Borders librarian translates Wimpy Kid book into Scots

Winning formula...author and school librarian Thomas Clark hopes pupils at Hawick High, and across the Borders, will enjoy his version of the Wimpy Kid book. (Pic: Bill McBurnie)
Winning formula...author and school librarian Thomas Clark hopes pupils at Hawick High, and across the Borders, will enjoy his version of the Wimpy Kid book. (Pic: Bill McBurnie)

A school librarian undoubtedly has the inside track on the books youngsters can’t bear to part with.

Thomas Clark, who has held the post at Hawick High School for 12 years, knows how popular Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kids series is.

Jeff Kinney has written 13 books in the Wimpy series, with a new one being published every year. Local author Thomas Clark focused on Diary of a Wimpy Kid for his Scots translation.

Jeff Kinney has written 13 books in the Wimpy series, with a new one being published every year. Local author Thomas Clark focused on Diary of a Wimpy Kid for his Scots translation.

So when he was invited to translate Diary of a Wimpy Kid into Scots, he jumped at the chance.

And he’s hoping that when the refurbished school library opens, Diary o a Wimpy Wean will prove just as popular as the original.

It’s largely thanks to Thomas’ other main love – football – that he secured the plum job.

He explained: “I play for the Scotland Writers Football Club along with Matthew Fitt from Itchy Coo publishers.

“We were in Italy a couple of years ago and I read out one of my poems, after which Matthew said he’d be really interested in working with me at some point.

“Towards the end of last year I released a novel, Your Pal Andy, and, on the back of that, Matthew got back in touch and asked if I’d be interested in doing the Wimpy Kid translation.

“I’ve always loved the Wimpy Kid books; they’re hilariously true to life about the trials and tribulations of growing up.

“They fly off the library shelves when they come in – I know kids love them.

“So I was absolutely delighted when I was approached about doing a Scots version.”

Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid books have been translated into 53 languages and sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, spawning a blockbuster movie series starring Alicia Silverstone as well as an upcoming television show.

In the Hawick-based author’s Diary o a Wimpy Wean, the 13-year-old protagonist Greg Heffley is taken back to his roots as a hapless outsider struggling through the ups and downs of life at high school.

It took Thomas six months to create the Scots version, which has just been published, and he happily admits the cartoons were the hardest to tackle.

He explained: “I had to work within the confines of the cartoon’s existing text bubble so it was a challenge coming up with a short Scots phrase to fit the space.

“That was the trickiest part but I really enjoyed doing it; it was a lot of fun.

“It took about six months, with edits being sent back and forth to Jeff Kinney and his team for approval.”

The final product has now been published and Thomas hopes it will be a big hit, particularly with students at his school.

He said: “Apart from writing, working in a library is my dream job.

“I know how much the kids love the original Wimpy series – they hang on to them until they are falling apart.

“Diary o a Wimpy Wean will be stocked in the library when it reopens. I can’t wait to see what the response will be!

“Being immersed in our wonderful local dialects brings home to you the importance of language.

“It’s so important that our young people have access to books which represent the way they speak at home and with their friends.

“To be involved in something like that, helping young people connect with literature and their own language at the same time, I don’t think any writer can ask for more.”

As for working with Itchy Coo, Thomas was delighted to be approached by such a renowned publishing house.

He said: “The inivitation from Matthew came out of the clear blue sky and I was completely blown away.

“I’m really proud to have been part of it.”

Thomas’ first foray into writing was also in Scots – he did Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for Evertype Books four years ago.

He has since written two football-themed books, Your Pal Andy and Selkirk FC Versus the World and also published a poetry collection, Intae the Snaw.

So what does the future hold for him?

Thomas added: “There are already 13 books in the Wimpy Kids series with Jeff writing a new one every year so if this one goes well, who knows what will happen?!

“It would be nice to do more, if I’m lucky enough to be asked.

“I’m also working on another poetry collection, based on translations of Roman epigrams.”

So rest assured this won’t be the last you’ll hear from Thomas Clark!

Itchy Coo is an award-winning publisher, known for its Scots translations of such beloved books as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Diary o a Wimpy Wean is available on Amazon, priced £6.99, or visit www.itchy-coo.com.