Translated fiction accounted for just 2.5 per cent of all books printed in the UK in 2012. As a result, people are missing out on the wealth of fiction out there, because they can’t get a copy written in their mother tongue.

David Almond, award-winning author of children’s fiction – including Skellig, Kit’s Wilderness and The Fire Eaters – said young people “need” to have access to works by the best writers from all over the world. However, he added: “The plain fact is that there is very little translated children’s fiction published in the UK, and our children are missing out.”

In 2012, Alexandra Büchler from Literature Across Frontiers revealed that only 2.5 per cent of publications available in the UK are translations. According to Publishing Perspectives, this rises to 4.5 per cent for literature. This is in stark contrast with other countries like Poland and Spain, where translations make up a fair chunk of the publications.

However, a change could be on the horizon. Pushkin Children’s Books has announced plans to launch a new imprint for translations that will focus particularly on kids’ fiction. Hit Danish series Vitello, which has been likened to the Horrid Henry series, will be one of the collections translated. The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt will also be introduced, while fantasy series Oksa Pollock, which is said to be similar to Harry Potter but with a female lead, is another under consideration.

Speaking to the Guardian, Adam Freudenheim, managing director of Pushkin Press, said non-English language fiction has been lapped up by kids in the UK and US in the past, including Asterix and Pippi Longstocking. He added he was excited about introducing new names to young readers.

Mellissa Cox, the spokesperson for Waterstones, told the newspaper there was definitely room on the bookshop chain’s shelves for more translated fiction. “We’re excited that more amazing stories from overseas will be made available to children in the UK, and can’t wait to see where the next cult classic will come from.” She added that she was particularly hoping to discover a new Mrs Pepperpot or Tintin.

Mrs Pepperpot was created by Norwegian author Alf Prøysen and focussed on an elderly lady who frequently shrunk to the size of a teaspoon without warning. Tintin is the iconic boy reporter created by Hergé, who travelled the world accompanied by his faithful dog Snowy solving mysteries. The comic book character made the transition to the big screen in 2011 in a movie directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson.

Among the new works of foreign children’s fiction that have become huge hits in non-English language speaking countries is the Oksa Pollock collection. This centres on young schoolgirl Oksa, who moves to London and while there discovers she can shoot fire from her hands, move objects via telekinesis and fly, and that she is the last hope of saving the people of the land of Edefia. The books were written by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf and the film rights have been purchased by Summit Entertainment, which produced Twilight.

Translating children’s books is a fun and creative experience. The linguists who do it also probably find they are under less pressure than those who worked on translating Dan Brown’s new novel, Inferno. In order to ensure the twists and turns of the new Robert Langdon mystery stayed under wraps, the translators lived in what has been described as an underground “bunker” for two months. So as not to raise suspicion, they all had cover stories concocted to explain why they were working long hours alone in the bunker. To ensure they didn’t share any plot details the translators had their mobile phones confiscated and were given only restricted access to computers and the internet, according to the Telegraph. If they left the bunker for a break, they had to note down where they had been.

Every evening, the linguists – who were producing French, Italian and German translations – handed their manuscripts in and they were forbidden from taking their notebooks out with them. Security personnel went with them when they had lunch at publishing house Mondadori’s canteen. The details of these security protocols actually came to light in a magazine owned by Mondadori – TV Sorrisi e Canzoni.

However, despite all these measures, the translators revealed the experience hadn’t been all bad and that it had been interesting working alongside other translators who were equally immersed in Dan Brown’s world. “I’m not allowed to tell you anything about it. If I did I’d have to shoot you,” one translator quipped.

The new book once again follows symbology professor Robert Langdon as he returns to Italy; the setting of 2000’s Angels and Demons. This time, the mystery is wrapped up with Inferno by Dante Alighieri, which is the name of the first section of his poem Divine Comedy. Dante’s Inferno outlines the Nine Circles of Hell he must travel through; Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud and Treachery.

Dan Brown’s Inferno will be released on May 14th – let us know what you think of it!