Best and worst of bilingual Indonesian picture books

It’s wonderful to live in Indonesia and be able to pick up a new bilingual book at a bookshop whenever the mood takes me. It’s not that easy, however, to find quality books where the English is correct, the story is interesting to both the children and me, and, one of the more important points, has some Indonesian context. To start with, let’s take a look at some of the popular examples of bilingual books.

Indonesian bilingual picture booksOne series of good quality bilingual books come from Erlangga for Kids and includes Go to Sleep You Crazy Sheep, and Quiet! As they were written in English the language in English is impeccable and the Indonesian translation seems very good. Unfortunately, the rhyme of the You Crazy Sheep is not able to be carried across, making it nicer to be read in English.

Published by Erlangga for Kids and first published by Little Tiger Press in the UK.

Fairy book in IndonesianThe Fairies tell us about Empathy is part of another series which is similar but it seems the original language for the story was Spanish which possibly makes the Indonesian a translation of the English translation. The English feels a little clunky though it is nice to see a children’s book trying to tackle a difficult but important concept like empathy.

Published by Eaststar Adhi Citra (first published in Spain by Gemser Publications).

 

Dora the Explorer along with many, many other TV characters have made their way into Indonesian language and bilingual books for children. Dora in IndonesianDora is an interesting example as, while it restricts the Indonesian translation to mostly Indonesian, it still introduces a few Spanish words. So you end up with things like ‘Hola! Namaku Dora.’ The language used seems pretty spot on. If you had a Dora DVD that could play in Indonesian this could help reinforce some of the terms used, eg. Rancel for Backpack.

Dora is published by PT Citra Sastra Media in Indonesia.

So far these are nothing out of the ordinary as they are all books you could find in plenty of countries that have simply been been translated into Indonesian. Where it gets interesting is when we look at books published first in Indonesia. You’ll see a big range of subject matter and quality in my next post.

All the books reviewed here were found in Ganesha Bookshops or Gramedia.

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Twelve Days of a Bali Christmas

Here it is, Christmas again. Looking back over the year, it seems Bali has thrown up the best and worst of what this beautiful island has to offer. But from dengue to surf lessons, and from baby spitting cobras in our yard to some of the best nasi campur tasted ever, Bali still remains our true love.

Christmas in BaliTwelve Days of a Bali Christmas

by Reena Balding
Sung to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a mosquito that carries dengue.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
2  gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
3 surfboards
2 gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
4 swimming pools
3 surfboards
2 gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

Tropical treats for SantaOn the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
5 COLD BINTANGS
4 swimming pools
3 surfboards.
2 gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

On the six day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
6 geckos barking
5 COLD BINTANGS
4 swimming pools
3 surfboards
2 gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
7 cobras spitting
6 geckos barking
5 COLD BINTANGS
4 swimming pools
3 surfboards
2 gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
8 strong mojitos
7 cobras spitting
6 geckos barking
5 COLD BINTANGS
A Bali Christmas4 swimming pools
3 surfboards
2 gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
9 Bali bellies
8 strong mojitos
7 cobras spitting
6 geckos barking
5 COLD BINTANGS
4 swimming pools
3 surfboards
2 gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
10 Nasi campur
9 Bali bellies
8 strong mojitos
7 cobras spitting
6 geckos barking
5 COLD BINTANGS
4 swimming pools
3 surfboards
2 gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
Christmas in the tropics11 roosters crowing
10 Nasi campur
9 Bali bellies
8 strong mojitos
7 cobras spitting
6 geckos barking
5 COLD BINTANGS
4 swimming pools
3 surfboards
2 gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
12 upacaras
11 roosters crowing
10 Nasi campur
9 Bali bellies
8 strong mojitos
7 cobras spitting
6 geckos barking
5 COLD BINTANGS
4 swimming pools
3 surfboards
2 gamelans
‘n a mosquito that carries dengue.

TRANSLATION NOTE:
upacara = ceremony
Nasi Campur = mix of delicious Balinese food with rice

Ugh! Ular! It’s snake season in Bali

It’s not uncommon at all to have a fear of snakes. The word alone can hiss out from the lips –  ‘ssssnake’ – and can bring shivers down your spine. In Indonesian the word is not quite so evocative – ular. It almost sounds like a perky French phrase. ‘Ooh la!’ But in a pinch I can imagine someone running away, waving their arms in the air, shrieking ‘ulaaar!’

Third baby spitting cobra caught, out the front of our houseIn Balinese the word is lipi. There is no way I can imagine lipi to be a scary word. It has such a friendly sound, like a name for a guinea pig. Or a snail, as in, ‘Oh no, I just trod on a lipi.’

But what is in a name? They are still the same animal in any language, though of course we see them differently the way they are named. We have had five snake sightings in our yard in Sanur in the past three weeks. The first was killed, one got away, and three others were caught. When I saw the small dead snake I was concerned. But not as alarmed as when the three that were captured were identified as baby Spitting Cobras. Cobras just sounds like bad news in English. And ones that spit must be far worse!

My husband's finger next to the baby spitting cobra gives it some scale.

In Indonesian, however, Ular Sendok (Spoon Snake) doesn’t really inspire terrifying images of hooded cobras rearing up preparing to strike. And the Balinese name, Lipi Oh, even less so.

Don’t panic – call an expert

I’ve since learnt a lot about snakes in Bali and discovered that we have had one of the most dangerous snakes coming through our yard in recent weeks. There are around 40 types of snakes in Bali and only six are identified as highly venomous and potentially dangerous to people. Of these, only four are common and only two often found in the southern Bali built up areas – and the other one usually stays in trees. So we have been unlucky.

Expert advice from Ron Lilley suggests they are coming from the snake haven that is the empty block next door and using our yard as a thoroughfare. Extensive cleaning up of bamboo clumps and leaf litter is now underway as is blocking drains, cracks and mystery holes in the ground.

But as Peter, a volunteer from Bali Reptile Rescue, said, “when you live in the tropics expect to get snakes.”

Bali Reptile Rescue free poster about snakes in BaliAdvice from both these snake experts includes: it’s no use to spread sulphur everywhere – too much of that yellow powder will only kill your lawn. It is advisable to teach the kids what to do if they see a snake (stand still, yell out and walk backwards keeping your eye on the snake). And keep the yard so tidy it offers little cover for snakes to visit. Also, be particularly alert in the beginning of the wet season as that is when baby cobras are hatching and start looking for frogs to eat. Rain means more frogs which means more snakes.

Python peril

Other snakes, though, prefer to live off mice and rats, especially pythons. And quite a few large specimens have been caught in Sanur in recent years. “It’s been a good period for snakes – or bad – depending on your point of view,” said Ron. According to Ron, pythons live all around us unnoticed because they are feeding on rats. But it is when they become big enough for cats and dogs to start disappearing that people notice and call in a snake catcher.

Only a few months ago Ron was at our block, this time to remove a three-metre long python in the roof of our neighbour’s house. It hadn’t been there long, but long enough for two cats to go missing, presumed eaten. Our neighbours know exactly how long the snake had been there because later, their other neighbours told them they had seen the snake going onto their roof. But neglected to tell them! How does someone not go and immediately tell their neighbour this!?

This snake was even longer than the 2.5-metre long reticulated python found in our own ceiling, the year before we moved in. It looked pretty cosy in our ceiling cavity, above the master bedroom ensuite, and there was speculation it had been busily eating its way through the rodent population of the house before the smell eventually attracted some notice.

Man-killer

This python, caught just near my friend’s house a few kilometres from the Hyatt in Sanur some months later, is believed to have been the snake resonsible.

This python, caught just near my friend’s house a few kilometres from the Hyatt in Sanur some months later, is believed to have been the snake resonsible.

The most famous python caught in Bali in recent years would have to be the 4.5-metre-long one that killed a man near the Hyatt Hotel in Sanur (the hotel is empty while it undergoes renovation). Sadly, it seems it was a desire to pose for a photo that saw Ambar Arianto Mulyo wrap the snake (believed dead) around his neck. As quickly became obvious, the python wasn’t dead, and revived suddenly to break his neck. A shocking example of how it is people’s actions that usually cause injury from snakes.

On the other hand, a friend’s mother woke up in her house in the backblocks of Surabaya one day with a snake sleeping beside her. She didn’t panic and the snake simply left.

Now that I am more educated about snakes, I’m going to try and think more like a Hindu Balinese. Snakes have their place and they are all going about their business that usually has nothing to do with us. It may even be possible to be reincarnated as a snake. As long as it is not a poisonous snake that could bite my children if they were unlucky enough to stand on it, I will be sanguine. Just another lipi passing through? Ok. Selamat jalan.

Contacts for snake catchers in Bali

Ron Lilley
rphlilley@yahoo.co.uk
081338496700

Bali Reptile Rescue
balireptilerescue@yahoo.com
082146380270

Bahasa, books, Bali, blogging

I love Indonesian. I speak it every day though I am not yet fluent. Life in Bali can be easily lived without speaking or learning Indonesian, as long as you know English, but it’s definitely enriched through learning the language. Wearing Balinese adat for school.

I also try and practice a little Indonesian every day with my kids. Whether it’s asking them to count something in Indonesian instead of English, or using an everyday phrase in Indonesian, they are getting exposed to the language too. Not to mention, the culture.

I’ve looked for good resources to buy for my kids (aged 5 and 3) to help them learn some Indonesian words and phrases and I’ve had trouble finding many. We are amassing a collection of bilingual books, CDs, flashcards and some apps some of which have been great, others less so. So this will be a place where I can share some of the good and not so good.

Bali is our home for now but we expect we will, sadly, have to leave at the end of 2015 so this coming year will be filled with more Indonesian learning and writing.

IMG_1721Some of the writing I’ll be doing will be directly connected to teaching young children Indonesian, with much of that in the form of easy songs. And some other writing will be children’s books. I’ve also enrolled into a children’s writing course which should be great. But more on that later.

For now, all that’s left to say is Selamat Datang to my blog. And selamat menikmati!