The story of Cry Heart, But Never Break: Pt. 1

New York is Serendipity City. I met Danish children’s and young adult author Glenn Ringtved and his family in Central Park in late June, 2012. I was looking for a bench to eat a sandwich and watch the softball game; they were looking for Strawberry Fields. The conversation led to one thing and another, and, after their trip to the West Coast, when they came back through New York, we wound up spending the day together: The High Line, a diner, the Staten Island Ferry. When it turned out Glenn’s books (available in Russian, German and Korean) had yet to be published in English, though there was a word-for-word translation of his children’s book his publisher was trying to move.

Glenn wrote “Cry Heart, But Never Break” for his children some 15 years ago. He was with his mother at the doctor’s office when she received the news that her cancer was inoperable. As they drove home, Glenn in tears, his mother said the words to him that became the book’s title. Glenn went home, sat on his bed, and wrote a book about the natural event of Death coming into a home to take grandmother away.

Using the word-for-word translation, aided by the original Danish and internet translations, I worked through the book with a view to American sensibilities about death and families, and with the thought that this topic, as lustrously presented in this wise and beautifully illustrated book, could be pushed a little farther into poetic metaphor. Glenn and I went back and forth via e-mail, discussing and dissecting words and phrases, looking hard at additions and subtractions. Finally, we were both satisfied. The next step? Find a publisher.