White Ravens: 1995
Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 1
Gotô, Ryûji (text)
Tanaka, Makiko (illus.)
Yashin aratamezu. - Hitakamikokuden
(We won't be conquered. The history of Hitakami)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993. 286 p.
Japan/History (646-811) - Conquest/Resistance
This historical novel set in the 8th century, begins with the flight of fourteen-year-old, Abi of the Emishi peoples from their place of exile to his homeland. The Emishi were the original people of northern Japan who were organized in independent tribes with tribal chiefs and their own culture. The emperors of that period set out to conquer the northern territories. Abi experienced the fierce battles of his peoples with the imperial government which led to the final subjugation of the Emishi. This novel offers a colorful range of figures from the emperor, territorial princes, tribal leaders and field marshalls fighting against the barbarians (the Emishi). The latter are usually known as the poets of ancient Japan. This book acquaints the young reader with a lesser-known chapter of Japanese history, in which opposing forces - the rigorousness of the rulers and the fierce resistance of the oppressed - stands out. (13+)
(32nd Noma Award for Juvenile Literature (1994))
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 2
ltô, Hiroshi (text/illus.)
Osaru ni nani hi
(A Monkey is born)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1994. 86 p.
(Dôwa ga ippai 36)
The first-reader series "Little Monkey Books" enjoys great popularity and wide readership from pre-school through adulthood. Little Monkey lives on a peaceful southern island. Earlier books in the series described the everyday life, the fear of being different, and adventures at sea; in this volume Little Monkey is waiting for a new brother or sister. The story tackles existential questions about life in a casual manner. The reader will be amused by the astonishing naivety, the delightful child-like thoughts and humorous illustrations which make the simple world of the monkey children seem like an oasis in comparison to one's own complicated and hectic surroundings. The "Little Monkey Books" are ingenious in their simplicity, which is perhaps the key to their enormous success. (5+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 3
lwasaki, Kyôko (text)
lwasaki, Chihiro (illus.)
Tokyo: Doshinsha, 1994. 64 p.
Homesickness - Grandparent/Grandchild
When her mother goes to the hospital to have her second child, young Kazuko is taken to stay in the country with her grandmother. Although she is affectionately cared for by her grandparents, and can enjoy splendid natural surroundings, sometimes she is homesick. This is a sensitive story of everyday life which nearly every child experiences in one way or another. Particularly noteworthy are the gentle illustrations by Chihiro lwasaki which aptly capture the moods of the young girl and suggest something of the nature surrounding her without making it fully visible. From both a literary and an artistic point of view, this is an outstanding book in the inimitable Japanese style. (6+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 4
Kimoto, Momoko (text/illus.)
Uzurachan no kakurembo
(Let's Play Hide-and-Seek)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1994. 32 p.
Chicks - Hide-and-seek
A baby quail and a baby chick play hide- and-seek. Each searches for a hiding place resembling himself, to avoid discovery. But their play is always interrupted and they constantly find each other. Rain clouds darken the sky. Suddenly mysterious shadows appear beyond the grass - then- mothers are coming to get them. All go home together happy and satisfied. In these simple scenes of playtime, portrayed creatively in clear shapes and colors, the feelings that little children experience day after day, such as joy, fright, fear and security, are given lively, immediate expression. (2+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 5
Kimura, Shôhei (text)
Yamazaki, Takumi (illus.)
Watashi wa obâchanga suki
(Grandma, my Love!)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1994.  p.
Grandmother/Grandchild - Old age/Illness
When Makiko's grandmother returns home from the hospital after her accident, she is mentally lamed. Makiko is greatly troubled and attempts to encourage her to speak with questions about the two of them. By looking at herself in a mirror, grandmother gradually begins to recognize herself again. This book deals with a topic rarely treated in picture books and offers a stimulus to discussion for children and their families. In order to illustrate the progress of grandmother's from confusion to self-rediscovery and also Makiko's feelings, the illustrator employs a daring, abstract style of painting. The prismatic imagery and dissolving colors are given expressive resolution thanks to the appropriate text. (6+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 6
Mado, Michio (text/illus.)
Tokyo: Dowaya, 1994. 160 p.
Children's poetry - Existence
In his newest book of poetry for children and adults the 85-year-old Andersen prizewinner Michio Mado turns his attention to things and creatures that are taken for granted and hardly ever consciously experienced, such as mosquitoes, ants, grass, wind, etc. Eveything in this world has a right to be here; because of their origins, every living thing is of equal value. Mado looks at creation not from the point of view a man but from that of the living beings themselves. Hence the reader make new discoveries in his poetry over and over Again. (7+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 7
Matsui, Tadashi (reteller)
Sekino, Kikuko (reteller)
Tan, Xiao Yong (illus.)
Yanmeizu to ryû
(Yanmeiz, a boy who fought a dragon)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1994. 40 p.
Folk tale/China - Dragon -Abduction - Siblings - Peace - Wealth
A village boy born under miraculous circumstances sets off to rescue his sister from a dragon. His success brings peace and wealth to his village. The prize-winning Chinese illustrator Tan Xiao Yong contributes illustrations which combine traditional Indian ink and modern coloring on wet paper; inspite of their two- dimensionality they express spatial depth and physical weightiness. The strong, dynamic brushstrokes endow both the dragon and the protagonists, who are usually portrayed in the heroic poses of Asian theater, enormous liveliness. Alongside the impressive illustrations, which are outstanding examples of the singularity of the Asian art of painting, the painstakingly prepared text is rather reserved. (4+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 8
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Kuroi, Ken (illus.)
Neko no jimusho
(The Cat's Office)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1994. 36 p.
(Nihon no dôwameisakusen)
Cat - Bureaucracy - Discrimination
A satirical, fable-like tale about small-minded bureaucracy. Five elitist cats preside in an office where self-importance, intimidation and hypocrisy blossom. The author exposes the absurdity and folly of such everyday discrimination. In the end, unceremoniously, he lets a superior being in the figure of a lion to put an end to the whole business. The illustrator Ken Kuroi succeeds in giving expression to the realistic and the phantistic aspects of the text, a task which is especially difficult to do for the works of Kenji Miyazawa, the modern classic writer who holds a unique place in Japanese children's and youth literature. (14+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 10
Nasuda, Jun (text)
Yornogida, Yasuhiro (illus.)
Orefanto.- Nippon Zaemon shônenki
(The elephant. Notes about the young years of Nippon Zaemon)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1994. 253 p.
Adventure - Friendship - Sincerity - Japan/Everyday life 18th century
In this suspenseful and enjoyable tale, a fictional historical novel, Nasuda skillfully weaves a historical persons and events into fictional plot. In the middle of the Edo era (mid-18th century) there was a famous robber. Nasuda's fictional account of his childhood is climaxed by an exciting encounter between an elephant and the little elephant driver from Annam. Life at the toll stations along the streets of this feudal social system are depicted in an informative and lively manner. Nasuda has adopted a new style here by writing some parts of the novel in the first person, thus making history more immediately present and directly appealing to the reader. (12+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 11
Saragai, Tatsuya (text)
Hasegawa, Shûhei (illus.)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1994. 179 p.
Growing up - Self-identity - Puberty/Boy
In these short stories five boys between the ages of 13 and 15 take leave of their childhood, each in his own way. One realizes that he must distance himself from his younger playmates, the second experiences the bitter reality of life through his own failure, the third is drawn into a dubious scheme of his father's, the fourth must take his mother's place in the work of the community, and the fifth experiences first love. All of them must try to deal with newly awakened feelings and a sense of self-discovery. Along the way, the foreign readers will get a glimpse into the everyday life of Japanese school children. This literary work, which is designed with a very original, eloquent cover, will leave the reader with a certain wistfulness. (12+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 12
Senjû, Hiroshi (illus.)
Hoshi no furuyoni
(When stardust falls...)
Tokyo: Fuzambo, 1994. [36 ] p.
Stag - Nature - Adventure - Night - Lost
A young stag who lives in the woods with his parents gets lost one evening due to his fascination with a shooting star. Following the river in which the sparkling star is reflected, the young stag comes to an empty city and the a meadow. Only at dawn does he find his parents again. Hiroshi Senju, painting in the style of modern Japanese art, has created a wordless picture book in his own unique style. On the left side of each double-page spread there is nothing but a small map of the course being followed by the young stag. The visual interaction of map and illustration enables the observer to experience the spaciousness of nature and the stillness of the night in the same way the stag does. The fine distinction between sky, water and landscape imbues the entire picture book with a very delicate atmosphere. (6+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 13
Yamashita, Haruo (text)
Murakami, Yasunari (illus.)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1994. 63 p.
(Ohanashi kânibaru 8)
Racial integration - School - Child/Foreigner - Difference - Friendship
The cultural diversity which is gradually arising in Japan due to the presence of guest workers precipitated the appearance of this didactically excellent children's book. A highly unconventional beginning reader, it deals with the integration of two new first- graders, a Japanese boy and a Spanish girl, into the class. The ways in which their two cultures differ is cleverly interwoven in the story in a precise and humorous narrative, which is supported by convincing illustrations. An interesting Japanese contribution to the topic of cultural integration. (6+)
Republic of China (Taiwan) (Chinese) - 1995 - 14
Li, T'ung (text)
Chang, Tze-ming (illus.)
(The birthday of the goddess Matsu)
Taipei: Commission for the Promotion of Agriculture, 1993.  p.
China/Religion - Temple/Procession - Goddess/Sea - Patron saint/Pisher
The birthday of Matsu, the patron saint of the fishers and goddess of the seas, is celebrated at the temple and with a procession on the 23rd day of the third moon. When Hai-ji's father is asked to be a sedan carrier in the procession, Hai-ji goes back home to wait with his grandmother for the procession to pass by. Grandmother sends Hai-ji and his mother to the temple to look for the father, but the square is too full and they cannot find him among the sedan carriers. When the procession reaches their house, the father slips out of the costume of one of Matsu's guards, who according to legend can see everything for 1000 miles around. Hai-ji asks his father why he didn't see him son when he was looking for him earlier. The father laughs and they all begin to pray as the sedan carriers of the goddess reach their house. The energy present among the people during this ceremonial procession, which is portrayed in a fold-out panorama, is captured in the red color dominating this picture book. (5+)
Republic of China (Taiwan) (Chinese) - 1995 - 15
Liu, Po-lo (text/illus.)
(The black village and the white village)
Taipei: Hsin-yi Publications, 1994.  p.
Equality - Appearances - Difference – Living Conditions
The people from Whiteside harvest plants from which flour is made, making the entire village and its inhabitants all white. The people in Blackfalls are quite different. The mine for coal and store coal everywhere in the village, making themselves black and dirty. Because of their different colors, they don't like each other. When the circus comes the people from Whiteside only cheer when white women and white horses perform; the inhabitants of Blackfalls cheer only for the black panthers. They are all terribly afraid that there might be a wedding one day between a Whitesider and Blackfallser, who would later have black-and-white children looking like zebras. Their animosity is resolved one day when it rains and their external differences are washed away; their true appearance becomes visible, making it clear that all people are alike underneath. This is a story with a moral, accompanied by interesting illustrations of everyday life in Taiwanese villages. (6+)
Republic of China (Taiwan) (Chinese) - 1995 - 16
P'u, Sung ling (text)
Chen, Guhang et al. (illus.)
Xie, Wanruo (transl.)
Lee, Kenneth (transl.)
Chang, Ching-wen (transl.)
(Strange stories from a Chinese studio)
Taipei: Han-kwang (Hilit), 1990; ; Beijin: Prospect Publishing House, 1990.. 224 p. With illustrations
(Chung-kuo Shih-ta ku-tien Wen-hsüeh Min- chu Hua-chi, 10; A pictorial series of ten greatest Chinese literature classics. Vol. 10)
(Bi-lingual text (English/Chinese))
Short stories/Chinese - Human character
At the age of forty, P'u Sung-ling (1640-1715) began his writings of what in the end numbered 431 short stories. Legend has it that he set up a tea-stand on a street corner and offered passers-by tea for free if they would tell him a story. He was an ironic critic of his times, especially of the corrupt government service and the unjust legal system. He tried numerous times to pass the examination for the higher civil service, succeeding only at the age of 72. In these seven short stories the various sides of the human character and the virtues to be learned from ethereal spirits are portrayed. Seven contemporary Chinese artists have contributed authentic illustrations in Chinese style, making this volume interesting not only to the general public, but also to specialists. (14+)
Albania (Albanian) - 1995 - 17
Grillo, Odhise K. (adapt.)
Shahini, Jusuf (cover illus.)
Lahuta e malsise
(The lute of the highlands)
Tiranë: Dituria, 1993. 103 p.
(Based on a story by Gjergj Fishta)
Albania (Albanian) - 1995 - 18
Grillo, Odhisc K. (adapt.)
Tafa, Gëzim (illus.)
Thike pas shpine…
(The knife in the back)
Tiranë: Nairn Frashëri, 1993. 96 p.
National identity/Albania - Albania/Independence
Both of these titles contain adaptations for young readers of three works of Albanian literature which have played a great role in the formation of the Albanian national identity. These works were banned during the socialist era and their authors expunged from annals of Albanian literary history. In the three-part epic "The lute of the highlands", which was published between 1905 and 1937 by the Northern Albanian Franciscan priest Gjergj Fishta (1871- 1940), the struggle of the Albanian people for autonomy between 1858 and 1913 is described. Fishta draws an exact picture of life in the raw mountainous regions and of the ancient common law of the Albanian tribes. "The Knife in the Back" is a retelling of the rather less well-known poem "Serafina Topia" (1843) by Jeronim de Rada (1814-1903) and contained in the same volume "The Call of Blood" is a retelling of "Kënga e sprapme e Balës" by Gavril Dara." (10+)
(Based on stories by Jeronim de RADA and Gavril DARA)
Croatia (Croatian) - 1995 - 19
Balog, Zvonimir (text)
Janjić-Jobo, Ratko (cover illus.)
(Little big people)
Zagreb: Znanje, 1993. 47 p.
(hit junior 49)
Short story/Croatian - Wordplay
Zvonimir Balog is one of the best, most popular and versatile Croatian writers for children and young people. In his newest work he combines his narrative skills with a playfulness already familiar in his poetry. This witty and at the same time comical book begins with a very short story about a more or less idyllic childhood in the country which is abruptly interrupted by war. The story is then retold in about 60 national, social, grammatic and play-on- words variations. In the course of this the story changes in content and in style, achieving an unbelievable comic effect which can perhaps be best compared with John Lennon's "In His Own Write." (10+)
Czech Republic (Czech) - 1995 - 20
Hádjek, Štépán (text)
Vagnerová, Jitka (illus.)
Jak Vosolbrčko cestoval
(Travels of a water sprite)
Praha: Kalich, 1992. 30 p.
This tale with a quite unspectacular fable deals with the journey of a water sprite (the protagonist of many Czech fairy tales) to his brother's birthday party. After having problems on a train, he gives a try at hitchhiking and is picked up by a car in which three other watermen are riding, all going to the very same birthday party. Ordinary experiences are reported in an original and witty style of speech and with dry humor. Though this is an book for the native speaker, the idiomatic vernacular might present some problems for others. The volume is richly illustrated with eccentric, expressive pictures. (5+) ☼
Czech Republic (Czech) - 1995 - 21
Kopta, Josef (text)
Kačírek, Miloš (illus.)
Chytrý Honza z Čech
(The clever Honza from Bohemia)
Ostrava: Blesk, 1992. 102 p.
The Honza, a dim-witted fool, is a very popular figure in Czech folklore. As with all fools, he is not really dumb, he merely has a very naive manner of dealing with problems and for all his dauntlessness gets the better of many "cleverer" people. This very attractively designed volume with colored pen-and-ink drawings contains two stories about Honza. The first tells how he had to set out in the world and withstand all sorts of temptations in order to win his beloved Kačenka. The second story is an original tale by the author. (6+)
Czech Republic (Czech) - 1995 - 22
Richter, Vratislav Asad (text)
Krasný, P. Jan (illus.)
Sedm kupců: Přiběhy z orientu
(The seven merchants: adventure stories from the Orient)
Praha: Chvojkovo nakladatelství, 1994. 78 p.
Fairy tales/Near East
Vratislav Asad Richter, a Czech captain and admirer of the Orient who lives in Canada, has gathered together a particularly fine collection of tales from the Maghreb and the Near East, which he has compiled as stories within a story. Seven merchants traveling with their caravans through the Sahara Desert meet one night at the Oase Ouargla in a local caravansary and exchange tales about love and suffering, psychic experiences and battles. (10+)
Czech Republic (Czech) - 1995 - 23
Šiktanc, Karel (text)
Skála, František (illus.)
(The tales of kings)
Praha: Albatro, 1994. 181 p.
Modem fairy tales/Czech - Justice
Though the tales of Karel Šiktanc are not derived directly from the traditional folklore, they employ the same atmosphere and consciously use its style of plot. And another element these literary fairy tales have in common with the folk tales is the eternal human longing for a just world, where there is no place for lies, meanness and jealousy. From 1961 until 1971, when he was forced out, Šiktanc was editor-in- chief of the publishing house for young adult literature, "Mladá fronta". Scheduled for publication in 1970, these fairy tales of kings were repressed for political reasons. From 1971 until the political transformation of 1989 in Czechoslovakia no book by Karel Šiktanc was permitted to be published. The avant-garde illustrations intensively reflect the mood of the tales. (10+)
Poland (Polish) - 1995 - 24
Siesicka, Krystyna (text)
Studio Siedmoróg (graphics)
(Just a minute, Valeria)
Wrocław: Siedmoróg, 1994. 128 p.
Zakopane - Love - Drugs - Generational conflict
The journalist and popular young adult author Krystyna Siesicka was awarded a prize by the Polish IBBY section for this unusual novel for girls. She describes a vacation in Zakopane (in the Tatra Mountains) which she spent with the protagonist, Valeria, and takes up different problems facing Polish teenagers today - love, generational conflict, family, interpersonal relationships, drugs - in a very sympathetic and vivid manner. In addition, she lets Valeria herself express her opinions and speak directly to the reader, even posing questions. The book's design is equally unusual: the cover shows a photo of the protagonist against the background of a work by Gustav Klimt. The pages on which Valeria speaks are decorated in Art Nouveau style and illustrated with reproductions of famous artists from Manet to Dali. Furthermore this volume contains poems which fit the respective subject matter by the popular poet Maria Jasnorzewska-Pawlikowska (1893-1945), who has been very popular with Polish youth since the 1960s. (12+)
Romania (Romanian) - 1995 - 25
Zamfirescu, George M. (text)
Bercaru, Al. (illus.)
Sufletui soldaƫilor de plumb
(The soul of the tin soldiers)
Bucureşti: Ed. Aria grafică, 1993. 58 p.
(Legende, mituri şi povestiri)
The first edition of this book appeared in a period of war. Shocked by what he experienced, the author warns the younger generation of dangers which threaten human existence, such as hate, blood- thirstiness, etc. The tales in this book can be divided into two categories. One group reports of more or less realistic events from which the child should take a lesson: "Mother", the story of an overconfident little mouse; "The tears of a blade of grass" - a disobedient little dog jumps at the throat of the neighbor's mutt; "Nightingale and ox" and "The soul of the tin soldiers", which is the least sad of them all, even glowing with humor. The second group consist of legends, such as "Simion from Capernaum", a biblical story of the crucifixion, "Setilă " or "Legends", in which the author gives his version of the Christianization of Hungary, (9+)
Romania (Romanian) - 1995 - 26
Marian, Simion F. (ed.)
Tache, Margarcta (illus.)
Legende de Crăciun
Bucureşti: Ed. Scripta, 1991 (first ed. 1904). 61 p.
The Romanian people have a wealth of legends, customs and interesting beliefs associated with Christmas. This is the first time that stories were written down in a form and idiom appropriate for children and united the biblical legends with the Romanian Orthodoxy tradition and elements of folklore. One of the legends is even presented into two different versions, one from the Wallachia and one from the Buchovinia. In the course of time many legends, "colinde" and songs have been developed which are known wherever Romanians live." (10+)
Russia (Russian) - 1995 - 27
Čarskaja, Lidija Alekscevna (d.i.: L.A. Čurilova)
Sudaruškin, A.I. et. al. (illus.)
(Notes of a boarding- school girl)
Moskva: Respublika, 1994. 382 p.
St. Petersburg - Boarding school/Girl - Caucasus - Multicultural Society
In addition to the novel of the title, this book by Lidija Alekseevna Čarskaja (1875- 1937) also contains the novel titled "Ljuda Vlassovskaja" (orig. publ. in 1904 under the title "Ludmila Vlassovskaja"). After the Russian Revolution the works of Časkaja received negative reviews and were forbidden as bourgeois literature, even though the famous children's book author and scholar of children's literature Kornei Chukovsky held her in high regard. In the title novel and in the first part of the biography of Ljuda Vlassovskaja she depicts life in a girls' boarding school in St. Petersburg at the end of the 19th century, with all its good and bad sides. She explores the girls' problems and describes in detail their feelings. In the latter novel, the author takes up a theme that is traditional in Russian literature and once again current interest: the multicultural society in Causasus. If history had taken a different course in her lifetime, Čarskaja would well have become the leading Russian writer for young girls. The re- issues of her works helps to make conscious the tradition so abruptly broken off in 1917. (10+)
Russia (Russian) - 1995 - 28
Čërnyj, Saša (Engl: Sascha Czerny, pseud. for Aleksandr M. Glikberg)
Prichod'ko, Vladimir (ed.)
Jakušin, M.M. (illus.)
Jakušina, L.A. (illus.)
Čto komu nravitsja: Stichi, skazki, rasskazy, povesti
(Something for everyone: verses, tales, stories)
Moskva: Molodaja gvardija, 1993. 445 p.
Fairy tales/Russia - Short stories/Russia
Sascha Czerny (born in Odessa, 1880 - died in La Lavandou, 1932) made a name for himself in St. Petersburg as a children's book author and satirist; after the Russian Revolution he emigrated first to Berlin where he continued to publish prolifically in the 1920s (in Russian). While his poems appeared already in the 1960s in the Soviet Union, a children's book was first published during the perestroika. This volume is a wide sampling of his works of children. Both Czerny's lyrical works and his stories and fairy tales - many dealing with animals and children's everyday life and often written from their own perspective - are still satisfying today both in speech and form as well as in their empathy or their satirical undertone. This volume also contains the picture book "The lively ABC" (which first appeared in Leipzig in 1922 with pictures by an unnamed illustrator) in which Czerny unites two animals in comical seven-syllable, two- line verses. (5+)
Russia (Russian) - 1995 - 29
Lamm, Nikolaj Viktorovič (text)
Martynov, Andrej E. (illus.)
Pochiščenie damy ili četvero idut po sledu
(The abduction of the lady, or four trace the clues)
Moskva: Zolotoj ključik, 1993. 59 p.
Abduction - Mafia/Russia - Social satire/Russia
Through in one way following the tradition of Russian stories for children, the author of this book nonetheless takes a new path. Full of irony and with many allusions to Russian society before and after the fall of the Communist regime, he depicts the abduction of a young girl and her friends' efforts to find and rescue her. The irony of the text finds continuity in the (especially the full-paged) illustrations. (10+)
Slovakia (Slovak) - 1995 - 30
Beňo, Ján (text)
Ondreička, Karol (illus.)
Staý husár a nočný; Čert
(The old husar and the night devil)
Bratislava: Stovenský spisovatel’, 1994. 123 p.
The popular Slovakian children's book author retells especially interesting unpublished folktales which he heard from Michal Pavlovič, a farmer from Prievaly. (6+)
Slovakia (Slovak) - 1995 - 31
Havier, Daniel, et. al (text)
Bajusová, Ol’ga (illus.)
Pät’ prštekov na ruke: Obrázková kniha a posunková reč pre najmenšie nepočujúce deti (Five Fingers on the Hand: A Picture Book with Sign-language for Very Young Deaf Children)
Bratislava: BUVIK, 1994. 63 p.
Deafness - Sign language
The first third of this picture book for deaf children and their parents contains a short story from everyday life on one side of each spread while the opposite page the words and concepts of the text are elucidated with photos of sign language. This is followed by an ABC and set of numbers presented in photos. The final eight pages include a further 100 concepts in sign language with written explanations. (3+)
Slovakia (Slovak) - 1995 - 32
Kuniak, Juraj (text)
Čech, Juraj (photos)
(My private open-air museum)
Ružomberk: Matica slovenská, 1994. 94 p.
This volume contains impressions of the country life in the region of Ružomberok (German: Rosenberg) on the southern side of the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia written in a free-flowing rhythm and lyrical prose by a 40-year-old electrical engineer. The narrative is based on ethnic situations and includes a variety of persons but a specific plot is not evident. The text can be taken either seriously or ironically, and some elements in it tend toward the grotesque. The excellent black-and-white photographs by the lawyer Juraj Čech follow suit with the text. On the one hand, they portray nostalgic and melancholy objects and scenery of central Slovakia, while on the other hand they have a touch of irony and social criticism. The book will appeal especially to young adult readers who are seeking a path for themselves between progress and a tradition-bound life-style. (12+)
Slovakia (Russian/English) - 1995 - 33
Sef, Roman (text)
Požidaev, Leonid (illus.)
Lewis, Paul (Engl. transl.)
Kataev, I. (music)
Minkov, M. (music)
Moskva: ADP, 1994. 57 p.
Poetry/Nonsense - Multilingual book
In this bilingual picture book in verse Roman Sef proves once again his craftsmanship as the best contemporary Russian poet. The witty poems, which are striking in their simplicity, belong to the tradition of English nonsense verse and occasionally remind one of the works of the German children's poets Josef Guggenmos and Hans Manz from Switzerland. Sef’s style is also successfully captured in the English translation by Paul Lewis. (4+)
Slovenia (Slovenian) - 1995 - 34
Fritz, Ervin (text)
Vogelnik, Eka (illus.)
Svet v naprstniku
(The world in a thimble)
Ljubljana: DZS, 1994. 56 p.
This is the first children's book by the Slovenian playwright and poet Ervin Fritz (born 1940). As in his poetry for adults, Fritz's poetry for children is at times funny, at other times profound. This volume includes serious poems, nonsense verses, counting rhymes and ridicule verses in a idiosyncratic manner of speech. The three- color illustrations done with mixed technique and high-quality, attractive graphic design contribute to the book's overall appeal. (6+)
Slovenia (Slovenian) - 1995 - 35
Zorman, lvo (text)
Stančič, Zora (illus.)
(The growing up disease)
Ljubljana: DZS, 1994. 151 p.
(Veliki otroci, 2)
Slovenia/School holiday - Adventure
The popular Slovenian children's and youth book author depicts here the experiences of a group of teenagers during the school holidays in the Slovenian mountains in a very funny and humorous manner. The reader gets a glimpse into the contemporary lifestyle in Slovenia, especially the conflicts present within the family, at school, and between generations. The protagonists become involved in a theft and fraud. This is a quite literary, but entertainment novel. (9+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1995 - 36
Gilbert, Kevin (text)
Williams, Eleanor (photos)
Me and Mary Kangaroo
Ringwood: Viking/Penguin Books Australia, 1994. 54 p.
Kangaroo - Child/Pet - Aborigine/- Australia/Memoir
Kevin Gilbert (1933-1993) was a noted New Zealand author, publicist and activist for the rights of the Aboriginal peoples. In this childhood memoir he relates many humorous, playful episodes in his relationship with the orphaned kangaroo he kept as a pet until she returned one day to the bush. Written in the style of oral storytelling, it is laced with details of everyday family life in this remote rural area. Mary was not only his best friend and playmate, but forever the incarnation of a deep affinity Gilbert felt for his homeland. The appealing sepia-toned photographs of a young Aboriginal boy and another kangaroo suggest the nostalgia of a family photo album. (7+)
Australia (English) - 1995 - 37
Wilson, Barbara Ker (compiled)
Hands Up! Who enjoyed their schooldays
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1994. 141 p.
School - Australia/Short stories/Anthology
Short stories and excerpts from the works of leading writers of Australian youth literature have been selected by a well- known editor to present stories about a wide array of memorable topics reflects different eras, types of schools, and socioeconomic backgrounds. (12+)
Australia (English) - 1995 - 38
The serpentine belt
Norwood: Omnibus Books/Aston Scholastic, 1994. 119 p.
Father/Death - Self-discovery - Friendship/Change
Sixteen-year old Emily is a quiet, reclusive type of person who watches and reflects on everything going on around her. Her best friend Kat, an Aborigine from an extended family of siblings and cousins, is a completely different type of person. Though they once had much in common, they are beginning to drift apart. Emily's discovery of her dead father's cryptic diary occupies her mind constantly, until she finally learns the true circumstances of his death. In this appropriately slow-paced, reflective novel the first-person narration of Emily’s inner world and her perception of the people and activity around her is a sensitive character study of a girl passing through an important stage of emotional growth. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1995 - 39
Ringwood: Viking/Penguin Books, 1994. 255 p.
Fantasy - Man/Animal - Genetic experimentation - Difference/Tolerance - Extraterrestial beings/intelligence - Freedom - Friendship - Change - Survival
For nearly two centuries artificially bred humans and man-ape hybrids have lived together in harmony and docility in a high- walled enclosure, guarded by keepers who supply all their needs but also mete out sadistic punishments when necessary. The strong-willed, curious Cassie and her two intelligent, hybrid friends manage to break out of the enclosure. After their disastrous flight to freedom they return reluctantly to Parkland, where they finally break the mastery of the keepers and learn why those extraterrestrial beings had become "cosmic gardeners" with a mission to maintain diversity and harmony in the galaxy. This masterly written novel with strong characterizations challenges the imagination of the reader on every page and poses basic questions about human life, attitudes toward fellow creatures, and the ability to create and control life and society. (14+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1995 - 40
Pugh, Dailan (illus.)
Dunkle, Margaret (text)
Secrets of the rainforest
South Melbourne: Hyland House, 1994.  p.
Rainforest - Conservation - Australia/Flora and fauna
Unlike Europe or North America, children in some parts of Australia have the opportunity to walk directly from their homes into a rainforest with stunning, century-old vegetation still inhabited by rare and endangered species of animals. In this picture book for primary school children Kevin, son of a logger, takes a walk for the first time in the local rainforest with environmentally concerned classmates whom he had once dubbed "the greenie mob." Overwhelmed by its beauty, which is realistically presented in full-paged gouache paintings, Kevin realizes the need to prevent further destruction of this unique natural habitat. The at times lengthy text serves to describe the habits and needs of the various animal species, making Kevin's growing social awareness plausible. While the intention of the book is undoubtedly moralistic, it is tastefully presented in a very attractive and informative format. (5+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1995 - 41
Rodda, Emily (text)
Kelly, Geoff (illus.)
Power and glory
St. Leonards: A Little Ark Book/Alien & Unwin, 1994.  p.
Video game - Family life - Challenge
By dealing with an activity close to their hearts and high on their minds, children who are reluctant to read might be drawn to this story about a video game player. In fact an book with an unconventional layout, it employs repetitive, situational vocabulary and hilarious caricatures of family life situations. The narrative tension between the all-absorbing challenge of a video game of skill and adventure and the continual interruptions by parents, siblings and pet, each with their own demands is as hilarious as it is realistic. Geoff Kelly has chosen an avant-garde style of illustration which resembles but in no way imitates video graphics. (6-8) ☼
Canada (English) - 1995 - 42
Lewis, Arnanda (text)
Wynne-Jones, Tim (text)
Slavin, Bill (illus.)
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1994. 95 p.
Theater - Shakespeare, William
The many aspects of a theater production are presented here not in a direct, nonfictional format, but embedded in a story about a young girl who gets to know real people working in a real repertory theater. And at the fantasy level she has repeated encounters with (an otherwise invisible) Will Shakespeare. In between each of the nine chapters, terms and concepts of the various departments of a theater are explained in a readable style which avoids a definitional tone. The book is attractively colorful and uniformly illustrated with realistic but expressive scenes on each page, which are designed to illuminate the text and ideas in a natural manner. It is well-suited to motivating young readers to get involved with some aspect of theater themselves. (8-12)
Great Britain (English) - 1995 - 43
London: Methuen, 1993. 157 p.
Child Migration/UK/Canada - Scotland - Mining - Father/Death - Family/Separation
A realistic portrayal of living conditions in a Scottish mining community in 1937, when hard work, meager food, and little security was the order of the day, forms the background for the first half of this compelling story. The accidental death of their father and son brings sudden impoverishment and eviction to Kezzie, Lucie and their grandfather. Due to two unfortunate mishaps on one day, the younger sister is mistakenly included in an orphan transport to Canada, leaving Kezzie no choice but to go to Canada, too. The second half of the novel describes how Kezzie finds and rescues the thoroughly traumatized child. Breslin, 1987 winner of the Scottish Kathleen Pidler Award for a first novel, has a special talent for capturing natural speech and for weaving a story full of life-like characters. This novel is immediately striking, not only for its eloquence but also for its portrayal of endurance, human goodness and love in the face of misfortune. (12+)
(Shortlisted for the 1994 Federation of Children's Book Groups Award)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1995 - 44
Step by wicked step
London: Hamish Hamilton, 1995. 135 p.
Stepparent - Family problems
Even if this book by one of England's best contemporary authors had appeared anonymously, its success would be guaranteed by the immediately absorbing narrative with its masterful combination of suspense and sensitive delving into the hearts and minds of appealing and believable main characters. Five twelve- year-old classmates who know each other only superficially accidentally discover the memoir of a man with a tragic family history in a hidden room of an old spooky manor. A chance find, a cryptic word from their teacher and an all-night round of storytelling begins, in which each tells about his or her own family problems and gains insight into the difficult choices and emotional turmoil facing each of the others. The common bond between them all is the presence of stepparents in their lives. This is a book which will be read in one sitting and still be (hauntingly) memorable long after. (10+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1995 - 45
Hathorn, Libby (text)
Rogers, Gregory (illus.)
London: Andersen Press, 1994.  p.
Homelessness - Boy - Cat - Friendship
His white-on-black text and the skillfully composed dark, somber illustrations immediately identify this book as one dealing with a "problem": the underside of life, street life, in a metropolitan city in a modern affluent society. It depicts an hour in the life of a boy of the street - in which such a picture book would have no place - who empathizes with and adopts a stray cat as company. Together they return through the ugly back alleys to the hole he proudly calls "home." Lacking in any didacticism, direct in its tone, impeccably designed, the book cannot fail to make a lasting impression on any reader willing to face its chilling truth. (8+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1995 - 46
The exiles at home
London: Victor Gollancz, 1993.
(Paperback: London: Lions/HarperCollins, 1994. 173pp)
Siblings - School - Africa - Charity - Grandmother - Elderly
This is an engrossing and well-paced family story in the excellent British storytelling tradition. The four Conroy sisters, aged between thirteen and six years, have not changed a bit in this sequel to the Guardian award-winning title The Exiles (1991). The thread running through the narrative revolves around the girls' efforts to acquire £10 month after month to send to a 10- year-old African boy whose education the girls have decided secretly to sponsor. They get involved in numerous escapades by sitting for the baby next door, selling packed lunches at school, robbing the postbank, selling their mother's books, or gardening for an elderly couple. Each of the girls has a distinctive personality within the family, and alone or together their actions and idiosyncratic reasoning ensure the reader one laugh after another. (9+) ☆ ☼
(Overall winner, 1994 Smarties Award)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1995 - 47
Ure, Jean (text)
Hellard, Susan (illus.)
Who's for the zoo?
London: Orchard, 1995 (text first publ. 1989). 64 p.
ISBN 1-85213 662 6
School - Zoo - Animal rights
The Orchard "Readalone" series offer a wide range of stories written by some of the UK's most popular and humorous contemporary writers and illustrators for children, such as Rose Impey, Mary Hoffman or Jonathan Alien. With this sixth installment in her "Woodside School Stories series" the versatile Jean Ure manages to portray a cast of individual characters and tackle a topic of social concern. When one pupil in her classroom hesitantly reveals her dismay at the planned school excursion to the zoo, the teacher finds a clever way to let the rest of the pupils reflect on how it might feel to be kept in a cage and gawked at. The somewhat larger type and black-and-white sketches make these titles attractive additions for home, school and public libraries, while the choice of topics makes them suitable for readers of English as a second language. (7-9) ☼
India (English) - 1995 - 48
Kapur, Jusum (text)
Sumaty, N. (illus.)
Stories from Ladakh
New Delhi: Indus/HarperCollins, 1994. 112 p.
Ladakh/Folk tales - Greed - Love - Cleverness
This is a collection of nine long tales from a district in the northern-most province of India. While the names and places are distinctly Indian, the morals of the stories are universal. Alongside the human figures, talking animals play a notable role in most of the tales. While the good or evil character of the protagonists plays a certain role in the development of each tale, twists of fate, whim or chance luck sometimes lead to surprising outcomes. Some tales, such as that of the three brothers who inherit equal shares from their well- intentioned father, will call to mind the morals of well-known folk tales, while others help to illuminate Indian thinking and life. This is a well-written volume which will enrich any folk tale collection. (8+) ☆
India (English) - 1995 - 49
Mitra, Rathabali (text)
Harichandan, Deepak (illus.)
New Delhi: Children’s Book Trust, 1993. 64 p.
Andaman Islands - Nicobar Islands - Holiday
This book is essentially a non-fictional social geography of India's Bay Islands which stretch over 900 square kilometers in the Bay of Bengal between Burma and Indonesia, but the factual information is framed within a fictional story about an Indian family visiting the islands on holiday. The children's questions throughout the four-day ship journey and on the islands help them to learn about the many animals they encounter, the sea- and landscapes, the tropical rain forest, endangered species and even the historical background of an infamous prison which is now a National Monument commemorating the struggle for Indian independence. This travelogue reads very smoothly and entertainingly, allowing the reader to absorb a wealth of information. A number of pen-and-ink illustrations depict the Indian family's sightseeing stops. (8+) ☆ ☼
(Second Prize, Natural History category, WWF/CBF Competition)
India (English) - 1995 - 50
Stories from Premchand
New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1986 (repr. 1994). 112 p.
(Madhuban Supplementary Readers)
India/Hindi/Short Stories - Human nature
Munshi Prernchand (1880-1936), a school teacher, was one of India's most important Hindi writers in the 20th century, but his works have not been easily accessible in English. His over 300 short stories deal in particular with the common people and injustice. Though these ten tales are gathered in a supplemental educational reader for young adults and are followed up with several comprehension questions, the narrative style and content of the stories warrant their being made available more widely. Each one deals with a key event in the life of a child, of a family or among friends, by force of which a small kernel of life's wisdom - about friendship, love, rivalry, hypocrisy, or reconciliation - becomes clearer to those involved. Prernchand's style is descriptive, even somewhat flowery, and filled with lively dialogues; yet it is easy to follow and suitable for the intermediate reading level. (12+) ☆ ☼
Ireland (English) - 1995 - 51
No peace for Amelia
Dublin: O'Brien Press, 1994. 215 p.
Ireland/World War I - War - Ireland/Easter uprising - Friendship
Decisive personal decisions in the lives of two young men (and their families) in Dublin in the spring of 1916 are depicted here in alternating chapters from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old Quaker girl, Amelia Pim, and that of her friend, the household servant, Mary Ann. While Frederick, Amelia's best beau, has patriotically signed up in the British army to fight in the Great European War, Mary Ann's brother, Patrick, is a Volunteer for the cause of Irish independence. The author skillfully uses this constellation to present two types of armed struggle and show how the different positions taken depend on the individual positions in life. The characterizations are strong and convincing, the interjection of historical facts into the plot judicious. This suspenseful sequel to "Amelia", which was short listed for Ireland's Bisto Book of the Year Award, will leave the reader most eager for the next sequel. (12+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 1995 - 52
Barnett, Rosalyn (selector)
Bowics, Trish (illus.)
Sun days & moon nights
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1994. 63 p.
New Zealand/Short Stories/Anthology - Folktales/New Zealand - Everyday Life/New Zealand
This anthology of ten stories for young readers and read-aloud storytelling ranges from light-hearted adventure tales to episodes of family life to special moments in a child's life to folk and fairy tales. Underlying each story are elements of human nature such as greed or ambition or the human condition which require learning to appreciate differences. The water-color illustrations enhance the volume with humor and imagination. Some of the stories have Maori characters and vocabulary, while others could be set almost anywhere on earth, making this a volume attractive to school and library collections around the world. (6+) ☆ ☼
South Africa (English) - 1995 - 53
Randall, Isobel (text)
Sothoane, Zacharia (illus.)
Mazini: Macmillan Boleswa Publishers, 1993. 30 p.
Africa/Rural life – Grandparent/Grandchild – Dream/Bicycle – Child/Money
A young Black girl's dream of owning her own bicycle seems unattainable until, with the help of her grandfather, she earns money by selling vegetables from her own garden. When her little brother needs to be hospitalized, she instead gives this money to her grandparents. Again raising money with handmade toys to be sold in the big city, the dream is finally fulfilled after a long wait. The ambitious black-and-white pencil sketches on each page of text realistically depict the steppe-like rural landscape and the very simple life-style of the farming family in a manner which may appeal to the child's eye more than the eye of the professional art critic. This is an authentic story of rural Africa which draws on everyday life rather than on folk-tales or social problems. (7+) ☆ ☼
South Africa (English) - 1995 - 54
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1994. 138 p.
Cape Town/Street life - Orphan - Reading - Friendship - Survival
For several years the abandoned child and runaway. Mess (nicknamed Mellow Yellow), has been fending for himself in the streets of Cape Town. He survives through his association with a gang of street kids, whose teenaged leader, Space Gun, who sets down strict rules that give order to their lives. Mess's dream, his life-motivation, is to learn to read in order to understand the piece of green paper, the key to his real identity, which he wears hidden in a tin box around his neck. One day on a whim he asks a posh schoolboy, Henry, at the train station to teach him to read and through their ensuing friendship ultimately finds his grandfather. Henry's encounter with Mess and the street gang brings about dramatic changes in each of their lives and leads to a happy end in this fast-paced, compelling novel. (12+) ☆
USA (English) - 1995 - 55
Arnold, Katya (adapt./illus.)
Knock, knock, Teremok! A traditional Russian tale
New York: North-South Books, 1994.  p.
Diversity - Co-existence - Story in verse
One after another eight different animals, each seeking a new home, join a fly who has taken up residence in a wooden hut, a teremok. But when the bear tries to fit in, too, he causes the roof to collapse on them all. The humorous, repetitive text is composed in a sing-song manner, ideal for reading aloud and letting young listeners participate. In a note for adults Arnold mentions that she also sees her text as an allegory of the collapse of the socialist ideal, which she also eludes to with a portrait of Lenin in the teremok. The illustrations are a cumulative collage of bold water-colors with contrasting black outlines perfectly supplementing the text. (4-7) ☆ ☼
USA (English) - 1995 - 56
New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1994. 119 p.
Identity - Family conflict - USA- /lndians/Whites/Friendship
Opening oneself to new knowledge, finding the answer to "who am I?", the power of cultural patterns and expectations are the underlying themes of this fictionalized historical novel. Key experiences in the lives of a young Indian boy and Indian girl are set against the background of one of the first significant encounters of their Indian tribe with white English colonists (possibly the Plymouth Rock colony in 1620). The narrative explores both the clash between the two cultures, the impatience of a young boy who yearns for acceptance into adulthood and the turmoil of a young girl of the same age who wants to escape the female role expectations she soon will be forced to fulfill. The Indian way of life is portrayed as one of respect for nature and for the tribe's long-standing traditions; and both are linked by the wisdom passed down through oral storytelling. Though it covers only one day, the highly readable narrative includes a series of encounters between persons and generations in the village and the natural surroundings to portray the adventure of growing up in those days in a compelling manner. (10+) ☆ ☼
USA (English) - 1995 - 57
Fisher, Leonard Everett (text/illus.)
New York: Macmillan, 1994.  p.
Netherlands/Folklore - Flood dike
An historical event in Holland in 1421 forms the basis for Fisher's lyrical text, which is printed one line at a time on stunning acrylic double-spread illustrations. The scenes depict the simple life of a village near the sea during each season of the year. After a spring gale floods the shore, destroying all the houses and windmills, the villagers nonetheless decide to rebuild again on the same spot. The simplicity of the colorful landscape scenes and the subtle details of Holland's way of life will undoubtedly appeal to young viewers. (3+)
USA (English) - 1995 - 58
Hine, Lewis (photos)
Kids at work. Lewis Hine and the crusade against child labor
New York: Clarion Books/Houghlon Mifflin, 1994. 194 p..
USA/Children/Work - Social Reform - Hine, Lewis (1874-1940)
This is in fact two stories of differing scope, but inextricably bound up together and excellently related by one of the USA's leading authors of non-fiction. On the one hand, the social, political and economic conditions which led to the appalling exploitation of millions of children between three and sixteen years of age by industry and commerce in the 19th and 20th century is an aspect of social history which has received little attention up to now. The courageous efforts of individuals and organizations to engender moral indignation and legal barriers against this form of child abuse makes up the other side of the story. In 1908 Lewis Hine became an investigative photographer in the service of one of most important causes of his time and undoubtedly contributed to the gradual progress in this area of social justice. Using dozens of Hine's moving photos on full- page spreads throughout the book, Preedman smoothly interweaves the course of this still incomplete social reform movement and Mine's own biography in a highly readable and unforgettable text. (10+) ☆
USA (English) - 1995 - 59
Kleven, Elisa (text/illus.)
The paper princess
New York: Dutton, 1994.  p.
Doll - Imagination - Homecoming
One day a young girl draws a princess on a piece of paver and cuts it out. Before she can give it hair, a gust of wind carries the simple paper figure up and away in the sky. The paper princess encounters different kinds of people and animals who care for her during her journey, but she longs to return home and be finished by her little girl. Her open, upright manner ultimately enables her wish to come true and the happiness at her homecoming is great and genuine. The simplicity of the paper doll and her little girl is cleverly counterpointed by the very colorful and elaborately detailed full-paged collage illustrations which children and adults will find stimulating and memorable. (4-7) ☼
USA (English) - 1995 - 60
Kurtz, Jane (text)
Lewis, E.B. (illus.)
Fire on the mountain
New York: Simon and Schusler, 1994.  p.
Folktale/Ethiopia - Cleverness - Rich/Poor
As is common to all folktales, this brief story describes an aspect of human nature, a conflict of interests, its resolution. Here a greedy rich man takes pleasure in lording over his servants until he is challenged by a young shepherd boy who speaks the truth instead of kowtowing to the boastful, haughty master. The boy wins a wager with the master, who however refuses to pay the agreed price until the boy's sister and the other servants jointly outwit him, finally risking to show their defiance and demand for justice. The well-drawn watercolor illustrations set the tale in rural Ethiopia, giving the reader a glimpse into another way of life. (6+) ☆ ☼
USA (English) - 1995 - 61
Troubling a star
New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1994. 296 p.
Antarctica - Ecosystem - Love - Friendship
Many of the story elements which characterize LʹEngle's young adult novels are present here once again: intelligent, upper class protagonists; strong, unusual individuals belonging to an older generation; scientific topics; mystery and a touch of romantic love. Sixteen-year-old Vicky is given the opportunity to join an excursion to Antarctica where a young man whom she is very fond of, is completing a research internship. But some other members on her ship are involved in high- level political intrigue and crime. Due to her connections, Vicky is suspected of knowing too much. Once again LʹEngle succeeds in weaving a story of suspense around a wide cast of characters caught up in a challenging situation. At another level, this suspenseful, fictional story allows her to comment on the current real-life political wrangling over a vast undeveloped continent which can effect the world's environment and safety. (14+) ☆
USA (English) - 1995 - 62
Lewis, J. Patrick (text)
Spirin, Gennady (illus.)
The frog princess
New York: Dial/Penguin, 1994. 32 p.
Fairy tales/Russia - Frog/Princess/Curse
These exquisite, finely detailed illustrations in rich dark pastel tones portray the opulence of the tsar's court and immeasurably enhance this Russian folk tale about Vasilisa the Wise. Commanded to marry whoever finds the arrows they shoot out, two of the tsar's sons bring home wealthy, but otherwise ordinary women. But the third son returns home with an ugly frog, whom he nonetheless must marry. When the tsar sets the three brides various tasks, the two ordinary women make fools of themselves while Vasilisa is able to work wonders overnight, much to the delight of the tsar. The prince, however, nearly loses her forever when he secretly burns her frog skin before the curse has been broken. Only his persistence and the help of animals whose lives he spared enable him to return with his bride from the Kingdom beyond Blue Kingdoms. (5+) ☆
USA (English) - 1995 - 63
McGuire, Richard (text/illus.)
Night becomes day
New York: Viking/Penguin Group, 1994.  p.
Time - Transition
This picture book employs a very unusual technique to stimulate the reader's mental and visual imagination. The theme of time is presented in a chain of events which ends where it began. Each of McGuires double- page spreads continues the sequence of free- association, beginning with "night becomes day" and ending with "good becomes night. " In between the reader takes an abstract journey through time and space. The illustrations are nearly one-dimensional lithographs done in primary colors and their main combinations. Hence the seemingly simple composition and clearly designed shapes aptly correspond to the seemingly simple text. The steady pace of time which flows invisibly page after page gives the book a complexity and intensity which seems to contradict the visual simplicity and ultimately achieves its purpose as a read-aloud sleep-inducing bedtime story. (4-7) ☼
USA (English) - 1995 - 64
New York: Dutton/Lodestar Books, 1994. 120 p.
Death - Grief - Family problems - Teacher - Friendship
Her father's death brings drastic changes in nine-year-old Vinnie's family: moving in with Grandmother in a new town, mother going to work, a new school. Her five-year- old brother Mason stops speaking after their father's burial, and Vinnie cannot express her feelings of jealousy, anger and sadness because no one takes time to listen to her. At school she begins a tenuous friendship with another outsider girl in the class, and idolizes her teacher who reminds her of her father. But Vinnie's repressed emotions are vented in a spontaneous act of vandalism, setting in motion a chain of events which ultimately allows Vinnie and Mason to deal with their pain and self-imposed feelings of guilt and frustration. Paterson describes the events entirely from Vinnie's own perspective, sensitively portraying the emotional and mental ambiguity (flip-flop changes) in children going through painful adjustments without overdramatization or sentimentality. (12+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1995 - 65
Bolden, Tonya (ed.)
Johnson, Charles (forward)
Rites of passage. Stories about growing up by black writers from around the world.
New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1994. 208 p.
Blacks - Racial discrimination - Self- discovery
The syntax, vocabulary and content of these seventeen stories is uniquely rooted in the so-called black experience without making them any less universal, inspiring and entertaining for readers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. The manifold effects of belonging to a minority which collectively has been economically and socially disadvantaged for so long are sometimes blatant, sometimes quite subtle elements in these poignant and finely tuned tales about crucial moments in the process of coming of age, of learning to see the real world from a new perspective. This international anthology includes authors who grew up and still write today about contemporary life in North America, Latin America, Africa, England, or Australia. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1995 - 66
Robinet, Harriette Gillem
New York: Atheneum, 1994. 117 p.
(A Jean Karl Book)
USA/Racism - Friendship - Father/Prison
In this story about one hard-working black sharecropper family suddenly caught up in the wheels of injustice, racism in rural Mississippi in the 1930s is depicted realistically but without bitterness. The protagonist, twelve-year-old Shortning, is quite capable of recognizing and verbalizing his disadvantaged situation but seeks anyway to get his father released from the chain gang. By chance he saves the life of a white boy, Hawk, who begins to recognize his own prejudices and misconceptions of blacks. Though they are each still bound by strict social conventions. Hawk helps Shortening succeed in his plan. The solid plot and natural, honest dialogues create an authentic, gripping story of resilience and solidarity in the face of adversity. (10+) ☆
Austria (German) - 1995 - 67
Egli, Werner J.
Nur einer kehrt zurück
(Only one will return)
Wien: Ueberreuter, 1994. 192 p.
Eskimo - Polar Bear/Hunt - Death
Three Eskimos set off on a polar bear hunt. The American girl, Angie, a visitor in the village, involuntarily joins up with them. The hunt goes badly and two of the men die in the drift ice, the third one can be rescued but is seriously injured. While the young white girl successfully battles against death with all her remaining strength, the Eskimo men give themselves up to fate with a certain resignation. The dramatic events of this novel are thrilling up to the last page. The reader gets a glimpse into the ethnological aspects of Eskimo life and learns the differences between white and Eskimo culture in terms of their attitudes to life and death for man and animal. (14+) ☆
Austria (German) - 1995 - 68
Esterl, Arnica (text)
Zawadzki, Marek (illus.)
Okino und die Wale
(Okino and the Whales)
Wien: Österreichischer Bundesverlag, 1994.  p.
Modern fairy tale - Rites of initiation - Whale
Sometimes Okino goes to the seashore to watch the whales. One day she tells her little son Takomi the ancient legend of a girl who once lived in the royal palace of the whales and was rescued by her mother and returned to earth. This interesting matriarchal variation of the tale of initiation has been illustrated with pictures of nighttime and water in a wide palette of blue tones which flow and circle around the text. The vast underwater world, the mysterious of the deep sea are opened up to the reader, vacillating between the world of nature and fairy tale. (6+) ☼
(1994 Troisdorf Picture Book Prize of the Children's Jury)
Austria (German) - 1995 - 69
Das geheime Wissen der Pinguine
(The secret knowledge of the penguins)
Wien: Jungbrunnen, 1993-1994. (2 vols.) 115 p.; 117pp
ISBN 3-7026-5664-2; 3-7026-5670-7
Factual knowledge - Question-and-answer
The secret knowledge of the penguins consists of the answers to so-called "dumb" questions children like to ask. Hence inquisitive children are encouraged here by penguins to ask as many dumb questions as possible without the usual scruples imposed by adults. And the children get their answers - first in a radio show, and now in a two-volume work on various topics. The editors, working through the penguins, ensure that in spite of all the sensible and nonsensical wordplay the significance of the questions is clear and the desired answers given - in one form or another, whether fable, fairy tale or factual report. To what extent the stories are appropriate, that is something the reader must reflect upon him or herself. And that may be done with the greatest of pleasure. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1995 - 70
Kusterer, Karin (text)
Edita Dugalic (text)
Heimat ist nicht nur ein Land. Eine bosnische Flüchtlingsfamilie erzählt
(Home is not only a land. The story of a Bosnian refugee family)
Wien: Dachs, 1994. 127 p. With maps and tables
Bosnia/War - Refugee/Germany
The Bosnian Edita Dugalic (now 17 years old) lives with her family in Germany. In this book she relates her experiences of war in the former Yugoslavia, her childhood in her hometown of Zvornik on the Drina River - which is not lost to her - and her escape, the confusion. Her contacts to her friends in Bosnia with whom she went to school - whether Serb or Muslim children - are not broken off. This book deserves particular attention not only because of its current relevance - about which the media is full of necessarily one-sided and short journalistic reports. Here is a report of the personal experiences of younger and older people, completely lacking in sensationalism. They try to understand and survive their involuntary entanglement in the catastrophe of war. There is no mention of the gruesome acts which happened and are still happening, only of the wish of the civil population to live in peace in their homeland. The editor and co-author has included notes of history-making dates and geographical names. (12+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1995 - 71
Recheis, Käthe (text)
Holländer, Karen (illus.)
(The wolf saga)
Wien: Herder, 1994. 507 p.
Wolf- Dictatorship - Utopia
The great black wolf Schogar Kan, stronger than all the other wolf leaders, wants to create heaven on earth for his pack. He wants there to be only one great pack of wolves whose lives and survival is to be ensured with force against the rest of nature and other animals. He tolerates no opposition. Fighting and war crop up in Arcadia. Nonetheless or precisely because of it, the dictatorship must fall. His negative utopia of life, based on despotism, stands in contrast to the traditional, nature-given rules and to Waka, the eternal laws of creation. Schogar Kan is not conquered by counterforce, but rather loses his power through the gentle art of persuasion of a weaker one. In this narrative the author portrays the laws which nature herself has created. The animals decide for or against anti-nature and violence in the form of the great wolf and bear the consequences of their decision. Kathe Recheis impressively presents a mighty question here. With her protagonists of her saga of the natural world she dreams of an ideal, and above all of an achievable ideal world. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1995 - 72
Riha, Susanne (text/illus.)
Wir leben gern bei euch zuhaus
(We would like to live at your house)
Wien: Betz, 1994.  p.
A house pet doesn't need to be a problem for parents and children. If the proper minimal prerequisites and attitudes are present and proper care is given - as demonstrated here for twelve of the most common and beloved European house pets in text and pictures - both children and adults can have pleasure in a lively and healthy pet without pangs of conscience. This is set out in an informative and detailed manner in this picture book which is suitable even for smaller children. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1995 - 73
Abdel-Quadir, Ghazi (text)
Buresch, Bettina (illus.)
(The tin camel)
München: Klopp, 1994. 110 p.
Arabia/Tribal culture - Poverty - Technology - Community - City life
Samira is one of the Arab children who live in the tin-roofed hovels on the edge of a large city, near the garbage dumps. Hence the stories her grandmother tells about life years ago seems like a fairy tale. Their tribe had been affluent, there were camels, goats and chickens for them all. And although the children didn't go to school, when they grew up they knew how to get along in life, This was the way it was until the civil engineers watered the wasteland around the village, spreading artificial fertilizer and claiming ever greater portions of the harvest for themselves. Tribal disputes broke out among the neighbors, and the survivors were finally forced to move to the cities. That was how their impoverishment began. For all their greed, the members of the tribe had not listened to the warnings of the wise elders, but instead destroyed nature and hence their own life by the misguided use of technology. With tangible sadness, but without bitterness, the author tells a realistic story as a piece of fiction. The text also represents the possibility for acquainting children with socio-cultural aspects of life without writing a "problem book." (8+) ☆ ☼
Germany (German) - 1995 - 74
Andresen, Ute (text)
Herfurth, Egbert (illus.)
Alles hat einen Namen. Ein Wort-Schatz- Buch
(Everything has a name. A treasury of words)
Ravensburg: Ravensburger Bunchverlag, 1994. 77 p.
This treasure chest-like book of words combines pictures, poetry and words (in three languages) in a masterly manner. The chapters begin with the smallest place (a box) and end with the universe, showing in each case what is contained therein: box, knapsack, suitcase, closet, room and finally infinite cosmic space. A short verse characterizes each new dimension, pictures show the items, words describe the picture (in German, English, and French). The result is a play-like, but very informative dictionary even suited for very small children, who are able to explore their immediate and not-so-immediate surroundings and find out the names and labels of things. (4+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1995 - 75
Belli, Gioconda (text)
Erlbnuch, Wolf (illus.)
Schwarzer, Anneliese (transl. from Spanish)
Die Werkstatt der Schmetterlinge
(The Workshop for Butterflies)
Wuppertal: Hammer, 1994. 40 p.
Creation - Butterfly - Imagination
For the "maker of all things" there exists from the creative point of view certain limitations: the animal and plant kingdom must remain strictly separate from one another. There is no place for a "tree that sings like a bird...or.. a bird that lays apples instead of eggs...". And yet, young people in particular have their dreams. Rodolfo wants to invent a creature which "is like a bird and like a flower at once." In memory of his grandfather, the inventor of the rainbow, he composes the wings of this creature from grains of pollen and then gives it legs and a body with a long tongue so that it can feed itself from this pollen. He calls it Butterfly and invents butterflies for all regions of the world. Even the Wise Old One, a mother figure like those in the creation myths of primitive peoples, impressively appearing in a huge scarlet gown, is enchanted by this unexpected beauty. The young inventor is given permission to summon together a jury of all creators to decide about the necessity of a separate workshop for the butterflies. The story is fully of fantasy and intelligence, the text (which is not available in this form in Spanish) holds an exotic type of brilliance; and Eribruch's pictures are as fascinating as ever. Seriousness and caricatural humor intersect with one another also at the formal artistic level. Inspite of the naturalistic portrayal of figures and objects on the page, the artist sensitively and accurately conveys the atmosphere of the both tedious and pleasurably creative task of designing. The large-sized, prize-winning book deserves all the attention it will receive. (6+) ☆
Germany (German) - 1995 - 76
Erwachsene reden. Marco hat etwas getan
(Adults talk. Marco has taken action)
Hamburg: Oetinger, 1994. 100 p.
Right-wing radicalism - Society/Violence - Murder - Germany/Foreign residents
Friends and classmates, teachers, school principal, neighbors, social workers, pastor and mayor talk here about the "Marco case". Their comments range from "no comment" to wordy statements, more or less precise, more or less burdened with self-reflection and the question of adult guilt in regard to Marco's behavior. Marco killed two people, Turkish children. Those witnesses questioned name the places of other recent murders, such as Mölln and Solingen. Even Marco had spoken aloud about the possibility of a similar deed, but no one paid attention to him - as had been the case throughout his childhood. To achieve just that, namely to achieve recognition, he took action. There was also a group of youth in this small, unpossessing place, who wanted to distance themselves from the deeds of Mölln and Sollingen with a chain of lights. But when the asylum seekers arrive, problems between the local residents and the foreigners arise. Using a very adept narrative technique the author brings in all the usual arguments and pseudo-arguments about the issue of enmity toward foreigners. Based on an isolated incident, the social setting for the potential origins of misanthropic and xenophobic acts become better understandable. (12+) ☆
Germany (German) - 1995 - 77
Brandis, Sylvia (text)
Ensikat, Klaus (illus.)
Momme in Schweden. Die Dachsreise
(Momme in Sweden. The badger's journey)
Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1994. 88 p.
Sweden - Farm - Horse - Nature - Friendship
Momme travels with his mother to visit Gunnar on a remote farm in Sweden. There he finds Bellmann, the old horse with a hundred faces, just one cow in the barn and mysteriously feuding neighbors, with whom however a reconciliation is possible. An elk calf is separated from its mother and Momme decides he will never to shoot elk, but instead become a farmer. A badger gets caught in a trap and is rescued from a sure death. This sympathetic story presents a not quite ideal world - but also not a problem world - and its inhabitants. Much is only alluded to, much remains part of an undefined background, but the protagonists are clearly drawn. The imaginative fantasy of children and the real world of adults are united in a pleasant relationship) which all of them can accept. The publisher of this original paperback is to be congratulated for including the illustrations by Klaus Ensikat, which effortlessly include these widely differing worlds in his drawings. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1995 - 78
Feth, Monika (text)
Boratyński, Antoni (illus.)
(The sign cleaner)
Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1995.  p.
Work - Happiness - Education - Fame
Working in streets named Bach, Beethoven, Brecht or Kästner has unanticipated consequences for a street cleaner. He suddenly realizes that he knows nothing about the people whose names he is cleaning daily. At first he goes to concerts to hear their music, then to the public library to read their books. Soon he is singing and reciting while he works. An audience gathers around him and he is given a show on television. To make a long story short: the street sign cleaner turns down a post at the university and continues to his own work, holding lectures for his own and his listeners' pleasure. Antony Boratyńiski gives his protagonists realistic expressions but rather dream-like appearance, their faces are stereotypic but also lively. Two dimensional colors and distorted proportion, often out of perspective, correspond in a formal way to the substance of this sympathetic, but unfortunately hardly imaginable story about a happy person. (7+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1995 - 79
Grimm, Jacob (text)
Grimm, Wilhelm (text)
Ensikat, Klaus (illus.)
Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten
(The Bremen city musicians)
Berlin: Altberliner Verlag, 1994. 24 p.
Ingratitude - Man/Animal - Self-help - House/Occupation
One can happily report that Klaus Ensikat is no longer an insider's tip in the western states of Germany, having being recently awarded the "Lux" for lifetime achievement by Germany's leading weekly newspaper "Die Zeit." This fairy tale edition contains all the qualities which he is known for: technical meticulousness along with a wealth of imagination, oscillation between classical genre and landscape art and a simultaneous unbroken tendency toward biting caricatural diversity for the protagonists. The dynamicism of the scenes is captured in the borders of each spread, which for the most part contains both text and illustration. Italic font and scattered motifs of musical instruments form a harmonious unity, as is also true of the brown-green tones. This fairy tale picture book has no expiration date. (6+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1995 - 80
Heller, Eva (text/illus.)
Die wahre Geschichte von allen Farben
(The true story of all colors)
Oldenburg: Lappan, 1994.  p.
In the beginning was white. This is the beginning of the true story of all colors. White lets all the other colors glow and shine, and each individual color - red, blue, yellow - want to capture its place on white. In doing so, they come together and even mix with one another. To their great dismay they must accept that new members of the family thus arrive: orange, violet, brown and black. Each color has its own idiosyncrasies: red is loud, blue is gentle, violet is silent. Finally white, the sum of all colors, establishes order amidst all the fights over rank order and position. It invents the chromatic circle. Each is appointed an acceptable place between its neighboring relations. By giving the colours their own willfulness and character, the author creates a dynamic and structured tale for children who like to draw. (4+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1995 - 81
Reise bis zum Ende der Welt. Aus dem Leben des Robert Louis Stevenson
(Journey to the end of the world. The life of Robert Louis Stevenson)
Ravensburg: Ravensburger Buchverlag, 1994. 281 p.
Stevenson, Robert Louis/Biography
Ever since childhood Robert Louis Stevenson suffered from tuberculosis. In this fictive biography he confesses his remedy against the disease to his stepson, the narrator: try to imagine a journey that one wants to make at all costs. In fact Stevenson did succeed in drawing out the deadly course of his illness until his 44th year through many changes of climate and location. In this biography Hetmann combines fictitious passages with original texts by Stevenson, including those from the lesser known homo politicus. The reader experiences the birth of the novel "Treasure Island" as a joint idea of Stevenson and his stepson. Both enjoyed combining their fantasies of adventure and observations of unusual contemporaries into a story which the adult writes while the youth spurs it onwards when it begins to slacken. Precise biographical research and detailed portrayals of Stevenson's places of residence endow the book with a convincing atmosphere. (10+) ☆
Germany (German) - 1995 - 82
Die Zeit ist kaputt. Die Lebensgeschichte des Erich Kästner
(Time out of order. The life story of Erich Kästner)
Weinheim: Beliz & Gelberg, 1994. 224 p.
Thirty-seven years after the appearance of Kästner's famous autobiography "When I was a little boy" (German ed. 1957) Klaus Kordon puts the life of this writer into its cultural-historical context. He reflects on Kästner's writings using the current knowledge of personality psychology and doesn't stop short of chipping away a little at the Kästner monument. The political events of the first part of this century, which by now are thoroughly documented, are referred to in statements by those alive then and in photographs of Kästner's encounters with them. In a generally more rational tone than is usually expected of Kästner admirerers, Kordon makes a vehement case for a rediscovery of his socially critical works, which especially in Germany have been seriously neglected in favor of his children's books. Kästner is still highly regarded as an author of political texts in other countries. (14+) ☆
Germany (German) - 1995 - 83
Wenn das Glück kommt, muß man ihm einen Stuhl hinstellen
(When happiness arrives, one should offer it a chair)
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1994. 178 p.
Children's home/Everyday life - Diary - Feelings
Halinka comes from Poland. Her aunt Lou would be glad to adopt her, but isn't allowed to as long as she is unmarried. Halinka lives with her thoughts and dreams more outside than inside the children's home where it finds everything and everyone antagonistic. In her loneliness, she takes emotional comfort from writing in her secret book of thoughts (but no feelings, in case a stranger were to find it), where important sentences such as that of the title of this book. There are many little tricks used for survival in the everyday life of the children's home, including the art of not falling for the mean tricks of the other girls. But still there are positive moments, even with some adults, such as when a teacher silently ignores Halinka's misdeeds. Mirjam Pressler succeeds in letting the reader experience the child narrator's desperation, anger and maliciousness, her joy and happiness. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1995 - 84
Schami, Rafik (text)
Eribruch, Wolf (illus.)
Das ist kein Papagei!
München: Hanser, 1994. 32 p.
Parrot - Family fight - Feminism
Let's get it right from the start: The parrot that Lina's parents thought was a he-bird is a she-bird. And she-birds never repeat what they are told to say. They fall asleep while you are talking. One could even consider them dumb or untalented. But not Lina. She got the picture right from the very beginning, but for all their fighting, her parents didn't hear her for a long time. After being unmasked and giving proof of her diligence - she claims to speak thirteen language fluently and understand twenty others - the she-bird is allowed to stay in the family. The text and illustrations of this lovely, caricatural story of a secret matriarchy fit together in ideal harmony. The illustrator fulfills all the subversive visual desires of the beholder. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1995 - 85
Vergitterte Jugend. Innenansichten aus dem Jugendknast
(Youth behind bars. Inside a juvenile detention center)
Recklinghausen: Bitter, 1994. 173 p.
Youth/Criminal behavior - Prison/Youth - Writing
The author, translator, teacher and journalist Marie-Thérèse Schins and two students got involved with the inmates of a juvenile detention center in the hopes of furthering reading and writing skills. With this program she hoped to give even the functional illiterates there a sphere in which young criminals would be able to name and deal with their own difficulties. Some of those interviewed were even prepared to participate in the newly founded reading club in the center. Some, such as the co- author Wagner, a young gypsy, recognized writing as an opportunity to develop a feeling of inner freedom even in a non-free situation. In general the work with the inmates took place on a friendly level. The author contributes her own texts in this volume; the inmates began to interest themselves for their own life only after they had begun to write about their feelings and thoughts. (12+) ☆
Germany (German) - 1995 - 86
Schubiger, Jörg (text)
Berner, Rotraut Susanne (illus.)
Als die Welt noch jung war
(When the world was still young)
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1995. 173 p.
Paradox - Humor
Absurd, mostly very short stories are contained in this extraordinary volume. Extraordinary both for their often sly, and even sassy content, and equally so for their eccentric illustrations which are scattered throughout the book either on full-sized pages in strong, but not glaring colors, or inserted as vignettes at the beginning of the chapter, or in black-white-and-ochre tones as a preface to some texts. The overall design (paper quality, typeface, binding, and dustjacket) is pleasing in its harmony. The 43 stories invite the reader to this or that discovery: beginning with Adam and Eva's paradise, ending with alternative life- styles of outsiders such as the "little giant" or the "slow one," and in between in chapters dedicated to things, animals, names, puzzles and magic. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1995 - 87
Der blaue Himmel
(The blue heavens)
Frakfurt a. M.: Surkamp, 1994. 177 p. With glossary
Tuva Autonomous Region - Nomads/Mongolia - Everyday life/Mongolia - Dog - Family life
A Tuvinian child - the Tuvinians are a Mongolian tribe - learns how to behave without actually being raised. At least that is how it used to be. The word "education" is not part of the Tuvinian language. Children learn the rules of behavior for specific situations as part of a group; everything else is learned by listening, observing, imitating and helping. The most important beings in the life and surroundings of the young narrator are his "grandmother," an unknown older woman who came once upon a time into the tent village. Ail, and stayed on because the child "chose" her and they no longer wanted to part, and the dog Arsylang, leader of the pack and their faithful companion, "my brother-instead-of- a-brother" as the author calls him. The climax and end of this narrator's childhood is a long hard winter which the little family barely manages to survive along with a very few of their herd. For the dog Arsylang the new period, with its technical possibilities, brings a fateful danger when he eats the poison that the father sets out for the maraurading predators. The boy threatens to succumb to his despair over his dog’s death and in a dramatic protest he turns to the highest Tuvanian healer, the Gük Deeri, the "blue heavens", who gives the book is double-meaninged title. The enormous force of the text lies in its long "inner wind," which challenges the imagination and con- veys the rhythm of tension and restfulness in the life of the Ail. The author of this autobiographical memoir, Galsan Tschinag, was born into a Tuvinian family of nomadic animal-herders in the Mongolian People's Repubulic in 1944. He studied German in East Germany between 1962 and 1968, and wrote this novel in German. In 1992 he was awarded the Adalbert von Chamisso Prize in Munich. (10+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1995 - 88
München: Klopp, 1994. 218 p.
Germany/History 20th century - Sinti (Gypsy) - Racial persecution
When he entered school in 1938 Josef, called Muscha, was confronted with the Nazi contempt for human life and racial hysteria. Betrayed by his physical appearance, he is beaten up, teased, and finally taken away and sterilized by doctors. His parents are able to save him just before deportation and hide him for many long months in a lonely garden house. Only at the end of the war does he learn that he was a child of gypsies and had been taken in by a foster family. Muscha's story is told from the perspective of another school boy and the reader, as Muscha himself, is kept in the dark about the real grounds for his suffering until the end of the novel. Only in an epilogue does it become clear that the story of Muscha is absolutely authentic. (B.S.) (10+) ☆
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1995 - 89
Waluszck, Christian (text)
Michl, Reinhard (illus.)
Die Reise zu den Brumm-Bell-Bergen
(The journey to the Growl-Bark Mountains)
München: Ellermann, 1994. 131 p.
Freedom - Dancing bear - Dop - Cockaigne
Mischa the bear and Zapek the dog want to find the animals' Cockaigne, the land of milk and honey. They are hindered only by the chains which bind them to Happy Juran's caravan wagon. Though Zadek feels chained up, Mischa has forgotten what freedom is. Only as a bear cub could he run over meadows and rob beehives of honey, before Juran made him into a dancing bear. The two runaways make their dreams come true; now and then one sees them roaming happily through the woods. The text is pleasing on the one hand for its unsenti- mental portrayal of the sad lot of captive animals and still it offers the most splendid situational comedies which arise from man and animal trying to live together but having only a limited amount of mutual tolerance. Full-sized black-and-white pictures by Reinhard Michi contribute to this reading pleasure. (8+) ☼
Switzerland (German) - 1995 - 90
Ebet-Schifferer, Sybille (ed.)
Thorbecke, Jan Peter et al. (text)
Fünf stumme Zeugen betrachten ein Tonschwein: 7192 Jahre Begegnung im Museum.
(Five silent witnesses study a clay pig: 7192 years of encouters in the museum)
Bern: Benteli, 1993. 79 p.
This exceptional information book doesn't intend to be a museum guide but rather a stimulus for the reader to discover art. To this end the book is designed using a series of graphic techniques such as pieces of art in various sizes or excerpts and in unexpec- ted places on the page. In the descriptive texts, in the comparisons between different epochs using individual works as examples, as well as in the fold-out chronological tables an instructive survey is created with- out any recognizable pedagogical impetus. At the same time various possibilities and techniques of artistic book design are shown in the layout of the catalog itself. In all these aspects the curiosity and pleasure in discovery in both children and adults are offered. The guide is an exemplary escort. It includes illustrations of pieces held in the Hessian State Museum in Darmstadt. (8+)
Switzerland (German) - 1995 - 91
Hauff, Wilhelm (text)
Čapek, Jindra (illus.)
Die Geschichte von Kalif Storch
(The story of Caliph Stork)
Zürich: bohem press, 1994.  p.
Metamorphosis - Stork - Love - Modern fairy tale
Fairy tales involving metamorphosis are traditionally loved by children. In the tale of Caliph of Bagdad and his Great Vizir present themselves her in a new form. The illustrator gives them the unmistakable features of storks and men; he does the same for the magicians who give the impetus for the whole plot and are punished for their evilness in the end. Full-page illustrations reflect the splendor of the Orient and the expanse of its landscape. The generous type-setting is pleasing to the eye, delicate initial vignettes grace the beginning of each chapter. The large-sized book represents, without being designed at an unusual expense. Not only in content but also in its imagery, an imaginable Oriental world which is by tradition dedicated to leisure and pleasure. The splendor of the pictures upholds the childlike joy of reading and telling stories. The traditional figura- tiveness of the Orient appears at times cari- catural, surpassing the textual content of the story. In this way the frames obtain their own authenticity, which at once interprets and depicts the Hauff tale. (6+) ☆
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1995 - 92
Johansen, Hanna (text/illus.)
Ein Maulwurf kommt immer allein
(A mole is always a loner)
Zürich: Nagel & Kimche, 1994. 118 p.
Mole - Individualism - Family
The mole is a typical loner and only feels really happy when he is left alone. Hanna Johansen has made use of this fact to create a poetic case for the individualists of this world, wherever they may be hiding. Mother Mole loves her little children, her "closest to her heart little silk worms" as much as any other concerned mother. The little moles get along together, fight and battle with one another, become independent. They dig their own tunnels. The little girl mole, much to her own surprise, even tolerates a guest in her wing of the tunnel once. And soon she builds a nest of her own and has her own little "closes to her heart silk worms" to take care of, at least for a while. But the story in this book is not quite so thin. There are the most marvelous odors in the mole tunnels, they are crawling with little bugs and insects, "friends" of the moles. That is how the life of a mole is - friends are those you can eat, enemies are those who can eat you. The art of storytelling needs few words, just the right ones. Hanna Johansen uses this art to create new worlds which provide adults and children unexpected, funny and ironical insights into their own world. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1995 - 93
Schindler, Regine (text)
Jucker, Sita (illus.)
Mia, was ist ein Trip?
(Mia, What is a trip?)
Zürich: bohem press, 1994.  p.
Drug abuse - Friendship - Family
Sometimes Matthias meets Mia and Puek, the dog, on his way home from school. Mia is a junkie and one day she cannot conceal it from Matthias any longer. His parents forbid him to see her any longer. When he meets her, her condition is already incura- ble. The boy takes on a big project: some- day he will work with drug addicts. Al- though it is quite clearly a problem-centered (picture) book, conceived in cooperation with the Swiss Central Agency for Addic- tion Prevention, the text and illustrations convey an atmosphere of security in Mat- thias's home as well as the vulnerability of: homeless drug addict. This book provides an opportunity for discussion and lets even younger children know how dangerous drugs are, but also that in certain cases addicts can be cured. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1995 - 94
Tolstoi, Leo (text)
Abesinova, Elena (illus.)
Maja, Geise (German text)
Wieviel Erde braucht der Mensch?
Zürich: Speer, 1994.  p.
Farmer - Greed - Death
Pachom, the farmer, tries to think of way if purchase more land. He learns about a region where one can acquire as much land one is able to mark off by walking from sun-up to sundown. He decides to take up this good bargain but overtaxes himself with his march around his future land and dies. The German version of this Russian has been shortened and adapted for children. The illustrations contain the traditional Russian folk art motifs in richly detailed and yet grandly playful, humorous and brightly colored variations. Interspersed with ironic jabs at the religious practices and everyday life in grand old Russia, there is a new picture world of men, women, angels and animals on each page. Countryside and cities are boxed inside of one another, make-believe maps with cyrillic writing draw attention to themselves. The illustrator Elena Abesinova lives and works today in Kiev. (6+) ☼
(See also Nr. 25 and 26 (Romania))
Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1995 - 95
Paris: Pastel/L ʹEcole des Loisirs, 1994.  p.
ISBN 2 211 018 94
Clown - Toy - Dream - Personal Property
In his dreams a young boy sees a clown dressed in white against an alternately dark yellow and an orange background. On the right side pages the text describes all the things he owns, on the reverse side it tells what he has lost. He had a pink rose ... it was eaten up by a sheep. He had a purple pair of pants ... the dog ran away with it. He had a nice red nose ... a blackbird snatched it off. But when the clown wakes up the next morning he finds all his treasures gathered around him. Vivacious and expressive drawings betray the illustrator's gentle humor. She has succeeded in creating an enchanting book for the very young reader. (2+) ☆
Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1995 - 96
Hellings, Colette (text)
Maes, Dominique (illus.)
(The donkey's opus)
n.p.: Pastel/L'Ecole des loisirs, 1994.  p.
Art appreciation - Humor - Donkey - Pegasus - Genius - Painting - Self- discovery
This humorous picture book deals with a confused young donkey in his painting studio, which is empty except for three cans of paint. Yet quite unexpectedly he is able to fulfill his painter's ambitions. In the end our donkey perceives himself to be a bud- ding genius, covering not only the canvas but also himself with colorful splats of paint. On wings of joy the pointer flies through the open window, upwards toward the sun. In a simple manner the author and the illustrator succeed in presenting the creative process with all its ups and down. The reader shares in the artist's joy and learns along the way quite coincidentally something about the theory of colors. (5+) ☼
Canada (French) - 1995 - 97
Lavigne, Guy (text)
Mourir sur fond blanc
(Dying on a white background)
Montréal: La courts échelle, 1994. 150 p.
(Roman + 30)
Detective story - Murder - Art - Video film
Those looking for and lively entertainment can unhesitatingly pick up this smoothly written detective story. The author offers yet another episode in the successful career of the private eye Joseph E. This time there are two mysterious murders, a suspicious policeman, an attractive woman painter, and a missing video cassette. Was it blackmail? Except for several funny made-up words, the text is easy to follow. (12+) ☼
Canada (French) - 1995 - 98
Lienhardt, Jean-Michel (text)
Chat de gouttière
Montréal: Paulines, 1993. 141 p.
Single-parent family - Father/Son - First love - Runaway
Every since his mother died, Nicholas has lived alone with his father, who often comes home drunk. Nicholas is frequently left to fend for himself and he is not always well-behaved. He is taken in by his petty- minded aunt Rita, but soon runs away and finds shelter in the vacation home of the parents of his girlfriend, Aurélie. Finally his greatest wish can be fulfilled: he is allowed to live with his father again. The main theme of this book is the father-son relationship. The reader can readily sympa- thize with Nicholas's deeds and misdeeds. Numerous dialogues enliven the text, which is both entertaining and suspenseful. (11+)
Canada (French) - 1995 - 99
Plante, Raymond (text)
L'étoile a pleuré rouge
(The star cried red tears)
Montréal: Boréal, 1994. 160 p.
(Boréal Inter 28)
Youth/Gang - Violence/Gang - Murder - Love - Friendship - Prostitution
Violence on the streets, violence for violence's sake among youth people is the theme running through this story. The author depicts 55 hours in the life of Guts, Yannick, Man, Big, their girlfriend Lori and the real hero of the story, Esther. The story begins with the preparations for a nighttime attack in a city park, to which Esther is by chance a witness, and ends with the murder of a member of the group. Reading like a slow-motion thriller, this novel is in reality a refined, masterful literary description of a state of being - without delving into the psychological background: for these youth there is no way out. The author succeeds with his picturesque sentences in creating an atmosphere of intensity. (13+) ☆
Special Mention - Canada (French) - 1995 - 100
Simard, Rémy (text)
Pratt, Pierre (illus.)
Mon chien est un éléphant
(My dog is an elephant)
Willowdale: Annick Press, 1994.  p.
ISBN 1-55037-979-8 (French ed.) 1-55037-977-1 (English ed.)
Boy - Elephant - Friendship - Disguise Hide-and-Seek - Family Conflict
Hector takes in an elephant which has esca- ped from the zoo and hides it in his room. To protect his mother from any further sur- prise encounters with the giant animal - she faints each time - Hector tries out different disguises for his charge. But all his efforts prove to be unsuitable. In this series of slap- stick style surprises which climax in the mother's fainting spell the reader can even image hearing the thump of her fall. Such grotesque inventiveness is great fun! (5+) ☼
(1994 Canadian Governor General's Award for Illustration)
France (French) - 1995 - 101
Begag, Azouz (text)
Quand on est mort, c'est pour toute la vie
(When you're dead, its for the rest of your life)
Paris: Gallimard Jeunesse, 1994. 122 p.
Lyons - Algeria - France/Immigrant - Homelessness - Social power - Social injustice - Identity crisis
The first-person narrator of this young adult novel, Amar, is a writer. He is a "beur," the French name for the second generation of Algerian immigrants. His younger brother, Murad, is shot by a taxi driver because he cannot pay the fare for the ride to the airport. Murad had dreamed of flying to America. The reader sympathizes with Amar's desperation, which leads him to perform irrational acts in attempt to provoke the Lyons police. He wonders whether Murad's death was not prosecuted because he was a "beur." To get some rest Amad travels again to Algeria, the land in which he was not born and has not seen for thirteen years. Finding everything completely changed, he hastily leaves his family village. In an adventure-filled return trip by bus through the desert, he is a powerless witness to the undercurrent political fighting that is destroying the land. Police and spies are omnipresent. But nothing happens to him, the rich "beur." Amar observes the contradictions in this country, its inner conflicts. He would like to help, but feels that he doesn't fit in there. (14+) ☆
(Prix Cercle dʹ Or Livres Hebdo 1994)
France (French) - 1995 - 102
Bloch, Muriel (text)
Tjoyas, Alexios (illus.)
La femme-jardin et autres contes extravagants
(The Garden Woman and Other Eccentric Tales)
Paris: Syros, 1994. 124 p.
(Paroles de conteurs)
Story-telling - Fairy tales/Anthology - Love Feminism
Eight volumes in this new series "Tales from Around the World" have already been published. The publisher's stated goal is to retain the vividness of the narrative ductus in the printed version. The texts are short and printed in large type using particularly praiseworthy typography. Pithy sentences or passages are emphasized in the size and boldness of the script. In this volume we are confronted with seven amazing tales which give evidence of the author's bizarre humor and the verve of her storytelling. (8+)
France (French) - 1995 - 103
Bouton, Émilie (text)
Dedieu, Thierry (illus.)
(Watch out, Mimolette!)
Paris: Albin Michet Jeunesse, 1994.  p.
Mouse - Household/Danger - Adventure
A little mouse still in green diapers escapes from the confines of its parents' home and embarks on a series of adventures in the human household. Hunting for delicacies it lands in all kinds of calamities. These are portrayed from imposing perspectives on generously painted, brightly colored acrylic pictures. The text, written in the style of children's rhymes, draws attention to the dangers to which Minolette has exposed herself. In this picture book the author and illustrator succeed in warning children of the dangers which are lurking in every household in an original, humorous manner. (4+) ☼
France (French) - 1995 - 104
Brisou-Pellen, Evelyne (text)
Besse, Christophe (illus.)
Le Vrai prince Thibault
(The true Prince Thibault)
Paris: Rageot, 1994. 89 p.
King/Right of succession - Friendship - Mix-up
Who is the true son of the king? What might be the onset of a tragedy is presented here as an amusing fairy tale. Thibault is the son of the king; the same-aged Guillaume is the son of the king's servant, whose wife is also Thibault's wet-nurse. When she dies, no one else is able to tell the two infants apart. The two boys grow up together, become inseparable companions, and even call themselves Thillaume and Guibault. The king and all his court waver between the wish to finally get to the truth and the acceptance of an insolvable situa- tion. Since every lead proves to be an illu- sion, there are many hilarious mix-ups and even malicious intrigues. But the heart and mind are stronger. The two successors share the royal crown. This entertaining and tale conceals a more serious core question - how to determine the ge- nuine successor? In the appendix the author lists some historical examples. (10+) ☼
(Prix Tam-Tam 1994 Jʹ aime lire - Je bouquine. Salon du Livre de Jeunesse)
France (French) - 1995 - 105
Cohen-Scali, Sarah (text)
Mallart, Bruno (illus.)
Arthur Rimbaud, le voleur de feu
(Arthur Rimbaud, The Fire Thief)
Paris: Hachette Jeunesse, 1994. 286 p.
(Livre de poche jeunesse 491)
Belgium - Rimbaud, Arthur (1854- 1891)/Childhood/Biography - Entwicklungsroman
Those who are interested in this French poet will enjoy the biography of his childhood and youthful years. With much love and persistence Sarah Cohen-Scali delved into his first years in Charleville, a poor small town in the Ardennes near the border of France. This novel is based on the Rimbaud biography by Jean-Luc Steimetz, Rimbaud's correspondence, and above all on the inspiration the author received from his poetry. The result is an exceptionally lively portrayal of the psychological and literary development of the young Rimbaud in the midst of an impoverished, bigoted and strict mother and three siblings in a gloomy provincial dump. The brilliant model pupil turns into a rebellious, restless poet, possessed by his work and intentionally giving himself off as a good-for-nothing. With his teacher, George lzambard, with whom he shares a deep bond of friendship, Rimbaud is confronted with new Republican ideals. Attempting to flee the narrowness of his surroundings, Rimbaud's initially unsuccessful escapades finally lead him to his idolized Verlaine. Rimbaud dreams of a colorful bird of paradise he calls "Baou", which inspires him to compose his poems. Each of "Baou's" sudden "appearances" is cleverly used by the author as a symbol of Rimbaud's talent. A novel-like biography which undoubtedly brings us nearer to the "mystery" of Rimbaud. (13+)
France (French) - 1995 - 106
Dedieu, Thierry (text/illus.)
Paris: Seuil Jeunesse, 1994.  p.
Africa - Initiation - Lion hunt - Test of Courage - Peace Pedagogy - Non-violence - Self-discovery
Powerful, almost frightening black-and- white illustrations depict the story of Yakouba, a young African boy, who has the courage to resist the cruel tradition of his tribe. When the lion, whom he is to kill as the test of courage during his rate of initiation, begs him to be merciful, Yakouba grants his wish. He is thus faced with the social contempt of his people. As punishment he is appointed to a passive post as the guardian of the village herd. Yakouba has proven his courage in a different manner, by making a decision on his own and he receives a different kind of reward. From that time onward, the herd is never again attacked by any lion. Yakouba's courage of self-responsibility and non-violence were of benefit to the entire village. (7+) ☆ ☼
France (French) - 1995 - 107
Delval, Jacques (text)
(So long, old school!)
Paris: Castor Poche Flammarion, 1994. 195 p.
(Castor Poche Senior 445)
Trade school - Social inequality - Generation conflict - Theft - Friendship - Teacher - Solidarity - Lovesickness
Everyday life in the last year of a trade training school in a suburb of Paris forms the background of this story. The pupils are bored, have no goal, are easily seducible. The parents are unsympathetic. The inexperienced young teacher Bancourt, who actually had higher ambitions, stands helplessly in front of his first class. Yet he succeeds in getting the class on his side. He befriends Jed, who like him is searching for an identity. Jed becomes involved in a case of car theft, for which not he but his classmate Diellez is guilty. This novel ends with a glimpse of hope when Brancourt and Jed together attend to Diellez. The author, himself a teacher for many years, has a special talent for conveying the school atmosphere, poised between indifference and discipline, and the varying attitudes of the teachers. (13+) ☆ ☼
France (French) - 1995 - 108
Féraud, Dominique-Jacqeline (text/illus.)
Le Fil d' Ariane ou Jouer le Jeu pour Vivre ie Mythe
(The Ariadne Thread or Playing the Game to Experience the Myth)
Paris: lpomée / Albin Michel, 1944.  p. + Gameboard
Greece (Antiquity) - Mythology - Theseus Labyrinth - Game of dice - Didactics
Encased in an unusual binding are the boardgame "Jeu de l' oie", a game of simpleton which purportedly traces back it the Greeks, and a book which presents the life of Theseus. The attractively designed book, whose verse text is printed on pale- grey paper and laid out in a way which lends itself to reading aloud, functions as well as the rules of the game. Each field of the game board corresponds to a section of the book and an event in the life of Theseus. The game is laid out in a labyrinth. This is an original idea of acquainting children in a playful way with an episode of Greek mythology. (12+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 109
Gaussen, Dominique (text)
François I er & les Châteaux de la Loire
(Francis I & the Loire castles)
Paris: Mango, 1994. 96 p. With illustrations
(Regard dʹʹaujourd ʹhai)
Francis I of France - Loire/Castles - Royal Court - France/Everyday life 1494-1547
The author and successful advertising expert, Dominique Gaussen, has taken Voltaire's motto that all types of things are good except the boring ones, and proven its truth. Thanks to his humorful inventiveness we are given a well-paced and diversified glimpse into the life of the French king, life at the royal court, and the origins of the Loire castles. Gaussen cleverly embeds it into the social and historical context of the Renaissance. This illustrated informative book is designed as a stimulating piece of journalism and owes much to modern techniques of advertising. Divided into numerous short, very different chapters, the eye-catching headlines, the combination of old documents, photomontage, and contemporary caricatures awakens the reader's curiosity. This very new style of disseminating knowledge matches the times best of all. (12+)
(Prix Cercle dʹ Or Livres Hebdo 1994)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 110
Gutman, Claude (text)
Rue de Paris
(A Street in Paris)
Paris: Gallimard Jeunesse, 1994. 187 p.
Paris/World War II - Jews/Persecution - Homelessness - Palestine - Emigration - Search for identity
This is the last volume of a trilogy about the fate of Jews in France during the Second World War. David is filled with the desire for revenge when he learns the fate of his parents at the end of the war. He leaves Paris and the people who had given him a home. Searching for a new meaning to his life, he takes care of Jewish orphans, falls in love with Sarah, and follows her to Palestine on an adventure-filled crossing of Mediterranean by ship. But Palestine is still under British control. He experiences the hard and anonymous life in the refugee camps and kibbutz, the struggles against the occupying powers. In short, clipped sentences he tells of his bereavement, his anger, his sense of being lost, his inner vacuum. But he is drawn into the tumultuous events around him. His love of literature, his feelings for the totally committed Zionisten Sara, the solidarity of the comrades are highlights in the struggle for survival. In a final identity crisis, he decides to return to France. Claude Gutman grew up in Israel; his descriptions of the arrival of Jewish refugees and the precarious daily life in Palestine are most impressive. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 111
La Fontaine, Jean de (text)
Paris: Albin Michel, 1994. 66 p. With illustrations
Fables - Animal/Fable
This year is the 300th anniversary of the writer Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695). In commemoration, Albin Michel has issued this splendid large-sized volume of fables. Thirty well-known children's book illustrators and comic artists from France and also from other countries were commissioned to contribute illustrations. Whether traditional or idiosyncratic, their interpretations are extremely stimulating and awaken the well-known teachings of morality and cleverness to new life. The final two pages are particularly humorous. The artists have written and drawn their own biographical sketches. This volume will please both young and old; a must for every library collection. (7+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 112
Pennart, Geoffroy de (text/illus.)
Le loup est revenu!
(The wolf has returned!)
Paris: Kaléidoscope, 1994.  p.
Rabbit - Wolf- Fear - Fairy tale/Spoof- Animal Tale
The wolf has returned! Upon receiving this threatening piece of news, various well- known figures of classic fairy tales seek refuge in the rabbit's home. In a reversal of the usual course of events, the Seven Billy Goats, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Three Little Pigs, among others, arrive. The very last guest is the bad wolf himself. But all turns out harmoniously with a common vegetarian feast. To top it all off, the wolf tells them scary wolf stories. It makes merry reading for young and old to follow these funny episodes of fairy tale spoofing. Prix Saint-Exupéry 1994 - Valeurs Jeunessi (4+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 113
Pernin, Muriel (text)
Wintz, Nicolas (illus.)
Famine: l' arme des tyrans
(Famine: The weapon of tyrants)
Paris: Syros, 1994. 134 p.
State/Misuse of power - Oppression - Famine - Ukraine/History 1931-33 - Kosovo/History 1993 - Traveller's journal
This is one of the first titles in a new, daring and elegantly designed series focusing on human rights. The name of the series is taken from Zola's famous outcry "J' accuse!" in the French press on January 13, 1898. Its principle is simple. Two stories frame an extensive documentary middle section. In this case, the first historical report deals with the events in the Ukraine during a great famine in 1933, which was precipitated by the Soviet Union to gain access to power. The author draws on documents and eye-witness accounts of refugees in France and survivors in the Ukraine. The second historical report is a diary of a humanitarian aid project in Kosovo in 1993. Because the author succeeds in maintain a distance to the events being described, the reader is able to deal with the gruesome suffering in an objective manner. The elegant design of the volume contrasts with its content and weakens its effect to some extent. (15+) ☆
Special Mention - France (French) - 1995 - 114
Une nuit, un chat...
(A night, a cat ...)
Paris: Lʹ Ecole des loisirs, 1994.  p.
Cat - Father/Conflict - Adventure - Nighttime - First love
Even in cat families the day comes when the youngest offspring goes out at night alone. The worried father follows his son secretly and intervenes discretely and unrecognized whenever danger arises. Breathlessly the reader follows Groucho's first adventures in the darkened city, which the illustrator has masterly staged in a series of pictures. The nighttime scenery, the slanted rooftops, the motionless statues, the threatening shadows are impressive. On secret corners, on the large square, there is an active nightlife for cats. All the cat protagonists are attired in clothing and endowed with the human characteristics. Groucho has a happy and a dangerous encounter. The next night he goes out again. In this humorous and well- drawn picture book Pommaux succeeds once again in transposing general human experience to the animal world. (5+) ☼
(Sélection Livrimages 1994)
Special Mention - Switzerland (French) - 1995 - 115
Bille, Corinna (text)
Hainard, Robert (illus.)
Le mystère du monstre
(The mysterious monster)
Genève: La Joie de lire, 1994.  p.
Wallis/Monster - Wolf hunt - Media
In dialogue with her two little children, a mother tells about the tragicomic events which came to pass in the highest village in the canton of Wallis. An unidentifiable monster began to terrorize the inhabitants, stealing sheep and chickens night after night. The case become more and more widely known, a public disgrace, but no solution was found - until by chance months later a large wolf was shot. The story is so lively written that it really seems authentic. The personalities in this small community in the mountains are superbly characterized, the ups and downs of hope and error make the reader smile. With the help of the pencil drawings and colored prints of the well- known Swiss animal artist Hainard the publisher has succeeded in creating a minor work of art. (8+)
Special Mention - Switzerland (French) - 1995 - 116
Chaillot, Nicole (text)
Europe est une femme
(Europe is a Woman)
Paris / Genève: La Nacelle, 1994. 57 p. With illus. chosen by Agnès Rosenstiehl
Art appreciation - Art history - Painting - Cultural history - Feminism
In this nonfiction picture book numerous portraits and pictures by famous artists from several centuries, citations from the works of famous writers and philosophers from the Roman times up to today document the role which women have been relegated by men in society and in the arts. Two children, a boy and a girl, discover page after page the passive role of the woman, who is supposed to be young and beautiful, and the prejudices under which women suffered in past epochs. The lovely, meticulously laid-out book is not only an interesting work on cultural history but also a history of women's liberation. Its unusual perspective deserves particular attention. (11+)
Special Mention - Switzerland (French) - 1995 - 117
Je m' appelle Adolphe
(My Name is Adolf)
Paris / Genéve: La Nacelle, 1994.  p.
National Socialism – Hitler, Adolf - Peace/Pedagogy - Right-wing radicalism
Well-known in France for his humorous books, the author-illustrator Pef ventures to take on a serious subject, a treatment of his childhood memories during and immediately after the Second World War. Somewhere in France there is a boy named Adolf who bears a fatal resemblance to a historical figure. His easy-going parents have no time for him. He leaves home and goes alone into the woods where he meets a group of Neonazis having a wild party and a woman who survived the concentration camps. Both encounters are nearly fatal. Only when the old woman has explained to him the historical background does he begin to understand. This parable of the unreliability of memory, misleading appearances, and the necessity of passing on historical knowledge is consternating and foiling. The narrative seems to be fragmented, and little Hitler is a tragicomical figure. Nonetheless, or precisely therefore, it is a book which has a feeling of immediacy - enhanced by the style of the illustrations - and forms an important addition to the literature on this subject. (9+) ☆
Tunisia (French) - 1995 - 118
Pierre, Bernard (text)
Counnont, Isabelle (illus.)
Mille et un Nil
(A thousand and one Niles)
Tunis: Alif, les Editions de la Méditerranée, ; / n.p.: Hotier, 1993..  p.
Nile River/History 322 B.C. - 1990 A.D. - Nile River/Flora and Fauna
The Alif publishing house, renown for its interesting picture and illustrated nonfiction books has been collaborating for several years with the Paris publisher Hatier to produce elaborate pop-up books dealing with the Mediterranean region. Each book is a success not only aesthetically, but also as a source of scientifically sound information. This most recent volume provides a many-facetted overview of the historical and geographical significance of the Nile. Even smaller children can become acquainted with the rich animal and plant kingdom, the highly diversified landscape. Older children will profit from the highly informative text. (5+)
Italy (Italian) - 1995 - 119
Alberti, Rossella (text/illus.)
Racconti dal Camerun
(Tales from Cameroon)
Pasian di Prato: Campanotto, 1994. 173 p.
(Campanotto Narrativa; 40)
Cameroon/Fairy tales - Cameroon/Fables
Due to its multifaceted environment and heterogeneous population, Cameroon is also known as "little Africa." It also has a literature based on a rich, oral tradition. Fairy tales, fables arid stories from this corpus have been gathered together here by Rosella Alberti and arranged in capitals subsumed under different animals. The last chapter deals with human stories. Quite understandably, typical African animals (turtles, hyenas) play major roles but as in other cultures they embody certain basic archetypes (e.g. good and evil) and behaviors. (8+) ☆
Italy (Italian) - 1995 - 120
Carpi, Pinin (text/illus.)
Rescaldani, Marilena (illus.)
Il fantasma che aveva paura dei fantasmi : e altre storie da ridere per la paura
(The ghost who was afraid of ghosts and other stories to laugh at when afraid)
Firenze: Giunti, 1994. 94 p.
(Le fiabe fantastiche di Pinin Carpi; 6)
Ghost - Spirits - Vampires
A ghost which is afraid of other ghosts and a librarian who collects them. Very spooky, creepy and strange events take place in Pinin Carpi's tales. Vampires and ghosts in classical fluttering garb inhabit gloomy castles and vacant houses. But these eight tales are none too scary; they are no so much suited to causing fright as to creating laughs. This large-sized book is accompanied by numerous colored illustrations. Some of the tales were illustrated by the author himself.
Italy (Italian) - 1995 - 121
Lazzarato, Franecsca (text)
Costa, Nicoletta (illus.)
L'esilio di re Salomone : storie, leggende e fiabe della tradizione ebraica
(King Solomon's banishment: Stories, legends and tales from the Jewish tradition)
Milano: Mondadori, 1994. 80 p.
(Fiabe Junior; 8)
These short, sometimes anecdotal tales, legends and stories on a variety of themes are derived from the rich Jewish storytelling tradition. Nicoletta Costa has contributed simple and happy, at times poetic illustrations. An appendix contains concise details of the history, cultural tradition and current situation of Jews all around the world. Among the volumes already published in this paperback series, which was initiated to acquaint young readers with tales of many different cultures, are also, for example, tales from Senegal, the Philippines, etc. (9+) ☆
Special Mention - Italy (Italian) - 1995 - 122
Panini, Giorgio P. (text)
Atlante di Mitologia
(Atlas of Mythology)
Milano: Mondadori, 1994. 128 p. With illustrations
Mythology - Legend
This illustrated volume takes an unaccustomed glimpse at the mythology of various cultures and epochs by placing the mythological figures - the heroes - in the foreground. Two aspects of this work make it especially attractive: first, the term "myth" is interpreted so broadly that no only classic, e.g. Greek or Germanic, myths are included, but also new, literary ones, such as the heart-breaker Don Giovanni. (It would have made sense to include still-living myths of our modern society such as film stars). Secondly, the author has dispensed with a geographic or chronological order and instead arranged the figures of various origins together by theme or motif. This creates quite surprising cross-sections and allows interesting comparisons. For example, Achilles is to be found alongside Siegfried in the group of "the vulnerable;" and among the group of "those born in an unusual manner" one finds Orion and also Pinocchio. The volume is richly illustrated with pictures of art works, famous book illustrations, or scenes from films. Picture symbols make it easy for the reader to associate a figure with its origin. (14+) ☆
Special Mention - Italy (Italian) - 1995 - 123
Pitzorno, Bianca (text)
Blake, Quentin (illus.)
Diana Cupído e il Commendatore
(Diana, Cupid and the Commander)
Milano: Mondadori, 1994. 300 p.
Sardinia/History 1950s/Everyday life - Small town - Puberty/Girl - Family
Together with her mother and little sister, eleven-year-old Diana goes to live with her grandfather, a strange, affluent cinema owner in Sardinia. The novel depicts life in a small Italian town and the everyday life of a teenager and her three girlfriends (who the reader already encountered in Ascolta il mio cuore), who are in the midst of puberty, and their idolization of American film stars. Above all this is a tale about Italy in the 1950s: "Even refrigerators were seen as a real rarity. There were no supermarkets, no hamburgers, neither Coca Cola, nor disposable diapers or frozen foods" The author's talent lays in very apt descriptions with a distinctive choice of words in a dynamic and humorous style. The well-known illustrator Quentin Blake has contributed congenial black-and-white wash illustrations. (12+)
Special Mention - Italy (Italian) - 1995 - 124
Quarzo, Guido (text)
Fatus, Sophie (illus.)
Zampe di gallina
Firenze: Fatayrac, 1994. 64 p.
Old Woman/Child - Chicken - Imagination - Storytelling
In an old fairy tale - so the book begins - deep in the woods there is a hut standing on chicken feet and in it lives a witch who eats people as if they were chickens. But in this book there is a little house amidst the tall buildings and the loud traffic of a big city. While all the adults rush by blindly and have no idea that this house exists, the children ask what it is doing there. One day curious little Ulisse enters the house and makes friends with its occupants, a talking chicken and an old peculiar woman who can tell stories particularly well. And that is what the book, with its imaginative, brightly colored illustrations, is all about: stories and storytelling, the unlimited possibilities of the imagination. (6+)
Italy (Ladin) - 1995 - 125
Rossi, Hugo de (text)
D'Este, Alessandra (illus.)
Chiocchetti, Fabio (transl.)
La ziriola de Saslonch
(The Nightingale of Saslong)
Vich/Vigo di Fassa: Istitut Cultural Ladin, 1994.  p.
(Conta Conties; 19)
Fairy tale/Italy/Ladin - Princess - Metamorphosis - Nightingale - Knight - Lovesickness - Unrequited Love - Death
A knight falls in love with a nightingale - in reality a princess who possesses the power of metamorphosis. The knight senses that something else is hiding within the bird, but because the princess does not reveal herself to him, his longings remain unfulfilled and he dies of lovesickness. Upon his death the princess loses her ability to change back into her human form. Hugo de Rossi, who did much to preserve the Ladin cultural heritage, wrote down this old tale in German at the turn of the century. The Ladin translation is graced with colored, naive illustrations by Alessandra d'Este. The publisher of this series, the Institute Cultural Ladin, has set itself the task of translating well-known and lesser-known tales and stories into the minority language of Ladin, thus making them available to a broader readership. (4+) ☆
Argentina (Spanish) - 1995 - 126
Montes, Gracielia (text)
Roldán, Gustavo (illus.)
Venancio vuela bajito
(Venancio flies too low)
Buenos Aires: AZ editora, 1994.  p.
(serie del boleto)
Dog - Flying
It's not true that dogs cannot fly. They just like to fly quite low. So begins the story of the dog Venancio who learns to fly and to everyone's astonishment whizzes through the air - for instance, to the butcher's shop two streets away. But in time protests grow louder because the rather plump Venancio reveals himself to be a notorious low-flyer who reeks all kinds of havoc, such as landing in Professor Gutiérrez' potato casserole. Finally he must put an end to his excursions, though he is allowed to continue his aerial arts at home. This curious story is full of witty charm and bizarre eccentric events. Equally original are the water-color illustrations, a mixture of comic art and the wild colorfulness of children's paintings. (3+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1995 - 127
Shua, Ana María (text)
Dias Costa, Mariza (illus.)
Cuentos Judíos con Fantasmas & Demonios
(Jewish tales of ghosts and demons)
Buenos Aires: Shalom, 1994. 168 p.
Jews/Mythology - Fantasy
In writing the eight tales in this collection Ana María Shua let herself be inspired by stories, themes, motifs and characters from the rich Jewish oral tradition, such as the legendary and mysterious figures of the Golem or the Baalshem. On the basis of familiar folktales she has created new fan- tasy tales in order to emphasize what is un- usual and particularly Jewish about them. Various ghosts and demons are first intro- duced in a foreword and at the end of each tale, the author gives the details of the ori- gin and history of the content. An unusual book which introduces the reader to an unfamiliar, fascinating world. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - Brazil (Portuguese) - 1995 - 128
Lago, Angela (illus.)
Cena de rua
Beto Horizonte: RHJ, 1994.  p.
Latin America - City - Homeless Child - Poverty - Ostracization - Outsider
This wordless picture book shows scenes of everyday life of a street boy caught up in the vicious circle of poverty, hunger and theft, between the cars in the heavy traffic of a big city where he scrapes a living as a streetside seller. Though he appears to be in close contact with people, passersby react to him with fear and aggressively reject him. His yearning for security remains unfulfilled. The oppressive scenes on the black-bordered double-page spreads are bathed in an artificial light. The flat, glaring colors elucidate the aggressive, threatening atmosphere of the big city. Unusual perspectives underline the confinement and the chaos, everything is in motion, there is nothing offering him support or protection. In this book Angela Lago shows a completely new side of her many-facetted talent. The Brazilian illustrator has already won several international prizes. In 1994 she was the Brazilian nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Prize (6+)
Special Mention - Brazil (Portuguese) - 1995 - 129
Rangel, Paulo (text)
Moura, Ercília (illus.)
As uvas do Marengo : Memórias de um menino bem comportado
(The grapes of Marengo: the memoir of a well-mannered boy)
Belo Horkonte: Lê, 1993. 148 p.
Brazil/Childhood/Boy - Memoir/Boy
A nine-year-old boy wants more than anything else to be allowed to spend a day at Chacará de Marengo. Actually nothing more than a resort for day excursions, he imagines it to be more tempting than paradise. Under the provision that he and his brothers not get into too much trouble, the father, a very busy gynecologist, agrees to fulfill this dream. In retrospect the nearly grown-up narrator depicts the often comical efforts the boys made to meet the father's requirement. But in the end it is all in vain. Chacará de Marengo remains an unfulfilled childhood dream. Paulo Rangel succeeds in giving a very vivid description of family life through his witty narrative and to-the-point portrayal of the catastrophes in everyday life. (14+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 1995 - 130
Libura, Krystyna (text)
Burr, Claudia (text)
Urrutia, María Cristina (text)
De lo que contaron al fraile
(What they told the monk)
México: Tecolote: SEP, 1994.  p.
(Colección Ya verás)
Mexico/History - Aztecs
The series "Colección Ya verás" offers glimpses into various epochs and events in Mexican history. The editors and authors have turned to historical texts and pictures from the respective periods in order to make their portrayals as authentic as possible. In this volume Aztec society is depicted on the basis of Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España by Bernardo de Sahagún. The book's content of short, adapted texts from the original, accompanied by illustrations from the Codex Florentinus. As in the other volumes of the series, only some of the historical highlights can be presented, but an interested reader will be stimulated in any case to find out more about the subject. (10+) ☆
Portugal (Portuguese) - 1995 - 131
Ducia Scares, Luísa (text)
Bacclar, Manucia (illus.)
Os ovos misteriosos
(The mysterious eggs)
Porto: Afrontamento, 1994.  p.
Chicken - Egg - Nature - Difference - Friendship
A chicken escapes into the woods one day and is greatly surprised one day to find several peculiar eggs in her nest. But she broods over them all and one by one the new "children" are hatched: a crocodile, an ostrich, a parrot, and a snake. Though due to their own respective characteristics this brood is not exactly easy to care for, she raises them with loving care. This proves to be a blessing when her own little chick gets into danger. Told in simple words, this text makes an ingenious case for respecting differences between living creatures, as well as for friendship and helpfulness. The idea of colorful diversity is given expression in the lively, colored illustrations. (4+) ☼
Portugal (Portuguese) - 1995 - 132
Torrado, António (text)
Melo, Ângela (illus.)
O mercador de coisa nenhuma
(The merchant who sold Nothing)
Porto: Civilização, 1994. 41 p.
Short Stories/Portuguese - Fairy Tale/Portugal/Anthology
Anthology of seven short texts. Lyrical stories like the fairy tale of the merchant who sells sparkling water drops, colored grains of sand and other seemingly useless "goods"; or amazing stories like the tale of the bicycle rider who went for a ride in the sky one day. The narrative structure and language of this prose are striking for sim- plicity and clarity, creating a particularly fascinating contrast to the unusual, some- times enigmatic content. Each story is intro- duced with an illustration: pastel-colored, equally enigmatic pictures with surrealistic elements done in a mixed technique of wa- ter-color and line drawing. This book is part of a new series which includes both traditional and newer fairy tales and stories, all (re-) told by António Torrado. Each volume is illustrated by several, in part very well-known Portuguese illustrators. (9+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1995 - 133
Cañizo, José Antonio del
iCanalla, traidor, morirás!
(Scoundrel, traitor, you will die!)
Madrid: SM, 1994. 106 p.
(El Barco de Vapor I Serie Roja; 77)
School holiday - Village - Spanish Civil War/Post-war
The narrator recalls a summer in a village in the Castilian mountains where he spent his school holidays as a child - above all reading exciting comic books, playing Indians or gazing at the starry heavens at night. These are also the Franco years of law-and-order, just after the end of the Spanish Civil War. So it was no wonder that a citation from a comic ("Scoundrel, traitor, you will die") thoughtlessly scribbled on a stone sets off a considerable upcry, which ends sadly with the imprisonment of a solitary former Republican soldier who had been hiding in the mountains. José Antonio del Cañizo succeeds in portraying the various moods and sides of character in the young boy in a lively and discriminating manner: child-like curiosity and joy of adventure, fear of choleric adults, a sense of justice, guilt feelings and a powerless sadness over the loss of a barely known human being. This is a wonderful story - enthralling, full of ideas, humane, sometimes serious, but without pathos and, despite the subject, on the whole quite witty, light and humorous. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1995 - 134
Estrada, Rafael (text)
Gabán, Jesús (illus.)
El rey Solito
Madrid: SM, 1994. 64 p.
(El Bano de Vapor / Serie Blanca; 56)
King - Loneliness - Self-suggestion - Roleplaying
When everyone deserts a kingdom befallen by poverty, only little King "Allalone" remains behind. Out of loneliness and boredom he takes on a variety of roles: he becomes the horn-blower or the servant and even conducts war against himself, trying "at least to kill time." His longing for human company becomes ever stronger and along with it his ability for self-deception. Finally he even takes himself in marriage lust to be no longer so alone. His illusions dissolve in the end when a real-life shepherdess stands before the castle one day, bringing him back to reality and providing him with a happy-end. The humorous and at the same time poetic fairy tale is told in a simple voice. The text is aptly accompanied by numerous comic-like, delicately colored drawings. (6+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1995 - 135
Gisbert, Joan Manuel
Los espejos venecianos
(The one-way mirrors)
Zaragoza: Edelvives, 1994. 135 p.
(Sueños de papel; 1)
Padua/History 1792 - Student - Palace - Phantom - Superstition - Science
This novel is set in 1792 in the Italian university town of Padua. A young student of history, Giovanni, discovers a palace in ruins which is the object of dark legends. Mysterious events occur, persons appear and disappear, old documents provide coded clues. With sharp intelligence and the aid of covert helpers, Giovanni succeeds in discovering the secret of the ancient building. Well known for his fantastic tales, which often have historical backgrounds, Gisbert combines here the elements of historical fiction, mystery and ghost stories. He is clever at leading his protagonists - and readers - astray. The decisive question here - what is real, what is imaginary - is answered only at the very end. A thrilling, entertaining and masterly told story. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1995 - 136
Lindo, Elvira (text)
Urberuaga, Emilio (illus.)
Madrid: Alfaguara, 1994. 136 p.
Madrid - Family/Boy - School - Everyday life/Metropolis
Manolito Gafotas, a clever youth living in a not so posh suburb of Madrid, has an energetic mother, an eccentric grandfather, good friends, a little brother he calls "Imbecile", an overworked school psychologist and, above all, lots of things to tell about. He passes through life with his eyes and ears wide open, snapping up words adults use and endowing them with his own meaning, telling the reader about his experiences and thoughts as best he can. With staggering logic and a dry humor he depicts the various episodes of his daily life in a style reminiscent of Goscinny's "Little Nick, " With Manolito Gafotas, the hero of a favorite Spanish radio program since 1987, the reader learns in an entertaining manner much about a child's life in a Spanish metropolis. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1995 - 137
Xirinacs, Olga (text)
Baizola, Asun (illus.)
El árbol de mi patio
(The tree in my courtyard)
Barcelona: Edebé, 1994. 32 p.
(tren azul; 16)
Chestnut tree, laurel tree, weeping willow, etc.: each of Olga Xirinacs' short, imagi- native pieces focuses on a representative of a particular tree species. These "protago- nists" are living beings just like people or animals, they have souls, and quite unspec- tacular experiences, which prompt the reader to think about our "neighbor," the tree. The well-known Spanish artist Asun Baizola created unusual color illustrations to accompany these lyrical texts. With their sharp contours and glowing monochrome surfaces, the figures resemble linoleum cuts, but in fact they are the result of computer based graphics. (5+) ☼
Spain (Catalan) - 1995 - 138
Procés a Aima Boixadors
(The Trial of Anna Boixadors)
Barcelona: Cruïlla, 1993. 95 p.
(Gran Angular; 55)
Catalan/History 1617- Superstition - Witch-hunting
Rampant superstition, hysteria fomented by professional witch-hunters and the search for scapegoats in 17th century Europe spread also into Catalan villages. This is the fictitious story of the trial of the old Anna Boixador as told from the perspective of a young man who, inspite of his own initial prejudices, sympathizes with the accused. In crass contrast to the personal narrative are the scattered excerpts of the similarly fictitious minutes of the trial. The dry style of the proceedings makes visible in an uneasy manner the unstoppable course of the wheels of justice and the business-like atrocity of the persecutors and tormentors. (14+)
Spain (Catalan) - 1995 - 139
Janer Manila, Gabriel (adapt.)
Montserrat, Pep (illus.)
Això era un gegant
(That was a giant)
Barcelona: La Galera, 1994.  p.
(el sac de la Galera I sac de gegants; 1)
Spain/Catalan/Fairy Tale - Giant - Gargantua < Motif >
Renown Spanish authors and illustrators were commissioned to contribute to the series "el sac de la Galera", which intends to show how richly endowed the world of fairy tales, legends and myths is with giants, fairies, dragons and similar creatures. Each subseries focuses on one of these classic figures with adaptations of well-known themes such as the Catalan version of Rapunzel or, in this volume, a retelling of Gargantua. A short postscript gives the source and history of the motif as it is found in different forms in various countries. Its unusual design gives this new series a characteristic image and offers considerable reading pleasure. (6+) ☆
Spain (Catalan) - 1995 - 140
Luna, Marta (ed.)
Losantos, Cristina (illus.)
Cançoner de Nadal
(Christmas carol book)
Barcelona: La Galera, 1994.  p.
(la Galera popular; 16)
Each double-page spread of this volume presents a traditional Catalan Christmas carol. On the left side the verses, on the right side the illustrations pen-and-wash drawings which give a humorous interpretation of the text by means of witty associations with modern times. The book invites the reader to read and look, but also to sing and make music, since the two-part songs are reprinted in the appendix with music and guitar chords. What makes this small collection so unusual is the way in which it presents Christmas costums which are otherwise so often introduced in an unimaginative and traditional manner. The series "la Galera" received an honorable mention for the Prernio Grafico at the 1994 Bologna Children's Book Fair. (4+) ☆
Denmark (Danish) - 1995 - 141
Jensen, Jørn (text)
Raagaard, Kirsten (illus.)
Spis din burger, Musa!
(Eat your hamburger. Musa!)
København: Forum, 1994. 24 p.
ISBN 87-55 3-2108-9
Islam - Christianity - Eating habits - Foreigner - Tolerance
In this short tale for beginning readers about the Moslem child Musa and his concern that there may be pork in his hamburger, children are shown how to tolerate religious practices of other cultures without having to approve them ("We too have a God," says Susi. "He doesn't get involved in our choice of food.") The attractive black-and-white drawings, though making up a great portion of the book, are subordinate to the text. (6-8) ☆ ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1995 - 142
Nielsen, Erik Hjorth (text/illus.)
(Gunloeg the dragonchild)
Hiļlerød: Alma, 1994.  p.
Iceland/Legend - Vikings/History 1000
Nielsen relates here an episode from the Icelandic legends, a drama-filled love story, of course, and richly illustrates it with large, dramatic picture, which inspite of the more impressive colored chalk technique endeavors to be historically and geographically precise. Since interest in the romanticism of the Vikings remains consistently high among younger book- lovers, spurred on by countless fantasy stories which uninhibitedly make use of the Nordic Middle Ages, readers will be well- served with this novel's suspense and authentic local color. (8-10) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1995 - 143
Vizki, Morti (text)
Champfleury, Alice de Kiko den syngende hund
(Kiko, the singing dog)
København: Høst & Søn, 1994.  p.
Dog - Singer < Career > - Adventure
As is common in fairy tales, two of three brother dogs choose solid professions, while the third feels drawn to music. He finds a singing teacher and after much toil and trouble becomes a real opera singer. This amusingly told story, with its light scattering of colored caricatural illustra- tions, conveys an optimistic view of life infused with self-assurance, goal-orien- tedness, and the rewards of success. (8-10)
Denmark (Danish) - 1995 - 144
Christiansen, Ole E.
Mimers brønd: opslagsbog om nordisk mytologi
(Mimers fountain: dictionary of Nordic mythology)
Frederiksberg: Branner og Korch, 1994. 196 p.
Mythology/Northern Europe - Dictionary/Mythology
Anyone who craves to know exactly which figures are based on real historical and mythological material when they have finished devouring all the fantasy literature by writers from Tolkien to Hohlbein would be grateful for this little dictionary, if it were available in other languages. Whether one wants to know about Asgård, Midgård, Niflheim oder Walhall, the mysterious Ygg- drasil (well known to crossword puzzlers or players of the game "Categories") and its strange inhabitants Hugin, Munin, Garm, or whatever their names are, there are short entries included here for each of them. In an introduction one learns about the Germanic system of beliefs. The only thing lacking is more informative visual material. (10+) ☆
Denmark (Danish) - 1995 - 145
Tink: Børnene i Kragevig 3
(Tink: The children in Kragevig, Part 3)
København: Høst & Søn, 1994. 112 p.
Denmark/History 19th century - Country life - Xenophobia
Perhaps our need for stories about the simple life where, like Robinson Crusoe, each person must rely on his own knowledge to get along in life, is at its greatest when our civilized way of life allows us to have the least contact with a still unspoiled nature. There have often been books whose heroes were a group of children - with or without adults - as for example in Laura Fitinghoff's "The Children of Frostmo Mountain" or A. Th. Sonnleitner's cave children. Bodil Bredsdorff continues this tradition and succeeds in turning the search for a new place to live, a new home, into a cleverly woven tale complete with all the complications which ensue when different types of people try to live together. While in the first two volumes of this four volume series a little too much romanticism with sunrise mornings and candlelight evenings predominated, this volume is a very readable adventure story involving the relationship of young Tink to the old drunkard Burd. (10-14)
Denmark (Danish) - 1995 - 146
Koch, Peter Gjellerup
Mig og Manet
(Me and Manet)
Frederiksberg: Branner og Korch, 1994. 196 p.
Artist - Personality development - Love - Sexual abuse
A young boy is captivated with a picture by Manet and decides to become a painter himself. He finds himself involved with a strange lot of companions, both in a positive and negative sense, and in the end wins the love of a young girl. Original in this book, which treats the problems of youth so openly, is the mixture of an arty background and the often brutal manner (even to the point of a rape victim killing the perpetrator) in which youthful self-as- sertiveness and egoism finds expression. With this second novel Koch makes a fur- ther contribution to that young adult lite- rature by authors who do not address their audience out of pedagogical motivation, but because they hope to find the greatest ap- preciation for their kind of literary endea- vors. (15+)
Special Mention - Greenland - 1995 - 147
Maqe, Elisa (reteller)
Rosing, Jens (illus.)
Tunumiit mersertini oqalittuaat
(East Greenlandic children's stories)
København: Atuakkiorfik, 1994. 75 p.
East Greenland/Short stories/Anthology
The lack of literature for Geenlanders and their children is often complained of in the Danish press. Only a few books are being published in Greenlandic, an Eskimo language, leaving the children of Greenland dependent upon books in Danish. Thus the efforts of a few publishing houses which take an interest in Greenland's children's literature are to be commended. Even the dialect of East Greenlandic is given a place in this collection of folk tales for children. Because it is hardly spoken anymore, these eight tales, retellings of old fairy-tale like traditional stories, are also printed in West Greenlandic, Danish and English. Knowledge of the dialect had nearly disappeared; the only one able to pass down the dialect today is the farmer Elisa Maqe, born in 1916 and granddaughter of a shaman. The realistic, slightly grotesque illustrations by a Greenland artist retain the authentic landscape of these fairy tale-like episodes. (6-10) ☆
Special Mention - Greenland - 1995 - 148
Jacobsen, Miki (reteller)
Olsen, Rosing (illus.)
København: Atuakkiorfik, 1994. 36 p.
Already made known to the German- speaking reader in an anthology by Lisa Tetzner, the grotesque tale of the poor ugly orphan boy Kaassassuk, who is teased by his playmates, but helps his foster parents by way of his extraordinary strength is available here in the original version. The naive realistic illustrations of the Greenland artist give an impressive portrayal of the scenes of the tale set in an authentic, pre- industrial Greenland. (6-10)
Norway (Norwegian) - 1995 - 149
Hvis Åshild hadde vært her
(Yes, if only Åshild were here)
Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk, 1994. 35 p.
Only child - School holidays - Adventure - Playmate
A typical Scandinavian holiday in a wood cabin on the water - very lonely especially when Father is not there and one has no brothers or sisters. The arrival of a play- mate is the happy-end of this singular picture book. The artist's brilliant draughtsman- ship successfully transforms the compo- sition principles of a black-and-white comic into a very lively series of episodes (strewed in a good-night story) put down with an ink pen rushing over the paper, full of expres- sive movement, constantly breaking up the pictures' borderlines. (8+)
Norway (Norwegian) - 1995 - 150
Markus og Diana: Lyset fra Sirius
(Mark and Diana: the light of Sirius)
Oslo: Aschehoug, 1994. 185 p.
Shyness - Swindle - Film star - Personality development
When an easily frightened and shy Mark encounters a young local film actress to whom he had written for an autogramm, it turns out that she is no more a Hollywood star than he a millionaire's son. The realization that people are often different than they seem helps him to gain more self- assurance, This fourth young adult novel by the experienced writer of radio and stage plays derives its literary qualities not so much from the story, though it is original enough, as from the clear speech, full of understated wit, a discreet irony that doesn't need the flighty jargon of youth and also from skillfully developed scenes and lively dialogues. (12+)
Norway (Norwegian) - 1995 - 151
Tårnbjørnen: Spillet om tiden
(The tower bear: a play about time)
Oslo: J.W. Cappelen, 1994.
Time - Days of week - Name giving - Marionette theater
This is a lyrical elaboration of the names of the week (the Germanic version), embedded in a marionette theater play performed by a bear. It can be enjoyed for itself, but also as an excuse to create very poetic pictures, extravagant pictures of unusually intensive and extraordinarily harmonious colorfulness. (6-8)
Norway (Norwegian) - 1995 - 152
Krohg, Guy (illus.)
Hvor ble det av Hansemann?
(What is keeping Hansemann?)
Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk, 1994. 28 p.
Opera - Lost/Search
Subtly intertwined in a bizarre and eccentric story about four-year-old Hansemann - who runs off just before the children's opera "Journey to the Christmas Star" begins and must be searched for by his sister and the opera house staff - the reader is given an amusing introduction into the world of theater. However, it is not this frequently employed didactic trick which makes the book noteworthy, but instead the illustrations. Krohg, son of a highly regarded Norwegian painter, has created light-hearted, roughly cut, color collages. The unusual aesthetic experience which they create is inspired by Schwitters; yet by using pieces of old wood cuts Krohg also makes reference to the Biedermeier style of amateur hobby collages (such as found in Andersen's works). (6+)
Sweden (Swedish) - 1995 - 153
Stockholm: Pan (Norstedt), 1994. 204 p.
Alcoholism - Seduction - Death
Of course prohibition still reigns in Sweden, of course no book can be published which glorifies alcohol, especially not for young adults - but this wonderfully inebriating book deals with the fascination of intoxicating drinks and their effects on people, on art and literature - on our culture as such. Danielsson, who was perhaps a little too enamored with his own self-made linguistic cocktails of English and Swedish in earlier books (such as in "Härifrån till Kim" - From here to Kim), has found a style here that, while still a mixture, no longer serves up arbitrary snatches of English, but rather a rich array of pearls of Swedish vernacular that one will seek in vain in standard dictionaries, and avoids falling into a short- lived teenage slang. (14+)
Sweden (Swedish) - 1995 - 154
Gelotte, Ann-Madeleine (text/illus.)
Brev från en kanin
(Letters from a rabbit)
Stockholm: Tiden, 1994. 179 p.
Rabbit < Literary figure > - Reality - Fantasy
Falling out of a book by Beatrix Potter into the real world, two rabbits and their mother are hence forced to cope with a world much too large and awkward for them. In this hommage to Beatrix Potter, the author succeeds in creating funny, eccentric episodes out of the confrontations between the somewhat conservative rabbit mother and her children with the contemporary world in the form of a farmyard and its many animal residents. This is an easy-to- read text which will surely provide entertaining reading for everyone. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1995 - 155
Lagercrantz, Rose (text)
Sprang Olsen, Ib (illus.)
Lilla Geo eller Flickan som kunde lura döden
(Little Geo, or the girl who fooled death)
Stockholm: Bromberg, 1994. 63 p.
France History 1900-1950 – Illegitimate child-Vitality
In this pleasantly short book one has all the world in a nutshell: love, death poverty, war, mercy, child-like hope, courage and good fortune. In so few pages the author unfolds, as in passing, a virtual Comédie humaine in which each episode is short story, an embryonic novel. The foil to a chunk of real family history in France, as befits our century, could hardly be more dismal than that against which Georgette, a child born out of wedlock and soon orphaned, makes her way into a secure middle-class existence. Stimulating and impressive are the illustrations - the work of an old master - which through their authenticity (he traveled to France especially for this purpose) take on an urgency that no reader, no child can escape The extremely reticent form of these black and-white pencil drawings are surprising for their concentrated atmosphere and dramatic force, which is enhanced in every sense by a nervous line of seldom found finesse, even by Spang Olsen himself. Turn-of-the-century atmosphere, cityscape, tender mother-love, but also human baseness even to exhibitionism in action (in the background, but clearly visible) - everything that makes the eye keen and the imagination winged is found in abundance on these few pages. (8+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1995 - 156
Nilsson, Ulf (text)
Gustavsson, Jan (illus.)
(The rat is coming!)
Slockholm: Bonniers junior, 1993. 32 p.
Hobo - Social isolation - Oppression - Liberation - Remorse
A hobo rat, who himself has turned mean through constant social ostracization and persecution, becomes an oppressor of weaker mice from whom he steals food. But one heroic little mouse succeeds with her child-like optimism in stirring his heart so much that he feels remorse for his deeds. With this short story, Nilsson, who by now has made a name for himself as an author of fable-like animal stories for the best Swedish illustrators, takes issue with the in times of crisis all too readily accepted motto "homo monini lupus." Its illustrations are on the same par as the story. The phy- siognomy is apt and funny, the episodes are cleverly depicted. Jan Gustavsson is among the best realistic modern illustrators. (8+)
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1995 - 157
Persson, Gunilla Linn (text)
Höglund, Anna (illus.)
Delfinen mellan mussia och moln
(The dolphin between shells and clouds)
Stockholm: Bonnier Carlsen, 1994. 32 p.
Loneliness - Self-knowledge - Strangeness - Understanding - Sibling rivalry
Again and again one astounds at how popular this very individualistic illustrator is with Swedish readers. The reason that she has such success with her bizarre and strongly stylized pictures may have something to do with young readers being schooled by today's grotesque comic series. Yet Persson is certainly not giving them easily understood topics. It is not possible to depict in only a few words the absurd situation of a lonely woman having a dolphin as a substitute for a child delivered to her house and getting used to its unusual wishes. He helps her to find a new will to live and she helps him to overcome his jealousy of a younger sibling. To be thrown off the track of everyday life for a few moments and thereby find one's own self is a tension-filled story that the reader will find rewarding. (8+)
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1995 - 158
Wahlin, Bertil (text)
Hagstrand-Velicu, Kerstin (illus.)
(The book of small animals)
Stockholm: Tiden, 1994. 128 p.
Insects - Reptiles - Field guide/Animals
These two Swedes have created a clearly organized and easy to use field guide for everything that flies and crawls around us Europeans at home, in the garden and in the neighborhood day in and day out. The text is limited to naming and describing animals and their activities, without too much superfluous knowledge; included are clear, painstakingly executed color illustrations which are even more informative than photographs, since they do not confuse the reader with ingenious and decorative close- ups, which are often more for sales- promoting than illuminating. (10+)
Cyprus (Greek) - 1995 - 159
O Arestes, o kypriotes Akritas
(Arestes, the Cypriot border-fighter)
Leukosia: Epiphaniu, 1993. 57 p. With illustrations
Saracen - Father/Son - Heroism
A historical novel set in the days of the Saracens. The newly-wed nobleman Azguras is commissioned by the king to go into battle against the Saracens. He conquers them, but falls into the hands of his enemy. Several months later his wife gives birth to a son who, it soon becomes clear, possesses extraordinary talents. As a young man he continues the struggle against the Saracens and frees his imprisoned father. He returns home to marry a beautiful princess. Arestes, in the Cypriot oral traditional, resembles Herakles and his heroic deeds, such as killing a poison snake in his own cradle and effortlessly moving boulders. This mixture of historical reality and legend contributes to the special appeal of this exciting tale. (8+)
Cyprus (Greek) - 1995 - 160
Leukosia: Epiphaniu, 1993. 60 p. With illustrations
Modern fairy tale/Greece - Father/Daughter - Selflessness
In this modern fairy tale a poor father goes out into the world to seek his fortune because the poverty at home is unbearable. All but one of this daughters wish for materialistic presents upon his return: Triuantaphyllenia wants only roses. These roses, which the father forgets in the end, bring calamity to him and his daughter. After a wide range of adventures she is rewarded for her purity and selflessness by marriage to a blond prince. The critical adult reader will recognize the pedagogic intentions of the author. The young reader, however, will be more captivated by the numerous exciting adventures of these fairy tale figures. (5+)
Greece (Greek) - 1995 - 161
Alexandrake, Argyro (text)
Solu, Tete (illus.)
Oi thesauroi tes chrysopeges
(The Treasures of Chrysopege)
Athens: Psychogios, 1993. 130 p.
(Pankosmia neanike bibliotheke)
Greece/School holiday - Adventure - Diary
This children's novel is written as a diary. In Summer 1990 Katia decides to keep a diary during her summer holidays to help her grandmother pass the time during the winter. Katia and her parents take a ship to Chrysopege, where they spend an exciting summer. They experience many adventures, including the discovery of valuable archeological treasures in a cave. The novel's particular charm lies in the childlike simplicity of Katia's commentary on the adult world, which is bound to bring a smile. (10+)
Greece (Greek) - 1995 - 162
Chatzeanagnostu, Takes (text)
Stravropulos, Stathes (illus.)
E phloga tes Niotes
(The Flame of Youth)
Athens: Ankyra, 1992. 226 p.
Greece/Persian Wars - Soldier - Patriotism
A masterful novel set in the years of the Persian Wars. Sikinos, a simple soldier, experiences many battles, is taken prisoner, becomes a slave, is whipped, escapes and struggles for survival. He finally succeeds in returning to Athens and enters the service of Themistokles. He takes part in the Battle of Marathon and the sea battle of Salamis. But when a disappointed Themistokles plans to join the Persians, Sikinos shows him in his own manner that Themistokles is about to lose his dignity. This brings him to his senses, allowing him to give his efforts for his homeland Greece again. The author is one of the leading writers of the post-war era. (12+)
Greece (Greek) - 1995 - 163
Kliapha, Manila (text)
Spyropulos, Thanasses (illus.)
12+1 paramyhtia apo ten Thessalia
(12+1 Tales from Thessalia)
Athens: Kastaniotes, 1992. 94 p.
This is a very special collection of Greek fairy tales. They are recorded here just as the storyteller told them, thus preserving the feeling of freshness, a quality which to be found increasingly seldom. But that is not all. The impressive illustrations are the inspirations of an autodidact who knows all the tricks of a puppet theater (karagoze). Professor Merakles, an expert on fairy tales, has praised the work of Kliapha and Spyropulos and pointed out the general optimism which is sustained in the tales of Thessalia. (6+)
Greece (Greek) - 1995 - 164
Manthopulos, Demetres (text)
Eieutheriu, Bangeles (illus.)
Meres tes Alkyones
Athens: Psychogios, 1993. 204 p.
(Pankosmia neanike bibliotheke)
Handicap - Father/Son - Family life - Self- discovery
This novel deals with the problems of a youth who is handicapped, a topic which is seldom found in Greek literature. Bound to a wheelchair, Jiannis feels himself condemned to loneliness because he is different than the others. He lives entirely within the circle of his family and his burdened with the professional problems his father is having. After going to the country because the family doctor recommends a change of surroundings, Jiannis' whole life changes. Through his new friends and his father's professional success, he begins to have faith in life again. Returning home, be keeps up his contacts and decides he wants to make a success of his life. (12+) ☆
Greece (Greek) - 1995 - 165
Stephanides, Menelaos (text)
Stephanides, Photine (illus.)
Athens: Sigma, n.d..  p.
Folktale/Greece - Clairvoyance
This over-sized picture book contains a Greek folktale for very young readers. Tzitzigas (which actually means cicada) is a lazy man who is always lucky. His wife renames him "Mantoloes," which means the clairvoyant. With this name and thanks to a series of funny coincidences, he becomes a government minister. This is the first book of a fairy tale series which will bring young readers much pleasure through the simple, clear and realistic language and the colorful illustrations. (6+)
The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1995 - 166
Biegel, Paul (text)
van der Veen, Fiel (illus.)
Haarlem: Uitgeverij Holland, 1994. 142 p.
Sibling rivalry - Tin soldiers - Dream/Reality
The narrator of this novel tells about a period in his childhood when every night tin and lead soldiers meet in his garden to do battle with one another. Yet he is drawn into this mysterious warfare. He is expected to melt down the wounded soldiers and make new, battle-ready ones. But he doesn't know what side to take and, above all, whether he isn't just dreaming it all; he repeatedly finds signs that this other world really exists. Even in the end, the reader is also left with unanswered question in this gripping adventure set somewhere between reality and fantasy. (10+)
Special Mention - The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1995 - 167
Hazelhoff, Veronica (text)
van Poppel, Peter (illus.)
Amsterdam: Querido, 1994. 73 p.
Sister/Twin - Sibling rivalry - Friendship - Loneliness
Vacation with the parents at the seashore. Nini is bored because the only child to be seen for miles around is her twin sister Maya. And she is so different from everyone else, difficult and withdrawn. When they meet Nessa, Nini wants nothing more than to have her as a friend. But Nessa feels more drawn to Maya. They seem to understand each other without many words, and Maya begins to open up a little. Feeling left out and lonely, Nini even finds herself thinking how useful it would be if Maya would just disappear. But in the end both of the twins recognize that they belong together and need each other. This complicated story of sibling rivalry and growing up is told in a gentle sensitive narrative. (12+)
Special Mention - The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1995 - 168
Baarn: Houtekiet, 1994. 264 p.
Grandfather/Grandson - Death - Second World War/Past/Present - Scapegoat
Fascism and racism in history and today are the main elements of this young adult no- vel. When his grandfather dies and it be- comes known that he had betrayed Jews in hiding during World War Two, Lucas dis- covers that the past can catch up with you. He is told that he has many of his grand- father's traits. When he rescues his girl- friend from a burning car, no one will be- lieve that it had been an accident. People suggest that he has a violent character. (14+)
Special Mention - The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1995 - 169
Tellegen, Toon (text)
Berner, Rotraut Susanne (illus.)
Amsterdam: Querido, 1994. 86 p.
(Dt. Ausg.: Josefs Vater. Übers. v. Mirjam Pressler. München: Hanser, 1994. 86 S. ISBN 3-446-17794-9)
One day a dot rolls into Josef's life, gets bigger and bigger and soon has arms and legs and a head. "I am your father," he says. And soon Josef knows that this father is someone very special. It is not just because he is taller than all other people, he can simply do anything: he can help Josef out when he is doing mental arithmetic, help him do acrobatic tricks at the gym, or even chase a scoundrel out of is bedroom. He is always there. He can be funny or sometimes just plain normal. When he finally disappears, Josef is sure that his father will return. After all, he can do thousands of things. A funny story of everyday life in an unusual family, told from a child's perspective. (8+) ☼
Iran (Persian) - 1995 - 170
Mohammadi, Mohammed (text)
Iravani, Sara (illus.)
Afsaneye Derakht-e-Khorma va Bozi
(The tale of the date palm and the goat)
Mashad: Astane Ghods, 1994. 16 p.
Folktale/lran - Date palm - Goat - Rivalry
This tale is one of the most ancient stories found in Persia's ancient Pahlavi language. A datepalm and a goat each compete verbally with the other to prove the superiority of his own abilities and usefulness. In the end the goat is considered the winner because he is able to move about, while the datepalm is bound to one place. The writer has taken the tale from an ancient manuscript which also appears in the background of each illustration of the book. He retells the Farsi version of the manuscript in a finely-tuned poetic prose. The illustrator enriched the text by incorporating significant elements of the story, key traditional colors and ancient motifs such as the symbol of the goat's horns in the illustrations, allowing the rea- der to become acquainted with ancient Iranian culture. (4-8) ☆
(Special Prize and Third Prize, Tehran International Biennale of Illustrators (TIBI), 1993.)