Today, I’m delighted to host an interview and giveaway with Eva Lou, the creator of Madeleine Editions! Madeleine Editions is a multilingual, multimedia publisher that specializes in charming Tales in Music for children ages 3-7.
Access to quality multilingual books can be challenging in monolingual countries like the United States. For exposure to native language speakers, non-fluent families like ours rely on audiobooks. In addition, many families struggle with limited home space for additional books! Therefore, the eBooks of Madeleine Editions are a unique solution for families raising multilingual children.
What’s special about Madeleine Editions?
- Each Tale in Music is a collaboration between writer, musician, illustrator, and narrator.
- The multilingual eBooks are available in English, Chinese, and French.
- A child can enjoy the stories in their parent’s lap or independently.
- The digital format offers the option of beautiful classical music with the narration.
- Stories are gently animated and don’t have excessively fast screen changes and distracting games.
- Words appear gradually on each page to encourage word recognition while listening.
- The audio can be turned off so families can read on their own.
Here is an 18-second sample of the story, Little Travelers (Chinese version). More sample pages and trailers are available on their YouTube Channel.
Interview with Eva Lou, creator of Madeleine Editions
The background about the contributors and behind-the-scenes production of the multilingual books are quite impressive! I hope you enjoy learning about Madeleine Editions! Giveaway details are at the end of the post!
1. Please tell us about yourself and your family! What do you do and what languages does your family speak?
Both my husband and I are multilingual, and it’s interesting to compare our experiences and decide how to introduce the languages to our daughter accordingly. My husband speaks English, French, Italian, and Korean with perfect accent. This is why he can “fool” a lot of native-speakers, even if his Italian and Korean vocabulary are less sophisticated. I speak English and Chinese fluently, almost-fluent French and intermediate Korean. My reading level in French is actually quite good; I can read all the literary classics with no problem. But when I open my mouth, I’m immediately perceived as “handicapped” because I don’t have the right accent.
It all comes down to this: my husband was exposed to all those languages before he turned 8, whereas I learned my 2nd language as a teen, and 3rd and 4th language as an adult. Vocabulary and grammar rules can be memorized at any age, but developing an ear for a language – for the inherent musicality in every tongue – comes naturally to children. This idea of 7 and under as a “sensitive age” for language acquisition is confirmed by many studies. As a writer with a music background, I am convinced that it has everything to do with exposing the ears to the beauty of the spoken word.
Currently, our family of 3 is based in Paris; but I’ve called Kaohsiung, Hawaii, New York, and Seoul home.
2. Did you always want to be a children’s book author?
Not children’s books specifically, but I’ve always loved literature and have been an avid reader all my life and eventually became a writer myself. I used to only write for adults. That changed when I became mom to a story-loving little girl!
3. What inspired you to create Madeleine Editions?
I was frustrated that most children’s products fall into two camps: digital products are often hyperactive and gimmicky, whereas traditional publishers are behind the times in delivery and format. I am passionate about bringing back an appreciation for literature, music, and visual arts in an innovative, convenient format.
This is why Madeleine Editions books are game-free and gently-paced; the focus is very much on the beauty of the spoken word. For example, we worked hard to create the right balance for the animation – it’s light enough not to distract from the story experience, but just enough to keep the children interested regardless of their level.
I wanted to make it easy for parents to help kids cultivate an ear for languages and a taste for the creative arts during this crucial age.
4. Who are the other writers, illustrators, animators, voice actresses, and musicians at Madeleine Editions?
Our contributors include award-winning writers from Harvard and Columbia, world-renown maestro and musicians, and the newest generation of illustrators from Paris, all at the service of our little readers!
Fun fact: our Chinese voice actress was Elsa in the Taiwanese Frozen!
5. What is the behind-the-scenes like for producing a story? How long does it take to create and edit a story?
Each story is a collaboration between a writer, musician, and illustrator. Sometimes we start with the story, which then inspires the musician and the illustrator. Sometimes it’s the other way around: we start with the music … etc. When we work with original compositions, like in The Little Baby Airplane, it doubles the time, because the composer has to first compose a song for every page, the musician(s) then have to rehearse and record the music. The stories that were made in collaboration with the classical music label Deutsche Grammophon were faster, because we started with existing recordings.
We also work closely with literary translators to make sure the beauty of each language comes through. Once the translations are done, the Chinese narration gets recorded in Taipei, the French in Paris, the English in New York, all by trusted sound engineers, overseen sometimes in person, sometimes remotely by me.
Meanwhile, the illustrator is busy working on the illustrations. The last person to pull it all together is our very talented in-house animator Elise Follin, who takes the illustrations and the audio and the words and synchronize them into moving pictures. Production time for a story ranges from 6 months to 1 year.
6. What has been the most challenging aspect of the production and publication process?
I absolutely love the creative side of the project. It gives me so much joy. The IT part has proven to be challenging but is now sorted. It’s probably the business side that drains me the most, honestly I don’t think I’m made for it, ha!
7. Which of your stories is your favorite and why? Does your daughter have a favorite story as well?
I have a soft spot for The Princess who loved Rose, the story that will be released in November, because it’s a reversal of the helpless princesses in traditional fairy tales. Also, the soundtrack is absolutely gorgeous, with excerpts from Rimsy Korsakov’s Sheherazade.
My daughter loves The Little Baby Airplane, because it was a story I made up for her when she was the most “baby”. She loves humming the theme song, which never fails to make me smile. She can recite The Taste of a Strawberry by heart because the protagonist’s name is Wisdom, which is the meaning of her name. She also got to do a workshop with the illustrator, Steffie Brocoli, who is very popular in France.
We release a story a month, and they do get progressively more complex in terms of the language.
8· Any tips to other parents who hope to raise a multilingual family?
I’ve said this earlier, but really want to reiterate it again:
Vocabulary and grammar rules can be memorized at any age, but developing an ear for a language – for the inherent musicality in every tongue – comes naturally to children. So play beautiful audio for your children! If possible, travel.
9. Where can we learn more about Madeleine Editions?
- Website (Sign up for monthly newsletters that keep you informed of new releases)
- iBooks shelf (Download free samples and purchase stories)
- YouTube (Sample pages and video trailers)
- Interview with TaiwaneseAmerican.org
*****INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY WITH MADELEINE EDITIONS*****
One lucky winner will receive a complimentary copy of Little Travelers on iBooks!
Contest period: Now until November 20, 2018 12pm Pacific Standard Time.
- Be age 18 years+
- Have a valid email address
- To enter, comment on this post with about which languages your family speaks and why you are interested in the multilingual books!
- For extra chances to win:
- Share this blogpost on Facebook. Please set the post to “Public” and tag @chalkacademy and @madeleineeditions so we can see your post!
- Comment and tag friends on this Facebook post. Each comment counts as an additional entry!
Winner will be contacted via email after November 20, 2018.
Happy reading, friends!
Helpful articles about raising multilingual children
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent
- Encourage A Child to Love and Speak the Minority Language with 5 Strategies
- How to Find a Foreign Language Teacher for Your Child
- 10 Ways to Get Your Child to Read Throughout the Day
- 6 Fun Ways to Assess Reading Comprehension With Kids!