PEN Afrikaans and Human & Rousseau collaborate on an international project aimed at increasing a love of reading

Moomin Characters Ltd has been working with PEN International since 2018 to get the message of The Invisible Child to different countries and translated into their respective languages. The goal of the project is to instigate a love of reading and to encourage critical thinking about inclusivity and many other themes that touch on gender discrimination.

Tove Jansson’s short story, The Invisible Child, is especially well-known as one that exemplifies these values. In this magical story, a frightened and literally invisible little girl is taken in by the Moomin family. With time, she finds her voice again and finds her place in the world thanks to the love she receives in the Moomin house. The importance of inclusivity, tolerance, and respect continues to be important themes in a world where children and especially little girls often feel unsafe and powerless. The current situation in South Africa and the world, where gender-based violence and discrimination is a daily occurrence, makes this story specifically relevant in 2023.

The Afrikaans translation was done by the renowned translator and author, Kobus Geldenhuys. He was also involved with the Moomin TV series at the SABC and describes it as an honour to work with Jansson’s text again.

The isiXhosa translation was done by Dr Xolisa Guzula, an Education lecturer at the University of Cape Town.  Dr Guzula is also an author and translator of children’s literature and creator of bilingual educational material for educators. She describes this book as “a story that shows how love can give a child self-confidence and freedom”.

Human & Rousseau and PEN Afrikaans are elated to announce that the books are now locally available in both Afrikaans and isiXhosa. We believe that this universal story will speak to every child and that everyone has a right to be treated with respect and dignity.

The story has already been translated and published in many African countries including Zimbabwe, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Morocco. The partnership is based on the organisations’ shared values and goals.