When Alba Clarke, then a Shore seventh grader, expressed an interest in translation last spring, her Spanish teacher Pamela Torres suggested she consider The Different Dragon, a children’s bedtime story by Jennifer Bryan about a curious young boy who helps one of his two moms create a magical tale.
Born in Spain, Clarke needed a challenge, says Torres, and the school offered the seventh grader the opportunity to work one-on-one with her teacher during her regularly scheduled Spanish classes. “She and I brainstormed ideas that would give Alba the chance to use the Spanish she already knew and propel her learning. I brought back Jennifer Bryan’s book from the library for Alba to take home and read, and when she came back to school excited about the translation project, I emailed the author to pitch the idea.”
Says author Bryan, “Over the years many people have asked about creating a Spanish version of The Different Dragon” because of its whimsical and kid-friendly story about a family with two moms. “Today, Alba Clarke is my hero. Her desire to translate the book, and her teacher’s willingness to support that effort, finally brought the Spanish version to life.” El Dragón Diferente, featuring Clarke’s translation and illustrations by Danamarie Hosler, was published in August by Two Lives Publishing.
Clarke and Torres worked closely with the language of the story to find words that honored the intention of the original. Clarke is very aware of the transformative power of literature. She says, “The importance of a translated children’s story like The Different Dragon is immense. I hope El Dragón Diferente will bring messages of gay rights and the new roles of children to a very eager Spain.”
Now an eighth grader at Shore, Clarke is also an accomplished singer and performer, and loves reading, writing, listening to Ted Talks, and talking about ideas.