look at every page of El Cuento, to assure it was exactly as it should be. And, when we hit snags, we all worked it out. Near the end, we realized the back of the book hadn’t been translated. But, they worked closely to assure it was right. Back and forth on the computer to get it perfect!

We went to “proof’ and everything looked great but, then COVID19 hit, and hit hard. The world shut down and frankly, no one cared about another book from Author Sue James. I ordered some copies then, reached out to my team, Jay and Kathy to talk about us getting together to celebrate our work. Months pass, and finally, we have been able to do so.

As you can see, it takes a team to put a book together. A team that is giving, unassuming, does not have a big ego, (the author included), and who understand it’s nothing personal when there is a delay or problem. It’s just how it goes. I was very fortunate to have Kathy, Jay, and Paola on my team for this book. Truly, it was a joyful experience like none other and I am forever grateful to them all.