Monday, November 2, 2015


Today's First Impressions is a bit different. BROTHER WOLF is an MG contemporary novel originally released in Portugal. The author is Carla Maria de Almeida and the illustrator is António Jorge Gonçalves. The novel is now being translated into English by Lyn Miller-Lachman. 

Lyn states, "Along with writing my own fiction, I'm a translator of children's books (and other materials) from Portuguese to English. I'm applying for a grant, due November 16th, to translate a novel for older middle grade readers by the Portuguese author and journalist Carla Maia de Almeida titled Irmão Lobo (Brother Wolf). I'm somewhat limited in how much I can change the original text, but there are ways I can tweak it to appeal to both the grant committee and tween readers, so I'm looking for suggestions."


I once believed I was madly in love with Kalkitos. But that couldn’t be, because I was eight years old at the time and Kalkitos was the same age as Fossil, my much-older brother. He could have almost been my father, and something about it didn’t seem right. Actually, a lot of things didn’t seem right.

First of all, according to Blanche, I was the one born “out of time.” I began to believe this before I could put the feeling into words. I’m fifteen now and almost ready to start my own life, but I still don’t understand all the things that happened to me.

When I was eight years old, time was the microwave oven’s red numbers, always changing and blinking in the dark kitchen.

Time was Blanche running around like a crazed chicken, beginning at daybreak when she woke me and helped me get ready for school. She would glance at her cellphone and say, We don’t have time right now. We don’t have time. She’d keep running throughout breakfast, leaving crumbs of toast all over the floor like Hansel and Gretel. The crumbs never led us to a house of chocolate, and the next day they were sucked up by the vacuum cleaner.

Cold, rain, sunshine—those were the seasons of time. Jackets, boots, hats, gloves, scarves, sandals, t-shirts, shorts—all ways of dressing for the seasons. I understood. It was easy to figure out.

The same way, when Grizzly Bear sat on the sofa in front of the television and said between clenched teeth, “We are living in ungovernable times,” I knew whether this was good or bad by the way he changed the channel. Bored, zap. Annoyed, zap, zap. Enraged or worse, zap, zap, zap.

Now, I know. I wasn’t born out of time. I simply didn’t understand.

Because in the end, I went to school like the other kids, I wore sandals in summer and a hat when it turned bitter cold. I had a home, like all the kids. In this home lived Blanche, Grizzly Bear, Fossil, and Miss Kitty—my family. My parents and my older brother and sister. It wasn’t possible that they all lived in time and I lived outside of time.
But there were things that didn’t seem right.


First off, I love the way time is described. From the seasons to the crumbs, the descriptions are stunning.

I'm not exactly sure what Lyn is able to change here, but these are the things that jump out at me.

- Fossil, I'd like to see a definite age instead of "much-older."
- The line, "I'm fifteen now ..." seems out of place. If it can be cut, the line before it, "I began to believe this ..." is a much better lead in to the discussion about time. Her age can be inserted later into the line, "Now, I know."
- "I simply didn't understand." What didn't she understand?

Other than that, I feel like it's pretty well polished. If I picked up this book, I would keep reading simply because of the lyrical writing. 

Thank you, Lyn, for bringing this challenge to us this month. You can visit Lyn's website at And here's a piece on Irmão Lobo:

Make sure to head over to both Mainewords and Dianne's blog to see their thoughts on BROTHER WOLF.


Lyn Miller-Lachmann said...

Thank you for having me, Krystalyn, and for the advice! I'm definitely tweaking those sentences. I'm also honored that you said you'd keep reading because of the lyrical writing, because it's the translator's responsibility to capture the voice of the original. Carla's writing is indeed lyrical, but there's no guarantee that a translation captures that, and a word-for-word translation probably won't. Nor would a translator imposing her or his voice on the original. My own voice is quite different from Carla's, but when I read the novel in Portuguese I fell in love both with Carla's writing and with the story itself.

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