Tania Czajka has grand plans to publish a children’s book, Lapin Is Hungry, taking what she has learned from puppetry and transform it into a different type of story.
The Fountain spoke with Tania about this transition, how she is hoping to fund this project and what drove her to adapt her character into book form.
TF: With a background in children’s puppetry, you have moved into picture book writing, taking your characters to a more 2 dimensional form. How has this transition been?
After ten years of writing stories about Lapin and his friends for the theatre, making the jump to the picture book was a natural progression for me and Olivier, the illustrator who is also the co-creator of the characters.
Writing for a children’s book is of course very different to theatre writing. But it is something I love doing since I was little so I find this new challenge very, very exciting!
TF: What inspired you to move from mediums and decide to take the puppets and insert them into a children’s book?
The true inspiration was the response Lapin and his friends get from the audiences. It has been overwhelmingly positive over the years with children wanting to take Lapin home, covering him with kisses and giving him hugs, parents telling me their children keep the photos of the characters on their bedroom walls for years and teachers planning their lessons using some of the shows’ material.
Lapin has many little and grown up fans! With the book, they will be able to take Lapin’s French world at home or in classrooms.
TF: Are you taking your bilingual way of writing to the book as well allowing pre-school children to engage with the French language?
Yes! Like the shows, the book is written in English and French and, unlike typical bilingual children’s books, has no direct translation because it is not needed.
The story is narrated in English by the character Tania, who introduces her garden, where her animal friends live. And the animals speak very simple French, which is understood through the illustrations.
So the French language is weaved into the story in a natural way, which makes the book very accessible to non-French speakers and young children. The book also includes a short illustrated glossary.
TF: And you also have an audio version planned?
Yes! Some French sounds are quite tricky for British people, as they don’t exist in the English language. An audio version of the story is necessary to help with the pronunciation. It will be a professional recording of my voice, telling the whole story and using different intonations for each character. So it might also inspire children and adults to try out various voices when reading the book themselves.
From working with children, I know that associating a particular voice or way speaking with a character helps memorising the French words. The audio version will be sent to whoever buys the book.
TF: What is your plan for funding these ambitious plans?
We are currently crowdfunding to raise the funds we need to make the Lapin Is Hungry book a reality.
So far, we have had very generous donations and pledges as well as extremely positive feedback and encouragement from parents, teachers and even language experts and researchers.
But there is still a long way to go to reach our target before the end of the campaign on the 28th November. So I am very grateful to you all for reading this article. Please take a few more minutes to check our Crowdfunder page here.
And pledge a few pounds if you can. I can’t stress enough the uniqueness of this book. Bilingual and accessible stories don’t exist. Not like this one. Merci!
Photo courtesy of Albie Clark and illustration courtesy of Robbygraphics.