White Ravens: Easily understandable
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+) ☼
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+) ☼
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) ☼
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 - 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+) ☆ ☼
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+) ☆ ☼
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 - 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 - 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) ☼
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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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+) ☼
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 - 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+) ☼
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 - 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 - 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+) ☆ ☼
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 - 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)
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+) ☼
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+) ☼
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) ☼
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 - 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+) ☼
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 15
Ozawa, Toshio (reteller)
Akaba, Suekichi (illus.)
Nihon no mukashibanashi. Zen 5 kan
(Japanese Folk Tales. Vols. 1-5)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1995. Each 368 p.
Folk tales/Japan - Ainu/Oral tradition - Folk tales/Okinawa
The 301 tales collected here by the leading folk-tale researcher in Japan, T. Ozawa, give a comprehensive picture of Japanese folk tale tradition. In order to give todays's children this rich store of tales in its original form, this edition has been edited with a view to the ethnographical background and literary style of oral folktales. Furthermore, the local dialects have been trans-formed into standard Japanese and the rhythm of speech adapted to enable smooth-flowing story-telling. The tales are grouped according to the four seasons and excellently illustrated with pictures by the Hans Christian Andersen prize-winner Suekichi Akaba. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 18
Tang, Yaming (text)
Yu, Dawu (illus.)
(The Journey to the West)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1994. 69 p.
China - Buddhism - Ape - Demons - Adventure
The fantasy- comedy »Hsi-yu chi«, written in 1592 and recounting the travels of the monk Xuanzang to India in the 7th century, has been retold in this impressive artistic picture book. The dynamic protagonist of this classic Chinese work is the apeking, Sun Wukong, who was born from a stone. Endowed with supernatural powers, he even pushes his way into heaven where he is turned into a stone by Buddha. After 500 years he is freed by another monk whom he accompanies and helps to fight against demons who hinder believers making their pilgramage. This is a selection of the most popular episodes from the complete work consisting of 100 chapters, each accompanied by a short preface. (6+) ☆ ☼
(42nd Sankei Cultural Award for Children's Books & Publications - JR Prize, 1995)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 19
Yosano, Akiko (text)
Takabe, Seiichi (illus.)
Kingyo no otsukai
(The Gold Fish Couriers)
Tokyo: Kakusha, 1994.  p.
Goldfish - Help - Humor
Three brothers and sisters of a Tokyo family send their gold fish as couriers to another quarter of town. The fish are able to walk and speak like people, but possess all the characteristics of a fish. Thus they encounter all kinds of difficulties along the way, but are repeatedly assisted by friendly people. The notable illustrations by Seiichi Takabe for this naive-absurd story for children by the wellknown poet Akiko Yosano (1878-1942) contain a certain surreal humor in a commercial art style that was common in Japan at the beginning of this century. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1996 - 26
Deall, Alanna (text/illus.)
Sandton: Mike Jacklin/Knowledge Unlimited, 1995.  p.
Old Man/Boy - Friendship - Kite
An old man sits under a tree carving animal figures, peaceful but lonely. Then a little boy suddenly comes out of nowhere, flying a plastic bag as a kite. The two of them make it into a real kite and spend a mutually enjoyable day together. The gentle, poetic narrative is accompanied by pen-and-watercolor drawings which capture the character of the protagonists, their feelings and their immediate surroundings. The book is designed in an very attractive style. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1996 - 27
King, Georgiana (text)
Eloff, Friedel (illus.)
Zolani Goes to Yeoville
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1995. 48 p.
Father/Son - Friendship
When Zolani recovers slowly from a debilitating bout of measles, his mother decides that a change of setting would help him and decides to invest all her savings - instead of buying a cow - in making a visit to the father who works in faraway Johannesburg. Their weeks long stay there as subletters in the home of a white family makes an interesting experience for the boy used to living in a remote rural district. The peaceable relations between Zolani's family and their temporary hosts is portrayed without any moralizing overtone, and the everyday pleasures and misunderstandings make interesting reading. (10+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Swaziland (English) - 1996 - 29
Leggat, Gillian (text)
Heerden, Marjorie van (illus.)
The Car with Three Wheels
Manzini: Macmillan Boleswa Puublishers, 1995.  p.
Brother - Birthday present - Homemade toy
Musa wants to give his little brother a special birthday present, but he has no money. With considerable ingenuity - and some forbidden scavenging - he find enough scraps to make a red racing car. Not only does his brother find it the »best present in the world«, they both continue to collect odds-and-ends for future presents. Though this story is set in Africa, where pocket money may be scarcer than elsewhere, the idea that hand-made things are as valuable as store-bought ones, and a gift of the heart the dearest of all, is universal. The color or black-and-white full-page illustrations attractively capture the main events of this simple everyday story. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Zimbabwe (English) - 1996 - 30
Proctor, André (text)
Koch, Hannie (illus.)
The school we made
Harare: Baobab Books, 1992.  p.
School - Soccer - Everyday life/Village/Zimbabwe
The villagers first get support to build a real school building and then they are granted their request for an accredited teacher. But this strict, taciturn stranger has other ideas about classroom behavior, appearances and when it is appropriate to play soccer on the school's sport field. The efforts of the parents and the heart-felt enthusiasm of the pupils for their soccer team finally win him over and he becomes integrated into village life. The gently drawn pen- and-brush drawings on each page capture the main elements of this well-written entertaining tale. (6+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1996 - 32
Fred Hollows. Leaving the World a Better Place
Carlton: CIS/Cardigan Street Publishers, 1995. 44 p.
(Makers and Shakers)
Hollows, Fred/Biography - Eye disease - Medical Care
New Zealand-born Hollows (1929-1993) is revered by thousands of people as a »larrikin saint.« He dedicated his life to bringing the highest quality medical care to the eyes of the poorest of the poor. The author describes Hollows beginnings and early »Wanderjahre« in New Zealand and Australia, before focusing on his professional life as an ophthalmologist. Explanations of medical treatment and the socio-political issues which effect medical care around the world are also featured here. The text is given an attractive layout with black-and-white photos and and documentary information. (10+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1996 - 34
The Drover's Dog
Norwood: Omnibus Books/Ashton Scholastic, 1995.  p.
Man/Dog - Tricks - World travel - Affection
Joe is a simple man in the outback. His dog Sue has a gift for acrobatic tricks which she gladly does to please her master, earning his praise and attention. But once he becomes obsessed with travelling the world and earning money with her tricks, their old way of life changes for the worse. It takes the intervention of a kindly queen for Joe to realize how selfish he has been in denying Sue the very thing that made their relationship so special - true affection. Water-colored pen-and-ink sketches exuberantly convey a simple story about the needs of the heart that children - and hopefully adults - will appreciate. (5+) ☼
India (English) - 1996 - 37
Jafa, Manorama (text)
Harichandan, Deepak (illus.)
Gandhi. The Man of Peace
Delhi: Ratna Sagar, 1995. 95 p.
Gandhi, Mahatma/Biography - Peace - War of Independence
A leading writer of children's books in India has carefully prepared this biography of India's and the world's most famous leader in a readable style, filling it with anecdotes and imagined scenes from Gandhi's life as a boy, a young lawyer in South Africa, and a political activist in the still British colony of India. Black-and-white sketches highlight important stations of his life. (10+) ☆ ☼
Philippines (English) - 1996 - 40
Kuhonta, Ma. Michelle (text)
Llana, Dindo A. (illus.)
Metro Manila: Cacho Publishing, 1995.  p.
(We Love the Earth Books/Mini Series)
How Anna learns to swim at the seashore is told her in rhyming verse, illustrated in full-page richlydetailed spreads with elements of modern art and child-oriented humor. (3+) ☼
Philippines (English) - 1996 - 41
Ventura, Sylvia Mendez
Metro Manila: Tahanan Pacific, 1992. 32 p.
(The Great Lives Series)
Rizal, José/Biography - Philippines/War of Independence - Doctor/Biography
One of the Philippines's national heroes, José Rizal Mercado (1861-1896), a brilliant, promising young European-educated doctor came from a simple merchant family. Already as a young toddler it was clear that he was a gifted learner and when he was eleven years old his family arranged for him to go to a school run by Jesuit priests in Manila. These were turbulent times in the Philippines. The only years of relative peace in his life were those spent studying medicine in Europe, where he became a specialist in eye operations and fluent in many languages. Filled with love for his family and his land, he returned home in 1891 to practice medicine, teach children and help with the modernization of his village. When accused of inciting revolution because of his prominent position among his people, he was unable to flee in time to avoid execution, only a few years before the Filipino nation won independence from Spain. This is a moving story of a very exceptional individual, written in hagiographic terms but filled with historical detail. (8+) ☆ ☼
Great Britain (English) - 1996 - 44
Dicks, Terrance (text)
Beaumont, Laura (illus.)
London: Piccadilly Press, 1995. 75 p.
(Chronicles of computer game addict)
Computer - School - Fantasy adventure
Zak is a computer game champion who seemed to have his addiction under control. But suddenly he and his elderly neighbor, the shopkeeper, and other adults also appear to be having hallucinations. Zak takes on the mission of tracking down the enemy named Virus in cyberspace and learns that though things may not always be as they appear to be, one can take control and change them. Black-and-white illustrations and a somewhat oversized type mark this as a early-reader book. This is the third adventure story about Zak, a boy whose wild and weird experiences will keep other boys of his age and background turning the pages. Reading could become addictive, too. (7-10) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 1996 - 55
Gilmore, Rachna (text)
Priestley, Alice (illus.)
Lights for Gita
Toronto: Second Story Press, 1994.  p.
Festival - Homesickness - Friendship
A young Indian girl whose family recently moved to the chilly northern climate of Canada excitedly looks forward to celebrating Divali, the Hindi celebration of lights in honor of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth who brings good fortune and prosperity to all throughout the year. Though the day turns out much differently than she expected, she makes another step toward accepting her new surroundings. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1996 - 63
Murphy, Jim (text)
Kiesler, Kate (illus.)
Into the Deep Forest with Henry David Thoreau
New York: Clarion Books, 1995. 39 p.
Thoreau, Henry David/Travels - Nature
The award-winning non-fiction writer, Jim Murphy, uses Thoreau's own journal entries about a trip through the wilderness of Maine to create an adventure story of suspense and discovery which young readers who appreciate nature will find eye-opening. Watercolor scenes of landscape and black-and-white vignettes of animals and plants attractively frame the text. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1996 - 66
Venezia, Mike (text/illus.)
Chicago: Children's Press, 1994. 32 p.
(Getting to know the world's greatest artists)
Mike Venezia believes strongly that the best way to introduce children to art or music is through fun. His wry and witty texts and matching comical, deadpan illustrations are interspersed with samples of the artist's most famous pieces. The texts highlight key biographical facts and stages in the artist's development. This series includes books on a broad range of artists from Sandro Botticelli and Rembrandt to Georgia O'Keefe and Edward Hopper. Another series done in the same style is titled »Getting to know the world's greatest composers« and includes modern composers such as Aaron Copland and earlier ones such as George Händel. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1996 - 110
L'Arbre aux Corbeaux
(The Tree of the Ravens)
Paris: Pastel, 1995.  p.
Raven - Enemy - Violence - Civil war - Destruction - Fable
A large swarm of ravens lives peacefully in an old tree until one of them finds a red scrap of material and decides he will become the king. A little later another raven discovers a scrap of yellow material and also wants to become king. That means war! The rival kings and their followers fall upon each other. A merciless war ensues. Finally one group sets fire to the tree to kill off the enemy. When the tree is ablaze, the ravens finally realize what they have done. The fighters unite and put out the fire. Peace returns and as an admonition, the yellow and red scraps are left to hang on the tree. This fable of the raven's civil war is expressively staged. The sparse text outlines the course of the story and lets the illustrations portray the action. The aggression of the explosively escalating forms and color are very effective means for conveying the meaning and message of the story: how violence develops, what destructive forces they encompass, which even when held in check, still exist under the surface. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1996 - 111
Vincent, Gabrielle (text/illus.)
Je voudrais qu'on m'écoute
(Please Listen to Me)
Paris/Louvain-la-Neuve: Duculot, 1995.  p.
Loneliness - Runaway - Neglect - Parents/Daughter
This picture book illustrates the labile sensitivity of a child. Sitting in front of the mirror in her room, a little girl decides to run away from home because no one will listen to her. The steps and stubborn ideas that must be taken when running away are revealed in each subsequent picture, passing through a long landscape into the deep dark forest. Sparse lines and subdued watercolors skillfully suggest the loneliness of the wilderness in which the child becomes lost and in desparation calls for her mother. When the full moon rises, Papa finds his child and carries her home again. (4+) ☼
France (French) - 1996 - 114
Baronian, Jean-Baptiste (text)
Paris: Grasset Jeunesse, 1995.  p.
Dog - Sheep - Seasons
Polichon is a shepherd dog who cares for his own herd of sheep. One sees him busy with his tasks throughout the year. This picture book of collages made with torn paper of various textures and coarse material is seemingly simple and broad, but the details, in the animal faces and gestures, are filled with astounding emotional expressiveness. The haptic quality of the collages may also motivate young readers to undertake such creations of their own. The novelist and fantasy writer Baronian contributed the ingenuous verses. (3+) ☼
France (French) - 1996 - 120
Douzou, Olivier (text)
Lejonc, Régis (Illus.)
Tour de manège
Rodez: Rouergue, 1995.  p.
Merry-go-round - Enchantment - World travel - Old age
The flyleaves of this picture book show sketches of old wooden merry-go-rounds from the museum of fairs in Paris. The double-paged pictures tell the story of two children who loose track of time in the endless circular rides. The perspective from the merry-go-round is enchanting. From the small circle the children fly out onto a trip around the world. The text coils and rolls with the rhythm of the rounds as an eternally repeated refrain from page to page. The children grow imperceptibly from one round to the next. When all their tickets are gone, they are old people. Once again they buy tickets. (5+) ☼
France (French) - 1996 - 124
Muscat, Bruno (text)
Besson, Jean-Louis (illus.)
Les secrets d'une ville
(The Secrets of a City)
Paris: Bayard, 1995. 46 p.
Paris/Guide - Big City/Life style
From early morning until nightfall Madame Pinson travels through Paris with her young charges. In double-paged illustrations thousands of humorously drawn details show how people in the big city live and work, how traffic and commerce are organized. A city plan helps provide an overview. With a »find-the-figure« game, the reader is encouraged to look for people with certain names and professions in the teeming crowds of the big city. In this way the city of a million inhabitants loses its anonymity and becomes an accessible living space. Highly recommendable for foreign language instruction. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 1996 - 129
Royer, Alain (text)
Carpentier, Georges (text)
de Seynes, Sophie (illus.)
Paris: Mango, 1995.  p.
Bible - Jesus - Jerusalem - Last Supper - Resurrection
This new series is intended to provide little children with their first encounter with Biblical stories. The idea is correspondingly clear-cut: the easily understandable texts are kept short in comparison with the space given over to the illustrations which portray Biblical scenes in transparent watercolors. The faces are drawn with pen strokes, and showing lively real-life mimics. The colors and localized details of the Mediterranean world are carefully chosen, stimulating a closer look. This is also a suitable book for reading aloud and re-telling. (3+) ☼
Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 148
Atxaga, Bernardo (text)
Valverde, Mikel (illus.)
Atxaga, Bernardo (transl.)
Shola y los leones
(Shola and the Lions)
Madrid: SM, 1995. 75 p.
(El Barco de Vapor; Serie Oro; Azul; 5)
Dog - Nature - Identity crisis <Motif>
Shola, easy-going little dog lady, is positively convinced that she is in truth a lion, »the king of the wilderness,« who »can kill his enemies even with his last heartbeat.« Missing the proper signs of respect from her master, Shola sets all her energy to proving her wild nature, but must finally admit to herself that she cannot deny her true character. Bernardo Atxaga's simple, humorous story about this engaging impostor is ideally matched by Mikel Valverde's water-colored line drawings. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 155
O'Callaghan i Duch, Elena (text)
Comella, Àngels (illus.)
Equipo Edebé (transl.)
Un gato muy poco gato
(A very Uncat-like Cat)
Barcelona: Edebé, 1995.  p.
(Tren azul; 22)
(Orig. ed. in Catalan from same publisher)
Cat - Identity - Role - Dog
A cat named Felipe finds a new home with the boy Gregorio. Strangely enough, Felipe doesn't like fish, runs away from birds and miaus loudly when strangers come to the door. In short, it is quite clear that he considers himself a dog. This humorous story is excellently matched with colored drawings. Particularly striking is the consistent use of typography as a means of artistic expression. Different type faces and sizes express, for example, surprise or emphasis, and the text is placed on the page - sometimes in curves or waves - in such a way that it is an integral element of the illustrations. (6+) ☼
Brazil (Portuguese) - 1996 - 165
Lago, Angela (text/illus.)
O personagem encalhado
(The Person Who Got Caught)
Belo Horizonte: Lê, 1995.  p.
(O siso do riso)
Gnome - Book - Trap
In this small-sized, nearly textless book with greyand- white double-paged illustrations the space between the two covers is the scene of an ingenious episode. A little, jaunty spindly man - a sort of gnome - accidentally lands in a story, slips down into centerfold and finds himself trapped, only able to get out again with extraordinary exertion. Angela Lago has skillfully worked this original, unspectacular idea into a highly entertaining picture book. (4+) ☼
Venezuela (Spanish) - 1996 - 171
Tabuas, Mireya (text)
Keller, Cristina (illus.)
(The Locked-up Cat)
Caracas: Monte Avila, 1995. 64 p.
(Primera Dimensión; Serie azul)
Cat - Disappearance - Search
A young boy tries to find out what has happened to the cat that had always visited him on Mondays until two weeks ago. He goes about the task like a real detective, making up a list of the suspects and making inquiries by the rest of the residents in the building. Surprisingly, everyone of them is also missing a cat. It turns out to be the very same cat, which is found at last, unharmed, with seven newborn kittens. This clearly structured story is told by the main character in a humorous, breezy manner. (8+) ☼
Canada (French) - 1996 - 173
Dubé, Pierrette (text)
Au lit, princesse Emilie!
(Off to Bed, Princess Emily!)
St-Hubert (Qc): Raton Laveur, 1995. 24 p.
Princess - Castle - Race - Bedtime
The night for night battle to get the recalcitrant child to go to bed may be easier to deal with after reading this picture book together. Emily mobilizes the vast staff of the castle for the hopeless task of putting her to bed. From the dungeon to the highest tower rooms, the runaway princess has them all hot on her heels. The droll caricaturist illustrations and rhythmic text with refrain will soon make this book an essential part of the going-to-bed ritual of the youngest readers. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (French) - 1996 - 180
Vachon, Hélène (text)
Le sixième arrêt
(The Sixth Bus Stop)
Saint-Lambert (Québec): Héritage, 1995. 40 p.
Bus - Fantasy - Adventure
»Step aboard, get your ticket, get off at the sixth stop,« Papa tells his son Somerset when he is about to take his first busride. But Somerset set off for the ride like a knight sets off on a mission. The bus is a dangerous opponent, the driver the master of the dungeons, the passangers his prisoners. Already by the first busstop unbelievable things have occurred as seen from the perspective of an imaginative child. The interaction of text and illustration is perfect even in this small paperback format with its narrow pages and large print, interspersed with plenty of colorful pictures full of »action«. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (French) - 1996 - 181
Villeneuve, Michel (text)
Sylvestre, Louise (illus.)
Waterloo: Michel Quintin, 1994. 24 p.
Beaver - Natural science
The distinguishing feature of this picture book series is the successful connection of information in the text and clever illustrations which combine realistic and anthropomorphic portrayals of the animals, in this case the beaver. In this manner the young viewer can empathize and have pleasure with the animal kingdom while subtly acquiring a precise lesson in natural history. (5+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1996 - 186
Hedlund, Irene (text/illus.)
Historien om et meget vredt næsehorn Brutalis
(The story of the very nasty Rhinoceros Brutalis)
København: Forum, 1995.  p.
Children who cannot control their anger will feel both understood and gently chastised by the fate of this rhinoceros with a name that speaks for itself. But since according to modern developmental theories, every burst of anger has a cause and is never from within the child himself, Brutalis's anger actually stems from the fact that his mother left him. Only when he is sent to Africa does he feel good again. The artist lets Brutalis's anger shoot out of his mouth as brightly colored flames, in keeping with the strong colors and activity characteristic of her pictures. (4+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1996 - 188
Jørgensen, Lone Diana
Marie på stenbroen
(Marie on the Cobblestones)
København: Høst & Søn, 1995. 175 p.
Moving house - City life - Integration - Family size
Six-year-old Marie, who has to move with her family from the country to the city, has to cope with a new, not very friendly and narrow environment, full of dirt and above all strange children. How she manages to adjust to her new world is described by the author in vivid detail with a cerain amount of soberness that makes it especially moving. The background descriptions are particularly vivid. (6+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1996 - 191
Madsen, Peter (illus.)
Menneskesønnen: en tegneserie om Jesus
(The Son of Man: A Picture Story of Jesus)
[København]: Det Danske Bibelselskab, 1995. 135 p.
Jesus Christ - Bible story - Comic
This is an impressive attempt to tell the life of Jesus in comic-style format. Peder Madsen succeeds in avoiding any pious kitsch and transforming the story in dramatic, biblically accurate, though fairly sombre illustrations in a realistic, pictorial style. (10+) ☼
Norway (Norwegian) - 1996 - 197
Kornetten - et rop om hjelp
(The Cornet Player - A Cry for Help)
Oslo: Aschehoug, 1995. 127 p.
School - Pop music
The main character and first-person narrator of this book is a new member of a brass orchestra at school. The orchestra not only serves to develop musical talents, for example by practicing »I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas«, but also to give a sense of community. The boy must learn to deal on the one hand with the demands of the music group and with his aversion to it and on the other hand with his parents in order to exert his own will. The appeal of this amusing and contemplative story, full of dry humor, is to be found in a few episodic highlights and in the dialogues. (12+) ☼
Special Mention - Norway (Norwegian) - 1996 - 201
Hansen, Espen (text)
Sandemose, Iben (illus.)
De tre sauene som dro til byen for å ha det fett
(The Three Sheep Who Went to Town to Have a Good Time)
Oslo: J. W. Cappelen, 1995. 38 p.
Sheep - Hibernation - City/Country - Opposites
Almost as a travesty of the City Musicians of Bremen, the author tells here of three sheep who see the winter approaching and believe they could survive it better in the city. In a compact, fairy-tale like form the reader experiences the grotesque clashes between the animals, whose can only imperfectly behave like people (leaving behind them in the bus funny black lumps), and civilization. They advance to stardom as pop-singers because their rhythmic ba-ba-ba fits ideally into the level of pop-music. Brief and humorous, accom-panied by ingenious black-and-white illustrations in Iben Sandemose's typical, robust style - books which succeed as well as this one are not found often. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Republic of China (Chinese) - 1997 - 21
Sun, Qingfeng (text)
Zhao, Guozong (illus.)
Shei chi le caihong?
(Who ate the rainbow?)
Taibei: Xinyi Jijin Chubanshe (Hsing-I Foundation), 1995.  p.
Rainbow - Transformation
Wonderous things happen to the animals and the tree that come into contact with the rainbow. When Uh-oh, the rainbow is cut in half by a kite string, it is eaten by a big fish, which is in turn eaten by a duck, which lays a rainbow egg. The snake eats the egg and acquires rainbow colors. When it touches a withered tree, the tree is immediately restored to life and even bears rainbow fruit. This simple, imaginative tale is accompanied by beautiful illustrations done initially on ceramic surfaces. (5+) ☼
Ghana (English) - 1997 - 24
Dadson, Nana (text)
Sutherland, Ralph (illus.)
Suma went walking
n.p.: Afram Publications, 1996. 16 p.
(Excl. dist. by African Books Collective, Oxford)
Africa/Animals - Size - Comparison
In this text a little girl encounters a series of animals who compare her size to theirs. She wonders how she can be so many contradictory things at the same time. Then the turtle explains that what she is doesn't depend on what other people say. Each of the strikingly well-drawn ink drawings is overlaid with two colors. (4+) ☼
South Africa (English) - 1997 - 30
Merwe, Louise van der (text)
Grimsdell, Jeremy (illus.)
Heroes and Lionhearts
Durban: Gecko Books, 1996. 54 p.
Heroes - Animal/Man
These twelve heart-warming stories set in modernday South Africa feature animals and humans who have risked their lives to save others, sometimes at terrible costs. The author, a journalist and animal rights campaigner, uses a clear style mixing factual background detail and the first-hand dialogs and commentary of those involved to present the gripping events in an narrative. (8+) ☼
Great Britain (English) - 1997 - 43
The Oxford children's A to Z of the human body
Oxford: University Press, 1996. 64 p.. With illustrations
This clearly formulated, alphabetical compendium of over 300 terms is striking for its concise definitions and the innovative manner of integrating explanatory illustrations within the page layout. The terms range from the parts and features of the body (e.g., abdomen; immune system; tears), its life processes (e.g. ageing; memory), medical treatment and apparatus (e.g., symptom; thermometer) illnesses and conditions (e.g. allergy; TB), to substances which have an effect of the body (e.g. alcohol). The illustrations range from photographs, microscopic enlargements, to stylistic color drawings. Neil Ardley, who collaborated with David Macauley on »The way things work«, once again shows how a book of this genre can be attractive, fun and informative. (9+) ☼
Ireland (English) - 1997 - 54
O'Louglin, Aislinn (text)
Fitzpatrick, Marie-Louise (illus.)
A right royal pain. Rumpelstiltskin - the true story
Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1996. 79 p.
Straw - Gold - Greed - Name/Secret
Rumpelstiltskin finally tells us his own side of the story about how he helped a very spoiled and ungrateful miller's dauther to live up to her father's claims that she could spin straw to gold. One quickly discovers that there can be two sides to any story and learns to sympathize with the kindhearted, wrongfully maligned elf. The hip, youthful first-person voice and the imaginative twists to this adaptation - which O'Louglin also connects to »Sleeping Beauty« and »Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs« - make for an all-around enjoyable read. (8+) ☼
USA (English) - 1997 - 65
Langsen, Richard C. (text)
Rubel, Nicole (illus.)
When someone in the family drinks too much
New York: Dial, 1996.  p.
Alcoholism - Parent/Child
Using the familiar techniques of an picture book - a teddy bear family as protagonists and colorful illustrations overlaid with a few words of text - the author, a family therapist, and illustrator speak directly to children about the phenomenon of alcoholism: what alcoholism is, how to recognize it, how alcoholics deal with their situation, how alcoholism affects the rest of the family, especially children, and some positive ways of coping with an alcoholic family member. This work has all the features of an information book, but the immediacy and accessibility of a storybook. (6+) ☼
Cameroon (French) - 1997 - 112
Matike, l'enfant de la rue
(Matike, the street child)
Yaoundé: Editions Akoma MBA, 1995. 24 p.
(Distrib: Les Amis de la Joie par les Livres, Paris)
City life - Poverty - Parental violence - Street child - Job training
Plain and memorable black-and-white stencil pictures illustrate this story of an African boy who runs away from home to escape the beatings of his father and family poverty. He earns his own keep on the street for a while until he is taken into a youth correction center. There he also learns a skilled job as a carpenter and finally returns to his home. This appealing picture book comes out of a studio in Cameroon which was founded by a group of African authors and illustrators who want to design and publish attractive and high-quality books for children. (6+) ☆ ☼
France (French) - 1997 - 117
Amelin, Michel (text)
Frély, Gilles (illus.)
Un crime est-il facile?
(A crime is easy?)
Paris: Epigones, 1996. 90 p.
Twins - Detective - Crime - Jealousy - Mistrust - Reconciliation - Friendship
The victim of the crime is a doll. Tracking down the evil-doer who so brutally damaged it, the twin detectives are unexpectedly caught up in a network of jealousy and mistrust involving their own classmates. When the perpetrator is discovered, everyone involved resolves their conflict with humor, honesty and forgiveness. This lesson in reconciliation is passed along to the reader in a suspenseful and amusing narrative. (9+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 122
Didier, Jean (text/illus.)
Didier, Zad (text/illus.)
Zoum Chat de traîneau
(Zoum, the sled-cat)
Toulouse: Milan, 1996. 38 p.
Cat - Sled - Adventure - Lie - Storytelling
This picture book has several attractions to offer. It fulfills the need of children for spooky stories with a balanced mixture of fright and relief. And it uses the well-known storytelling perspective of Grandfather telling about days gone by. And, thirdly, it offers an aesthetic delight with full-paged, striking illustrations. The idea of making the storyteller a grandfather cat who sees no reason to stick too closely to the truth give the at once merry and spooky adventures a humorous coating. Who could imagine a cat playing the part of a sled-dog! (5+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 1997 - 137
Place, François (text)
Besse, Christophe (illus.)
Le camion fantôme
Paris: Hachette Jeunesse, 1996.  p.
Old man - Retirement home - Mouse - Friendship - Helpfulness
When Monsieur Verchou, the vegetable seller, retires and moves into a retirement home, the four little mice who, like little elves, had always secretly loaded up his cart for the market, are sad. With cunning tricks, abetted by their friends, they manage to restore the run-down wagon and remove their protégé from the home. Large pictures in landscape format, drawn in vibrant colors and contours, reveal in abundant, realistic details the stages of this fantastical tale. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Italy (Italian) - 1997 - 153
Quarzo, Guido (text)
Mariniello, Cecco (illus.)
Ranocchi a merenda
(Frogs for snacks)
Casale Monferrato: Piemme, 1996. 49 p.
(Il battello a vapore, Serie bianca; 15)
Frog prince <motif> - Transformation - Adventure - Love - Friendship
Once upon a time there was a lonely fairy who turned every frog she met into a prince - wrongly believing that they were all enchanted princes - in the hope of finding the prince of her dreams. But the poor frogs complained bitterly because, though they had the appearance of human beings, they still ate gnats and were unable to speak. At last one clever frog invited her to turn herself into a frog and join him in the pond. She did and they lived happily ever after. The amusing illustrations successfully harmonize with the author's singular, fluent style. (6+) ☼
Spain (Spanish) - 1997 - 160
López Narváez, Concha (text)
Salmerón, Carmelo (text)
Salmerón ópez, Rafael (illus.)
El viaje de Viento Pequeño
(Little Wind's journey)
León: Everest, 1996. 71 p.
Wind - Growing up - Personality development - Self-realization
What will I grow up to be? thinks Little Wind. In order to answer this important question about his future, Little Wind travels around the world, meeting with others like himself who already have very different occupations, such as the hardworking Mill Wind or the destructive Violent Wind. Little Wind is at a loss, because none of those jobs interest him. But finally he finds the right profession as Park Wind that lets kites fly and helps birds to fly. In a simple style this story makes clear that every individal has his or her own ablities; every activity isvaluable and most important of all is that it is satisfying. (6+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1997 - 184
København: Høst & Søn, 1996. 99 p.
Thief - Escape - Adventure
Safran gathers herbs with her mute father in the mountains and dreams of sharing an idyllic house in the city with her family. After joining up with a group of caravan travellers in order to reach the city of her dreams, it is attacked by highway thieves. She is able to escape and find her own way with the help of a young robber who is on the run. But it is a long way back home. The author weaves together adventure, a love story and a coming-ofage tale into a gripping story. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Denmark (Danish) - 1997 - 185
Som et lille himmerige
(Like a little piece of heaven)
København: Forum, 1996. 130 p.
Escape - Farmer - Friendship
After twelve-year-old Jim defends himself with a knife against three stronger boys, he must flee for fear of being followed. He goes to an old solitary farmer who readily lets him help with the work and gives Jim the sense of being needed. When Alfred falls ill and is taken away in an ambulance, Jim has to find his own way. In a plain, sober but for that reason quite remarkable tone, the author develops this moving comradship that is based on mutual help and creates a little idyll outside of the threat-filled world. (12+) ☼
Sweden (Swedish) - 1997 - 213
Stark, Ulf (text)
Enqvist, Marianne (illus.)
(The golden heart)
Stockholm: Bonnier Carlsen, 1996. 86 p.
Short and , but very exact in choice of expression - a technique Stark is master of - this is a love story about a piano-playing boy and a girl who loses her golden heart-charm in the water. He returns it to her, only to claim her real heart. (10+) ☼
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 1
Fujimaki, Kumiko (text)
Tsuchida, Yoshiharu (illus.)
(The wonderous snowman)
Tokyo: Kin no hoshisha, 1996. 92 p.
(Shin tomodachi bunko; 9)
Father/Son - Longing - Help - Snowman
The father of seven-year old Fûta is missing in the mountains. Then one day his mother falls sick from overwork. To get her some medicine, Fûta goes into the village alone at night. Suddenly there is a snowman behind him, a protector. His love for his parents, longing for his father, the childlike fear of darkness and his encounter with the at first mysterious snowman who becomes more and more like his father - all these realistic and phantastic elements work together to form a sensitive story and a beginning reader of literary quality. (7+) ☼
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 6
Kimishima, Hisako (text)
Ono, Kaoru (illus.)
Gin no udewa
(The silver armband)
Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1997.  p.
China/Tales - Cinderella
The oldest version of the fairy tale motif »Cendrillon« can be dated back to the 9th century in China, i.e. 800 years earlier than the well-known versions retold by Perrault and Basile. The sinologist Kimishima, whose area of specialization is fairy tales, retells a version known among the Yi ethnic group, and Ono supplements the text with ethnologically and culturally authentic illustrations. Unlike the more familiar versions, a silver armband takes on the function of the golden slipper, and after her marriage the heroine must first die and come to life again before finally achieving happiness, helped in this version by a cow and a magpie. (8+) ☆ ☼
Republic of China (Chinese) - 1998 - 17
Lai, Ma (text/illus.)
Wo biancheng yi zhi pen huo long le!
(I am a fiery dragon!)
Taibei: Guoyu Ribao (Kuo Yu Daily Newspaper), 1996.  p.
Dragon - Fire - Tears
Bo-Tai is a mosquito who likes to sting irritable people and animals, infecting them a »firespewing disease«. One day he stings the sleeping dragon Ah Ku Li, who awakens and spews flames, turning his possessions, including his teddy bear and his food, to charcoal and nearly destroying his home. After he burns his neighbors and friends, no one else will come near him. Nothing he tries will extinguish the fire - a pool of water, a fire extinguisher, a refrigerator. Hungry and sad, he cries and his tears finally do what seemed impossible. Ah Ku Li laughs, knowing at last that tears and laughter are the best cure for his »disease.« (5+) ☼
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1998 - 23
Turkington, Nola (text)
Mathew, Gillian (illus.)
Matilda and Meggie
Cape Town: Human & Rousseau, 1997. 23 p.
School project - Role play - Egg - Parent/Child - Responsibility
Matilda's fourth grade class end-of-year project is learning how to take responsibility by caring for an egg for one week. Unlike many of her classmates, Matilda is quite fastidious, and learns quite a bit about the burdens of „child-rearing", but in a surprise turn of events she uses the egg to foil a supposed burglar. The humorous, tale in paperback format is complemented with very attractively stylized black-and-white pen-andwash illustrations. (7+) ☼
Zimbabwe (English) - 1998 - 25
Alumenda, Stephen (text)
Marita goes to school
Harare: Baobab, 1997.  p. With illustrations
School - Wish - Father/Daughter - Secret - Reward
Marita dreams of being allowed to attend school, but her father thinks it is a waste of time and money and fears that his daughter could grow up to be a misfit in their community. But when Marita is secretly tutored by the local teacher (a young woman who wears trousers!), she is able to help her father read an important letter. This is an affirmative story about a spunky modern African girl whom young readers can identify with. This paperback children's book is very attractively produced on sturdy paper and with lively black-and-white illustrations. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 33
Morris, Jill (text)
Muir, Lindsay (illus.)
Maleny: Great Glider, 1996.  p.
ISBN 0-947304-30-4 (pb)
Australia - Wildlife - Frog - Instinct
Australia's gastric-brooding frog was discovered in a sub-tropical area of Queensland in 1974. By 1981, as the afterword of this informative picture story book reports, it had disappeared. Without any live frogs to photograph, this book makes use of a stunningly life-like alternative. Muir has created three-dimensional pictures of the frogs and their environment from glazed and kiln-fired clay. In a very attractive page design accompanied by a slightly oversized typeface text, the life and adventures of a frog named Silus is entertainingly told in such a way that could be read aloud to children of any age group, from four to twelve. (4+) ☼
(Shortlist, Crichton Award, 1996)
India (English) - 1998 - 35
Agarwah, Deepa (text)
Guhathakurta, Ajanta (illus.)
The toy horse
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1997.  p.
Toy - Imagination
This picture book describes a brief encounter between two small girls who covet each other's toys. Rami, a gypsy girl whose family makes a living by selling iron tools and decorative handsewn cloth horses by the roadside, decides to sew a horse of her own to play with. Hers is not as perfect as the others, but in her imagination she travels far on its back. One day another small girl insists on buying Rami's cute horse and no other. Rami tearfully agrees to sell it at her mother's insistence, but is rewarded then with the other girl's lovely modern doll in exchange. This is a charmingly illustrated story with universal appeal. (4+) ☆ ☼
(2nd prize, Read-aloud, Competition for Writers of Children's Books, CBT)
Canada (English) - 1998 - 52
Fitch, Sheree (text)
Labrosse, Darcia (illus.)
If you could wear my sneakers
Toronto: Doubleday, 1997. 32 p.
Children's Rights - Poetry
In fifteen witty, lively poems and full page backdrop illustrations, Fitch and Labrosse draw connections to the content and spirit of some of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child. One of Canada's leading poets, Fitch writes in a melodic, rhythmic way with a humor that embodies the wonderfully childlike - and surely Fitch's own - perspective on life. Not in the least pedagogical, the poems have animal protagonists and behave in a way that corresponds to a basic principle of the convention. At the close of the book the reader is invited to match the poem with the appropriate »right«. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 61
Hearne, Betsy (text)
Andersen, Bethanne (illus.)
Seven brave women
New York: Greenwillow, 1997.  p.
Genealogy - Biography - Courage
With the intention of showing that history is also »her« story and our common history is not necessarily one of war and aggression, this picturebook biography gives brief portraits of seven women ancestors, telling what made each of their lives remarkable and memorable. This short firstperson chronicle of one woman's family history, which is also set in a wider context of world events that are mentioned in passing, makes a lasting impression. The naive-abstract double-page oil paintings capture the main elements of each life and the times. (5+) ☼
Austria (German) - 1998 - 68
Blazejovsky, Maria (text/illus.)
Wien: Jungbrunnen, 1997.  p.
Seagull - Name - Outsider - Identity - Adventure - Homecoming
The moon, the wind, the rain drops, a monkey, and a raven become friends with the strong-willed seagull Pippifilippi during her journey around the world which she is taking because she doesn't want to be named just Emma, like all the other seagulls. She insists on having her own name and leading her own life. The result is that ever since then each seagull picks out a second, secret name that fits no one else. This is a book which encourages independence within the social group. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1998 - 69
Herfurtner, Rudolf (text)
Boratyński, Antoni (illus.)
Mödling: St. Gabriel, 1997.  p.
Garden - Captivity - Escape - Cultural contact - Community
One day a sheltered child finds, quite literally, a »hole in the wall« of his untouched world. Outside the wall he finds children who have had completely different experiences. Yet they find a common language. Now they all return to the well-tended garden, but are no longer in captivity. This is a book about growing up and becoming independent which makes use of an unusual visual language. Until unity is created, it is monstrous shapes that encounter each other. Once they have formed a community the little gnomes become elves. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1998 - 71
Reinl, Edda (text/illus.)
Adam der Gaukler
(Adam the juggler)
Innsbruck: Tyrolia, 1997.  p.
Juggler - Monastery - Music - Dance - Prayer
The Adam from the legend »The juggler and the good Lord« performs his colorful stunts for little children until the snow comes and he finds shelter in a monastery. All the colors there are in the monotone brown of the monks' habit, until one night Adam cannot stand it any longer. He stands at the chapel altar and plays his violin for the good Lord. All the monks come running and are amazed at the intensity with which he plays. It is not known whether the dear Lord ever punished Adam for this caper. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1998 - 73
Walbrecker, Dirk (text)
Poppel, Hans (illus.)
Wien: Betz, 1997.  p.
Hat - Loneliness - Metamorphosis - Play
Papa's hat and papa's little boy have one thing in common - loneliness. With a little fantasy, this becomes a wonderful day. The hat transforms itself into a football, a drinking cup, a magical machine and much more. Until the little boy lays down his head in the evening and falls asleep. At first the overtaxed hat resists such impertinence, but then after all Papa can get himself a new headpiece. The pictures of peacefulness and dynamic movement alternate according to the game and the hat's function. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 74
Auer, Martin (text)
Luetke, Joachim (illus.)
Der dreckige Prinz
(The filthy prince)
Stuttgart: Thienemann, 1997.  p.
Cleanliness - Education - Identity - Personality change - Surveillance - Perfection
The Queen always insists that her son stay always immaculately clean. When the prince becomes king, he only dares to wallow in filth at night in his dreams. But during the day he proclaims that the entire kingdom is to be kept clean, and he enforces it strictly. This is a cautionary tale directed against perfectionism, in which children's dreams collide with the exaggerated demands of adults. The illustrations contain a wide range of techniques of style that manage to overrule one another, just as, analogously, children's desires are constantly being overruled by the forces surrounding them. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 75
Bärsch, Thomas (text)
Ticha, Hans (illus.)
Der Streik der Buchstaben
(The alphabet goes on strike)
Leipzig: Faber & Faber, 1996. 62 p.
Letter <alphabet> - Strike - Orthography
The letters of the alphabet feel abused and make plans for a total strike. Suddenly there is not an E, G, T or P to be found anywhere. Not even in the minds of the people, who can no longer read or write anything. Chaos takes over. New auxiliary rules of spelling are established. But more and more letters disappear, and nothing works any longer.This is largely a humorous persiflage of the current wrangling over the introduction of new orthography rules in German-speaking countries. Black-and-white vignettes of letters try to give a proper picture. The book is one of the series »Die Sisyphosse« with a compact format and attractive book design. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 78
Zwischen zwei Scheiben Glück
(Between two slices of happiness)
München: Hanser, 1997. 82 p.
Germany/History 1938-1945 - Persecution of the Jews - Hungary
Peter has spent the greater part of his childhood in Hungary with his grandfather, a strict elderly gentlemen, who is just the opposite of Laszlo, Peter's father, a diplomat on service in war-time Berlin. Only later does Peter discover that the letters he got regularly from his father were written by his grandfather, in order to conceal the death of his father. This enchanting book gives much space to joyful moments and to sad moments. It shows a child's attempts to look upon world events so as to make them fit into his own life. The author handles very complicated subjects seemingly without effort, often humorously, and tragic moments with a dash of gentle irony. (8+) ☆ ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 84
Heidelbach, Nikolaus (text/illus.)
Ein Buch für Bruno
(A book for Bruno)
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1997.  p.
Book - Adventure - Trickery - Reading - Friendship
Ulla Herz, an enthusiastic fan of books, falls in love with Bruno Würfel, a book-hater. Though he prefers things that go crack-bang-slam, one day she is cunning enough to get him to experience a book as an »event« in its own right. And he wants more. How the two of them start with the parental library and swing (wordlessly) on a bookmark from adventure to adventure, page after page, is another piece of Heidelbach creativity. Here he takes a stand on reading for fun, but one thoroughly devoid of pedagogical undertones. (6+) ☆ ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 86
Jandl, Ernst (text)
Junge, Norman (illus.)
(To be fifth)
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1997.  p.
Doctor - Waiting room - Children's poetry
The doctor's waiting room is filled with all kinds of busted characters: Penguin, Duck, Teddy and Tin Frog. The fifth patient, a little Pinocchio, is suffering from a broken nose. The door has to open and close four times before it is the last one's turn, along with Ernst Jandl, to say »morning doctor.« During the long wait, the injured reveal only minimal mimical changes in each of the nearly identical pictures - a perfect interpretation of the anxiety of each (small) patient in a doctor's waiting room. An artful, well-composed book designed for very close listening and looking. (4+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 88
Lind, Hera (text)
Marcks, Marie (illus.)
Der Tag, an dem ich Papa war
(The day I was Papa)
Frankfurt (Main): Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, 1997. 131 p.
Father/Son - Role reversal
Fridolin and Papa change places for one day and manage to steer their respective worlds pretty far off course. Fridolin, in the shape of Papa, takes business partners to the playground and to McDonald's, while Papa, with Fridolin's appearance, goes to a café instead of to school. But the magic only lasts one day. Unconcerned with logic or realism, the author allows the reader to take subversive pleasure in the improbable father-and-son conspiracy. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 89
Maar, Paul (text)
Ballhaus, Verena (illus.)
Lesezauber. Eine Fibel mit Reimen und Geschichten
(Reading magic. A reader with rhymes and stories)
Berlin: Volk und Wissen, 1997. 115 p.
Alphabet - First reader - Children's poetry - Play
In a compendium of pictures, letters and first words, short poems, and longer texts the beginning reader is gradually introduced to the written word and reading matter in this most pleasurable beginning reader. Breaks for play are worked into the text. Using lots of humor and graphics, the authors also provide a basic stock of knowledge about everyday life in Germany and elsewhere. Visual citations from widely known picture books and children's books (including those of the author) produce a larger (literary) context for the young reader. All in all this is a »school book« for happy learning. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 91
Muggenthaler, Eva (text/illus.)
Der Schäfer Raul
(The shepherd Raul)
Wuppertal: Hammer, 1997.  p.
Shepherd - Identity - Country life - City life - Love
The shepherd Raul is vain. When he sets off for the city to get prettied up, his herd of sheep take offence and follow him. They create a nuisance in the city and become, so to speak, criminals. And they interfere with the shepherd's newly found happiness. Finally he flees with them back to the country - and finds that fortune has not deserted him. An endearing story in which both man and sheep win, is well told with picturesque illustrations and excellent typography. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1998 - 98
Schubiger, Jürg (text)
Berner, Rotraut Susanne (illus.)
Mutter, Vater, ich und sie
(Mother, Father, me and her)
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1997. 106 p.
Siblings - Family - Language - Everyday life
This is the tale of a boy who tries to come to terms with his life in his family and especially his relationship with his younger sister with the help of words. For him, language always has a literal, direct meaning. Thus he makes quite surprising discoveries about the world, such as: »The weather today has more than one R - weatherr, weatherrrr. It is raining from every direction.« This is not a matter of spelling, but an example of precise observation. This makes for a gripping reading experience, given most delightful variation by Berner's pictures and vignettes. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1998 - 99
Weiss, Ruth (text)
Janssen, Susanne (illus.)
Sascha und die neun alten Männer. Das Fest der Lichter. Zwei Erzählungen
(Sascha and the nine old men. The festival of lights. Two tales)
Wuppertal: Hammer, 1997. 120 p.
Russia - Jews - Prayer - Religious holiday - Christ
The old men of Yevka, near Odessa, are no longer able to celebrate Minyan, the Jewish worship service with all the sacred rites, because they lack the necessary tenth believer. Little Sascha, a future detective who is curious about all the secrets surrounding him, leads his father's British business partner into the synagoge. As he is also Jewish, the congregation finds its tenth man. In an impressive narrative, the author, herself Jewish, depicts the old atmosphere of an East European shtetl from the naive perspective of a modern non-Jewish child. (8+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1998 - 105
Steiner, Jörg (text)
Müller, Jörg (illus.)
Was wollt ihr machen, wenn der Schwarze Mann kommt?
(What will you do when the Black Man comes?)
Aarau: Sauerländer, 1998.  p.
Rumor - Play - Threat - Mischief - Everyday life
The »Black Man« is both a children's game and a form of parental threat for misbehaving children. But one day the children make believe what it would be like if he really came. Suddenly there are black footsteps around town, for instance, though no one is able to see him. Security measures are implemented, people lock themselves inside. This goes on for a while, and then things return to normal. What really happened is never quite clear, but the fear of strangers and the security precautions remain. In one especially memorable full-size illustration scary nightmares are depicted in which black shapes creep out from the cracks in the wall, windows and even the pavement. This book can also be read as a bitter persiflage on today's craving for security. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1998 - 106
Ungerer, Tomi (text/illus.)
Cramer-Klett, Anna von (transl.)
Zürich: Diogenes, 1997. 30 p.
Cat - Dog - Offspring - Outsider - Fraternity
A lovely child is born to cat parents. It is a little dog. (Wasn't there a pug dog in the family...?) The fact is that (parental) love alone is not enough for a child's well-being. So young Flix is an outsider in Cat City, until fate leads him to rescue a little cat child (fame in Cat City!) and a young poodle lady (love in Dog City!). They get married and have a baby. It's a little girl and its first cry is »Meow!« The story could continue this way forever. Just as in real life. With Ungerer's pictures it wouldn't be boring either. (8+) ☆ ☼
Romania (Romanian) - 1998 - 146
(The wolves' banquet)
Ploieşti: Ed. Prahova, 1996. 150 p.
Romania - Family - Everyday life - Superstition
With her special power of observation and empathy, the author carries the reader into the intimate world of a Romanian family. The stories in the first section depict the family's relationship to the animals they are raising. While they have a special place in the family and are given loving care, especially by the children, the adults see them rather as a part of the food chain. In the second part of the book, the stories show the influence and constant presence of superstition among the Romanian people - especially with regard to death, presentiment of death, and fighting illness with supernatural powers. These twenty stories are filled with a sense of atmosphere and authenticity. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Argentina (Spanish) - 1998 - 162
Pescetti, Luis María (text)
Caperucita Roja (tal como se la contaron a Jorge)
(Little Red Riding Hood [as told to Jorge])
Buenos Aires: Alfaguara, 1996. 30 p.
Little Red Riding Hood/Parody - Storytelling - Reader response
In a simple and intelligent manner this book demonstrates how stories can be understood in a new and different way through the imaginations of the teller and listener. As a father tells his son the story of Little Red Riding Hood the reader of this book sees in the cartoon-bubble illustrations that quite different ideas are going through each one's mind. While the father thinks of tradional fairytale images, the boy - influenced by comics and cartoons - imagines a »modern-day«, actionfilled version. Since only the reader ever notices how their experiences differ, this very original picture book is all the funnier. (6+) ☼
Canada (French) - 1998 - 174
Dubé, Jasmine (text)
Daigle, Sylvie (illus.)
Tu n'es plus seul, Nazaire!
(You're not alone any more, Nazaire)
Montréal: Courte Échelle, 1997. 61 p.
(Premier roman; 57)
Family - Tenderness - Pregnancy - Siblings
This young author has already received prizes for her life's work, which also includes theater plays for children. Her main area of interest is the relationship between parents and children, which she depicts with considerable diversity and subtlety. Seven-year old Nazaire is the hero of this popular series of beginning readers, which glows with the warmth of a happy family nest. This adroit and yet sensitive story tells about the mother's pregnancy, the birth of the new baby and the moments of tender intimacy with father and grandfather as seen through the eyes of a child. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (French) - 1998 - 178
Tibo, Gilles (text)
Poulin, Stéphane (illus.)
Choupette et son petit papa
(Choupette and her little papa)
Saint-Lambert (Québec): Héritage, 1997. 43 p.
Play - Mother - Authority - Growing up
Papa's standard phrase that he was always tied to his mother's skirts is taken quite literally by his young daughter, who pictures him in absurd, droll situations, smothered in the folds of the imposing skirt of a matronly mother. Having had such a sheltered childhood, Papa now has a lot to catch up on. And he does so to excess, while his daughter stands by and watches, slightly unnerved, but with understanding and affection. The author and illustrator, both renown for their past accomplishments, outbid one another in inventiveness and let Papa enjoy rollicking childlike capers. (6+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 181
Brandt, Hanne (text)
Ranheimsæter, Jon (illus.)
Den hovedløse rytter. Spøgelseshistorier fra danske slotte
(The headless knight. Ghost stories from Danish castles)
København: Forum, 1996. 95 p.
Denmark - Castle - Ghost
Ghost stories are not only read with pleasure by children, they are also short enough to keep the laziest reader interested. In this selection, the stories are set against the background of Danish cultural history. To add to the suspense, each one is told in the first-person and the uncanny twists of plot are illustrated in a quite congenial manner by an artist who has already proven to be an expert in the field of horror. (8+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 185
Rasmussen, Bent (text)
Bourgeat, Lene (illus.)
Den gode dværg
(The good dwarf)
København: Alinea, 1997. 60 p.
(Læs dansk bøgerne/Blå serie)
The author is also the editor of this new series for beginning readers and readers with reading problems. The series consists of three levels of difficulty. Following the postulates of reading teachers, the sentences use simple grammatical constructions laid out in short lines. And still the legend-like stories about dwarves are, thanks to the author, readable and exciting. (6+) ☼
Norway (Norwegian) - 1998 - 196
Nicolaysen, Marit (text)
Dybvig, Per (illus.)
(The journey through the sewage canals)
Oslo: Aschehoug, 1996. 55 p.
(Aschehoug illustrerte barnebøker)
One hot summer day a group of school children are forced to make a tour of the sewage canal system. While they are being told about the function of the sewers - and on the brink of claustrophobia and nausea due to the stinking odors and the rats - one of the boys faints. He becomes acquainted with the romantic side of the sewer keeper, realizes that his house rat is a finer one than the canal rat and even gains a girlfriend through it all. Told with a dry sense of humor, this short tale and its outrageous caricatures in the style of Quentin Blake will be most enjoyed by children who are reluctant readers. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 203
August Strindberg. Bilder ur hans liv
(August Strindberg. Pictures from his life)
Stockholm: LL-Förlaget, . 74 p.
In a very simple and factually condensed form, that is nonetheless quite interesting to read, this book presents Strindberg's life, documented with historical photographs, and creates a portrait of his times. This citation is also meant to give recognition to the remarkable publishing program of LL (Lättläst stands for ), which produces books that take their readership seriously. Some titles deal with developmental disorders, autism, aphasia or dyslexia, fighters, reluctant readers or immigrant children. Among LL's specialities are the heavily abridged re-editions of classics such as by de Maupassant, Shelley or Lagerlöf. Photodocumentary stories tell about the vacation of two developmentally retarded young women or about the love relationship of a woman in a wheelchair. The books are exceptionally attractive, well-illustrated, printed on good paper and nicely bound. Also the didactic conceptualization of the information books is excellent, their graphic design of lovely pictures and photographs is clearly arranged, and the text is kept as concise as possible. (12+) ☼
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 207
Schenkmanis, Ulf (text)
Johansson, Sven-Gösta / Forsberg, Lasse (photos)
Waltmark, Barbro (recipes)
Stockholm: LL-Förlaget, 1997. 72 p.
The brief text gives a minimal explanation of the essential botanical details and other practical information. Very beautiful photographs of the individual berry sorts (including the well-known kinds of currants, wild and cultivated strawberries, and Scandinavian specialities such as blueberries, cranberries and others) make them easily recognizable. Several easy recipes which young adults will not hesitate to try are included at the end of the book. (10+) ☼
The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1998 - 233
Hagen, Hans (text)
Hopman, Philip (illus.)
De kat en de adelaar
(The cat and the eagle)
Amsterdam: Van Goor, 1997. 65 p.
Pakistan - Child/Work - Cat
Day after day eight-year old Farid works on the public bus that his father drives, collecting the fares from the passengers. He has taken over his mother's job because she can't work any longer after an accident. For some time, Farid has seen a black cat everywhere he goes and imagines that it is his mother. Hans Hagen tells a very expressive and balanced story in short sentences and brief chapters. This is a simple engrossing story in which fantasy alternates with reality in a most plausible manner. The reader can empathize with Farid and also get a feeling for everyday life in modern Pakistan. (8+) ☆ ☼
Australia (English) - 1999 - 26
Howes, Jim (text)
Harvey, Roland (illus.)
Islands in my garden
Port Melborne: Roland Harvey Books, 1998.  p.
Play - Garden - Adventure - Hide-and-seek - Nature
Even before the story starts Roland Harvey begins to entertain the reader with a zany menagerie of miniature portraits (a cicada, a lady bird, a centipede, a bread roll [deceased], and even Harvey and Howes themselves) on the frontispiece. In beautifully composed watercolor spreads that invite intensive inspection - to find the natural processes but also quirky jokes - Harvey provides the appropriate nature settings for Howes' five-line verses about all the things that can be discovered in the space of one backyard. (5+) ☼
Australia (English) - 1999 - 27
McDonald, Meme (text/photos)
Pryor, Boori (text)
St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1998. 74 p.
(Little Ark Book)
Growing up - Frog - Friendship - Security - Boy/Girl - Haunting spirit
Drawing upon childhood memories of family life with ten brothers and sisters, school bullies, learning to fish with father, flirting with girls and, most of all, overcoming fears of a bad spirit lurking in their house at night, Boori Pryor writes a fictionalized first-person narrative about a boy and his green tree frog. The book's considerable charm is enhanced by a most unusual style of design: different typefaces, often reflecting the emotional content, and various uses of atmospheric black-andwhite photographs throughout the book. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1999 - 30
Toft, Kim Michelle (text/illus.)
Sheather, Allan (text)
One less fish
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1997.  p.
ISBN 0-7022-2947-4 (paperback)
Counting - Fish - Great Barrier Reef - Environmental protection
Using the melodic chant of a counting rhyme which descends from twelve to zero, the authors present a multi-faceted introduction to the dangers facing the ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef, which is the habitat of twelve stunningly beautiful species of fish. The young reader can actively follow the countdown by noting the disappearance of one fish at each number and comparing the nearly identical illustrations on the recto and verso sides of a page. The countdown chant on the recto shows the playful fish confronted with an intruder. In a brief text on the verso, facts about the effects of human behavior on marine life are discreetly presented below the illustration. Along with the informative text, an attractive layout and a glossary of scientific terms on the last page, the book's most stunning feature is the brightly coloured silk-screen paintings of marine life. Taken together, all these features synthesize into a captivating reading experience and will encourage reflection and re-reading. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1999 - 38
Leaving One-Foot Island
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1998. 73 p.
Family/Separation - Outsider - City life/Rural life - Cook Islands - Island - Diary
Tuaine has grown up in a sheltered, tight-knit family with her grandparents on Aitutaki (One-Foot Island), one of the Cook Islands. Because of her high marks at school, a New Zealander teacher recommends that she go to Auckland to complete her schooling. After two months with her widowed aunt's family, Tuaine begins to record in an excercise book - inspired by Anne Frank's diary - her experiences of being caught between two worlds as she tries to adjust to a new school life and to the stressed family life in a impoverished family in a big, cold city. The story has a naturalness of language and an authenthic ring that gives immediacy to the feeling of being a guest and a stranger in a foreign place. (12+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1999 - 47
Manning, Mick (text/illus.)
Granström, Brita (text/illus.)
Out there somewhere it's time to...
London: Watts, 1998.  p.
World - Time zones
In the cheerful watercolor illustrations of these double-spread scenes of everyday activities in cities or spots around the world, the concept of time is introduced to young readers. They show what different people are doing simultaneously because they live in different time zones of the earth. Each picture is accompanied by short texts in two type faces, a running story narrative and an informative fact about the place. A world map with picture captions and a glossary of helpful words conclude the book. The author-illustrator team won the silver Smarties Award in 1996 for another book in this series. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1999 - 49
Onyefulu, Ifeoma (text/photos)
My grandfather is a magician. Work and wisdom in an African village
London: Frances Lincoln, 1998.  p.
Nigeria - Family life - Herbal medicine - Grandfather/ Grandson
This picture information book presents a child's view of his family's professions in a village of southeast Nigeria. The boy's first-person narrative is accompanied by attractive photos of adults at work. In his childlike way, the boy ranks the skills of his grandfather, an expert in tribal medicine, above all the other important professions (such as lawyer, baker, or blacksmith) he observes and hopes to continue one day in his grandfather's footsteps. A brief afterword gives scientific details about the herbs presented. This very personal approach to a multidisciplinary topic (family, professions, medicine) represents an interesting way of portraying cultural facts to children. (6+) ☆ ☼
USA (English) - 1999 - 60
Cazets, Denys (text/illus.)
Minnie and Moo go to the moon
New York: DKInk, 1998. 48 p.
(A Richard Jackson Book)
Cow - Tractor - Farm - Adventure
Moo and Minnie, two cows, are very best friends. Moo has a wild imagination and a daring spirit, while Minnie, though a bit more sensible, always goes along for the adventure. Here Moo suggests they could drive the farmer's tractor and after ransacking the barnyard it takes them flying over a hill, to land, apparently, on the moon. The hilarious Laurel and Hardy style conversations between Moo and Minnie are sure attention-holders in this very attractively designed and charmingly illustrated beginning reader chapter book. (5+) ☼
Austria (German) - 1999 - 71
Esel oder Pferd? Geschichten vom Herrn Cerny
(Donkey or horse? Mr. Cerny stories)
Wien: Dachs, 1998. 109 p.
Pony - Donkey
Mr. Cerny's father was a donkey and his mother a pony. Thus he was born a dwarf mule and after living for a short time in animal shelter, he was given a home on at a riding farm together with several other important figures in the horse world. Mr. Cerny is a serious challenge to both man and animal at the farm because he had received no proper upbringing at the animal shelter and inspite of his stenorious voice he is umbelievably timid. But they make the best of things and in the end the animals once again have the training of their people back under control again. An adorable book told with humor from the perspective of souvereign pets. (6+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1999 - 75
Auer, Martin (text)
Kulot-Frisch, Daniela (illus.)
Die Erbsenprinzessin. Die Geschichte von der Prinzessin auf der Erbse nach Hans Christian Andersen ganz frei nacherzählt, aufs Zehnfache aufgeblasen und mit vielen Versen versehen, dazu um die Geschichte des treuen Dieners Truffaldino bereichert
(The Princess and the Pea)
Stuttgart: Thienemann, 1998. 121 p.
(Thienemanns fliegender Teppich)
Princess - Servant - Social inequality
Accompanied by his faithful servant, an eligible bachelor prince goes off in search of a bride. But as he is not all too clever, the servant Truffaldino must amend many royal blunders (not all girls are princesses!). Thus they return home without a fiancée. But soon she is standing, unsummoned, at the door - pitch wet and cranky. And just as in Hans Christian Andersen's original tale, she notices the pea under the mattress, and the wedding follows. Yet there is nothing even slightly proper or royal to this version, as uncouth as a Punch and Judy show, making it all the more enchanting. (6+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1999 - 80
Dörrie, Doris (text)
Kaergel, Julia (illus.)
Lotte will Prinzessin sein
(Lotte would like to be a princess)
Ravensburg: Ravensburger, 1998.  p.
Clothing - Everyday life - Party
One morning Lotte doesn't want to do what Mother wants - despite her threatened temper tantrum. And Lotte doesn't want to put on the blue skirt and red pullover, she wants to wear the yellow princess dress. And Mother should dress up as a princess, too (a red evening dress with jewels - to go to work?). Lotte wins: soon both the little and the big princess leave the house in haste, but not without their crowns. And it isn't even carnival season. »Cool dress,« says Mother's girlfriend at the office. Both text and illustrations of this first children's book by the wellknown German filmmaker attack the drab monotony of mothers' and daughters' daily routines. (4+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1999 - 84
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (text)
Erlbruch, Wolf (illus.)
(The witch's one-time-one)
München: Hanser, 1998.  p.
Numbers - Paradox - Poetry
For all his Faustian hunger for knowledge, man reveals himself here as a weak and easily confused being - aping and yellow-bellied, money-hungry and violent. Fleeing foolishly from the Grim Reaper, he clambers about on the roller coaster of life. That is the essence and the visualized result of the Goethe-Erlbruchian calculation in this picture book. Erlbruch renders here a free interpretation of the absurd and playful text. He paints, cuts and pastes collages in free association, offering both young and old a firework of vivid and profound fantasy. (10+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1999 - 86
Heidenreich, Elke (text)
Buchholz, Quint (illus.)
Am Südpol, denkt man, ist es heiß
(It is hot, one expects, at the South Pole)
München: Hanser, 1998. 63 p.
Antarctic - Penguin - Opera performance - Satire
The penguins of the South Pole, who wear tuxedos by nature, are predestined to experience a gala performance. For lack of any other audiences, the famous Three Tenors have set out on an Antarctic Tour and present the enthusiastic birds Verdi's »La Traviata« - with Luciano Pavarotti in the leading female role. This absurd story is told »with a pokerface « by Elke Heidenreich in fabulous verse form. In his calm, yet profound illustrations Quint Buchholz does not conceal that the prima donna has, for a change, a beard. Yet the penguins find the performance just as enchanting as the readers of the entire book. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1999 - 93
Könnecke, Ole (text/illus.)
Elvis und der Mann mit dem roten Mantel
(Elvis and the man in the red coat)
Hamburg: Carlsen, 1998.  p.
Santa Claus - Accident - Gift-giving
Santa Claus has an accident with his reindeer-drawn sleigh on Christmas Day. He has to seek help from crazy Elvis in order to »get to work«, as he mysteriously says. His request is fulfilled, but Elvis has no idea whom he has helped. In all his hurrying around, he neither looked nor listened to the sleigh-driver. Only Elvis's grandfather vaguely remembers, who the man in the red suit must be, but he forgets again right away. The irony and humor of this story create a very special Christmas spirit, in good part with the help of the comic-like characters in the illustrations. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1999 - 97
Orlev, Uri (text)
Gleich, Jacky (illus.)
Pressler, Mirjam (transl.)
Der haarige Dienstag
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1998.  p.
Hair care - Resistance - Hair cut - Compromise
Tuesday is hair-washing day, the cause of deepest agony for three-year old Michael. His loud protests move the whole family to pity - even Mother. Michael's sister, Daniela, finds a solution: no hair - no hair washing. Michael only needs to get rid of his hair. With a shock he imagines his future hairlessness and comes to a decision. He chooses the lesser of two evils: crying rather than being shorn bald. A thoroughly realistic story about the helpless desperation of a young, patronized minority told with wit and irony, illustrated from the perspective of childlike chaos. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1999 - 99
Richter, Jutta (text)
Janssen, Susanne (illus.)
Der Hund mit dem gelben Herzen oder die Geschichte vom Gegenteil
(The dog with the yellow heart or the story of the opposite)
München: Hanser, 1998. 110 p.
Dog - Talking animal - Creation - Home
Dog, homeless, knows how to talk and tells (invents) the story of his life for Lotta and her brother. He tells how he has been to see the inventor G. Ott and admire his pictures, which showed the entire world. And how he then has gone in search of G. Ott's best friend, who had been banished from the garden of paradise. That the garden door is closed when they try to return to G. Ott. In return for his story Dog is given a home with the children and Grandfather Schulte, who strangely enough bears much resemblance to G. Ott. There is considerable meaning to be found in this enjoyable, but quite serious interpretation of the creation story. (8+) ☼
Belgium (French) - 1999 - 114
Gelber, Eva et al. (text)
Dehaes, Serge (illus.)
On ira à Mopti
(We are going to Mopti)
Bruxelles: Editions Labor, 1997. 34 p.
Interracial friendship - Solidarity
A young boy from Mali lives in Belgium with his adoptive parents. He tells a schoolmate about his family in Mali, his home country and its catastrophic problems with weather and disease. The two children decide to be friends forever and go to Mali with medi- cal aid teams when they are grown-up. The humanitarian message is dressed up here in funny, richly detailed illustrations, which naively capture the two different worlds. The children's optimistic plan to create a better world is reflected in the final pages, which look as if they had done the painting themselves. (6+) ☆ ☼
France (French) - 1999 - 122
Bloch, Muriel (text)
Bourre, Martine (illus.)
Le loup et la mésange
(The wolf and the titmouse)
Paris: Didier Jeunesse, 1998.  p.
(À petits petons)
Wolf - Titmouse - Luck - Trickster
The song and story tradition of southwestern France includes the merry chorus rhymes of the bird that with a bit of luck escapes from a wolf's stomach. The haptic and richly imaginative illustrations are elaborate constructions consisting of a heterogeneous range of materials such as knitting wool for the titmouse, dried leaves, ferns, cork, brushes and buttons for the bugs and worms on the titmouse tree, and tin foil and electronic circuitry for the claws and bowels of the wolf. (4+) ☼
France (French) - 1999 - 124
Cantin, Marc (text)
Perdreau, Brigitte (illus.)
Le meilleur papa du monde
(The best father in the world)
Paris: Grasset-Jeunesse, 1998. 46 p.
(Lampe de poche ; 18)
Father - Megalomania - Tall-tale
This grotesque story has all the features that appeal to a beginning reader. Its short chapters and generous illustration contribute considerably to the fast-paced sensational plot. The hero of the story is a small, portly, conservatively dressed father who lives the life of a megomanic to the full. By insisting on gigantic proportions for everything, he manages to make the whole family's life most complicated: windows can only be reached on stilts, going from room to room only with rollerskates. In the end all are delighted when a giant dog causes their palace-like domicile to collapse. (7+) ☼
France (French) - 1999 - 128
Dutheil, Florence (text)
Fellner, Henri (illus.)
Le petit livre pour dire non à l'intolérance et au racisme
(The little book about how to say no to intolerance and racism)
Paris: Bayard poche / Astrapi, 1998. 29 p.
(Le petit livre pour dire non ; 2 (Bayard poche))
Intolerance - Racism - Protest
This thin paperback volume offers sound advice for all situations in which a person becomes aware of the differences between people. It begins in the family and ends at school and in public, where members of different ethnic groups are likely to meet. Comic-style drawings with balloon captions depict typical, ordinary scenes in two variations: negative-intolerant and positive-praiseworthy. The texts, which are not only for children, contain well-founded and easy-to-do suggestions for overcoming and avoiding intolerance and racism. (7+) ☆ ☼
France (French) - 1999 - 130
Godard, Alex (text/illus.)
Paris: Albin Michel Jeunesse, 1998. 43 p.
Antilles - Fisherman - Poverty - Family/Separation - Leave-taking
The over-sized illustrations of this picture book authentically capture the picturesque world of the Antilles. The young girl Cècette lives with her grandparents, a poor, illiterate fisher family, on Guadeloupe. After her father was lost at sea, her mother had to move to a distant city to find work. Cècette is allowed to visit her during the school holidays. Taking leave of her grandparents is a moving moment and reflects the other side of life on the beautiful island - in order to escape from its material poverty, one must leave behind the people one loves. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 1999 - 133
Mwankumi, Dominique (text/illus.)
La pêche à la marmite
(The catch of fish with the pot)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1998. 37 p.
Congo - Fishing - Rural life
Two hundred kilometers from Kinshasa there is a fishing village called Panu. In the rainy period the river is overflowing with fish. Kumi and his friends set out to fish. It is not without danger. Suddenly a crocodile approaches. Fortunately, Kumi is alert enough to scare it off. The luminous power of these illustrations of this true story which capture the lively experiences of Congolese children let the reader know that these are scenes from the childhood of the Congolese painter now living in Brussels. Parallel to the story, the mood of the story is unfolded as the color tones shift the yellow of the hot midday to the shadowy hues of evening and nighttime. The reader is transported into a world of childhood far beyond the routine of school-days and safety-inspected playgrounds. A brief afterword describes the current living conditions of Congolese fishermen and their families. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Italy (Italian) - 1999 - 143
Guarnieri, Paolo (text)
Landmann, Bimba (illus.)
Un bambino di nome Giotto
(A child named Giotto)
Milano: Arka, 1998.  p.
(Collana Perle d'arte)
Giotto <di Bondone> - Art - Painting
This narrative picture book presents the legendary life of the painter Giotto as an introduction to art. Beginning with Giotto's childhood as a young shepherd and his fortuitous meeting with Cimabue, the outstanding master and innovator in pictorial art of his times, the author entertains the young reader both through the story and informative descriptions of the techniques involved in fresco painting. Full-page plates in warm, earthy tones resembling altar pieces describe not a saint's life but that of the celebrated Romanesque painter. Especially striking is the use of decorative elements that convey the Byzantine influences on Giotto's education and work. (7+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1999 - 159
Plaza, José María (text)
Gallego, José María (illus.)
El paranguaricutirimicuaro que no sabía quién era
(The paranguaricutirimicuaro who didn't know who he was)
Madrid: Espasa, 1998. 131 p.
(Espasa juvenil ; 55)
Animals - Difference - Search for identity
A curious, adventurous little animal sets out alone, leaving parents and familiar territory behind it, in order to discover the world. On its random course it encounters a wide variety of animals who all make fun of the naive stranger. For the frog its eyes are too big, for the snake, its legs too long, for the ant it is much too large. And on top of that they all want to know: who are you? This becomes clear in the end: a paranguaricutirimicuaro - although this name gives rise to even more questions. The diversity of the animal world and the search for one's own identity are the themes of this amusing and accessible story. (7+) ☆ ☼
Spain (Catalan) - 1999 - 164
Garriga, Carme (text)
Giménez, Anna (text)
Giménez, Anna et al. (photos)
Ostelinda. Jo vinc de tot arreu
(Ostelinda. I come from everywhere)
Barcelona: Galera, 1998. 31 p.
(LaGalera jo vinc de ... ; 1)
This book is one title in the exemplary information book series („I come from..."), in which texts and abundant photographs offer a useful first glimpse into the life and customs of different countries - as seen through the eyes of a child who lives there and tells of his own everyday life. A notable feature of this book is that the girl belongs to the Roma, a people who are at home in many countries and are often marginalized and stigmatized. This book deserves praise in particular for showing clearly that Ostelinda is above all a child like any other. (7+) ☆ ☼
Brazil (Portuguese) - 1999 - 171
Reyes, Yolanda (text)
Cuéllar, Olga (illus.)
Aguiar, Luiz Antonio (trad.)
Sobral, Marisa (trad.)
Um amor grande demais
(A love too great)
São Paulo: FTD, 1997. 29 p.
(Coleção histórias de colégio)
First love - Longing - Shyness - Speechlessness
Mauricio is 15 years old, tall and thin as a beanpole and quite inhibited around other kids. When he falls head over heels in love - »with all his soul and body« - his entire life is dedicated to only one goal: Juanita. But he doesn't know what he should say to her. In his mind he goes over the words over and over again, but when it comes to the test, he fails. Thanks to unexpected help, he finally delivers his message, but Juanita has a mind of her own.... The Colombian author narrates this story about the feelings and fears, that overcome someone who is in love, with ease and no embellishments. Although quite slight and heavily illustrated, this is a story for not quite so young children. (9+) ☼
Mexico (Spanish) - 1999 - 178
Montes, Graciela (text)
Legnazzi, Claudia (illus.)
La venganza de la trenza
(The revenge of the plait)
México, D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1997. 29 p.
(A la orilla del viento ; 89)
Hair - Plait
»Ema has a simple name, but difficult hair...« is the first line of this entertaining story. Ema hates plaits, especially those that her mother braids everytime after she works through Ema's hair with a comb that for Ema seems like a crocodile that moves through a river full of rocky knots. Fortunately someone comes along to save her and make sure that Ema forgets all that trouble and laughs again - flashing more teeth than any real crocodile. Using her well-known humorous style of narration, the Argentine author tells a very funny, fast-paced story. The caricature-like drawings underscore the dynamic flow of the text. (7+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1999 - 188
Gade, Marianne (text)
Brøgger, Lilian (illus.)
Ida og den røde tråd
(Ida and the red yarn)
København: Gyldendal, 1998.  p.
Mother/Daughter - Cold weather - Pullover
Because she is terribly cold, Ida follows a red yarn and asks all the animals and people she meets along the way how to protect herself from the cold. But none of the advice helps, until she reaches the end of the yarn and finds the pullover her mother has knitted for her. The slightly caricaturist illustrations within changing frames help keep a pleasant balance between modernism and a decorativeness that will appeal to children. (5+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1999 - 190
Nielsen, Bent B. (text)
Bourgeat, Lene (illus.)
Lussing eller sveder
(Boxed ears or detention)
København: Alinea, 1998. 46 p.
Denmark/History 1950-1960 - School
The usual routines of school days in Denmark during the 1950s are depicted here for reading beginners and reluctant readers. As briefly as possible the book encourages not only reading skills but also an appreciation of history and is cleverly supplemented by realistic, high-quality drawings. The series »Læs dansk« (Read Danish) is available in three levels of difficulty as indicated with a color scheme. (7+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1999 - 191
Flere historier om Alfa, Beo, Ditte og lille Edel
(More stories of Alfa, Beo, Ditte and little Edel)
København: Høst & Søn, 1998. 140 p.
Family - Poverty - Philosophy of life
Their mother is dead, their father has disappeared - the deserted children have to live from remnants of meat and endure torments at school. And yet they do not lose their couragous outlook on life and manage to get by. This second successful book about these four children brings the reader into contact with social problems without painting everything black. (10+) ☼
Norway (Norwegian) - 1999 - 203
Hentig, Urd von (illus.)
Hva er det for noe? Gåter fra Norge
(What is it? Riddles from Norway)
Oslo: Kulturbro Forlag, 1997.  p.
Norway - Riddles
The Kulturbro (»Bridge of Cultures«) Publishing House is making an admirable effort to help integrate children of foreigners into their new Norwegian homeland. In this picture book young readers whose native tongues are Croatian, Persian, Vietnamese or Somali will find Norwegian riddles and answers along with the answers in their own languages. Accessible but artistic illustrations in attractive, but not gaudily colorful watercolors against a purple background enhance its appeal to children. In the illustrative style of the German-born artist one finds traces of her study travels in other parts of the world as well as elements of expressionism. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Norway (Norwegian) - 1999 - 205
Sandemosse, Iben (text/illus.)
Hva med meg, da?
(What about me?)
Oslo: J. W. Cappelens Forlag, 1998.  p.
Falling in love - Insecurity
The self-doubts of a young boy in love could hardly be portrayed more concisely than the artist does in these few pictures. By using a make-believe animal as protagonist instead of a human figure, with all its limitations, she turns the eternal problem of successful flirting into a universal one. The boys dissatisfaction with his looks and his helpless attempts to elicit attention by changing his appearance are depicted in impressively uncompromising and quite witty pictures set against a white background. Only when he offers his heart (a touching, old-fashioned figure of speech that still holds true) does he find his love reciprocated. It is high time that the books by this original illustrator become known outside of Norway! (10+) ☼
Sweden (Swedish) - 1999 - 207
(The steel castle)
Stockholm: Eriksson & Lindgren, 1998. 114 p.
Ocean - Environmental pollution
Martin's father and older brother, both fishers, fail to return one day from their fishing. During his search for them, Martin finds himself near a steel factory, an enormous facility that is poisoning the ocean and holding Martin's father and brother, among others, captive to work. With the help of magical powers Martin is able to destroy the factory's computer-run control system and free the prisoners. This novel is one of the few attempts to sensitize children to environmental problems by means of a suspenseful, fantastic plot. (12+) ☼
Turkey (Turkish) - 1999 - 251
Gürmen, Aysel (text)
Demirtaş, Sibel (illus.)
Levent-İstanbul: Uçanbalık, 1997. 75 p.
(Gürmen, Aysel: Selen'in öyküleri ; 4)
(Gülen öyküler dizisi)
Turkey/Everyday life - Travel
Four-year old Selen takes a holiday trip with her family through her own native country of Turkey. Their experiences are described from her point of view - car travel, a ride on a ship, visits to the cities and a walk in a forest. Selen's child-like questions about her country or about topics such as nature and environmental pollution are answered by her older sister. Through the entertaining narration of everyday situations - such as playing at the seashore or taking part in a wedding celebration - the young reader is given a vivid picture of modern life in Turkey. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 9
Ogawa, Mimei (text)
Takano, Reiko (illus.)
(The cow woman)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1999. 36 p.
(Nihon no dōwa meisakusen)
Japan - Death - Soul - Motherly love - Justice
For his efforts to give artistic shape to stories for children the author Mimei Ogawa (1882-1961) is called the patron of modern Japanese children's literature. »The cow woman« (first published in 1919) describes a deaf-mute mother who is given this title by the other villagers due to her physical size and gentle character. After her death, her soul is unable to rest because her young son is left all alone in wretched poverty. She appears in various guises to help and guide him. The literary speciality of Ogawa lies in expressing the Oriental religious philosophy symbolically, revealing the continuity of life. The decay of living things is not an absolute, as life takes on another form of expression, as in this example of motherly love. In mixed media technique, including copper-plate etchings, the artist interprets the mystical effects of the soul of the deceased mother in palpable, atmospheric illustrations, while also depicting the people and landscape of northern Japan. (10+) ☆ ☼
Austria (German) - 2000 - 73
Auer, Martin (text)
Wolfsgruber, Linda (illus.)
Warum der Hase lange Ohren hat
(Why hares have long ears)
Wien: Gabriel, 1999.  p.
Hare - Baby animal - Upbringing - Punishment
The baby hare cannot escape paternal punishments no matter what it does or how it behaves. Father is bound to pull his ears. Later when it is an adult and has long ears of its own, it will be time for the little hare of the next generation. That is why there are only hares with long ears in this world. Actually this story takes a rather fatalistic turn, but the child(-hare) doesn't seem to take it too hard. The colorful pictures do not engender any uproar, but simply illustrate the apparently inevitable course of things. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 2000 - 75
Grosche, Erwin (text)
Junge, Norman (illus.)
Wien: Gabriel, 2000. 32 p.
Sleep - Guard duty - Fear - Daydream
Tobias has nasty dreams - only the sleepwatcher can help. Grandma Gersdorfer can't fall asleep - and he helps her, too. And he can give warning not to fall asleep - at school, as soon as a teacher approaches a sleepy-head. Norman Junge's spaciously pictures of the bizarre figure of the sleepwatcher correspond to the dream of a benevolent helper for everyone who, unfortunately often at the wrong time, wants to sleep or cannot sleep. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 2000 - 77
Jung, Reinhardt (text)
Sönnichsen, Imke (illus.)
Das kleine Nein!
(That little No!)
Wien: Jungbrunnen, 1999.  p.
Stubbornness - Curiosity - Search for identity
That little No! is actually already quite big and can do everything by itself. But there is one thing it cannot do, namely say Yes! Even the good Nanunana has to explain and ask questions for a long time until there is no little No! left and finally a Yes! comes from its mouth. This humorous book is for all inquisitive children, big and little, who are not satisfied with quick explanations from adults. (4+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2000 - 79
Zorro. Im Jahr des Pferdes
(Zorro. In the year of the horse)
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1999. 140 p.
Mother/Son - Handicap - Horseback riding - Therapy - Horse raising
By caring for and riding horses Kai gradually begins to overcome his fears and gain confidence in himself, his surroundings and the world at large. But this idyllic situation is in danger because the upkeep of horses is expensive. There are plans to sell trusty bay Zorro, Kai's horse, for horsemeat. Lea, a woman who is recuperating at the horse farm after her divorce and her mother's death, and still searching for her own identity, buys Zorro back for Kai. But this is not the whole plot. Between the lines the story tells about what happens around und within the protagonists, the ups and downs of living - with and without horses. A casual tone of voice, absorbing cast of characters and an unsentimental perspective toward fateful connections are the hallmarks of this exceptional (horse) book. (10+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2000 - 82
Erlbruch, Wolf (text/illus.)
(In the night)
Wuppertal: Hammer, 1999. 23 p.
Night - Imagination - Father/Son
This is a small book with a grand subject - the night as a dream world that is open only to children and readers. Fons doesn't want to go to sleep, he wants to take a nighttime stroll with Papa. As if deaf and blind, the stressed father stumbles through the streets with his son and doesn't notice Alice and the White Rabbit, King Kong, the tulip on rollerskates, the polar bear and many more strange and wonderous things that could possibly fit into his adult mind. A dream of a book by Wolf Erlbruch - who pulls all the stops of his artistic powers. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2000 - 83
Frommlet, Wolfram (text)
Wagenbreth, Henning (illus.)
Mond und Morgenstern. Eine Geschichte aus Afrika
(Moon and Morning Star. A tale from Africa)
Wuppertal: Hammer, 1999. 44 p.
Africa - Creation story
God created Moon and gave him Morning Star to be his wife. She gave birth to the plant kingdom. After two years she returned to the heavens and Moon was given Evening Star as his mate. And she gave birth to the animals and mankind. Then Moon hurt Evening Star and she gave birth to the animals of prey. Moon declared himself the king of the world, and his subjects removed him from his throne. Moon rose into the heavens and even today is still looking for Morning Star, his first beloved. This is an impressive picture book depicting an African creation myth. Large, brilliantly colored illustrations on earth-tone paper with linoleum cuts that are illustrated by the forms and shapes of African art. (10+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2000 - 84
Fühmann, Franz (text)
Herfurth, Egbert (illus.)
Der glückliche Ritter von Trinitat oder wie wird man Oberdiskutierer? Ein Puppenspiel in 4 Akten für Joachims sechs Puppen
(The happy knight of Trinitat or how to become the chief discusser. A puppet play in 4 acts for Joachim's six puppets)
Rostock: Hinstorff, 1999. 68 p.
Ideology - Knight - Dragon - Sultan - Ignorance - Happiness - Misuse of power
This short masterpiece for puppet theater is intended as a persiflage of all ideologies. In it Franz Fühmann criticizes the abuse of power, ignorance and narrow-mindedness. The cast include the Magician and the Dragon - as fairy tale elements; the Fat Woman - as slave and wife of the dragon; the knight - as the army; a Slave - as the worker; the Sultan - as the ruler of Trinitat. The watchword - as placard-style ideology. In short, the tale goes as follows: »What's this mean - to have a discus- sion?« asks the Dragon. The Knight answers »We state our opinions and I'm right.« The Slave hopes that the Dragon will eat the Sultan, so he can be freed. Instead, the Dragon becomes the Sultan's chief fire-spewing discusser on account of his obedience. The Sultan establishes as a watchword that the people are happy. (Who begs to differ, loses his head). In the end we learn that »this goes to show that it always turns out as it turns out because it turns out as it turns out. We call it history.« Egbert Herfurth's figurines form the suitably ironical staffage for this quite realistic material. But that is not meant to lead the reader into fatalism, but just its opposite. Nothing is in fact necessarily the way it is. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2000 - 87
Heine, Helme (text/illus.)
München: Middelhauve, 1999.  p.
Devil - Joke - Disguise - Life-saving
The little devil Diabollo lives all alone in Hell's heating cellar, guarding the fire. Whenever he gets bored, he sets out to tease other people. But there is no recognition for his work. People only like the boring angels in white gowns who sing »Hallelujah« all day long. So he disguises himself (with wings and a white gown), but to no effect. They recognize him. Angry, he throws his pitchfork on the roof of a house and immediately starts a fire. Now is his great chance: for once he is not the devil but the fire-man. He is given a medal for his deed. And popular (though not as a devil). Helme Heine finds the appropriate visual background for the funny situational comedy of his story. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2000 - 89
Jacoby, Edmund (comp.)
Berner, Rotraut S. (illus.)
Dunkel war's, der Mond schien helle. Verse, Reime und Gedichte
(Light Moonshine in the darkest night. Verses and poems)
Hildesheim: Gerstenberg, 1999. 152 p.
Although poetry - even that for children - as everyone knows, is nearly impossible to translate, this book deserves mention in this international selection at least due to the exquisite aesthetics of its design and layout as well as the charm of the poems selected. None of the greatest, most humorous, most serious or most original German language poets have been left out of this anthology. The boundary between children's and »grownup « poetry becomes fluid here. Rotraut Susanne Berner is an artist whose small figures and forms contribute a visual as well as a substantial pendant to the poems. (3+) ☼
Switzerland (German) - 2000 - 102
Chudožilov, Petr (text)
Čapek, Jindra (illus.)
Das Wunder von Jasina. Eine Weihnachtsgeschichte
(The miracle of Jasina. A Christmas story)
Aarau: Sauerländer, 1999. 53 p.
Ukraine - Nativity - Miracle - Christmas - Holy Family - Shelter
It is Christmas in a small, snowbound village in the Ukrainian mountains. A young stranger finds no one - neither rich nor poor - to take her in and let her warm up; no place to give birth to her child. Only old Giuseppe with the wooden leg is, like she, still out wandering through the cold dark night. He recognizes her situation and helps her. Then a Christmas miracle takes place. Giuseppe - Joseph - has his leg restored to health and the whole world passes by to honor the Christ child. This story is imbued with worldly wisdom and a love of mankind. The text and pictures acquaint young children with the miracle of Christmas in an unspectacular manner. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 2000 - 105
Pausewang, Gudrun (text)
Ballhaus, Verena (illus.)
Barfuß durch die große Stadt
(Barefoot through the big city)
Zürich: Nagel & Kimche, 1999. 153 p.
Moving house - Confusion - Dog - Death - Runaway - Returning home
David and his mother have moved house and he is alone in their new home. When he runs out of the flat in fright, the door slams behind him and he has to go off barefoot in search of his mother's workplace. On the way he has a long chain of experiences as he is sent on from one place to another. A strange dog joins him along the way. Due to David's carelessness, the dog is run over. At last he finds his mother again - but she will never be able to know about the wonderful dogfriend that he has lost. Realistic and unsentimenal, Gudrun Pausewang tells a lyrical tale for younger children. (7+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 2000 - 109
Wolfsgruber, Linda (text/illus.)
Zürich: Bohem-Press, 1999.  p.
Child - Search for identity
For a change, a cuckoo egg is pushed out of the nest by the owner and the little thing must go off in search of its true identity. It tries crowing, meowing, bleating and more, but nothing is really fitting. Its search goes on for all its childhood. Finally the little one scratches its little beard and discovers that it only needs to swim in its egg shell toward land to find the right family at last. Bizarre pictures for a bizarre journey through life. (6+) ☼
Argentina (Spanish) - 2000 - 159
Mariño, Ricardo (text)
Elizalde, Marcelo (illus.)
Historia de Flechazo y la nube
(The story of Shooting Arrows and the cloud)
Buenos Aires: Alfaguara, 1998. 39 p.
Indians - Water shortage - Archery - Cloud - Hole - Flooding
The young Flechazo (»Shooting Arrows«) is the best archer among his people. When their territory falls prey to a long drought, he shoots an arrow at a giant cloud in the sky, that refuses to rain. As a result, a single stream of water begins to fall unceasingly on the head of the boy. He nearly goes crazy with anger and shoots innumerable arrows into the sky. The cloud empties itself, flooding the whole region. Flechazo's people save themselves with a raft and form a new settlement on the shore of the sea that has been formed. The short text, illustrated in color in comic style, is full of orginal ideas and draws upon the motifs of the creation and flood legends. (6+) ☼
Argentina (Spanish) - 2000 - 160
Roldán, Gustavo (adapt.)
Nine, Carlos (illus.)
Cuentos del zorro
Buenos Aires: Ed. Sudamericana, 1999. 62 p.
Folk tale/Argentina - Fox
The fox is one of the most popular animal protagonists in literature and quite at home in the folk tales and the fables of many countries. He is usually associated with certain character traits - tricky and cunning, able to talk his way out of a scrape, but also often a victim of his own arrogance. Gustavo Roldán has gathered ten fox tales together and united them into a single episodic text. Since these tales are told in the Americas, the counterparts of the fox are not, as for example in Europe, the usual hare or wolf, but rather armadillo and puma. The stories are well-rounded, full of verbal wit and have a clear punch line, sure to give reading pleasure to young and old. (9+) ☼
Brazil (Portuguese) - 2000 - 161
Aleixo, Ricardo (text)
Miranda, Regina (illus.)
Quem faz o quê?
(Who does what?)
Belo Horizonte: Formato, 1999.  p.
In this poem Ricardo Aleixo unites a verb with a noun in each verse: »To look, that is with cats« or »To blow, that is with the wind,« etc. These minimalist sentences and the free play of associations are congenially extended in Regina Miranda's illustrations. Joined together merely through the consist glowing red background, these sparse pictures each show only a part of the whole. Eyes stand for the cats and signal seeing. A leaf stands for the autumn wind and signals blowing. This book is fascinating in its radical simplicity. By this limitation to only a few concepts and visual details, it invites the reader-viewers to exercise their imagination and mental facilities. (3+) ☼
Special Mention - Brazil (Portuguese) - 2000 - 163
Lago, Angela (text/illus.)
São Paulo: Melhoramentos, 1999.  p.
This is yet another proof that there is no limit to the artistic ways of playing with the alphabet. The square book - small-sized with a sturdy cardboard cover and robust spiral binding - approaches its subject both through the text and the illustrations. On each of the bluish anthracite double spreads there is a challenging word riddle for a certain letter on the left side; the whole alphabet appears on the right side, in which several - depending upon the question - are portrayed as objects and figures. By opening up a flap, one finds the solution, supplemented by saucy, witty illustrations that are related in an imaginative way to the question and the letters - encouraging the reader's own creative impulses. (5+) ☼
Canada (French) - 2000 - 176
Tibo, Gilles (text)
Germain, Philippe (illus.)
Alex, le petit joueur de hockey
(Alex, the little hockey player)
Saint-Lambert (Québec): Dominique et Compagnie, 1999. 32 p.
(À pas de loup : Niveau 3, je dévore les livres)
Hobby - Hockey - Wish
Alex thinks of nothing else but hockey. Even the smallest act of the day is steeped in it. While eating his muesli at breakfast he sets up a competition between the oat flakes. At the lunch table his forks dribble the carrots, and while doing his homework the pencils hit the eraser into the pencil kit for the 100th goal of the day. But unfortunately Alex doesn't have the right gear. His family ignores his requests, and so the champ has to help himself. An old pullover is worked over into a hockey tricot to give fuel to the illusion of being number one on the star team. Dynamic illustrations, large size print and a simple direct voice are the hallmark of this new series of books that match the imaginary world of beginning readers. (7+) ☼
Special Mention - Denmark (Danish) - 2000 - 186
Petersen, Palle (text/photos)
Nuka bliver fanger
(Nuka becomes a hunter)
København, Valby: Borgen, 1999.  p.
Greenland/Everyday life - Hunting - Fishing
The everyday life of a twelve-year old boy is heavily influenced by the hunt and his traineeship to become a hunter. The reader learns to what extent this country, where winter lasts more than half the year, is dependent upon hunting and fishing. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Denmark (Danish) - 2000 - 187
Reuter, Charlotte (text)
Karrebæk, Dorte (illus.)
Frederiksberg: Branner og Korch, 1999. 64 p.
Cat - Adventure
This first title in a new series is further evidence of the knack that Scandinavian children's books authors have for creating books for beginning readers between the ages of five and seven. These are easy to read and to understand, but manage to avoid ridiculous cuteness and thin jokes. Charlotte Reuter describes the first days in the life of cat baby Aja Dobbo without finesse, but with so much wit that any adult reading it aloud will also be entertained. Nearly surpassing the text are the colorful illustrations by the renown Dorte Karrebæk. While the cats' personalities are drawn in an acute persiflage, the mirror she holds up to her female contemporaries is even more revealing. In this case the cat owner, a self-confident woman, well over fifty, wears much too skimpy fashions, and unsparingly reveals the discrepancy between wanting to be young but being young no more. (5+) ☆ ☼
Greenland (Danish/Inuit) - 2000 - 194
Heilmann, Pia Rosing (text)
Kreutzmann, Nina Spore (illus.)
Nuka asimi = Nukas sommer
[Nuuk]: Atuakkiorfik, 1998. 36 p.
(Text Inuit and Danish)
Greenland - Summer holiday
The summer holiday of an extended family living in Greenland is a vivid description for younger children. In easy words and pictures one learns that holiday time on the northern outskirts of Europe, with its fishery and seal-hunting, with smoke-drying, storytelling and nature experiences in thick pullovers, is considerably different than a holiday in over-filled camping areas in central Europe. (6+) ☼
Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 2
Hashiguchi, Jōji [i.e. George] (text/photos)
Kodomotachi no jikan
Tokyo : Shogakukan, 2000. (2nd ed.) 222 p.
Japan - School children - Individual
In his work with children, photographer George Hashiguchi observed that children around the age of 11 or 12 started developing and showing their personality very strongly. To explore this stage in development, he photographed 105 sixth grade students from all over Japan in their respective surroundings. He talked to them, asking always the same questions. Looking at the portraits and reading the interviews, one gradually enters into dialogue with these young personalities. This sense of a personal relationship makes this informative documentation an unusual and exciting read. (11+) ☆ ☼
Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 13
Nagasaki, Natsumi (text)
Sugita, Hiromi (illus.)
Tokyo : Komine Shoten, 1999. 140 p.
(Shin Komine sōsaku jidō bungaku)
Everyday life - Loneliness - Hope
The protagonists of the six short stories are a group of young adults who suffer from loneliness and the banality of everyday life. The 24-hour shop, the laundry, the game hall and the café are their only familiar places because they don't care about family life and domestic comfort. That's where they meet up with old pals or make new friends. School is no particular treat either. Life in general simply turns them off. They seem hopeless cases in their indifference and listlessness. But they might intuit that there are ways and opportunities to overcome their teen-angst. The author describes her young adult anti-heroes with great empathy. (13+) ☼
(40th Japanese Association of Writers for Children's Prize; 2000)
Special Mention - Republic of China (Chinese) - 2001 - 21
Yang, Hongying (text)
Huang, Bixia (illus.)
Liao, Wei (illus.)
(The small red boat)
Jiangsu : Jiangsu-Shaonian-Ertong-Chubanshe, 1998.  p.
Shoe - Forest - Bird - Wound - Rescue
A little girl loses one of her red shoes in the forest and a blue bird, wounded by a wild cat, finds shelter in it. A tortoise pushes the red shoe to the river and it starts floating down the river like a boat. The red carps escort the boat until it passes the house of Xiaoya. She takes the red »boat« and the little invalid passenger home. This simple story creates a fantastic world in warm tones, full of decorative patterns and with colourful, stylised figures. (5+) ☼
Ghana (English) - 2001 - 22
Asare, Meshack (text/illus.)
Legon, Accra : Sub-Saharan Publ., 2000. 47 p.
Creation - Body parts
Set in Africa, this story of creation has a different twist. Nana creates the various parts of the human being – the head to hear, smell, think and talk, hands, legs and stomach. Each part is sent to fend for itself in different landscapes – the plains, the fields, and the sea. One day, Nana sends a parrot to bring news of the parts. When he learns that the head shouted insults, the hands turned to fists and the legs kicked his messenger, he resolves to join the parts and makes them into a »Person«. The award-winning artist's watercolour illustrations amplify the mythical quality evoked by the formulaic, rhythmical text. (5+) ☆ ☼
Great Britain (English) - 2001 - 39
Burgess, Melvin (text)
Brown, Ruth (illus.)
London : Andersen Press, 2000.  p.
Boy - Bird - Freedom - Ownership - Imprisonment
»The Birdman« is a picture book for older children. Brown's mystically subtle and beautiful illustrations perfectly complement a gothic tale of transformation. The Birdman, who sells caged birds, shifts between villain and hero as this tale interrogates the moralities of freedom and ownership. The boy who buys a caged bird intending to give freedom then becomes entrapped in the desire to own the bird. He is gradually transformed into a bird, and must then endure the knowledge of imprisonment. The Birdman emerges as a moral teacher. This is a fascinating and challenging illustrated text. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2001 - 44
Wilson, Jacqueline (text)
Sharratt, Nick (illus.)
London : Doubleday, 2000. 154 p.
Grief - Death - Feelings of guilt - Self-affirmation - Friendship
Vicky has died but returns as a ghost to haunt her best friend with feelings of guilt. Jade has to learn to cope with grief and to live her own life. This »deadly funny« and subtle book doesn't only confront the reader with the death of a bright, young girl but also with wit and (at times black) humour – which might seem oddly out of place. But Wilson has a rare gift for writing amusingly about sensitive issues: She uses the comic element and the saucy colloquial tone to explore complex emotional themes. The unusual and sometimes unsettling blend of wit and warmth makes this a remarkable read. (10+) ☼
Canada (English) - 2001 - 48
Gregory, Nan (text)
Lightburn, Ron (illus.)
Wild Girl & Gran
Red Deer, Alberta : Red Deer Press, 2000.  p.
(Northern lights books for children)
Grandchild - Grandmother - Friendship - Death - Imagination
Perched on her favourite tree, Wild Girl awaits the arrival of her grandmother. For a happy spring and summer, they enjoy a deep friendship. But as the autumn leaves wither, grandmother falls ill. In winter, grandmother has died. Rhythmic, urgent and engaging, the text bears the mark of a true storyteller's craft: little snippets of playful poetry mingle with short sentences of well-paced prose. The illustrator uses layers of pencil drawings, acrylics and oil paints to project the changing moods unto the landscape of the Garry Oak Meadow, a unique ecosystem in British Columbia. Together, words and pictures pay homage to nature and the power of imagination and love which renew Wild Girl's spirits. (6+) ☼
Canada (English) - 2001 - 50
Lee, Dennis (text)
McPhail, David (illus.)
[Toronto] : Key Porter Books, 2000.  p.
Bug - Nonsense - Poetry
Dennis Lee, praised as the poet laureate of the Canadian children's poetry, returns in this truly delightful book. Using the rhythm of bouncing balls and schoolyard songs, he has created a whimsical world of nursery and counting rhymes, nonsense and two-pence, lyrical lullabies and quirky quatrains literally crawling across the pages. These are accompanied by a parade of psychedelic bugs, a product of the illustrator's overboarding imagination. These bugs counterpoint the verse with their own brand of visual poetry. A friendly boy and his dog take the reciting reader through the welldesigned book. But soon, one feels, the children will shout, chant, sing. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2001 - 53
Waboose, Jan Bourdeau (text)
Deines, Brian (illus.)
Toronto, ON : Kids Can Press, 2000.  p.
Sisters - Northern Lights
This is a quiet book, for it cherishes the wisdom of previous Ojibway generations. As the two sisters go out into the night to see the Northern Lights, they remember grandmother's words: »Wisdom comes on silent wings«. Waboose's knowledge of the northern landscape has created a gentle yet powerful story about a journey into a silent night. It is about the bonds between sisters, between generations and between humans and nature. Deines's oil on canvas illustrations capture the chill of a silent northern night, the warmth of the family circle and the radiance of a child's wonder. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 55
Falconer, Ian (text/illus.)
New York, NY : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000.  p.
(An Anne Schwartz book)
Pig - Art -Dancing - Singing - Imagination
Falconer illustrates for the New Yorker and designs sets and costumes for renowned opera houses. Now he sets the stage for Olivia, the ever-active porcine heroine of his first book for children. Both his love of drama and keen sense of humour make this a highly delightful book. Olivia is good at lots of things: the little pig with the big ears is constantly on the move, hopping, dancing, jetéing across the pages, singing 40 very loud songs, emulating Jackson Pollock on the bedroom walls, and trying on every single piece her wardrobe holds. Bright, splashes of red are the only touches of colour, accentuating Olivia's high energy. The understatement of the brief and funny text highlights the wonderfully amusing charcoal and gouache pictures. (4+) ☼
(Caldecott Medal [Honor Book]; 2001)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 59
Isadora, Rachel (text/illus.)
1 2 3 pop!
New York, NY : Viking, 2000.  p.
Counting - Pop-art
Count up to 3 and you will face three monkeys on a bold Lichtenstein-inspired background of huge yellow dots covering eyes, ears, and mouth respectively. Count from 1 to 1,000,000, and this dynamic book will give you plenty to see (4 medieval gargoyles, 8 supermen and -women), to hear (Pop! Boom! Cock A Doodle Doo!) and to talk about (How many ants does it take to carry a burger?). From 1 man on the moon to 1,000 jellybeans to 1,000,000 stars, the intriguing images give vibrant visual life to numbers. Following the success of »ABC pop!«, Isadora continues the homage to pop-art. Not only children will respond to the graphic energy, surprising colour choices and striking rhythm of this book. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 62
Rappaport, Doreen (text)
Collier, Bryan (illus.)
New York, NY : Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.  p.
(Jump at the sun)
ISBN 0-7868-0350-9. - 0-7868-1229-x. - 0-7868-2291-0
Slavery - Abolitionists - Parker, John <1827-1900>
Stylised drawings complement the text of this dynamic book chronicling the work of a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Collier uses vivid collage and watercolour to bring to life this story of a freed slave who risked his neck many times to go to Kentucky and transport slaves to freedom in Ohio. The reader feels like he is actually on the scene as Parker steals a Black baby from the slavemaster's bedroom. We know a lot about Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman: here is a less well known Black figure who became prosperous, employed Blacks and Whites, and never gave up on his enslaved brothers and sisters, helping to freedom as many as 900 slaves. A worthwhile book that dishes up a slice of life for the American Black Man, enslaved or free, during slavery times in the 1800s. (6+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 63
Sís, Peter (text/illus.)
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.  p.
(Frances Foster books)
New York - Neigbourhood - Multiculturalism
Sís is known to take his readers on visual adventures to explore mysteries of far-away places. In this book, Madlenka, the little girl-protagonist, just goes around the block of her Manhattan-neigbourhood. And yet, she can say: »I went around the world«. She shares the news of her loose tooth with a French baker, an Indian news vendor, German Ms. Grimm or her Egyptian school friend. Sís evokes this urban microcosm with his distinctive, multi-layered style and ingenious layout. Die cuts open windows to fascinating worlds – rich, intriguing tableaus of cultural icons. The meaningful play with perspectives reflects the relations between the individual and the universal, the countries of origin and multicultural New York. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2001 - 64
Winter, Jonah (text)
Winter, Jeanette (illus.)
Once upon a time in Chicago : the story of Benny Goodman
New York, NY : Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.  p.
ISBN 0-7868-0462-9. - 0-7868-2404-2
Goodman, Benny - Music - Jazz - Immigrants
This truly poetic picture book is more than a homage to Benny Goodman. It is an engaging story about a quiet boy who cannot put his love for his Jewish immigrant parents into words – until he finds his very own way of expression: music. The clarinet consoles him and his family when the father suddenly dies, and it can make people all over the world want to get up and dance. The story of the legendary »King of Swing« has found its own congenial expression in the wellpaced words and naive pictures of the awardwinning mother-and-son team. Even the »swing« of the music is suggested by swinging borders, whose chromatic scales perfectly capture the emotional rhythm. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2001 - 81
Reise gegen den Wind : wie Primel das Ende des Krieges erlebt
(Voyage against the wind : how Primel experienced the end of war)
Weinheim : Beltz & Gelberg, 2000. 145 p.
World War II - Post war time - Austria - Boy - Aunt - Refugee
Bernd, nicknamed Primel, has lost his parents during the war and has to flee his Moravian home town together with his aunt. They make halt in a small Austrian village. He befriends two village children and a little stray dog, and, for a short time, the chaotic situation seems to him full off excitement and adventure. But the machinations of the grown-up civilians and militaries remain incomprehensible and frightening to him. Because the child does not know nor understand the larger historical context, the daily experiences are of much greater impact. The earnestness in tone, possibly due to the author's autobiographical background, conveys this very clearly – despite some comical episodes and quaint protagonists. (10+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2001 - 82
Hohler, Franz (text)
Berner, Rotraut Susanne (illus.)
Wenn ich mir etwas wünschen könnte
(If I had three wishes)
München : Hanser, 2000. 30 p.
Girl - Dissatisfaction - School - Looks - Wish - Magic
Barbara feels she is ugly, bad at school and has no friends. One night, when a fairy actually grants her three wishes, this is what she comes up with: a pair of blue sneakers, a red pen and a parrot. It must have been a very clever fairy (even though she had to push a few sighs at such nonsense). For with her new shoes Barbara runs as fast as Erich – who becomes her friend. With her new pen she can write without care and mistakes – which wins her the favours of the class mates. The parrot pays her compliments which makes her more beautiful every day. What a wonderfully careless message for a picture book completely free of pedagogical pedantry: kids, get real and wish to your heart's content! Then – perhaps – secret wishes may come true all by themselves. Colourful pictures full of detail contribute to the cheerful overall impression of this book. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2001 - 83
Joop, Florentine (text/illus.)
Bonifacio oder das Geheimnis der Faultiere
(Bonifacio or the secret of the sloth family)
Hamburg : Ed. Riesenrad, 2000.  p.
Sloth - Thinking - Work - Society - Naming
Once upon a time the busiest animals were neither the bees nor the ants but the sloths – back then called »busy bears«. Until one day a young animal discovered a cob web up in a tree. Dew drops were hanging from it, mirroring the entire jungle – in short: the whole world. This made the little animal think. It hang from the tree all day. And thought. This intensive thinking inspired other animals. Soon, the »busy bears« became known as the sloths (»lazy bears«). And since that day, they lived happily ever after. They're still hanging around. This convincing story with a deeper meaning employs metaphors and humour to reflect upon the gaping discrepancy between activist belief in progress and philosophical musing. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2001 - 84
Klippel, Christian (text)
Riese, Anna de (illus.)
Schiff in der Wüste
(Ship in the desert)
Berlin : Altberliner Verl., 2000. 206 p.
Astronaut - Desert - Lake - Ecological equilibrium - Ship
A rusty ship rides at anchor in a presumed desert, or, to be more precise: in a dried up lake. The stranded astronaut Jürgen tries to find water for little Pjotr, his mother and grandfather who still live on the old boat. And – surprise: An oil-mogul pumps melted snow from the mountains instead of oil down his pipelines. In exchange, he asks for a trip into space. Ship, men and nature are miraculously saved. This story appears to the reader at once fantastic and commonplace. It is told with humour and conviction and illustrated with many, often full-spread pictures. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2001 - 86
Marc Chagall : Welche Farben hat das Paradies? : Bilder zur Bibel
(Marc Chagall : What colour is paradise? : Pictures for the Bible)
München : Prestel, 2000. 28 p.
The Bible - Chagall, Marc
Suprisingly, this picture book about religious art in its largest sense does not adhere to the text of the Bible. The text combines the biography of the painter Marc Chagall, historical events and biblical narratives to create a new entity. The pictures tell more than the words and with richer detail. The book invites children and parents to explore and discover but also to call into memory the ancient texts. The series »Abenteuer Kunst« (Art Adventures) always features the Éuvre of one artist and presents it in an accessible but dense, impressing and convincing way for children. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2001 - 91
Der Tag, als ich lernte, die Spinnen zu zähmen
(The day I learned to tame spiders)
München : Hanser, 2000. 87 p.
Girl - Boy - Outcast - Assistance - Friendship - Loyalty - Social discrepancy
Rainer, an outcast, and the heroine (and narrative I) of this story become friends when the boy helps her to overcome her phobia of spiders. But when Rainer injures a boy in a group scuffle, the girl is also marginalised. Her worries about the injured school mate and her desire to return to the group finally lead her to betray the friendship with Rainer. Rainer is alone once again. The author does not give her protagonist a name. This way, commonplace betrayal is treated in an exemplary manner, just the way it happens always and everywhere amongst children. Well plotted and not lingering on facts, this book also entices older readers. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2001 - 92
Schnurre, Wolfdietrich (text)
Berner, Rotraut Susanne (illus.)
Die Prinzessin kommt um vier
(The princess comes at four)
Berlin : Aufbau-Verl., 2000.  p.
Boy - Hyena - Metamorphosis - Ugliness - Beauty - Lie - Love - Understanding
This bright, colourful picture book presents an imaginative interpretation of a rather bland text by Wolfdietrich Schnurre, first published in 1959. »I« is a boy who sees a ragged, bleary-eyed hyena in the zoo who pretends to be a princess. Her curse, she assures, can be lifted by a simple invitation to coffee. The boy fulfills her wish. The hyena comes at four, stuffs her face and finally has to admit that she is nothing but an ordinary hyena. Her host had nurtured doubts before and forgives her. This is a real love story, a book for younger and older children, without pedagogy, with a happy end and absolutely plausible. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2001 - 94
Schwitters, Kurt (text)
Märtin, Carsten (illus.)
Die Geschichte vom Hasen
(The story of the hare)
Oldenburg : Lappan, 2001.  p.
Hare - Metamorphosis - Imagination
Beware of this hare: none would think that he, »endangered animal of the year 2001« considered worthy of protection, could »actually« be quite versatile: his brown fur, the long ears and the short tail can mutate into all sorts of imaginable attributes, creating new, unexpected species. Besides the fun unleashed by these playful metamorphoses, this book gives an impression of the infinite, lively world of (animal-)life. Humans only make a marginal appearance in the form of scarecrows or children. The text is a classic of German nonsense literature; the generous illustrations are rich in detail and perfectly capture the spirit of the whimsical words. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2001 - 98
Tolstoi, Lev N. (text)
Kindermann, Barbara (adapt.)
Gangwisch, Lisa (illus.)
Der Befehl des Oberteufels oder wie das Teufelchen sein Brot verdiente
(The order of the devil or how the little devil earned his bread)
Berlin : Kindermann, 2000.  p.
Peasant - Devil - Trial - Poverty - Wealth
A poor peasant shows compassion and gives his last piece of bread to a little devil. But the moment the peasant has become a wealthy man – with assistance of the devil – his heart hardens and he becomes greedy. He and his comrades behave more like animals than like humans. This folk tale by Leo Tostoi has been adapted for German readers and shows – in an idealising way – the destructive potential of riches to man. Dynamic, large-formatted watercolour drawings in rich, dark colours enhance the text. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2001 - 100
Zwerger, Lisbeth (illus.)
Die Bibel : ausgewählte Texte
(The Bible : selected texts)
Stuttgart : Dt. Bibelges. ; Stuttgart : Verl. Kath. Bibelwerk, 2000. 159 p.
ISBN 3-438-01666-4; 3-460-30670-x
Religious texts present a delicate challenge to adapters and illustrators. Officiousness and missionary zeal tend to overpower the biblical narrative. This is an offence to children's intelligence and curiosity. This version of the Bible, however, is wonderfully free of religious fervour and pedantry. Not exclusively conceived for children, the words and pictures are plain and simple without ever verging on the simplistic. No concessions have been made to sentimentalities. The illustrator's fine hand congeniously translates the intimate message of the words and proposes interpretations which convince children and adults on the aesthetic as well as on the narrative level. (8+) ☼
France (French) - 2001 - 120
Daudet, Alphonse (text)
Battut, Éric (illus.)
La chèvre de M. Seguin
(Mr Seguin's goat)
Paris : Didier Jeunesse, 1999.  p.
Dependence - Security - Freedom - Danger
Daudet's story of the goat, which runs away from its master and is eaten by the wolf, explores the alternative of a life of dependence and protection or one of freedom and risk (see cat. no. 124). Battut's illustrations clearly demonstrate the mutual exclusion of security and freedom. Vast landscapes open up to the inquiring and adventurous goat, a little white spot, candidly storming across the open space. The beholder will sense her love of life in the fresh wind of freedom as well as the growing danger in the darkening twilight. A blood-red sky and black shadows looking like wolf's teeth provide the setting for the deadly struggle. The layout of the text has been carefully tuned to the narrative with coloured lettering. ' (5+) ☼
France (French) - 2001 - 123
La danse interdite
(The forbidden dance)
[Paris] : Magnier, 2000. 118 p.
(Collection roman : Niveau de lecture 3. et plus)
World War II - Jewish woman - Polish man - Persecution of the Jews - Love
Of Jewish origin, Perla is not allowed to marry her Polish love even though she expects a child from him, and is forced to emigrate. Back on visit in 1939, she is seized by the German invadors and sent to the ghetto of Lublin where she closely es- capes death. But Perla never loses her love of life. Quick of mind and full of vitality, she has a talent to appreciate the few and precious happy moments of day-to-day existence. This happy disposition keeps her heart from hardening and even helps other people to bear the desolate existence of ghetto life. She is no heroine, but lives her life with courageous passion. (13+) ☼
(Prix enfantaisies; 2000)
France (French) - 2001 - 126
Hoestlandt, Jo (text)
Kang, Johanna (illus.)
Mon petit papa de rien du tout
(My little Daddy from nothing at all)
[Arles] : Actes Sud Junior, 2000. 31 p.
(Les histoires sages)
Father - Lack of father - Image of father
Mother and grandmother evade all questions about the father: »He was a good-for-nothing!« But Lulu keeps thinking of him. One night, his wish grows so strong that his father suddenly appears – a little man, the size of a doll. He is barefoot like a tramp, trembling with the cold, but he is smiling. Lulu warms and cuddles him. He doesn't want to let go off his little Dad. The next morning, he looks in the mirror and discovers a dimple on his cheek. Daddy left it there – it was his kiss, proving that Lulu is his child. The poetic text and the muted, soft hues of the illustrations assuage the harshness of the child's loneliness. (7+) ☼
France (French) - 2001 - 129
Le Bourhis, Michel
Libre sur paroles
(Out on parole)
Paris : Rageot, 2000. 148 p.
(Collection cascade : Pluriel)
Father - Unemployment - Prison - Son - Conflict management
Father was imprisoned for a failed attempt at bank robbery. In two weeks he will be released. The son uses this period to restore the somewhat shattered relationship to his father. While he refuses to be helped by his mother, he finds support from a friend. Timidly, he seizes the opportunity to confide in him, to admit his shame and disappointment. Gradually, this brings about a change of heart. The attachment to his father, fostered during many happy years in the small family, grows stronger again. In keeping and sharing a secret they regain their complicity. The novel resolves psychologically convincing with the joy over a renewed relationship. (13+) ☼
Spain (Spanish) - 2001 - 152
Cano, Carles (text)
Calatayud, Miguel (illus.)
Columbeta, la isla libro
(Columbeta, the book island)
(Catalan orig. title: Capgirell, l'illa llibre)
Madrid : Anaya, 1999. 116 p.
Bestiary - Alphabet - Island
The origins of the island Columbeta's animal world go back to the day when letters, who had fled a maths book, hid in the entries of an encyclopedia on animals. Columbeta is an island, and the island is a book: a bestiary of strange species, like the fancy »elefgante« (»elephgant«), the tasty »tartaga« (»tartle«) or the mean-smelling »cacadrilo« (»cacadile«). These absurd animal portraits display much imagination and linguistic wit. Lavish, decorative illustrations, in which colours and geometric shapes combine to form artistic patterns, capture the fairy-tale-like fantastic nature of this quaint animal world. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2001 - 157
Prats, Joan de Déu (text)
Jiménez, Daniel (illus.)
Un safari en el salón
(A safari in the living-room)
Madrid : Bruño, 2000. 57 p.
(Alta mar ; 127 : Humor)
Hunter - Mouse - Big game hunt/Parody
The passionate big game hunter Lord Haselmer plans a trip to Africa to add an elephant's head to his collection of trophees. But instead, he suddenly engages in battle with a mouse who creates havock in his house. With the assistance of fellow- hunters flown in from Africa, he succeeds in cornering the animal, but the struggle against the unequal opponent turns him into an animal lover. The entertaining, fast-paced story is told with slap-stick humour. The comedy is equally evident in the crazy, cartoon-like illustrations that parody familiar stereotypes with grotesque exaggeration. (5+) ☼
Switzerland (French) - 2001 - 163
Eau de vie, eau de feu
(Water of life, water of fire)
Genève : La Joie de Lire, 2000. 43 p.
Father - Alcoholism
Father is different from all other fathers. He is full of crazy ideas. He is absolutely great at playing Indians and dancing. He always knows just the right thing to do. But his high spirits have a drawback. He is an alcoholic – and that destroys his family. Told from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy, this delicate subject matter loses all infamy. To him, just like to the father, the real and the unreal are equally accessible. The comforting images convey the power of the son's admiration and love which transform the ills with a child's imagination. At the same time, they express a profound and mature psychological insight into the dangers that are begetting his father desperately craving for adventure. (12+) ☼
Special Mention - Venezuela (Spanish) - 2001 - 175
Skármeta, Antonio (text)
Ruano, Alfonso (illus.)
Caracas : Ed. Ekaré, 2000. 36 p.
Dictatorship - Suppression - Police state - Betrayal
The text by the famous Chilean author, originally written as a radio play, is published for the first time as a book. The story, which surely incorporates autobiographical elements of the author who lived in exile for many years, is set in a not further specified military dictatorship. Schoolboy Pedro knows that his parents oppose the regime and secretly listen to forbidden radio stations in the evening. Danger looms when an officer comes to the school and commands the children to write a composition on the evening pass-times of their family. The dramatic tension of Skármeta's story very gradually rises with the build-up of the atmosphere, suddenly to be released at the very end, when one understands that Pedro has instinctively decided against the truth, and thereby against betraying his parents. The realistic illustrations seem like frozen moments. Their static and serious nature captures the inner state of a society paralysed with fear, violence and denunciation. (9+) ☼
Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 1
Chiba, Mikio (text)
Wu, Jianhua (i.e. Ū, Jenhoa) (illus.)
(The old woman with the long tongue)
Tokyo : Shogakukan, 2001.  p
(Chihiro Bijutsukan korekushon ehon ; 5)
Mountain – Deforestation – Environmental destruction – Afforestation – Demon – Folktale
In this book, a little-known folktale from Northern Japan was rewritten along the lines of current environmental consciousness. Deep in the mountains, the old woman with the long tongue and the horned giant spend their time frightening away village people who have lost their way. When less and less people go into the mountains, the two demons wonder what has happened and walk down to the village. Along their way they notice the environmental damage caused by deforestation. Everybody suffers from the consequences, even the dragon of the lake, who intends to take revenge on the people. The demons manage to calm him down and take him to a safe place. To the people they suggest a proper afforestation of the area. Wu Jianhua interprets this modernised folktale with his artistically imaginative and dynamic pictures in Chinese style. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 7
Satō, Satoru (text)
Tanaka, Kiyo (illus.)
(Acorns, gather together!)
Tokyo : Akane Shobo, 2001. 76 p.
(Wakuwaku yōnen dōwa ; 1)
Girl – Acorns – Football – Imagination – Creativity
It is sometimes quite difficult to find books of high literary quality for beginning readers that correspond to the reading ability and competence of the target group. This appealingly illustrated book about a girl who wants to make her own picture book and, therefore, has to invent a story first, meets these demands. The author manages to communicate the fact that imagination is the source of creativity; he describes how the girl within her daily routine uses some acorns she collected in the park to spin a story. Each of her steps can be traced by the readers and is told by renowned children's book author Satoru SatÇ, in a short and exciting story with fantasy elements. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 8
Takayama, Yūya (text)
Okamoto, Jun (illus.)
Ojīsan to boku no mitsubachi
(The bee of my grandfather and me)
Tokyo : Poplar-sha, 2001. 47 p.
Grandfather – Grandson – Bee – Sympathy – Death – Grief
Ten-year-old Takuo is a little afraid of his grandfather and rather tries to avoid him. The first hours he really spends with him, which are also the last, are when he visits him in hospital. Secretly smuggling in grandfather's favourite food, honey, is a nice little adventure for Takuo, because then a bee always flies in by the window and grandad lets it share the honey without getting stung. The more new sides Takuo discovers to his grandad, the more sympathy he feels for him. In a short pithy text, written from the young protagonist's point of view, the author describes how the boy's feelings slowly change from a child's aversion into deep love, and how, in the end, the boy grieves for the sad loss. (9+) ☼
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 10
Tatematsu, Wahei (text)
Yokomatsu, Momoko (illus.)
Tanbo no inochi
(Life in the paddy fields)
Tokyo : Kumon Shuppan, 2001. 32 p.
Farmer – Rice-growing – Nature – Vitality – Professional conscience
A winter landscape covered in snow forms the overture to this book, leading to the life-story of an old couple. Because of the migration to the cities, they are the last rice farmers in this area. In the following scene, the old couple come onstage as ballet dancers dancing together in the spotlight: this metaphoric picture expresses the old people's love for their profession and can also be interpreted as a plea for the importance of nature. The natural power of the rice plant lends them vitality and makes them cope with many a problem in their everyday life. The well-known author describes the couple's busy life and their detailed knowledge about rice-growing in a literary style. All the events are staged in a theatre-like manner by the artist's colourful and partly mosaic abstract pictures. This is an innovative picture book. (9+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 12
Tonda Kikitori Ehon Seisaku Jikkō Iinkai (text)
Okajima, Reiko (illus.)
Yubikiri genman : Ume-bāchan no hanashi
(Promised! : the story of old Ms. Ume)
Osaka : Kaiho Shuppansha, 2000.  p.
Japan/1920-1935 – Minority – Old woman – Childhood memories – Social background – Discrimination
The cheerful illustrations of this book, picturing the childhood memories of an old woman from an underprivileged social class, are drawn in bright colours in the style of popular commercial art. Instead of relating the old woman's misery, they are intended as a proof for the vitality of the so-called Burakumin, a group of people who have been excluded from the Japanese society for centuries because of their social background. The flexibility of the picture book as a medium is evident in this work published by a team of committed people who are striving to shed light on old people's experiences and keep them alive. This topic, hardly ever tackled before, the unusual form of expression in pictures and words alike, and the additional information provided in the appendix will spark off further discussion. (9+) ☼
Special Mention - Republic of China (Chinese) - 2002 - 19
Zheng, Chunhua (text)
Shen, Fan (illus.)
Kong, Binglei (illus.)
(The male kindergarten teacher)
Beijing : Beijing-Shaonian-Ertong-Chubanshe, 2001. 95 p.
Kindergarten – Teacher – Everyday life
Brother Ou Yang is a male kindergarten teacher. Every child loves him, because he is so different from the female teachers. He is extremely tall and strong and can easily lift the children with his huge hands. He tells them funny stories, teaches them how to have a sand-bath, and how to fight against bad guys. Yet, when a frog suddenly jumps out of a box, he is as scared as a little child. Now it is the children who surround him and calm him down. In this charming picture book, which is part of a new series called »Stories of Big Head Son's Mama« and written especially for kindergarten children, text and illustration form a perfect unity. The author's most famous book »Da-tou-erzi-he-xiao-toubaba « (»Big Head Son and Little Head Dad«) has been adapted for a TV series. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 22
Base, Graeme (text/illus.)
Ringwood, Victoria [et al.] : Viking, 2001.  p.
Animals – Seasons – Wildlife – Counting
Famous Australian illustrator Graeme Base has created yet another ingenious picture book. His delightful mixture of counting book, puzzle book, story, and information book, »The Waterhole«, offers children of all ages something to enjoy. The colourful doublespreads invite readers to examine different landscapes, each one typical of a particular continent or region and its wildlife. Yet, while various animals gather on the pages for a drink, the waterhole in the middle slowly dries up. So, in the end, the animals are forced to leave; they return, however, as soon as the rains start pouring down announcing the end of the dry season. The simple storyline is interspersed with humourous sidecomments from the animal »protagonists«. And with its additional animals depicted in the tiny page borders, which can also be spotted melting into the landscapes of the main picture, this stunning book provides readers with new delights every time they return to it. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2002 - 27
Russell, Elaine (text/illus.)
A is for aunty
Sydney, NSW : ABC Books, 2001.  p.
(1. publ. 2000)
ISBN 0-7333-0729-9; 0-7333-0872-4
Australia – Aborigines – Everyday life
The letters in this unusual ABC book cleverly serve as an impulse triggering off Russell's memories of her life as a child in an Aboriginal mission. She recalls happy moments, such as a billycart race with her brothers and friends, and tells about daily routines at the mission. A closer look at her powerful pictures, painted with bright acrylic and gouache in naïve style, also reveals her being one of the few fair-skinned Aborigines; as she mentions in the short biographical sketch included in the back of the book, these children were often taken away from their families by the white government at that time. An additional treat for the readers is the book's dustjacket, which can be unfolded to a large format and put up on the wall as a poster. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - India (English) - 2002 - 31
Wolf, Gita (text)
Rao, Sirish (text)
Ramanathan, Rathna (illus.)
Ladha, Rachana (illus. concept)
In the dark
Chennai, India : Tara Publ., 2000.  p.
Fairytale – Perspective
In this witty version of a well-known traditional Sufi folktale (folktales with a similar plot also exist in other countries) five men bump into a huge and very strange object on their way home one pitch dark night. Since each of them has his own opinion about what he has encountered (a wall, an octopus, a bugle, etc.), the stubborn men soon start quarrelling. Only the next morning, when the sun rises and reveals the object's true identity, do they become aware that neither of them had adequately named it – even if neither of them was wrong, either. This small square book is a handcrafted treasure with simple, two-colour pictures printed in silkscreen technique. Each picture depicts only that part of the mysterious object, which perfectly matches the respective person's description; thus, it leaves the readers as puzzled as the protagonists. The pictures and the short calligraphic text, written on handmade paper, and the small bag in which this book is sold, make it a special treat for children and book collectors alike. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 42
Tadjo, Véronique (ed./illus.)
Talking drums : a selection of poems from Africa South of the Sahara
London : Black, 2000. 96 p.
ISBN 0-7136-5815-0; 0-7136-5397-3
Sub-Saharan Africa – Poetry – Animals – Independence
»Talking Drums« is a vivid collection of traditional and contemporary African poetry beautifully illustrated by Véronique Tadjo. Her black ink drawings, reminiscent of traditional African paintings, perfectly complement the short moving verses. Arranged in seven chapters entitled Our Universe, The Animal Kingdom, Love and Celebrations, People, Death, Pride and Defiance, and The Changing Times, this collection tells the story of Africa, its creation and history, its people and their fight for independence, from an African point of view. The authors' love for their countries can easily be perceived in each text. A map of Africa and a glossary of African words are added for further information. (8+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2002 - 43
Ward, Helen (text)
Anderson, Wayne (illus.)
The tin forest
Dorking, Surrey : Templar Publ., 2001.  p.
Loneliness – Dream – Happiness
»There was once a wide, windswept place, near nowhere and close to forgotten, that was filled with all the things that no one wanted.« The old man living in this sad grey place dreams of turning it into a beautiful tropical forest. Step by step, he creates a jungle of tin trees, flowers, and animals, and – because he never stops dreaming – his dearest wish finally comes true. Ward's quiet and poetic text is perfectly complemented by Anderson's stunning colour-pencil drawings. The monochrome illustrations at the beginning ingeniously depict the garbage heap's icy greyness and the tin forest's artificiality. With the arrival of the first two real birds, however, the setting is slowly transformed into a colourful garden of joy and happiness. (4+) ☼
Ireland (English) - 2002 - 44
Dunbar, Robert (ed.)
Skimming : [fiction from top Irish writers]
Dublin : O'Brien Press, 2001. 155 p.
Ireland – Everyday life
»Skimming« is a rich and powerful anthology of short stories written by some of the most important contemporary Irish authors for children, such as Siobhán Parkinson, Eoin Colfer, and Mark O'Sullivan. Each of the stories has its own strong voice and distinct style and touches on a different theme. Topics range from the amusing attempts of a father to remove a spider from his daughter's bedroom (making the whole holiday home collapse on his head) to the moving account of a shy young boy who befriends an old tramp and defends him when a teenage gang attack the old man. Despite its diversity, however, the collection forms a cohesive whole by portraying children and teenagers who are trying to cope with their lives in a sometimes hostile world ruled by adults. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 58
Everything on a waffle
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001. 149 p.
Orphan – Foster home
Deep in her heart, eleven-year-old Primrose Squarp simply knows that her parents have not drowned in that terrible typhoon. In a uniquely confident voice, the orphan herself talks about life with old mothball-scented Miss Perfidy, who usually leaves the room in the middle of Primrose's sentences, and about her new home with adventure-loving Uncle Jack. Luckily enough, there is always Miss Bowzer at her small restaurant, The Girl on the Red Swing, where everything is served on a waffle. She lends an open ear to all of Primrose's problems and offers advice as well as a number of delicious recipes. Canadian author Polly Horvath's lovable heroine, and all the other eccentric characters, will win over the readers of this magnificent novel in no time at all. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 59
Janeczko, Paul B. (select.)
Raschka, Chris (illus.)
A poke in the i : [a collection of concrete poems]
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2001. 35 p.
This hilarious anthology presents a selection of concrete poems from the last four decades ranging from simple to complex ones, from a single word to longer texts, from nonsensical lines to serious and thought-provoking poetry. The poems are arranged on a new page each and are perfectly complemented by Chris Raschka's stunning illustrations. His vivid collages of rich watercolours, ink, and patterned paper torn into different shapes, lend freshness to the poems, often adding new meanings to them or giving them an unexpected twist. Pictures and poems alike will inspire young (as well as older) readers to play with the language and let their imagination lead them to new horizons. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 61
Turner, Sandy (illus.)
New York, NY [et al.] : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001.  p.
Christmas – Santa Claus – Invisibility – Dog
As its name suggests, the Silent Night is supposed to be peaceful and quiet. The small white dog in this picture book without text, however, furiously tries to make the sleeping family notice a particularly brazen »burglar«. Unfortunately, the intruder in his bright red cloak is invisible to everyone but the dog. This barking security guard gets so carried away by its own agitation that one double-page is completely covered in barks. Sandy Turner's turbulent sketchy black charcoal drawings on a creamcoloured background ingeniously depict the dog's desperate attempts to corner the enemy (the dog is often drawn in various positions within the same cartoon-like picture) and the family's wordless astonishment at their pet's incomprehensible behaviour. Simply hilarious! (3+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2002 - 62
Waldman, Neil (text/illus.)
They came from the Bronx : how the buffalo were saved from extinction
Honesdale, Pa. : Boyds Mills Press, 2001.  p.
Indians/USA – Buffalo – Extinction – White settlers – Wildlife conservation
This impressive large-format picture book opens with an elderly Comanche woman; while sitting on an Oklahoma hilltop with her small grandson in 1907, she recalls her people's former way of life, the importance of the buffalo, and the animal's near extinction by the Whites. On every other page, her narration is interrupted by a second story commemorating the efforts of a group of Wildlife Conservationists to bring the American bison back from the brink of extinction. In order to achieve their aims, they ship a herd of buffalos from the Bronx Zoo to the plains of Oklahoma. The unusual earth-colour illustrations in the style of old handcoloured photographs graphically unite both stories while lending historical authenticity to the informative and engaging text. (4+) ☆ ☼
Austria (German) - 2002 - 65
Achternbusch, Herbert (text/illus.)
Weitra : Publ. P No. 1, Bibliothek der Provinz, .  p.
Small girl – Carp – Lifesaving – Imagination – Anthropomorphism
There are two central questions implicitly discussed in this unusual picture book: What are the limits of awareness for both humans and animals and how do these two species communicate with each other? For the two carps living in the pond in front of Naomi's house the »concept of the world« at first naturally ends at the surface of the water. One day, though, three-year-old Naomi saves the life of one of the carps, who dutifully expresses his thanks. The small girl immediately tells her parents about it. Unlike Naomi's mother, a teacher, her poetry- writing father does not consider talking carps astonishing. In only a few lines of text and blue-ink brushwork the author gives us his firm opinion about children, poets, carps, and teachers. (7+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 2002 - 67
Auer, Martin (text)
Wolfsgruber, Linda (illus.)
Weitra : Publ. P No. 1, Bibliothek der Provinz, 2001.  p.
Princess – Example – Imitation – Dependence
Because of their psychological dependence on others, the protagonists of this picture book act very weirdly. A high-ranking person does something impertinent and immediately everybody imitates that behaviour in some form: When the proud princess refuses to blow her nose, the prince does not want to comb his hair anymore, the king stops washing himself, the magician tears his clothes, etc. etc. And in the end, to make matters worse, the fool even intends to let himself be eaten by the crocodile – only because of the other people's foolishness. Luckily enough, the story ends happily for both the fool and the crocodile. The various mixedmedia collages, are set off against a uniform background resembling a table on which all the protagonists meet. The text is partly hand-written, partly printed. The arrangement of text and pictures, full of sudden breaks and leaps, underscores the absurdity of the action. Despite its serious background, this interactive book also invites its readers to play. (Cut-out dolls are included) (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 2002 - 68
Janisch, Heinz (text)
Bansch, Helga (illus.)
Es gibt so Tage ...
(There are those days ...)
Wien : Jungbrunnen, 2001.  p.
Girl – Everyday life – Imagination – Mood
There are certain days ... when the world seems all topsy-turvy. Maybe, one should indeed think about Merike's interpretation of reality as presented in the creative and lively pictures: Isn't it true that sometimes everybody seems to walk on stilts or stand on their heads (at least inwardly)? Doesn't the city really seem like a huge jungle at times? And, on the bright side, doesn't everyone get a kiss once in a while? Doesn't everybody feel the need to lean on somebody, to stare into the air, or to show a special trick to someone? On those days ... when she rather stays in bed, Merike invents her own stories. This book offers its readers almost endless possibilities for dreaming on and on. (6+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2002 - 72
Bauer, Jutta (text/illus.)
Hamburg : Carlsen, 2001.  p.
Grandfather – Grandson – Guardian angel
Grandfather tells his grandson about his life, not knowing that he also talks about his guardian angel: whenever he was in danger, the guardian angel was on the spot and often received a bop on the nose due to grandfather's mishaps. At the end of the book, the old man dies, leaving his angelic protector to the boy. The special appeal of this picture book lies in the tension between text and pictures. While the words only describe the surface of the old man's life, which seems fairly straightforward, the coloured pen-and-ink drawings dive to a deeper level and show the essential contribution of the angel – depicted as a light-blue airy creature – to several dicey situations. A lot of humour is evident in this book, as well as a view of reality which leaves readers room enough to think and fantasize. (4+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2002 - 73
Berner, Rotraut Susanne (coll./illus.)
Apfel, Nuss und Schneeballschlacht : das große Winter-Weihnachtsbuch ; Geschichten, Lieder und Gedichte
(Apple, nut, and snowball fight : the big winterchristmas- book ; stories, songs, and poems)
Hildesheim : Gerstenberg, 2001. 144 p.
Christmas – Winter season – Song – Poetry – Stories
This is a book for the whole family to read, sing, and look at. In secular and Christian texts about Christmas and wintertime, in old and in new poems, text and illustration perfectly complement each other to fulfil their task: They make people contemplate and anticipate this special time of year. The illustrations always vary according to the selected texts and the artist's imagination: The reader will find any variation imaginable from fullpage episodes to playful vignettes. The doors are open for young and old alike to enjoy themselves, play or even spin a yarn. (4+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2002 - 75
Blume, Bruno (text)
Gleich, Jacky (illus.)
Ein richtig schöner Tag
(A really nice day)
Hamburg : Carlsen, 2001.  p.
Family – Daily routine – Planning – Day trip – Obstacles
The family want to have a lovely day in their garden on the outskirts of the city. But in the morning daddy rather sleeps a little longer, baby needs yet another clean nappy, the washing machine suddenly stops working, and the chatty neighbours cause further delays. Therefore, it is almost dark when the family, a little out of breath, finally arrive at their garden. Still everybody keeps hoping that the next time they will all stick to the timetable without a problem. They are not even angry with each other although nothing went right today. Tomorrow everything will surely be different. The lively and humorous illustrations do show the parents stressed out and in a hurry; but on the other hand, they also point out that children get fun out of every situation, if only you let them. (7+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2002 - 78
Dörrie, Doris (text)
Kaergel, Julia (illus.)
Wo ist Lotte?
(Where is Lotte?)
Ravensburg : Ravensburger Buchverl., 2001.  p.
Imagination – Invisibility
Lotte is forced to eat some brawn, at least a tiny little bit, even if she doesn't like it. Finally, she manages to swallow some but afterwards she definitely needs a rest on the red sofa. When she wakes up again she can hear everything her mother and aunt are saying – but she herself has turned invisible. Could that be because of the brawn? In the following days, whenever Lotte closes her eyes she „melts into“ her surroundings – the lawn, the curtains, the wallpaper. The adults, however, who really don't know anything, refuse to believe her, even though they keep searching for her everywhere. Despite all this, mother and daughter do not quarrel because the mother simply plays along. And that's how it should be according to this light-hearted book and its unconventional colourful pictures which sometimes display a distorted perspective. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2002 - 81
Hacke, Axel (text)
Sowa, Michael (illus.)
Ein Bär namens Sonntag
(A bear called Sunday)
München : Kunstmann, 2001. 29 p.
Boy – Teddybear – Dream – Change of roles – Empathy – Understanding
The first-person narrator remembers: when he was a small boy he owned a quiet little teddybear he had named Sunday. They did everything together, although the teddybear just kept silently staring straight ahead – how boring. One day, the boy wanted to know for sure: he fed him milk and honey – but the bear still stared in silence, and the boy's mother put him into the washing machine. Since he didn't have his teddy with him when he went to bed, the sad boy dreamed that he, a little human boy, travelled to bear country where he became the new toy for the bear children. Nobody heard or understood him; and his new owner, a small bear, just wanted to do everything together with him; but at least for the (toy-)boy this did not work well. A biting story told in a harmless way with apparently naïve pictures, which nevertheless show the futile attempts at communication and convey the disaster of not being understood. Text, pictures, and overall design certainly make this book a favourite. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2002 - 82
Haucke, Gert (text)
Treskatis, Barbara (illus.)
Mein allerbester Freund
(My very best friend)
Berlin : Aufbau-Verl., 2001.  p.
Dog – Playmate – Human being – Communication
Schoko [i.e. »Chocolate«] has a family of humans (Lisa prepares his food and Paul throws sticks for him) and four very best dog-friends, each of them with an individual personality: Maxi is the smallest of them. Sometimes Schoko has to let him win a game because otherwise he wouldn't want to play anymore. Together with Tarzan, Schoko loves to tug at the ball on the rope. Karlemann, the biggest of his friends, cannot run very fast, and Püppi, the white female pitbull, is afraid of everything. She needs someone to protect her. And then there is Lena, the human puppy – but, to be honest, Schoko could easily do without her. All in all, for someone like Schoko, he leads a perfect life. Large naturalistic colour-chalk drawings and a concise text clearly prove the author's detailed knowledge of and sympathy for a dog's soul. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2002 - 84
Johansen, Hanna (text)
Gleich, Jacky (illus.)
Sei doch mal still
(Please be quiet now)
München [et al.] : Hanser, 2001.  p.
Listening – Noise – Silence
Two children discover silence and its different sounds – the fly at the window, the rain at the window pane, the bird in the tree. The boy is the noisy one while the girl urges him to be quiet and listen. Exact repetitions of their respective lines lend rhythm and structure to the text and increase the excitement that slowly but surely also catches the young boy's attention. The pictures are full of life and speed; yet, due to their earth-like colours, they still emanate a sense of calm matching the new and surprisingly quiet sounds children can experience within their immediate surroundings without major preparations or stress. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2002 - 87
Moost, Nele (text)
Bücker, Jutta (illus.)
Stuttgart [et al.] : Thienemann, 2000.  p.
Dog – Anthropomorphism – Friendship – Faithlessness – Loneliness – Reconciliation – Imagination – Growing up
This is one of the world's oldest stories: one with a happy end. Big Dog and Small Dog are two friends who perfectly complement each other: Big Dog can do more things than Small Dog but in return Small Dog always tells Big Dog stories about the mysterious Moondog. One day, however, a third dog appears and suddenly Small Dog feels very lonely. But now is the time for Moondog to take action. Even though his former friend indeed needs Small Dog again very soon, Moondog is there for him whenever he calls him. This is a comforting book and one that encourages the readers to recall the power of imagination. Full-page illustrations express the protagonists' inner feelings through the dogs' gestures and facial expressions and show the infinite realm of the fantasy world, without getting lost in details. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2002 - 95
Wagner, Klaudia (text)
Stoebe, Susann (illus.)
Ein Hund für Oma Malwina
(A dog for Granny Malwina)
Oldenburg : Lappan, 2001.  p.
Old age – Loneliness – Coping – Shortsightedness – Animal home – Dog – Lion
Since Granny Malwina feels lonely, she gets herself a dog from the animal home. Because of her shortsightedness, however, she doesn't notice that she has accidentally taken a lion, who retired from the circus. True, this fellow is not dangerous anymore, but still he causes quite a riot when strolling through the town on his own. Luckily enough, Granny Malwina and a crowd of children manage to save him from being »exiled«. Listening to the text and watching the turbulent pictures, readers will easily recognise the old lady's great sense of humour and her cleverness in dealing with everything. (4+) ☼
Switzerland (German) - 2002 - 99
Eggermann, Vera (text)
Huwyler, Max (illus.)
Dackel und Dogge
(Dachshund and Great Dane)
Gümligen : Zytglogge-Verl. Bern, 2001.  p.
Dog – Breed of dog – Height – Appearance – Prejudice – Tolerance
At a dog show, the Great Dane thinks »That can't be a dog!« when seeing the dachshund; »That isn't a dog« the dachshund thinks of the Great Dane. Nevertheless, both of them win a prize: for the most beautiful dachshund and the most beautiful Great Dane respectively. Others win prizes for the most beautiful poodle, St. Bernard, etc. … When they sniff each other they realize: hmm, they all smell like dogs. They go »Whoof!« and »Yap!« and then the show is over and they all pull their masters and mistresses homewards. Without explicitly talking about it, this book promotes the mutual understanding warning the readers not to give in to prejudice based on external appearances. Coloured pencil drawings illustrate the message of this profound story. (5+) ☼
Switzerland (German) - 2002 - 102
Kinskofer, Lotte (text)
Ballhaus, Verena (illus.)
Der Tag, an dem Marie ein Ungeheuer war
(The day when Mary was a monster)
Zürich : Bajazzo-Verl., 2001.  p.
Girl – Appearance – Perception by others – Self-perception – Language – Self-confidence
Today, Marie's day goes completely wrong: In kindergarten, the other children tell her she has huge feet, a fat belly, and a nose like a potato; at home, her brother calls her hands paws, and the boy next door calls her mouth a trap. With all these expressions turning parts of her body into strange and monsterous objects, Marie hardly dares to move anymore and her mother finds her in deep despair. She assures her daughter that she shouldn't take everything literally. With the help of a mirror and a lot of loving motherly care she finally manages to comfort Marie. Simple line-drawings on a background of rich colours show the reader how Marie changes from a girl into a monster and back again. A cut-out sheet for the readers to play with and gain confidence completes this comforting tale. (4+) ☼
Spain (Galician) - 2002 - 158
Sánchez, Gloria (text)
Fra, Irene (illus.)
Chinto e Tom
(Chinto and Tom <proper names>)
Madrid : SM, 2001. 78 p.
(O barco de vapor : Serie azul ; 15)
Friendship – Imagination – Creativity
Chinto and Tom – brothers, friends, or possibly even a couple – have inherited a bed and a piece of land in an idyllic area. With great enthusiasm, they start building a cosy home, in which they plan to live together in peace and harmony. Once the new home is built, they realise the bed doesn't fit through the door. Because the bed is indispensable – but, unfortunately, cannot be taken apart – inventiveness is called for ... The story, told with a great deal of sympathy for the protagonists, is full of imaginative, absurd, and surreal ideas, lending the book vitality and lightheartedness. The simple, humorous, and, at the same time, poetic language adds another wonderful touch. (8+) ☼
(Premio Lazarillo ; 2000)
Brazil (Portuguese) - 2002 - 164
Hetzel, Bia (text)
Jardim, Felipe (illus.)
Sonkin, Flora (illus.)
Rio de Janeiro : Manati, 2000.  p.
Human – Character – Pig
Human characteristics and behaviour are often associated with certain animals. This picture book takes up the idea in a witty and entertaining way: It explores the so-called »pig-spirit« that, once it takes hold of us, can determine our gestures and words. Bad mood, violence, rage – all those »base« feelings and instincts slumbering deep down in our human soul can be awakened by the pig-spirit. The rhymed verse, which makes fun of »piggish situations «, resounds with natural musicality and lends itself wonderfully to reading out loud. The expressive, brightly coloured illustrations, which suitably complement the text, reflect the unruliness and highlight the comic side of the subject. (6+) ☼
Canada (French) - 2002 - 173
Bletton, Marie (text)
Borduas, Paul-Émile (illus.)
Le petit canoë
Saint-Laurent (Québec) : Les 400 coups, 2001.  p.
(Petites histoires de l'art)
Arts – Abstract art – Canoe - Imagination
This picture book introduces a promising series exploring the narrative and imaginative potential of art. Bletton's choice of an abstract, untitled painting by the avant-garde Québec artist Borduas may surprise. But the story of the little canoe lost on the planet Borduas demonstrates the inspiring power of imagination and captures the experimental playfulness of Borduas' work. Children will enjoy discovering the strange creatures that come to life in the midst of changing shapes and colours. The book calls for an adult to take children on this enchanting journey of art appreciation. (5+) ☼
Norway (Norwegian) - 2002 - 192
Så lenge alltid varer
(As long as everything exists)
Oslo : Det Norske Samlaget, 2001. 95 p.
Youth – First love – Jealousy – Fulfilment
The typical problems of teenage love described in this book, such as shyness, courtship, jealousy, and finally the fulfilment of one's dreams, may be all too common topics in contemporary young adult literature. Finn Øglænd, however, by now an experienced author of youth literature, chooses a form that convincingly conveys a message despite its hackneyed topic. He lets his protagonist relate the events in a mixture of diary and monologue, yet not as eloquently as an author in disguise. Instead, the boy clearly reveals his taciturnity and clumsiness towards his stronger and more popular class mates. Nevertheless, he is an acute observer and convinces through his honesty. (14+) ☼
Special Mention - Norway (Norwegian) - 2002 - 194
Sortland, Bjørn (text)
Bredesen, Trond (illus.)
(The Venitian mystery)
Oslo : Aschehoug, 2000. 123 p.
Venice – Modern art – Theft
A Norwegian tourist family spends the carnival time in Venice. Inside the Guggenheim Museum, the children witness the theft of a famous Picasso painting. As they have met the suspected thieves earlier at their hotel, the children are able to assist in solving the case – not without getting themselves into dangerous situations. With this book, Sortland, who has already published several books about art, starts a new series intended to make art more attractive and interesting for children by presenting information hidden inside an exciting story – quite a remarkable attempt. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 2002 - 201
Kadefors, Sara (text)
Wirsén, Stina (illus.)
Långlördag i city
(A long Saturday evening in the city)
[Stockholm] : BonnierCarlsen, 2001. 94 p.
Parents – Separation – Child – Protest
Klara, the child of separated parents, living with her quarrelsome mother who is preoccupied with her own problems, feels that she is the victim in her parents' fight against each other. The provocative desire for an expensive bike, which she finally steals in a fit of desperation and defiance, makes her parents see reason again. They cover up for Klara's deed by inventing an extremely unlikely story of a different theft in order to diminish the bike dealer's mistrust, and, as a result, the family is reunited. In this modern and often painfully realistic »Lottie-and-Lisa«-story (Erich Kästner) even impossible events and absurd situations are described in an exceptionally sparkling and amusing manner. One example for this is the family episode at the junk-food hut, making the book a pleasure to read – in spite of its serious topic. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - The Netherlands (Dutch) - 2002 - 229
Kromhout, Rindert (text)
Haeringen, Annemarie van (illus.)
Beesten in het nieuws
(Animals in the news)
Tilburg : Zwijsen [et al.], 2001. 54 p.
Ben's mother has run away, and his father is always busy with his pet shop, although there are only few customers. As Ben often feels lonely, he writes stories and publishes them in his own journal that he distributes in his neighbourhood. When he starts a series with short stories about animals (snakes who eat mice, a spider who tickles a child) in his journal, a lot of customers suddenly show up in his father's shop. Rindert Kromhout tells a wellstructured story, with a well-crafted plot and lots of humour. The illustrations fit seamlessly to the story and are very funny, especially when picturing the animals. (6+) ☼
Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 9
Okii, Chiyoko (text)
Ishikura, Kinji (illus.)
Sora yuku fune
(Boats to heaven)
Tokyo : Komine Shoten, 2002. 167 p.
(Bungaku no mori)
Inland sea – Change – Memory – Environmental damage – World War II – Japan/1944-2001
Setonaikai, the large inland sea in south-west Japan with its more than 300 islands, has always been an important waterway and a perfect living space for humans and animals because of its mild climate. Eight short stories reveal the region’s painful changes after the Second World War, caused by military use and industrialisation, which led to the destruction of the ecosystem. Against this background, the author recalls the islanders’ lives and the once unique beauty of the region, with the real world sometimes turning into a fairytale-like fantastic one. Readers will be deeply moved by the poetic texts and the quiet protest against war and environmental destruction. (14+) ☆ ☼
(42nd Japanese Association of Writers for Children Prize; 2002)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 15
Tomiyasu, Yōko (text)
Okabe, Rika (illus.)
Mujina tanteikyoku : Yami ni kieta otoko
(Detective Agency Badger : The man who disappeared in the dark)
Tokyo : Doshinsha, 2001. 207 p.
(Mujina tanteikyoku shirīzu) (Shirīzu Jīn dokidoki)
Lizard – Assistance – Promise – Metamorphosis – Detective
A guest who suddenly disappears, a woman who claims to be his sister, a burned cello case, a strange smell, traces of water, and a small temple near the lake – all this is circumstantial evidence. The detective nicknamed »Badger«, who specalises in extremely peculiar cases with demons and ghosts, and his young neighbour Genta are asked to solve a seven-year-old case still unsolved at a rich family’s home in the countryside. In this detective novel for children, set in the present, people and animals (in this case a lizard) are combined in a way typical for the Japanese world of legends and folktales. The volumes of the series »Detective Agency Badger« are well written and very original. They offer readers a lot of fun. (10+) ☆ ☼
Republic of Korea (Korean) - 2003 - 22
Park, Kyung-Jin (text/illus.)
(When spring comes)
Seoul : Gilbut Orini, 2001.  p.
Fox – Bear – Friendship – Separation – Hibernation – Seasons of the year – Insight
Little bear and little fox are the best of friends. In the autumn forest, the two of them are having a lot of fun together. Even though winter is approaching and little bear should prepare for his hibernation, the fox wants to go on playing with him and therefore distracts him with loads of funny games. Yet, when the two friends manage to save a frog from freezing to death, little fox finally realises that hibernation is vital for his friend. They promise each other to meet again in spring. In this atmospheric picture book, the author uses the seasons of the year to symbolically describe the maturation process of children who slowly grow up: Saying goodbye and meeting again are seen as natural parts of human life. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 2003 - 24
Gordon, Marguerite (ed.)
Madiba magic : Nelson Mandela’s favourite stories for children
Cape Town : Tafelberg, 2002. 140 p.
Africa – Folktale – Anthology
This beautifully produced anthology contains 32 stories from South Africa and other African countries. A few of the tales are new stories written in the style of traditional folktales, while most of them are ancient folktales which have undergone several changes through the centuries and are presented here either in their orally transmitted form or as retellings by various authors. Each of the magical short tales is accompanied by a magnificent full-page illustration, painted by well-known children’s book artists as well as by some talented new illustrators, and by one or two beautiful small black-and-white vignettes created by Teresa Williams. A short one-sentence-introduction preceding each tale and an appendix at the back of the book give additional information about the importance of the tale’s theme or protagonist and its popularity and about the tales’ illustrators and authors or retellers. This folktale treasure chest will delight young and old readers alike. (4+) ☆ ☼
Australia (English) - 2003 - 25
Barlow, Maisie (Yarrcali) (text)
Anning, Michael (Boiyool) (illus.)
Jirrbal : rainforest dreamtime stories
Broome, Western Australia : Magabala Books Aborig. Corp., 2002. 59 p.
Australia/North Queensland – Aborigines – Everyday life – Fable
The Jirrbal people of Ravenshoe in North Queensland belong to an Aboriginal tribe whose lifestyle was influenced by the rainforest region in which they lived. Sadly, their rich storytelling tradition almost died out with the arrival of white settlers. For this book, published by a small publisher who promotes the works of indigenous people, Jirrbal elder Maisie Barlow selected four typical moral fables. The ancient dreamtime stories tell of Jirrbal life, introducing important traditional values to modern- day children. The simple tales are accompanied by Michael Anning’s delightful colour-pencil illustrations. A two-page English/Jirrbal dictionary and the author’s childhood memories provide an interesting insight into Jirrbal culture. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 26
Cree, Laura Murray
Awesome! : Australian art for contemporary kids
St Leonards, Sydney, NSW : Craftsman House, 2002. 128 p
Australia – Modern Art
Modern art is sometimes difficult to access. Pejorative remarks from adults like »My Kids could do better than that!« are fairly common. Children, however, with their boundless imagination, are usually more inclined to discover the interesting ideas lying behind seemingly simple artefacts. In short, informative texts, Laura Murray Cree presents 55 outstanding Australian artists by introducing child readers to one of their typical works. Paintings, photographs, sculptures, and installations are carefully selected and show the immense variety of ideas and projects that contemporary artists realise. The attractive full-page reproductions of the works, as well as the appealing mixture of basic information, short quotations, and interesting texts, make this book an entertaining read for everybody. To all those who are anxious to find out more, an appendix gives some additional facts about the artists and offers suggestions for further reading. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2003 - 30
Tan, Shaun (text/illus.)
The red tree
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2001.  p.
Sadness – Depression
Everybody knows that feeling when a »day begins with nothing to look forward to and things go from bad to worse«. In Shaun Tan’s moving picture book, a little red-haired girl is almost overwhelmed by her feeling of loneliness and isolation, and she simply cannot see a meaning to her life. At the end of the day, however, quite unexpectedly, a ray of hope is finding its way into her heart. The multiaward- winning illustrator’s detailed, surrealistic mixed-media collages in mainly dark colours capture the girl’s despair in a unique way. The sparse text blends in perfectly with the breathtaking pictures, leaving ample space for the readers to find their own interpretation of this quiet story. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 39
Child, Lauren (text/illus.)
Who’s afraid of the big bad book?
London : Hodder Children’s Books, 2002.  p.
Boy – Fairytale – Adventure – Escape
In this follow-up to the successful Beware of the Storybook Wolves, bookworm Herb accidentally falls into his big book of fairy tales one night and is immediately confronted by an enraged little Goldilocks who screams blue murder at the intruder. Herb quickly takes to his heels and finally finds himself in a huge hall where the queen and king are angrily discussing the annoying absence of Prince Charming. When they spot Herb, the little culprit responsible for all the mischief, they set off chasing him. At the last minute, he manages to escape back to his room and »spends the rest of the night putting the storybook back to rights«. The wild illustrations, full of details and rendered in Lauren Child’s trademark collage-style – sketchy ink drawings, photographs, and fabric samples slotted together – are combined with different size typefaces which ingeniously depict the story’s twists and turns. An intriguing and imaginative picture book for readers of all ages. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2003 - 43
Patten, Brian (text)
Riddell, Chris (illus.)
The story giant
London : Collins, 2002. 222 p.
Giant – Storytelling – Children – Saviour – Folktale
For centuries, the story giant has been collecting all the stories from around the world. To try and find the only tale that is still missing from his collection, the giant summons four children from the four corners of the world to his remote moorland castle. As they share all the tales from their different cultures, he becomes weaker and weaker... Into this magical frame story, Brian Patten weaves more than fifty tales ranging from Aesop’s fables, Arabian folktales, and Japanese legends, to Aboriginal myths and Celtic fairytales. This colourful mixture written in a quiet and engaging style, is accompanied by Chris Riddell’s humorous caricaturelike ink drawings, ingeniously depicting the quirky storyteller and his various protagonists. (8+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Ireland (English) - 2003 - 45
A – Z and back again : a little bit of this and a wee bit of that!
Ballintogher : Kids’ Own Publ. Partnership, 2002.  p.
(A kids’ own book for young children)
Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, a small publishing house in Ireland, promotes the creative skills of children as writers and artists through various projects. One of their aims is to make the culture of »Travellers«, Ireland’s nomadic people, visible to others. For this outstanding example of children’s creativity reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s famous pop-art works, a group of children from two different schools have worked together with their families in a series of workshops. Using sponges, potatoes, and other everyday objects for different types of prints, they created the letters from A to Z and drew a few accompanying objects starting with each letter. With the help of photocopies, they decided on the final layout and design of the largeformat brochure. For the photo-gallery on the book’s endpages, they worked with digital photographs and computer. With the guiding assistance of an adult artist, they have thus created a fascinatingly colourful alphabet book. (2+) ☆ ☼
USA (English) - 2003 - 54
Collins, Ross (text/illus.)
New York, NY : Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2002.  p.
Boy – Sleep – Disturbance – Fictitious characters
It is night-time and little Ben is dozing off when the Sandman pops in through the window. Yet, before he can complete his good night song, bossy Tooth Fairy interrupts him, followed by two Ghosts, the Thing-Under-the-Bed, and – last but not least – Santa Claus. Loudly arguing about who is to have a go at the little boy first, this motley crew creates such mighty havoc that, eventually, Ben himself throws them out to get some sleep. The exuberant cartoon-like illustrations, depicting the chaotic scenes from various angles, zooming in and out, perfectly complement the witty text. Acclaimed Scottish illustrator Ross Collins has created a hilarious bedtime book which is sure to reduce children’s night fears to giggles and laughter. (4+) ☼
USA (English) - 2003 - 55
Gray, Margaret (text)
Cecil, Randy (illus.)
The ugly princess and the wise fool
New York : Henry Holt, 2002. 167 p.
Princess – Beauty – Ugliness – Friendship – Wisdom – Fairytale – Parody
When Princess Rose is born, the whole kingdom of Couscous is in a state of shock: She is not excessively beautiful, as any princess simply must be. No. She is not even remotely pretty. Despite this, everyone adores the friendly buck-toothed girl. One day, however, handsome (and empty-headed) prince Parsley passes the castle looking for a bride – and suddenly Rose longs for beauty... In this hilarious debut novel, Margaret Gray employs a variety of metafictional remarks and absurd exaggerations to create a parody on fairy tale conventions which will make readers laugh out loud. Even if the moral is clear right from the start, the funny text and the comical black-and-white illustrations provide an entertaining read from beginning to end. (8+) ☼
USA (English) - 2003 - 58
Howitt, Mary (original text)
DiTerlizzi, Tony (illus.)
The spider and the fly
New York [et al.] : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2002.  p.
Fly – Spider – Trick
The famous old cautionary tale of the deceitful spider who talks the naïve little fly into entering his parlor and then turns her into a delicious spiderdinner is still very popular today. In this version, Tony DiTerlizzi’s superb pictures add another spooky layer to this story. The black-and-silver gouache and graphite illustrations, reminiscent of classic Hollywood horror movies from the 1920s and 1930s, show a delicate young upper-class ladyfly who is easily deceived by the gentleman-like manners of the cunning spider. The gruesome details depicted inside the spider flat further increase the tension of the tale. As a humorous twist, the cruel villain is even granted a »last word« in the book, justifying his behaviour. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2003 - 61
Rodrigue, George (text/illus.)
Goldstone, Bruce (text)
Why is blue dog blue? : a tale of colors
New York, NY : Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2001. [40 ] p.
Rodrigue, George / Blue Dog – Modern Art – Colours
George Rodrigue is a well-known American artist whose various paintings of Blue Dog have captured the hearts of many people around the world for more than 20 years. In this picture book, he ventures to explain to his obviously puzzled audience, why Blue Dog – in spite of its name – does not always have to be blue. Depending on the painter’s associations while working, the dog can actually be any colour imaginable: e.g. »mustard«, if Rodrigue happens to feel like eating a hot dog, or »tan« when he goes to the beach. The imaginative design of the book, with its unconventional typesetting, and the surprising answer at the end, offer readers an exciting peep into the world of modern art. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2003 - 62
Steig, William (text)
Agee, John (illus.)
Potch & Polly
New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002.  p.
Falling in love – Courting – Accident
When Potch meets Polly at a masquerade ball, he falls head over heels in love with her. Unfortunately, however, all his imaginative undertakings to win her heart, misfire and end in disaster. Just as a broken heart seems inevitable, the clever trick of a clown-faced guardian angel manages to bring the two lovebirds together. Award-winning author William Steig and renowned illustrator John Agee team up to create a hilarious picture book which is sure to delight readers of all ages. The fast-paced story with its sitcom humour, perfectly complemented by the sketchy, comic-like illustrations, makes readers immediately empathise with accident- prone Potch and anxiously hope for his successful courting of the outraged Polly. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 2003 - 67
Janisch, Heinz (text)
Jung, Barbara (illus.)
Wenn Anna Angst hat
(When Anna is afraid)
Wien [et al.] : Jungbrunnen, 2002.  p.
Falling asleep – Fear – Coping with fear – Imagination
Anna is a clever young girl. She is absolutely sure that the great giant, for example, never sleeps – and him she calls whenever she is afraid. She has quite a few of such mighty friends: the 33 knights of the nutshells, the green spinning-dragon, the flying feather, the magnetic mountain, and – last but not least – herself. After all, she can always tell herself »Anna is not afraid at all«. And then she falls asleep. (But the great giant doesn’t sleep, because he guards her.) Full-page pictures and clear, rich colours invite readers to dive into the world of these fantastic creatures, who want to support small girls like Anna. (3+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2003 - 75
Boie, Kirsten (text)
Waechter, Philip (illus.)
Josef Schaf will auch einen Menschen
(Joseph Sheep wants to have a human pet, too)
Hamburg : Oetinger, 2002.  p.
Man – Keeping of pets – Topsy-turvy world
The world turned topsy-turvy: Animals keep human pets. Not everybody is in favour of this, though. Father and Mother Sheep for example are not, even if their little son Joseph faithfully promises to clean the cage and play with the tiny human. Nevertheless, Joseph’s birthday is near and so the Sheep-parents relent. But what a chaos, when Purzel, the small person, escapes from his cage one day. All the animals call him, search for him, and eventually find him. Before small Purzel goes to sleep, Joseph Sheep gives him a treat, of course, and cuddles him fondly – that’s the way an animal should treat his human pet. Many (seemingly) naïve pictures complement the sarcastic-ironic text. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2003 - 76
Budde, Nadia (text/illus.)
Kurz nach sechs kommt die Echs
(Just after six the lizard comes) [nonsense rhyme)
Wuppertal : Hammer, 2002.  p.
Lizard – Daily routine – Dream – Wish – Wishfulfilment – Children’s poetry
Just like all the other working animals around him, the small lizard has a fixed daily routine and a secure income. And yet, at night, he dreams of a red convertible, a faithful small pet, blonde wavy hair, and some other extraordinary things. The next morning, he only just manages to catch his bus to work, but – what a surprise... Is it real or is it a dream? He himself sits behind the steering wheel and takes all the other passengers to the land where the wishes come from. The comic-like, caricaturelike pictures of the animal working routine and the tedious city life finally lead into the lizards’ paradise: Nature, wildlife, and millions of flies and insects to feed on. The courage to dream is obviously all you need. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2003 - 78
Damm, Antje (text/illus.)
Frag mich! : 108 Fragen an Kinder, um miteinander ins Gespräch zu kommen
(Ask me! : 108 questions to children in order to start a conversation)
Frankfurt am Main : Moritz-Verl., 2002. 220 p.
Child – Everyday life – Question
The subtitle to this imaginative picture book reads: »108 questions to children in order to start a conversation «. Let’s have a look at the pages »Is there something to eat that you don’t like?« – On the right side, there is a picture of a mother and her daughter sitting in front of a bowl of spinach and sausages. Or the pages entitled: »Whom did you teach something?« – The photograph shows a small child ardently drawing pictures on a slate, while a big teddy bear is watching. Thus, using various illustrative techniques and forms of questions, a universe of different topics is touched on, offering an inexhaustible amount of material for telling stories. This book for children and parents is full of possibilities undreamt of. (3+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2003 - 81
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (text)
Kindermann, Barbara (retelling)
Ensikat, Klaus (illus.)
Berlin : Kindermann, 2002.  p.
(Weltliteratur für Kinder ; 10)
Magic – Love – Youth – Old age – Death – Good/Evil – God/Devil
Doctor Heinrich Faust, the most archetypal German brooder – fastidious, disgruntled, disputed – is dragged out of his corner of classic literature, which today is unfortunately considered very oldfashioned. Quotations of verses from the most famous parts of Goethe’s text are highlighted between dense prose passages. It is quite a challenge to make such a highly complex artistic literary and philosophic work come alive for children on just a few pages. The effort is supported and substantiated by Klaus Ensikat’s elaborate pictures. The story’s protagonists walk around the medieval town scenery dressed in historical clothes – yet, at the table inside the cellar of Auerbach in the town of Leipzig, a modern punk with green hair is seated as well. This illustrated journey through the centuries hints at the timelessness of classic literature. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2003 - 83
Heidelbach, Nikolaus (text/illus.)
Die dreizehnte Fee
(The thirteenth fairy)
Weinheim : Beltz & Gelberg, 2002.  p.
School – Reading – Fairytale – Dream – Imagination
After the children have listened to the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty at school and learned about the revenge of the thirteenth fairy, they all have frightening dreams of curses and magic that night. Only one boy dreams a pleasant dream – about his teacher. The next day, by coincidence, his fantastic tale is the thirteenth, so the teacher would be the thirteenth fairy – and a very nice one. »Teacher’s pet!« all the other children shout. Is this book a general demonstration of sympathy for teachers? After all, in the middle of these dreamt-up horrormagicians, the teacher seems to be really trustworthy and ordinary in a comfortable way. »A fairy tale for teachers«, that’s what Nikolaus Heidelbach calls his imaginative and unconventional picture book. (7+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2003 - 86
Karau, Martin (text)
Wehner, Katja (illus.)
Berlin : Aufbau-Verl., 2002.  p.
Girl – Princess – Idol – Monster – Imaginary journey – Return home
Elli loves princesses of any kind; she draws and paints them with dedication. Yet, one day, a completely different creature turns up on her paper: ugly, horrible, and rebellious. Together, Elli and the Beast fly to faraway countries and get up to such mischievous deeds that the sultan puts them in the dungeon. Back from her (imaginary) journey, Elli lets herself be pampered by her unsuspecting mother. This is the story of a fairly lonely child – but one who is very imaginative and not too wellbehaved. The text uses the stylistic figure of understatement. The pictures of this unlikely pair, drawn with clear outlines, are set against a light-coloured background in an unspectacular way. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2003 - 96
Dieda oder das fremde Kind
(That girl, or: the strange child)
Hamburg : Oetinger, 2002. 158 p.
Austria/1945 – Village – Motherless child – Stepmother – Stepsister
A village in Austria at the end of the Second World War: A seven-year-old girl lives with the family of her stepmother but stubbornly rebels against this new situation. Her real mother died of a brain tumour and, all too frequently, the girl blames herself for it. Her feeling of not being welcome is so strong that she calls herself »that girl« and does not respond to her real name anymore. Eventually, her stepsister is born – and this new, innocent member of the family finally reaches through the numbness of the lonely child. Using only a few hints, Renate Welsh perfectly manages to evoke a historically authentic atmosphere, in the turmoil of which a child has to try and cope with her own great sorrow. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 2003 - 106
Waechter, F. K. (text/illus.)
Zürich : Diogenes, 2002.  p.
Creation – Man – Creativity
This marvellous large-format book with its fulland double-page pictures is certainly appropriate for the great idea which it is about. The brief text gives all the basic information: A small male creature (who wears a top hat as a sign of his dignity but looks fairly ruffled otherwise) experiences the creation of the world as his own personal accomplishment. His way of going about is quite unconventional and certainly nothing to boast about; but in the end, there is a small female creature beside him, and the whole (old and new) world with plants and animals – where do they all come from? In a whisper, the girl explains the »where« and »why« to him. Waechter shows in his pictures – mainly delicately coloured drawings projected onto a number of very different backgrounds – that every little boy imagines himself as the Creator. But only with a strengthening refreshment, handed to him by the girl, is the male world-creator fit, or – as Waechter’s version rather implies – forced, to perform great deeds. Both a subversive and a loving-ironic-realistic view. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Italy (Italian) - 2003 - 141
Various authors (text)
Biasetton, Francesca (illus.)
Modena : Panini, 2002.  p.
Alphabet – Game – Words
This is a rather special book generated by an idea and a play by Giorgio Scaramuzzino. It is a tribute to the magic of words: Just as in a children’s game, the letters of the alphabet come to life and, combined, they become words, sounds, and images. With its 25 short stories, composed by Italian writers specifically for this purpose both for children and grown-ups, the volume re-creates the charm of old-fashioned spelling books. Every story – one for each letter of the alphabet – is accompanied by illustrations, pictures, drawings, and clippings, like a fascinating ever-changing puzzle. (6+) ☼
Portugal (Portuguese) - 2003 - 143
Mésseder, João Pedro (text)
Letria, André (illus.)
Timor Lorosa’e – a ilha do sol nascente
(East Timor – Island of the rising sun)
Porto : Ambar, 2001.  p.
East Timor – Independence movement
The struggle for national independence of the people of East Timor has come to a happy conclusion with the state’s international recognition in 2002. To familiarise children with this chapter of contemporary history, the author and illustrator have chosen the classical genre of the picture book. The sparse, simple text relates the facts in a calm tone not unlike that of fairytales or legends. This creates a special tension, which can also be sensed in the relations between text and image. The large-format pictures in warm colours show details with symbolic connotations. They seem strangely motionless and thus gain an emblematic character. A fascinating, very unusual book. (6+) ☆ ☼
Spain (Spanish) - 2003 - 147
Ferrer, Vicente (ed.)
Diccionario ilustrado »Mis primeras ochenta mil palabras« que contiene las palabras favoritas de 231 artistas de 20 países ...
(The illustrated dictionary »My first 80,000 words«, containing the favourite words of 231 artists from 20 countries)
Valencia : Media Vaca, 2002. 273 p.
(Media vaca ; 11)
Dictionary – Encyclopaedia
231 artists from 20 countries were invited to illustrate a word of their choice; they were free to associate but limited to only two colours. Furthermore, they were asked to take their favourite definition from a dictionary or encyclopaedia. The result is highly original and inspiring: On the one hand, the dictionary unites words as disparate as »no«, »hunting horn«, »insomnia«, or »whisper«, and therefore presents a multi-facetted mirror of the artists‘ individual preferences. On the other hand, it is an exciting compendium demonstrating the rich diversity of the international art of illustrating. A superb, varied enjoyment for young and adult readers! (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2003 - 149
Pérez Escrivá, Victoria (text/illus.)
Antes, cuando Venecia no existía
(In former times, when Venice did not yet exist)
Madrid : Anaya, 2002. 181 p.
Short stories – Ultra-short stories – Nonsense
An aphorism by the German author Johann Christoph Lichtenberg serves as a preface to this book: »Many people only read because it saves them from being forced to think.« Well, with this beautifully designed book’s 70 short and ultra-short stories, you will hardly be able to avoid thinking, as they are bubbling over with original ideas, witty language, subtle irony, and brilliantly absurd nonsense. This is all the more astonishing, as they focus on ordinary topics which are ever so popular in children’s books, e.g. animals, giants, curses, love, fear, etc. Victoria Pérez Escrivá uses this kind of fairly unspectacular »building bricks« to create something extraordinary. A lot of the texts discuss the possibilities of storytelling itself, which are boundless – as long as you have the necessary imagination and talent to spin a yarn. Excellent children’s books offer pleasure and knowledge to young and old readers alike, in different ways. This volume is a very good example for that. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (French) - 2003 - 177
Tibo, Gilles (text)
Melanson, Luc (illus.)
Le grand voyage de Monsieur
(The great journey of Mister)
Saint-Lambert (Québec) : Dominique et Compagnie, 2001.  p.
ISBN 2-89512-189-3. – 2-89512-191-5
Death – Mourning – Journey
Filled with grief after the death of his child, a man leaves his home behind and goes on a journey. He lets himself drift along, his decisions influenced by coincidences. When his train stops at the sea, he crosses the ocean on a passenger ship. Thus, the man travels the world, strolls along the streets, spends some pleasant time with people who invite him into their homes. At the end of the world, he meets a child who has lost his parents in a war. Hand in hand, they try to overcome their grief. The text, reduced to the essential words, and the clear, yet discreet illustrations manage to present the loss of a loved person, the grief, and the loneliness in a sensitive way, suitable for children. (4+) ☆ ☼
(Governor General’s Award; 2002)
Special Mention - Finland (Finnish) - 2003 - 187
Kunnas, Mauri (text/illus.)
Kunnas, Tarja (text/illus.)
Seitsemän koira veljestä : koiramainen versio Aleksis Kiven romaanista »Seitsemän veljestä«
(Seven dog brothers)
Helsinki : Otava, 2002. 93 p.
Kivi, Aleksis / Seitsemän veljestä – Parody – Siblings – Escape from civilisation – Character development
Mauri Kunnas is one of the most inventive caricaturists in Finland; his picture stories for children are a treasure trove of ideas and, slowly but surely, they are also gaining popularity outside Finnish borders (in Germany and Japan, for example). His parodies of classic stories provide the illustrator with topics from which he can create new ideas. Moreover, the popularity of the classics also enables him to entertain child and adult readers alike with allusions and features they might recognise from the originals. Transferring Aleksis Kivi’s work Seitsemän veljestä (Seven brothers) into an anthropomorphised dog-world, yet maintaining the basic elements of the novel’s plot, he introduces his readers to this famous first work of Finnish national literature in an easily accessible but by no means superficial way. Moreover, paper and printing quality of this book are exquisite. (10+) ☼
Sweden (Swedish) - 2003 - 197
Langer, Joakim (text)
Trokenheim, Martin (illus.)
Kapten Kalle på de sju haven
(Captain Kalle on the seven seas)
Stockholm : Forum, 2002. 150 p.
Pettersson, Carl Emil (1875-1937) – Lindgren, Astrid / Pippi Longstocking
Shortly before her death, Astrid Lindgren allegedly admitted that there was a real-life role model for Pippi Longstocking’s father Efraim: Carl Pettersson. He went off to sea when he was twelve, and – after a few years – reached New Guinea in the South Seas where he dealt with copra. After having been shipwrecked in 1904, he safely arrived on a small island, received a warm welcome, married Sindu, the chief’s daughter, with whom he had eight children, and was later himself appointed chief by the native inhabitants. The author turns this biography into a short, adventure story which all admirers of Astrid Lindgren should know. (8+) ☆ ☼
Belgium (Dutch) - 2003 - 216
Vendel, Edward van de (text)
Vervaeke, Geert (illus.)
Pup en kit
Wielsbeke : De Eenhoorn, 2002. 62 p.
Dog – Cat – Contact
Pup the dog and Kit the cat arrive at the same time at the house of their new owner. Of course, they have to get used to him, but also, and that is more difficult, to each other. Together, they do all kinds of foolish things, like taking a bath, going on a boat trip, trying to walk on the ice and many more. Although Pup and Kit do not always agree, they become very good friends. A beautiful, simple, sensitive and heart-warming story, in which the cat and dog come across very lifelike. The book is meant for beginning readers. The author, despite the limits regarding reading techniques, has succeeded in writing a loveable story that will captivate the young reader from cover to cover. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 4
Hino, Kazunari (text)
Saitō, Takao (illus.)
Kaeru no Heike monogatari
(The frogs and the cat : a story inspired by »Heike monogatari«)
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2002.  p.
(Nihon kessaku ehon shirīzu)
War epic – Frog – Tomcat – Power struggle
In a 7-5-syllable metre, an old toad recites the epic of the rise and fall of the Heike-clan to the frog children. A few chapters from this war tale from the 13century, retold in a parodying manner, are turned into an imaginative picture book. The frogs, the Genji-clan, use a trick to defeat the tomcat, the Heike-clan. The battle is depicted in an elaborate style reminiscent of that in historical paintings: The medieval armour of the frog army consists of petals, thorns, nut shells, and stems of grass and their leaders are riding on grasshoppers. This original book is designed in the manner of emaki (old picture scrolls) and painted in a decorative painting style characteristic for Japan. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Republic of Korea (Korean) - 2004 - 22
Yi, Hyŏn-sun (text)
Ch'oe, Ŭn-mi (illus.)
Sim Ch ŏng ka
Seoul : Ch obang, 2003.  p. + 1 CD
ISBN 89-90614-05-8. - 89-90614-03-1
Folk tale – Daughter – Father – Self-sacrifice – Miraculous cure – Music – Theatre
Shimchong believes that only an offering in the temple can cure her father of his blindness. Since she is very poor, she sells her life to some sailors who sacrifice young girls to placate the sea. The sea-king, however, spares her life and eventually, her father can see again. This folk tale about a virtuous girl is created in the 400-year-old Korean performance art of P’ansori, in which only one person speaks and sings in alternation with a drummer. The characters in this book, borrowed from the traditional Korean mask-dance, act in stylised poses without a background. Just like a P’ansori singer who fills the stage with his performance alone, the figures fill the large-format pages of this book. (4+) ☆ ☼
Australia (English) - 2004 - 28
Lawson, Sue (text)
Magerl, Caroline (illus.)
My Gran’s different
South Melbourne, Victoria : Lothian, 2003.  p.
Grandmother – Grandson – Alzheimer’s Disease
Charlie is aware that his grandmother is different from those of his friends and classmates. She doesn’t bake cakes or sell flowers, she doesn’t knit scratchy jumpers or travel all around Australia, nor does she visit football matches or work in the garden. All she ever does is sit in her rocking chair and stare out of the window – because »she can’t remember who she is.« Nevertheless, the young boy completely accepts her as she is and clearly doesn’t love her any less for it. The delicate washy watercolours in subdued tones and the sparse text written in a quiet, repetitive style create a moving story of a child’s love for his grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. This courageous picture book is a true gem for young and old readers alike – which may also spark off discussions about and provide understanding for a serious problem. (4+) ☆ ☼
India (English) - 2004 - 33
Ravishankar, Anushka (text)
Pieper, Christiane (illus.)
Alphabets are amazing animals
[Chennai] : Tara Publ., 2003.  p.
Alphabet – Nonsense
Alphabet books still are one of the most popular picture book types because they offer countless possibilities to authors and illustrators. In this square volume, Indian writer Anushka Ravishankar delivers hilarious alliterating nonsense phrases for each of the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet. From »Anteaters Adore Arithmetic« and »Odd Otters Order Only Onions« to »Zebras Zoom Zig-Zag«, the author has her animal protagonists perform the most unusual and absurd tasks. Christiane Pieper’s vibrant partly cartoonlike illustrations, drawn in black-and-white plus one changing colour, present a crazy menagerie of animals romping about happily on the various double-spread pages. A truly delightful ABC not only for beginning readers. (3+) ☼
Great Britain (English) - 2004 - 41
Ering, Timothy Basil (text/illus.)
The story of Frog Belly Rat Bone
London [et al.] : Walker Books, 2003.  p.
Boy – Treasure – Hope – Robbers – Protection – Forgiveness
»In a dull, grey, endless place called Cementland ...« a spindly creature in a bright red and white shirt digs through a junk heap searching for treasure. After a promising discovery, followed by some disappointments, a mean robbery, and a clever solution, the boy is eventually rewarded for his patience: The depressingly dull and lifeless scene from the beginning of the book has turned into a garden of Eden bursting with colourful flowers and plants – and the boy has found some new friends. This imaginative story with handlettered text is carried out in outstanding, vibrant illustrations that combine cartoon-like elements and cinematic techniques (e.g. close-ups etc.) with crazy landscapes inhabited by fantastical creatures to create a truly delightful read. (3+) ☼
Canada (English/Cree) - 2004 - 50
Highway, Tomson (text)
Deines, Brian (illus.)
Fox on the Ice = Mahkesís mískwamíhk e - cípatapít
Toronto, ON : HarperCollins, 2003.  p.
Cree Indians – Nature – Family – Community
This bilingual picture book is the third in the Songs of the North trilogy. Each volume is centred on one animal – the caribou, the dragonfly, and the fox respectively – and relates one little outdoor adventure of the two Cree brothers Joe and Cody and their dog. The narrative in English and Cree focuses less on plot than on tone and atmosphere. It evokes the vastness of the far North, the beauty of the Manitoba landscape, the happiness of the family, and the simple joys of living in harmony with nature. Deines’s sparkling illustrations perfectly capture the majesty of the Great North and almost seem to reflect the boys’ tinkling laughter. (5+) ☆ ☼
USA (English) - 2004 - 56
Florian, Douglas (text/illus.)
Bow wow meow meow : it’s rhyming cats and dogs
San Diego [et al.] : Harcourt, 2003. 47 p.
Poetry – Cats – Dogs
After his latest success with Lizards, Frogs, and Polliwogs (Harcourt, 2001), which was termed »toadally terrific« by Kirkus Reviews, Douglas Florian has created yet another hilarious collection of animal poems. This time he focuses exclusively on the all-time favourite pets, dogs and cats (plus their feral relatives). In 21 original poems accompanied by as many delightful full-page watercolour illustrations, he unmasks the characteristic features or habits of »scent-sational« bloodhounds, shaggy sheepdogs, and »fur-ocious« lions and has his audience chuckling all the way through. Whether pet-lovers or not, readers of all ages will enjoy this imaginative and playful homage to »man’s (and woman’s) best friends«. (3+) ☼
Austria (German) - 2004 - 65
Anger-Schmidt, Gerda (text)
Habinger, Renate (illus.)
Neun nackte Nilpferddamen : aller Unsinn macht Spaß
(Nine naked hippo ladies : nonsense is fun)
St. Pölten [et al.] : NP, 2003. 128 p.
Alphabet – Poetry – Riddle – Nonsense
This ABC-book promises many diverse discoveries – and it really keeps them. With the letters from A to Z on the right-hand margin, it looks like an address book. The pages offer a multitude of verses, pictures, riddles, puns, and sayings for each and every reader to think, smile, or laugh about. Since it might prove a little too difficult for beginning readers on their own, adults should jump at this opportunity and join in the puzzle-solving-fun with their children. In this entertaining compendium, the whole world between heaven and earth is spread out before the reader. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2004 - 70
Abmeier, Armin [et al.] (ed.)
Müller, Thomas M. (illus.)
Lebens-Mittel : was Kinder brauchen
(Food / Means of life ‹pun›) : what children need)
Frankfurt am Main [et al.] : Büchergilde Gutenberg, 2003.  p. + 1 poster
(Die tollen Hefte ; 22)
ISBN 3-7632-6022-6. 3-936482-22-0
Child – Wish – Humour – Poetry – Ultra-short story
»What children need« – that’s the subtitle of this small encyclopaedic compendium of poems and stories by famous German-speaking authors and poets which all focus on children’s interests, wishes, and basic needs. Thus, the texts cover topics such as »water«, »tree«, »bed«, »family«, »something sweet«, etc. The colourful, imaginative illustrations add unexpected aspects and connotations to various terms in an interpretative way. The booklet is published on the occasion of the German UNICEF section’s 50th anniversary (with a poster enclosed and with a slightly nonsensical glossary) and can be savoured by child and adult readers of all ages. (8+) ☆ ☼
Germany (German) - 2004 - 71
Bauer, Jutta (ed./illus.)
Ich sitze hier im Abendlicht : Briefe für die ganze Familie
(I’m sitting in the evening light : letters for the whole family)
Hildesheim : Gerstenberg, 2003. 168 p.
This beautifully illustrated book is a large-format collection of letters throughout the centuries – most of them about children, childhood, and family life, but travel-, love-, and ordinary letters are also included; serious ones and funny ones, many from well-known, others from unknown people. In the age of e-mail and text messages, it is the editor and illustrator’s intention to remind people of the genre ‘letter’ as written and illustrated testimonies on paper and to show how many treasures from this genre have survived. Various lives and fates open up before the readers’ eyes. The fast modern world almost disappears behind them. A book for children and their parents. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2004 - 72
Drvenkar, Zoran (text)
Könnecke, Ole (illus.)
Du schon wieder
(It’s you again)
Hamburg : Carlsen, 2003.  p.
Height – Outsider – Friendship – Quarrel – Reconciliation – Journey
Tiny Fredo and beanpole Rocky both do not fit into the norm, let alone into school. Therefore, they set out into the big wide world. The small guy becomes a cook for small portions, the tall guy turns into »muscle man«. When they meet again, they start working on a joint project: First of all, they take part in a »dwarf-throwing« tournament – and the invincible team wins, of course, and becomes infinitely famous. But then they fight about which of them is more important – and once again go their separate ways. In the end however, they help each other in a life-threatening situation and finally stay together for good. In this amusing but at the same time profound book, the text and the comic-strip-like black-and-white illustrations are placed on separate pages, so that readers can follow them both individually. This lends an additional charme to both the written and the drawn story. (7+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2004 - 85
Richter, Jutta (text)
Janssen, Susanne (illus.)
An einem großen stillen See
(At a large and quiet lake)
München [et al.] : Hanser, 2003. 63 p.
Night – Fear – Sleeplessness – Angel
A child and a man are afraid at night and cannot fall asleep even though mother and wife, respectively, are trying to help them: Only when the two sleepless people meet and tell each other about angels who protect human beings, does the situation finally improve because, as the text states: »When two people share their happiness it grows, and when two people share their fear it dwindles.« Jutta Richter’s angel-poems speak of incomprehensible experiences in one’s own soul with metaphors borrowed from nature. The illustrations develop their own expressive fantastic atmosphere painted in pasty colours. This book may not be particularly easy to understand for younger readers but definitely has a lot to offer for older ones. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2004 - 89
Schnurre, Wolfdietrich (text)
Herfurth, Egbert (illus.)
Berlin : Aufbau-Verl., 2003. 31 p.
Veterinarian – Human – Animals – Imprisonment – Suffering – Freedom
Vet Dr. Doddlmoddl is convinced that all the animals’ (and people’s) illnesses are caused by the same thing: the suffering from … humans. It seems relatively easy to cure animals of the disease if they simply forget ‘their’ humans for a while and become real animals again. Suddenly aware of so far unknown possibilities, the animal patients choose the freedom they themselves want to have. (For human beings, a similar method could be useful simply because they might rediscover their own ‘animalness’). The timeless social criticism of the rediscovered story works even if children might not fully recognise this aspect. Egbert Herfurth’s clear and at the same time ambiguous pictures perfectly meet the text’s laconic tone. (5+) ☼
Switzerland (German) - 2004 - 92
Eggermann, Vera (adapt./illus.)
Zürich : Bajazzo-Verl., 2003.  p.
Girl – Mischief – Obedience – Disobedience
»Don’t pull the cat’s tail!« and »Don’t drink the ink!« says Auntie to Lena when she leaves the house. But she didn’t mention anything about not cutting the napkins or the tablecloth. Lena sets to work. Splitting the table with an axe wasn’t on Auntie’s list of forbidden things either. But for lack of strength, the child fails to carry out this plan – and suddenly feels really small. Luckily enough, with only a few »Oh my!«, aunt and niece manage to sew together the cut up pieces – and are reconciled. Next time she goes to town, however, Auntie will probably take Lena with her. The beginning of the funny story, based on a text by Danijl Charms, strongly reminds readers of Hoffmann’s Slovenly Peter. The end, though, is influenced by the 21century ideals of cooperative education. Large illustrations in a naive style accompany the text. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 2004 - 97
Walser, Robert (text)
Bhend, Käthi (illus.)
Einer, der nichts merkte
(Someone who didn’t notice anything)
Zürich : Atlantis, 2003.  p.
Man – Perception – Lack of interest
The short text, taken from Robert Walser’s book Der Spaziergang (The walk), originally published in 1917, seems like an omen of people’s isolation and lack of interest in the large or small things of the world. Naively and stubbornly, a man disregards everything that shapes his life: wife, children, possessions, environment. He knows nothing and feels nothing, loses everything, even – suddenly taken into a surreal setting – his head. Now he is indeed blind, deaf, and dumb. Luckily enough, an easy solution is at hand in the picture: Wife and children sew his head back onto his body. Nevertheless, this rescue is only shown in the picture and not confirmed by the text. Colourful panels in original planograph technique illustrate this profound tale and hint at its comical side. The text’s apparent simplicity and the sophisticated style of the illustrations make this book an exemplary story. (5+) ☼
France (French) - 2004 - 108
Dumortier, David (text)
Mellinette, Martine (illus.)
Ces gens qui sont des arbres
(Those people who are trees)
Chambon-sur-Lignon : Cheyne, 2003. 44 p.
(Poèmes pour grandir)
Man – Tree
This small collection of short, prose poems focuses on the topic of ‘trees’. Nevertheless, it is ‘humankind’ that the poems really reflect on. They are the result of a humorous discourse about people and trees, of how they are connected or may grow closer to each other. At the bottom of all this, you may often become aware of sensitively portrayed human and social phenomena, such as vanity, superficiality, poverty, or migration. The short poems, which may be interpreted in different ways depending on the readers’ backgrounds, are pleasantly embedded in collages of rainbow-coloured illustrations and scraps of copied telephone books. In accordance with the content of the texts, the illustrator again manages to underline the connection between man and nature. (10+) ☼
France (French) - 2004 - 112
Helft, Claude (text)
Jiang Hong, Chen (illus.)
Hatchiko, chien de Tokyo
(Hatchiko, a dog from Tokyo)
Paris : Desclée de Brouwer, 2003. 20 p.
(Petite collection clé)
Tokyo/1925 – Train station – Dog – Owner – Death – Loyalty
Tokyo 1925: Every day, Hatchiko the dog accompanies his owner to the railway station and waits for his return from work in the evening. When the old man suddenly dies of heart failure and does not return, Hatchiko waits in vain. Nonetheless, the dog sits at exactly the same spot every day until he, too, dies. The simple unobtrusive text and the illustrations, rendered in pen-and-ink drawings in subdued colours that play with light and shadows, paint an authentic picture of the time and place of the action and create a touching atmosphere. The story is a true story. After the dog’s death, people erected a life-size statue in front of the station. In today’s hectic city life, Hatchiko still awaits all those travellers whom nobody waits for as a symbol of loyalty. (5+) ☼
France (French) - 2004 - 113
Et si on comptait ...
Paris : Tourbillon, 2003.  p.
Numbers – Counting – Mathematics
1 child dressed as Santa Claus, 2 giraffes in the savanna, 2 happy parents with their child (2+1=3), 4 chairs in a snow-covered park, 5 differently shaped cucumbers, 3 pairs of dancing girls (2+2+2=6), ... This masterly arranged selection of photographs from the archives of the famous Magnum agency inspires toddlers to start counting and, on every other page, offers an easy sum that comments on the respective picture. 45 photographs in all, some black-and-white, others full of bright colours, encourage children to play with numbers and take a first step into mathematics. Moreover, this aesthetically appealing photographic picture book may introduce the youngest readers to the art of photography and the interpretation of pictures. (3+) ☼
Switzerland (French) - 2004 - 153
Salem-Marin, Anne (text)
Kroug, Simon (illus.)
Genève : Joie de Lire, 2003.  p.
Rumour – Thieve
When people claim that Madame Malika’s bracelet was stolen in the Turkish Bath, this rumour, which stems from nobody knows where and whom, spreads incredibly fast and feeds on exaggerations as well as distortions. Out of thin air, a description of the thief appears and becomes successively more elaborate: A man in slippers ..., with a beard ..., a foreigner with European clothes, tie, and striped trousers. And what if he is after the prince’s treasure chamber, too? Following the wellknown pattern of a rumour, the illustrations, supported by a short explanatory text, successfully depict the plot. The warm and light-hearted tone of the sepia-coloured illustrations corresponds to both the atmosphere of the Arabian setting and the ongoing talk’s ungraspable and ever-changing character. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Argentina (Spanish) - 2004 - 154
Auster, Paul (text)
Vera, Mariana (transl.)
El cuento de Navidad de Auggie Wren
(Auggie Wren’s Christmas story)
Buenos Aires : Ed. Sudamericana, 2003. 30 p.
Christmas – Old age – Loneliness – Lie – Trick – Deception – Compassion
This touching Christmas tale by the famous North American author was originally published in the New York Times in 1990. Later it was reused in the script for the film Smoke (1995). The story within a story tells of a tobacco shop owner in Brooklyn who tries to track down a thief. When he arrives at the thief’s flat, he only finds the man’s grandmother there. Not wanting to destroy the lonely and blind old woman’s illusion – she accidentally (or intentionally?) takes him for her grandson – the man joins in the pretend game and spends Christmas eve with her. For this story, the Argentinean artist Isol has created sophisticated and very original illustrations mainly in shades of brown. The rich detail invites readers to look at the pictures again and again to discover new things. Thanks to the unusual technique, a fascinating mixture of painted-over photographs and collage, the illustrations occasionally seem like three-dimensional little stages on which the tale is enacted. (9+) ☼
Special Mention - Norway (Norwegian) - 2004 - 189
Lunde, Stein Erik
Sanger fra rom 22
(Songs from room no. 22)
Oslo : Gyldendal Tiden, 2002. 200 p.
School – Classmate – Human relationship
This typical school novel tells the readers about the beginning of a normal school day and about all the boring daily events, such as school problems, love problems, dreams of a future etc. Luckily enough, Stein Erik Lunde’s ironic narrative style makes all this turn into a very amusing tale. Naturally, the author also describes how tough it can be to approach someone you love, especially if you are a little clumsy. The book arouses readers’ interest in literature. The author, who writes about everyday events in the lives of teenagers without resorting to stereotypes, is an experienced song-text writer and has already won some awards for the few teenage novels he has written so far. (13+) ☼
Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 3
Awa, Naoko (text)
Kitami, Yōko (illus.)
Nakushiteshimatta mahō no jikan
(The lost hours of magic)
Tokyo : Kaiseisha, 2004. 337 p.
(Awa Naoko Korekushon ; 1)
Meeting – Separation – Other world – Happiness – Loss – Literary fairy tale
When Naoko Awa died in 1993 at the age of 55, she left a huge legacy of literary fairy tales that have a lot of similarities with European ones and are of unique beauty. The book presented here is the first of a 7-volume bibliophile edition of Awa’s collected works containing 71 important tales and more than 40 essays. A characteristic feature of the author’s fairy tale world is that it often focuses on the fate of human beings, animals, and fantastic creatures and the painful meetings between their different worlds. All the protagonists, both real and imaginary, act like humans and in a very realistic way that creates a slightly melancholy mood. Awa’s art of story-telling is characterised by a clear and simple, very poetic language familiar to children. (12+) ☼
Special Mention - Republic of Korea (Korean) - 2005 - 20
Ra, Hyŏn Sŏen (text)
Che, So Ra (illus.)
To san sŏ wŏn
(The Tosan Temple)
Seoul : Chŏpang Chakpang, 2004.  p.
Temple – Meditation – Quietness – Function
This beautiful, unpretentious book for children and adults presents the life in a Korean monastery that was built in the 16th century by the well-known scholar Li Hăng. Entering the village of monks with its low roofs through the entrance gate, the readers are led from room to room by a detailed description. The precise drawing technique makes it easy to recognise the rooms for prayers, study, meditation, and worship. In addition, the book explains how heating and ventilation used to work and demonstrates the perfect play of light and shadow resulting from the traditional Korean art of building. This book introduces interested readers to a fairly quiet, ›un-hip‹, spiritual world. Full-page colour illustrations perfectly complement the text and imitate the East-Asian style and techniques. (8+) ☆ ☼
Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 36
The Usborne introduction to modern art
London : Usborne, 2004. 96 p. Internet-linked
Modern art – History – Development – Internet research
With the increasing popularity of the Internet, Usborne Publishing has created something completely new: Internet-linked books. Via their own Quicklinks Website, the publisher offers links to »recommended websites that complement and enhance the information in the book«. This »Introduction to Modern Art«, a particularly attractive example of the more than 200 Internet-linked Usborne titles so far, consists of bite-sized text passages and plenty of pictures and photographs tracing the development of the visual arts from the 1850s to the present. Complete with glossary and index, the eye-catching book invites children to satisfy their curiosity with additional up-to-date information provided by the selected Internet links. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2005 - 41
Ross, Tony (text/illus.)
Is it because?
London : Andersen Press, 2004.  p.
The new picture book by renowned illustrator Tony Ross tackles a delicate topic. Delivered in the artist’s characteristic style, the witty water colour illustrations offer an amusing interpretation of the simple, short verses. As the young readers witness how the spindly little boy and his pet dog wonder why on earth big Peregrine Ffrogg always bullies the boy, they slowly discover that every story has two different sides. Without providing an easy solution to the increasingly problematic issue of bullying (or any solution at all for that matter), Tony Ross skilfully manages to arouse the readers’ sympathy not only for the victim but also for the bully. This thought-provoking picture book will certainly help initiate fruitful discussions. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Ireland (English) - 2005 - 44
Cashman, Seamus (ed.)
Askin, Corrina (illus.)
Clarke, Alan (illus.)
Something beginning with P : new poems from Irish poets
Dublin : O’Brien Press, 2004. 160 p.
Children’s poetry – Anthology
This wonderful poetry collection features over 100 new poems by the crème de la crème of Irish poets such as Desmond Egan, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Seamus Heaney, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, and Gabriel Rosenstock, to name but a few. Written exclusively for this anthology, this colourful bunch of works offers a unique opportunity for children and adults alike to dive into the fascinating world of language. If the words alone make for a captivating read, the illustrations by Corrina Askin and Alan Clarke, some bold and bright, some soft and sensitive, turn this into a treasure of Ireland’s rich poetry that no one would want to miss. The appendix provides some useful English translations of the poems written in Irish, an alphabetical index of the poems (both first lines and titles), authors, and illustrators, as well as short biographical notes of all the artists who contributed to this splendid book. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2005 - 45
Aldana, Patricia (ed.)
Paterson, Katherine (foreword)
Dragland, Stan (transl.)
Under the spell of the moon : art for children from the world’s great illustrators
Toronto [et al.] : Douglas & McIntyre, 2004. 80 p.
(A Groundwood book)
Illustration – Children’s poetry – Multiculturality – Anthology
The idea behind this gorgeous anthology was to offer children a colourful selection of works by the best children’s book illustrators from all over the world and thus celebrate high quality international writing and illustration for children. Ranging from Mitsumsa Anno, Quentin Blake, Marie-Louise Gay, and Dušan Kállay to Peter Sís and Lisbeth Zwerger, each of the award-winning artists featuring in this collection chose a short text, poem, children’s verse, riddle, counting-out rhyme, etc. and illustrated this text on a double page. Texts are printed in the original language of the culture they come from and in an English translation. Part of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the organisation that – founded by Jella Lepman more than 50 years ago – is striving to fulfil its founder’s greatest dream of creating peace and understanding between people of different cultures through the best of children’s books. (4+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 52
Carryl, Charles Edward (text)
Santore, Charles (illus.)
The camel’s lament : a poem
New York : Random House, 2004.  p.
Animals – Comparison – Nonsense poetry
The crabby camel considers it a gross insult that all the other animals are favoured with delicious food, cosy homes, and a pleasing physique, whereas the world obviously couldn’t care less about the poor camel’s needs: »Anything does for me!« In this hilarious 19th century nonsense poem, published in picture book form for the first time, the complaints of the badly-treated desert denizen are uttered in a uniquely affected and sulky voice that immediately assures the readers’ compassion. Charles Santore’s large, bright animal portraits in warm colours set against a white background offer witty snapshots of the comfortable lives of various species. These homely scenes are contrasted with plain double spreads rendered in yellow-cream-brown shades showing the camel’s hard lot. With the odd tinge of exaggerated facial expression, the otherwise naturalistic pictures perfectly capture the verses’ ironic tone. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2005 - 54
New York : HarperCollins, 2004. 180 p.
(Joanna Cotler books)
Girl – Youth – Running – Everyday life – Grandfather – Friendship – Baby brother
In the past few years, verse novels for the young seem to have jumped up the popularity scale a fair bit – even to the extent that some readers are becoming fed up with that form of writing. Be that as it may, it would be a shame to miss out on Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech’s new contribution to this genre. Told in a unique poetic voice interspersed with witty side comments and footnotes, »Heartbeat« allows readers a glimpse into the life of 12-year-old Annie just when everything is about to change. With her mother pregnant, her beloved grandfather slowly falling apart, and her best friend Max growing distant and moody, running barefoot and listening to her heartbeat’s comforting »thump-thump« is one thing the amiable and optimistic heroine can still rely on. (10+) ☼
Austria (German) - 2005 - 63
Bansch, Helga (text/illus.)
Frau Bund und Hund
(Mrs. Fogg and Dog)
Wien : Jungbrunnen, 2004.  p.
Dog – Tidiness – Love – Chaos – Happiness
Ultra-tidy Mrs. Fogg has an ultra-well-behaved dog who is fairly happy without running around on the grass or playing with other dogs and with only being taken out, on the leash, to do his business three times a day. One day, however, a wild, unruly, redhaired »bitch« (as Mrs. Fogg calls her) kidnaps the »good boy«. He temporarily disappears without a trace. Mrs. Bund and her neighbour Mr. Cheerful start searching for him and get along very well. Eventually, Dog returns together with the »bitch« and – so what – they both decide to stay with Mrs. Bund. And so does Mr. Cheerful. A picture story about tidiness and love. Text and pictures perfectly complement each other with their characteristic subtle details. (4+) ☼
Austria (German) - 2005 - 68
Wellinger, Alice (text/illus.)
Ich hab ein Zimmer frei
(I have a room to rent)
St. Pölten [et al.] : NP, 2004.  p.
Girl – Wish
Anna really longs to have the (unfortunately very expensive) red boots she’s spotted in a mail order catalogue. But where to get the money for them? Well, she could let a room of her large house. Yet, all her tenants (a goose, a carnival princess, a giraffe, etc.) are anything but well-heeled so that she actually spends more money on them than she earns. Anna is almost resigned to give up her heart’s desire, when one day all her dodgy but grateful tenants offer her a present: the beloved boots. They are gorgeous – but a bit too small by now! This can only mean that Anna is growing up. Large, surrealistic colour-pencil drawings hover between dream-world and reality. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2005 - 89
Traxler, Hans (text/illus.)
Komm, Emil, wir gehn heim!
(Come on, Emil, we’re going home!)
München [et al.] : Hanser, 2004.  p.
Old age – Poverty – Pet – Rescue – Village community – Assistance
Old Martha and Emil, the piglet, live together in a mountain hut – it’s a tough life, far from human company, poor, hard-working, but wonderful nevertheless. One autumn, when they walk down into the valley, apparently without any particular reason, at least in Emil’s opinion, he becomes suspicious – and rightly so. He witnesses how pigs enter a huge house alive on one side. On the opposite side, strange men carry out pig halves. Martha watches them for a while, thinking hard, then the two of them turn around and walk home again. Luckily enough, there is still no lack of help when the old woman suffers from illness and cold: The village people take care of her as she becomes weaker and weaker. And Emil, the fat piglet, is certainly the one who is most relieved about this. The artist tells this unusual tale with a lot of warmth in caricature-like pictures. (4+) ☼
Switzerland (German) - 2005 - 91
Baltscheit, Martin (text/illus.)
Schwarz, Christine (illus.)
Gold für den Pinguin
(Gold for the penguin)
Zürich : Bajazzo, 2004.  p.
Animals – Olympic games – Magnanimity
Any person’s high performance in sports pales in comparison to that of animals. While humans have to train very hard, animals would (and in this picture book do) win Olympic medals without even preparing for them: penguins for swimming, bears for the shot put, emus for long distance running, etc. In the end, all the medals are awarded to the animals while the humans are left with absolutely nothing. However, the winners are deeply touched by their competitors’ desperation and magnanimously offer their medals to them. Having been part of the Games was the most important aspect anyway and all they wanted was the chance to put things into perspective again. The illustrations present animal and human plasticine figures that get along quite well thanks to the animals’ generosity. (6+) ☼
Switzerland (German) - 2005 - 93
Lins, Bernhard (text)
Sottler, Alenka (illus.)
Willi wünscht sich einen Bruder : eine Geschichte
(Willi wants to have a brother : a story)
Zürich : Bohem Press, 2004.  p.
Siblings – Family addition
A strong, big brother – that’s what Willi really wants. Instead, he gets a little sister who is allowed to do everything that Willi is said to be too big for now: She makes a mess – Mama cleans up after her. She doesn’t want to go to bed – Granny tells her one bedtime-story after the other, etc. Unfortunately, the sister grows up ever so slowly, but one day the boy realises that he himself is now the strong big brother and he comes to enjoy his new position. He builds a tepee with Lisa, they climb the apple tree together, and paddle around in their rubber boat. Without concealing the boy’s initial frustration, both the text and the large pictures, painted in strong colours in a pointillist style, describe how the difficult family situation ends happily. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 2005 - 95
Olten, Manuela (text/illus.)
Echte Kerle : ein Buch
(Tough guys : a book)
Zürich : Bajazzo, 2004.  p.
Boy – Girl – Sexual difference – Gender role
Sure! Boys are tough guys. Especially when they are together, they feel strong and they love to voice their opinion about these totally boring cowardly girls who do nothing but comb their dolls’ hair, dress them, and undress them, dress them, undress them… and who are afraid of ghosts! They are so chicken, they wet themselves! Oops... Suddenly the bragging boys’ courage vanishes into thin air. Do ghosts exist after all? Maybe even here? Quietly and discretely, the boys make themselves scarce. Large, powerful, humorous pictures accompany this never-ending story about the differences between the stronger (?) and the weaker (?) sex. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 2005 - 97
Schärer, Kathrin (text/illus.)
Wenn Fuchs und Hase sich Gute Nacht sagen
(When fox and hare wish each other »good night«)
Zürich : Atlantis, 2004.  p.
Fox – Hare – Threat to life – Trick – Rescue
No sooner does Little Hare realise that he is lost than Fox appears to gobble him up. Yet, hares are truly clever animals and so the little chap successfully prevents Fox’s bad deed: by tricking him into tucking him in, reading him a bedtime story, and singing a lullaby – until the fox grows tired and falls asleep. Help is at hand. Father and Mother Hare are coming home. They don’t even beat up the sleeping intruder, but instead take him outside on the grass and wish him a good night’s rest. This book illustrates how you might save your life in a dangerous situation by resorting to tricks. The slightly caricaturesque pictures show a clever mite and an overly greedy giant who grossly underestimates the potential victim’s intelligence. (3+) ☼
France (French) - 2005 - 103
Alemagna, Beatrice (text/illus.)
Histoire courte d’une goutte
(Short tale of a drop of water)
Paris : Éd. Autrement Jeunesse, 2004.  p.
Water drop – Life – Disappearance
A drop of water is not merely a drop of water. It is full of life. Before quickly evaporating on the pavement, it goes on a colourful and adventurous journey. »How many things exist that disappear again before anyone has had the time to see them properly?« – This is how the quiet, sensitive tale ends. Its text – sometimes poetic and melodious, sometimes energetic, or brief and succinct – accompanies the drop on its way. The large illustrations enable readers to dive into a fantastic imaginative world. The artist’s impressive and creative use of various techniques, materials, and colours results in numerous interesting details well worth to be discovered. As an additional treat, a beautiful print by Beatrice Alemagna is enclosed with each book. (4+) ☼
France (French) - 2005 - 106
Deshors, Sylvie (text)
Sicaud, Natacha (illus.)
Des jours blancs
Rodez : Éd. du Rouergue, 2004. 73 p.
Mother – Depression – Daughter – Independence
»You are the most beautiful butterfly,« Lalou writes to her mother because she is often distant and unreachable for the girl. Lalou’s mother suffers from severe depression. She »flies« from one mood into the next and thus the girl witnesses »red days«, when the mother is hyperactive, »black days«, when she sleeps all day long, and »white days«, when she goes into hospital. Very bravely, the girl manages the odd day alone and is warmly received by a neighbouring couple. The first-person narrator’s simple language is particularly moving because of the daughter’s tender words to her mother. The minimalist black-and-white drawings further add to the touching tone of the little book. (10+) ☼
France (French) - 2005 - 108
Douzou, Olivier (text/illus.)
[Nantes] : Éd. MeMo, 2004.  p.
(Collection tout-petits MeMômes)
Hedgehog – Present – Balloon – Cactus
Mik, the little hedgehog, has a problem: He is definitely not happy with his birthday presents. A game called spillikins, a soft toy, and a comb are no replacements for what he wants most: a soft round balloon. Mik sulks – and is finally granted his wish. Yet, when a spiky hedgehog plays with a balloon, it isn’t long before the inevitable happens ... The short and easy text and the compact illustrations try to get to the bottom of why children are always attracted to exactly those things that their parents consider silly or dangerous. The high-quality book-design lends additional expressive power to the soft red-orange-brown shades of colour inside the illustrations set against a yellow background. (3+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 2005 - 113
Louis, Catherine (illus.)
Shi, Bo (calligraphies)
Mon imagier chinois
(My Chinese picture-dictionary)
Arles : Picquier, 2004. [ca. 206] p.
Chinese character – Ideogram
The China-Year in France (2003/2004) has also left some marks on French children’s literature. In this picture-dictionary, even the youngest children are given an introduction to Chinese characters and their origin. On the left-hand pages, calligraphies of the old and the modern characters, as well as their meaning and pronunciation are displayed. On the corresponding right-hand pages, the ideograms are interpreted through lino-cuts on coloured paper that have a striking resemblance to the real character. Readers will be fascinated as they follow the path of the original object from its early character to the present one. The fact that Chinese characters do not represent sounds but refer to concrete concepts will certainly arouse the readers’ curiosity about Chinese writing and culture. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2005 - 142
Ventura, Antonio (text)
Novoa, Teresa (illus.)
Dos lobos blancos
(Two white wolves)
Zaragoza : Edelvives, 2004.  p.
Winter – Wolf – Help
A starry winter night; snow-covered woods and mountains; two wolves following the call of a wounded female companion. With few words and cleverly selected voids that leave ample room for the readers’ and listeners’ imagination, Antonio Ventura creates a simple story that radiates with an almost archaic atmosphere reminiscent of ancient myths. The poetic power of the text also emanates from Teresa Novoa’s breath-taking pictures that stand out for their vastness and their fascinating perspectives. Readers can actually feel the impenetrable depth of the black-green night sky, the pale-grey coldness of the dawn, and the quiet loneliness of the forest in this exquisite picture book. (5+) ☼
Mexico (Spanish) - 2005 - 163
Secreto de familia
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2003.  p.
Morning – Hairstyle – Mess
One morning, a little girl makes a shocking discovery: Her mother is actually a porcupine. That’s the only plausible explanation for why her hair is poking in all directions when she gets up. To soothe her nerves, the child spends a night at her friend Elisa’s house. But there, it’s even worse: The next morning she is surrounded by a sleepy family of bears with wild shaggy fur. In this picture book, the Argentinean illustrator once again perfectly proves her characteristic skill of discovering weird and magical elements beneath the surface of everyday events. The dynamic, witty illustrations perfectly mirror the humorous and screwy tone of the story. (5+) ☼
Canada (French) - 2005 - 166
Davidts, Jean-Pierre (text)
Cloutier, Claude (illus.)
Les mésaventures du roi Léon : Gros Bedon
(The misfortunes of the lion king : Big Belly)
[Montréal] : Boréal, 2004. 54 p.
Corpulence – Overweight – Diet – Medicine
Thos book clearly illustrates the king’s ›weighty‹ problem. The glutton suffers from the »V.P.S.O.- syndrome« – »Voit plus ses orteils« (Doesn’t see his toes anymore). One of the three ›grand doctors‹, the llama Juscul, insists that if he wants to be the judge of the cake-competition at the baker’s festival, the lion king needs to go on a diet. Assisted by simple black-and-white drawings, the text portrays the animals as charming and humorous figures. In an entertaining yet sensitive manner, they send out a message that is explained in more detail in the short appendix: Just like the king, numerous children are too fat because they do neither eat a balanced diet nor stop themselves when they’ve had enough. (6+) ☼
Canada (French) - 2005 - 169
Leblanc, Louise (text)
Favreau, Marie-Claude (illus.)
Le chevalier de l’alphabet
(The knight of the alphabet)
Montréal (Québec) : Courte Échelle, 2004.  p.
School – Alphabet – Letters – Reading – Illiteracy
As soon as Ludovic starts school, his life is determined by a single nightmare: the alphabet. Letters whirl around in his head and even start attacking him. When the boy confides in his grandfather, the old man admits that he himself can neither read nor write. With a lot of humour, this picture book tackles a delicate topic that a lot of children are faced with when they start school. The comic-like figures and the colourful letters mirror the little hero’s problems in an entertaining way. With the help of his grandfather, Ludovic conquers the alphabet like a brave knight – and what could be more suitable than to start with the letter »V« for »Victory«? (4+) ☼
Sweden (Swedish) - 2005 - 194
Ortman, Lisa Berg (text)
Kapparath, Madhu (photogr.)
Pooja från New Delhi i Indien
(Pooja from New Delhi in India)
Stockholm : LL-Förl., 2004. 96 p.
(Barn i världen)
India – Child – Everyday life
Books describing the life of children in other countries are usually published as a series to present as many different cultures as possible. After 1945, a lot of committed publishing houses and authors had a strong desire to promote a better understanding between people with their books – and they still do so today. A lot of these books are of astonishingly high quality. So far, the present series by the publishing house LL, which particularly caters for children and adults with reading difficulties, encompasses four titles. In a comfortable small landscape format, these books offer an insight into other people’s daily life through a careful selection of high-quality photographs. A few lines of text, simple yet precise, give just the right amount of information. (10+) ☆ ☼
Croatia (Croatian) - 2005 - 200
41,5°C ili Kralj cijelog svijeta
(41.5° Celsius or : King of the whole world)
Zagreb : Autorska kuća, 2003. 362 p.
(Biblioteka Novi grafiti)
Boy – Parents – Journey – Everyday life
13-year-old Branimir, who – just like all adolescents – considers himself the king of the world, talks about his life in a very authentic teenage voice. Abruptly jumping from one idea to the next, the boy draws the readers into the story and hardly allows them to breathe. Branimir’s mother, who longs to become an astronaut, travels to the USA with the whole family and visits the NASA space station. Only Branimir has to stay home with his little brother who is ill with measles. This situation leads to various problems and conflicts with people »who think with their fists« among others. Naturally, the protagonist-cum-narrator also falls in love and then – to make matters worse – his sweetheart’s brother interferes. (12+) ☼
Australia (English) - 2006 - 27
Godwin, Jane (text)
Zak, Drahos (illus.)
The true story of Mary who wanted to stand on her head
Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2005. 47 p.
Girl Otherness – Punishment – Rebellion – Happiness
Mary would simply be an ordinary and amiable little girl if it wasn’t for her peculiar determination to stand on her head forever. Neither of the stern doctors’ and teachers’ cruel remedies proves to be effective, so the desperate parents eventually agree to desert her in the desert – where the unruly child immediately befriends a camel, a mouse, and a lizard and happily spends her days looking at the world upside down. This witty and absurd tale in 31 verses follows in the footsteps of Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, and Edward Gorey, the masters of nonsense poetry. It is completed by ingenious, darkish mixed-media illustrations and vignettes in all possible sizes, which perfectly capture the mood of the story. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 39
Gravett, Emily (text/illus.)
London [et al.] : Macmillan Children’s Books, 2005.  p.
Rabbit Library – Book – Wolf – Danger
In this extraordinary picture book debut by Emily Gravett, a rabbit walks into the local library and burrows sorry, borrows – a book about wolves. Walking around with his nose in the beautiful red cloth-bound volume, the little mammal doesn’t notice the dangerous carnivore step out of the book. And neither does he sense it looming behind him until it is too late – or is it? Brimming with witty word play, hilarious details, and clever metafictional elements, the short informative text is accompanied by sketchy black-and-white charcoal illustrations depicting the huge, hungry wolf, while black-and-cream drawings and red collage elements present the little rabbit and his book. The powerful pictures, which tell a gripping story almost contradicting the rather harmless text, culminate in a (potentially) frightening scenario – but also offer an alternative, happily-ever-after ending for the more sensitive readers. This is a must-have for young and old picture book lovers. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 41
Stower, Adam (text/illus.)
Slam! : a tale of consequences
Dorking, Surrey : Templar, 2005.  p.
(A Templar book)
Boy Carelessness – Chain of events – Chaos
Sometimes, little causes have dramatic effects. Yet, who would have thought that a carelessly slammed front door could cause such a havoc? The beginning of this large, square, (almost) textless picture book, presents an ordinary street in an ordinary town on an ordinary day. A boy steps out of the house immersed in a magazine. As his ears are covered with headphones, he obviously doesn’t hear the warning »Don’t slam the…!« and, completely unawares, he literally sets the ball rolling. Illustrated in brush, ink, and watercolour in a comic-book-like style, the increasingly chaotic pictures are brimming with details. They invite readers to enjoy this absurd, fantastical story, look again and again and discover hilarious little tales within the tale. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 2006 - 42
Thaxton, Giles (text)
Baines, Nigel (illus.)
Spud goes green : [the diary of my year as a greenie]
London : Egmont, 2006.  p.
Boy Environmental awareness – Recycling
This droll, square little volume is a cross between funny fictional diary and practical guide about environment-friendly behaviour. It presents the story of young Spud, who decides to become a »friend-of-the-planet and looker-afterer-of-nature «, and his resourceful neighbour Adi, who comes up with tons of hands-on suggestions for »going green«. Unlike conventional non-fiction books about the protection of our environment, this amusing account does not only offer step-bystep instructions about how to create a bird table, build a pond, recycle rubbish, or plant seeds, it also includes interesting »Facts of the day«, witty asides, and bright, completely silly, cartoon-like illustrations, which will make readers dissolve into giggles. (8+) ☼
USA (English) - 2006 - 59
Poole, Josephine (text)
Barrett, Angela (illus.)
Anne Frank : a picture-book biography
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.  p.
(A Borzoi book)
ISBN 0-375-83242-4 / -93242-9
(orig. publ. by Hutchinson, London 2005)
Frank, Anne Amsterdam – World War II – Persecution of the Jews
After two other highly praised picture book collaborations (»Snow White« and »Joan of Arc«), Josephine Poole and Angela Barrett have taken on a much more serious topic in this book: The quiet, matter-of-fact narrative follows the life of Anne and her family from her birth until they are discovered in their secret hiding place in Germano-ccupied Amsterdam and deported. The realistic paintings in darkish, subdued shades of colour mainly focus on Anne but also allow (unusual) snapshots of the daily life of persecuted Jews during the Second World War. This touching book offers an intriguing first introduction to the life of Anne Frank familiar to readers world-wide thanks to her famous diary. (8+) ☆ ☼
Austria (German) - 2006 - 63
Janisch, Heinz (text)
Goedelt, Marion (illus.)
(Three birch trees)
St. Pölten [et al.] : NP, 2005.  p.
Birch Environmental protection
Three birch trees, a few children, some books and their heroes these are the protagonists of this poetic fairy-tale-picture-book. The trees are eager to travel the world. On their long journey, however, they do not find any place where they feel comfortable enough to stay: neither in the city, nor by the polluted lake, on the torn-up hills, or on the dirty, abandoned playground. Eventually, they take a rest at the green picnic area with friendly people who read and play. Afterwards, they return home. During their journey, they do not grumble or explain why they do not like some things. They simply leave. This implicit criticism is easy to understand even for a small child. Delicate yet expressive pictures accompany the subdued text. (4+) ☼
Austria (German) - 2006 - 65
Schneider, Karla (text)
Kehlenbeck, Angela (illus.)
Kapitän Nemo taucht auf
(Captain Nemo returns to the surface)
St. Pölten [et al.] : NP, 2005.  p.
Man Dog – Friendship – Submarine – Escapism – Return
A rich old man is fed up with people in general and has a huge submarine built for himself to descend into the depth of the ocean with his little dog. Yet, the isolated life becomes unbearable for both of them after a while, especially for the dog (no sun, no trees, and only boring smells on board). The man feels sorry for his little companion, and therefore they tentatively return to the surface, just when the sun breaks through the clouds. Dog and man take a deep breath and happier than before their journey – step ashore. Pencil drawings and collages in delicate colours on coloured pages make readers feel the vastness of the ocean and the sweetness of the air after their return. (6+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2006 - 68
Baltscheit, Martin (text)
K., Ulf (illus.)
Leuchte, Turm, leuchte
(Light up, House, light up!)
Leipzig [et al.] : Altberliner, 2005.  p.
Friendship Separation – Reunion
Jan, the lighthouse, and Sven, the lighthouse keeper, are good friends. They work together to steer ships safely into the harbour. One day, however, the wide ocean and beautiful Eleonora lure Sven away from the island and Jan is left behind alone. When Jan cannot take it any longer, he sets off to find Sven in vain. But then all the stranded ships start tooting their horns to call the three of them back to the island. The authors have dedicated their book »to friendship that gets lost sometimes in order to be recovered in an even more exciting way.« Full-page, computer-animated pictures with clear, broad shapes are reminiscent of the picture books by Gertrud Casparis who became famous almost 100 years ago as the originator of the socalled »Kleinkinderstil« (toddler-style). (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2006 - 70
Berner, Rotraut Susanne (text/illus.)
Ach nein Und wenn schon! : eine Geschichte von Menschen und Hühnern
(Oh no So what! : a tale of humans and chicken)
München [et al.] : Hanser, 2005.  p.
Siblings Difference – Optimism – Pessimism
Black Hen, the more optimistic of two sisters, persuades pessimistic White Hen to go on an outing together. She counters each of her sister’s objections with »So what!« and offers a simple solution to the supposed problem. So the two hens have a wonderful day together. By the time it starts raining at night, White Hen has learned her lesson: »So what!« she says and covers her head with a book. True, this may not be what books are for, but for a book within a book anything is permitted. »So what!« the readers might say. The text is short and concise, yet as powerful as the pictures. It’s amazing how simple and easy to understand and follow some alternatives for a happier (or a sulkier) life can be. (4+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2006 - 77
Janisch, Heinz (text)
Blau, Aljoscha (illus.)
Berlin : Aufbau, 2005. 32 p.
Boy Grandfather – Childhood memories – Storytelling – Imagination
The most important sentence in this extremely quiet and contemplative book about the love between a young boy and his grandfather is: »And if my grandfather says so, it must be true.« It doesn’t matter whether the adventures and deeds described are outright fantastic grandfather would never lie. The young (and later older) man’s positively glowing »red cheeks« serve as the motto for this book. Full-page pictures, almost surreal in their calmness and broadness, underline the fantastic elements of the tales. The text is set in hand-printed letters on lined paper, similar to a pupil’s exercise book. This design completes the impression of a real childhood remembered. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2006 - 81
Meschenmoser, Sebastian (text/illus.)
(Learning to fly)
Esslingen : Esslinger, 2005.  p.
Penguin Flying – Trainability – Group cohesion – Assistance
An allegedly »crashed« penguin meets a man, who tries his best to help his fosterling train his maybe-existent flying abilities, but in vain. Neither the various sophisticated practical devices, nor extensive theoretical studies make a difference, until, one day, a flock of birds penguins? – crosses the sky above them, and the crashed one follows them. »He was a good flyer, for a penguin«, the text reads sounding like a sad farewell. The small book offers enough space for detailed, partly coloured pencil drawings of all the creative efforts that man and animal undertake together, and for a thoughtful text, which does not verbalise everything but still makes a strong statement: A group will support and carry each single member – even if it seems highly unlikely. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2006 - 92
Tille, Peter (text)
Bofinger, Manfred (illus.)
Einstein mit der Geige
(Einstein with the violin)
Berlin : Eulenspiegel, 2005.  p.
Einstein, Albert Theory of relativity
People say that truly great ideas and revolutionary theories are usually simple (though not simplistic). The topic of this small picture book, which so-tospeak watches Albert Einstein think, is a formula that, of course, only seems simple: E=mc². The central problem discussed here is the time it takes to travel a certain distance: If the professor walks from A to B, he counts to 10 ten times before he arrives what a long journey. If, however, he goes the same distance by car, he only counts to 10 once – a short trip indeed! But which of the two statements is correct? Very clearly and with a lot of wit, the pictures and the logical text prove that both are true – depending on the preconditions. This book is an entertaining contribution to the Einstein-year 2005. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 2006 - 97
Merz, Klaus (text)
Binder, Hannes (illus.)
Kunos grosse Fahrt
(Kuno’s long journey)
Gossau Zürich : Nord-Süd, 2005.  p.
Scooter Helmet – Globe – Imaginary journey
A motorbike helmet painted like the globe makes a young boy set off on a fantasy trip around the world on his scooter. Dressed in his red sweater, he passes black-and-white cities and sceneries, encounters many people and ways of life. He plans to travel all around the globe starting at the North Pole and has decided to accept full responsibility for his adventure. When he returns home just after midnight after a journey of self discovery – his parents eagerly await him. The impressive wood cuts make the readers hear the whirring of the scooter’s wheels and feel the boy’s determination to become independent. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 2006 - 101
Waechter, Friedrich Karl (adapt./illus.)
Prinz Hamlet : frei nach William Shakespeare
(Prince Hamlet : based loosely on the play by William Shakespeare)
Zürich : Diogenes, 2005. 63 p.
William Shakespeare / Hamlet Adaptation
This picture book for young adults is based on Shakespeare’s famous play »Hamlet«. Two characters belonging to the nursery world Teddy Bear and Mr. Punch – are trying to cheer up the sad prince. They discover his love for Ophelia and her father’s intrigue. They stage the play »The Mousetrap« for the king and convict the former king’s murderers. However, they do not manage to bring the two lovers together because they are both victims of the intrigue at court and the resulting events. In this book, Friedrich Karl Waechter adapts the classic theme to create a tale from and on large-format text- and picture-collages. His pencil and colour-pencil drawings perfectly complement the abbreviated yet highly dramatic plot. (14+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 2006 - 123
Schneider, Christine (text)
Pinel, Hervé (illus.)
Toujours dans la lune!
(Always with his head in the clouds!)
Paris : Albin Michel Jeunesse, 2005.  p.
Dream Colour – Teacher
Pierrot tells his mother about his »dream in red and green«: He drives along in a red car and the fire-fighters are green with envy. He flies around in a red plane and the birds are green with envy. He travels to the moon in his red rocket and ... the stars turn green with fear. Up on the moon, he meets his teacher. She, too, is green, very green, but turns red with rage when she shouts at him: »With your head in the clouds as usual, Pierrot. Come back to earth!« This picture book transports readers into the world of a child’s dream, a dream between nightmare and wishful thinking, with a simple but elaborate text and expressive pictures of intense colours. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - France (French) - 2006 - 124
Vantal, Anne (text)
Baas, Thomas (illus.)
Je hais la comtesse
(I hate the countess)
Arles : Actes Sud Junior, 2005. 76 p.
(Les premiers romans) (Cadet )
Mother Children – Order – Intrigue
Madeleine, Camille, and Paul are fed up with the eccentricities of their mother who, on top of being the perfect housewife and mother, is an ardent admirer of the Countess of Ségur. The three children don’t want to wear filly frocks or shiny shoes with bows, they long for T-shirts and trainers. During the holidays, the siblings start their operation »I hate the countess«. With all kinds of pranks and jokes, they strive to make their mother see sense. Eventually, the »conspiracy« is successful and the mother (still perfect, of course) starts to understand her offspring’s behaviour. This comprehensible and humorous book describes how the three children fight for some independence from their overprotective mother. (7+) ☼
Special Mention - Argentina (Spanish) - 2006 - 155
Masetto, Antonio dal
Tres genias en la magnolia
(Three geniuses in the magnolia)
Buenos Aires : Ed. Sudamericana, 2005. 247 p.
(Sudamericana joven : Novela)
The protagonists of this novel are three elevenyear- old girls, who live in an ordinary quarter of Buenos Aires. If they want to be undisturbed, the three friends retreat to a magnolia tree. This mysterious place, where reality and imagination blend, books whose content is found to contribute to an international understanding among cultures and peoples books with texts but nonetheless complex and high-interest topics also serves as the base from which they explore their surroundings. Step by step, they investigate the world and feel hurt and disillusioned when their experiences open their eyes to the rules and realities of the adult world, which is ruled by corruption, greed, and falseness, while values such as truth and justice seem to be of minor importance. This excellent novel for teenagers and adults bluntly and convincingly portrays modern society and stands out for its skilful use of language. (12+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Mexico (Spanish) - 2006 - 166
La mosca : [en: »Un día perfecto puede llegar a ser una pesadilla«]
(The fly [in: »A perfect day can turn into a nightmare «])
México, D.F. : Abrapalabra, 2005.  p.
(parallel edition by Ed. Serres, Barcelona / Spain)
Fly Excursion – Habitat – Perspective
A fly as the protagonist of a children’s book? Yes, it is possible. In this highly comic picture book, a representative of this inconspicuous species makes a spectacular appearance. The readers join the cheerful insect, well-equipped with bath towel, ball, and sun screen, for an outing. Yet suddenly the relaxed beach fun turns into a horror trip. The sky turns black, a huge »meteorite« crashes into the water, and the fly only just manages to seek shelter from a gurgling mega-maelstrom. Well, such a catastrophe is bound to happen when human beings and animals share the same »habitat«, in this case, the toilet bowl. This crazy tale is told with a lot of wit and intelligence. Right until the very surprising end, it consistently sticks to the unsuspecting fly’s point of view. The refreshing illustrations, painted, torn, and glued together with energy and enormous imagination, skilfully play with film-elements such as extreme perspective, blow-ups, or the »actor’s« direct stare into the »camera«. A truly delightful picture book! (4+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 2006 - 175
Gyldenkærne, Nanna (ed.)
Drengen der gik over gevind og andre eventyrlige historier
(The boy who went mad and other adventurous stories)
København : Den Gode Historie, 2005. 156 p.
Short story Fantasy – Anthology
This anthology contains twelve tales and a comic-book-like story: everyday stories suddenly invaded by The Unbelievable, fairy tales, tall tales, and science fiction. They are supposed to whet a child’s appetite for reading. The book was published on the occasion of the festival »The good story«, which was held all over Denmark in 2005 as a reading promotion event. The participating well-known Danish authors, among them Kåre Bluitgen, Louis Jensen, Hanne Kvist, Carls Quist Møller, Peter Mouritzen and Daniel Zimakoff, were commissioned to write an adventure story especially for this anthology. The illustrations for the various tales were created by the best Danish artists such as L. Brøgger, K. Raagaard, and J. Ranheimsæter. (9+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 2006 - 177
Schlosser, Dan (text)
Ranheimsæter, Jon (illus.)
Historien om Lille Blege Johnny
(The story of Little Pale Johnny)
København : Forum, 2005. 54 p.
Child Ambition – Mobbing
A neglected, pale little boy devoid of any self-confidence asks his parents to give him a hip leather outfit to be able to show off on the street. The rough and violent street boys, however, quickly rob him of his fashionable new clothes. Yet, when they start arguing about who is the coolest guy now, Johnny manages to regain hold of his things one by one. The boys beat each other up until they dissolve into an indistinguishable mess of »hamburger-dressing«, which the greedy father immediately picks up and uses for a huge feast of meatballs, fries, and blinis. Despite all its grotesque elements e.g. the greedy father in front of the TV is simply hilarious – this witty parody of the well-known »Story of little black Sambo« by Helen Bannerman contains obvious elements of social criticism. (10+) ☆ ☼
Norway (Norwegian) - 2006 - 187
PS. Hils morfar!
(PS: Say hello to Grandpa!)
[Oslo] : Cappelen, 2005. 40 p.
Child Daily life
The great variety and audacity of Norwegian picture books, made possible through the support received from the Norwegian Arts Council, surprises their readers again and again. For years, Fam Ekman has built up a reputation for creating extraordinary picture books. Provided that they actually get into the hands of children, not only those of adults, they present the manifold ways of graphical expression to them and can inspire a child’s creativity. In this book, a young girl writes to her grandfather telling him of her various ›adventures‹. Surreal collages provide an interestingly distorted perspective on the daily routine. The little volume by Ragnar Aalbu »Grundig om gris« (Basic facts about pigs) published by the same publisher in 2005 is another example of exceptional book art. (6+) ☼
Norway (Norwegian) - 2006 - 189
Østgaard, Anne (text)
Bråthen, Ciri Tutkovin (illus.)
[Oslo] : Damm & Søn, 2004.  p.
Anorexia Throwing up
In Scandinavian countries, people often come up with fairly unconventional ways to help children cope with life’s problems. With this small picture book, authors and publisher strive to coax children with anorexia out of their isolation and take the suffering they desperately try to hide to a neutral level. To reach this aim, they offer a drastic depiction of the consequences of Magda’s frequent bouts of puking, which do not only render the toilet completely useless but also thoroughly shock her parents and friends. In the end, she (or rather the author) comes up with the absurd idea of putting the half-digested contents of her stomach into the freezer and selling it as topping for pizza. Transforming mundane and sad matters into something grotesque may perhaps be the right way to »de-dramatise« them. (6+) ☼
Sweden (Swedish) - 2006 - 192
(The second team)
Stockholm : Bonnier Carlsen, 2005. 165 p.
Just as someone who curiously peeps into a horse book for girls to get an idea what this incomprehensible horse-world is like, so a football ignoramus may draw some unexpected wisdom about football from this book. It’s not all about the pleasures of playing oh no. The author, himself a football coach of teenagers, also dares to voice some criticism about ambitious local clubs that dream of success without any consideration for their young players. Two small town clubs join forces to hit it big. By nominating an elite team, they create enormous pressure, which almost scotches the joy of playing for the ones excluded. Yet, one coach instils a new sense of confidence into this »bunch of losers«. Despite the happy ending, the criticism of a commercialisation of football is very palpable in this book. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 2006 - 196
Stalfelt, Pernilla (text/illus.)
(The violence book)
Stockholm : Eriksson & Lindgren, 2005.  p.
Creating yet another provocation after her books about poop, death, dicks, worms, and love must certainly be boring. But no! Pernilla Stalfelt has now employed her talent for visualising and explaining unpleasant or embarrassing topics in order to solve an urgent problem. She shows various types of violence, and despite the amusing drawings, the readers feel hardly inclined to laugh when they witness somebody being stabbed with a needle, or a town being reduced to rubble in a war. However, Stalfelt’s sense of humour often helps readers to endure the terrible events and smile about a flattened fly or a man furious that he cannot open a glass of jam (the topic, in this case, is »necessary violence«). In addition, the illustrator also shows the opposite of violence: humans talking to and caressing each other, helping others, listening, etc. Therefore, this book about violence is actually an impressive plea for peace and understanding. intl-understaning (8+) ☼
Special Mention - The Netherlands (Dutch) - 2006 - 227
Westera, Bette (text)
Haeringen, Annemarie van (illus.)
Scholten van Aschat, Gijs (narration)
Haarlem : Gottmer, 2005.  p. + 1 CD
(Universal kindercollectie klassiek)
Stravinsky, Igor / The Firebird
This volume, part of a series of well-written, beautiful little picture books that introduce the highlights of classical music to young children, presents Igor Stravinsky’s story about Prince Ivan who quarrels with the giant Kashchei. In an , but very engaging text, the author easily captures the plot and atmosphere of the complicated original story. The detailed illustrations perfectly match the text and add an extra dimension to the story. On the enclosed CD, the story is clearly and vividly read aloud, accompanied by a recording of the music from 1974 conducted by Bernard Haitink. This picture book proves that classical music can be introduced to children in a modern and interesting way. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 14
Tōkyo Kodomo Toshokan hen (ed.)
Ōkoso Reiko (illus.)
Ame nochi hare
(After the rain, the sun comes out)
Tōkyō : Tōkyō Kodomo Toshokan, 2005. 174 p.
(Aizōban ohanashi no rōsoku; 7)
Fairy tale – Storytelling
Volume Seven of the »Candlelight Stories«, a series of bibliophile anthologies, presents – among other things – a Japanese version of »Cinderella« called »Nukafuku Komefuku« (The farmer’s daughters Rice-Bran-Luck and Rice-Luck). Beautiful Rice-Bran-Luck achieves happiness not only thanks to her sock but also because she wins a poetry contest against her sister; this is an interesting contrast to the European variants of this tale. The fairy tales included in this book have been adapted by Kyōko Matsuoka, the head of the Tokyo Children’s Library, and her colleagues. The team draw on their extensive experience in storytelling to make the tales more attractive to the audience. The whole series is a wonderful reading experience for children and other fairy tale lovers. (9+) ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2007 - 30
Tan, Shaun (illus.)
Melbourne : Lothian Books, 2006.  p.
Journey – Immigrant – Loneliness – Homesickness – Assimilation
Award-winning artist Shaun Tan’s latest offering for young and old readers is an extraordinary graphic novel relating the tale of a young man who ventures out into a strange, far-away country across a vast ocean to seek a better life. With hardly any money and no knowledge of the language or the customs of his chosen land, all that the immigrant can rely on to find food, work, and a place to live are his inner strength and ingenuity plus help from sympathetic strangers. In a sequence of hundreds of sepia-coloured illustrations in varying sizes, this textless masterpiece invites readers to share the protagonist’s homesickness, displacement, and confusion in an enigmatic world devoid of any recognisable, familiar patterns. The graphite pencil drawings, created with a meticulous attention to detail and brimming with fantastic elements, are reminiscent of an old-fashioned photo album that reveals a long-forgotten, secret adventure. (12+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 2007 - 31
Tonkin, Rachel (text/illus.)
Leaf litter : exploring the mysteries of a hidden world
Pymble, Sydney, NSW : Angus & Robertson, 2006. 29 p.
Plant litter – Habitat – Life cycle – Seasons
This non-fiction picture book takes young readers on a trip into nature. In detailed, large-format illustrations teeming with wildlife, the author examines the world on a small patch beneath a tree during the course of one year. While leaves and plants grow, fall to the ground, and start rotting, small animals are born, fight for survival, leave the place, or die. Even small children will delight in naming animals and discovering fascinating scenes by lifting the flaps. The poetic and informative text adds a second level for older children who are interested in changes occurring in the habitat. The »Things to find« appendix invites readers to explore the pages more thoroughly and the glossary provides an abundance of additional information. (3+) ☼
New Zealand (English) - 2007 - 36
Aslund, Tatiana (text)
Hatam, Samer (illus.)
Moho the ugly pukeko
Auckland : Reed Children’s Books, 2006.  p.
Bird – Otherness – Outsider – Search for identity – Happiness
In this picture book, illustrated with soft watercolours, Hans Christian Andersen’s popular fairy tale »The ugly duckling« is moved to a New Zealand setting. Living among the reeds on the edge of a swamp, a noisy pukeko family is utterly appalled when the last of their eggs finally cracks open and a short-legged, clumsy chick hatches. Moho (i.e. stupid), as they name him, is constantly teased and tortured by his elegant siblings. One day, the sad outsider sneaks off in search for his own place in life – which he finally finds with the takahe colony high up in the mountains. A glossary of Maori terms and a short note on the characteristics of the two species of native New Zealand birds round off this ever-topical tale about fitting in. (4+) ☼
Great Britain (English) - 2007 - 41
MacRae, Tom (text)
Odriozola, Elena (illus.)
London : Andersen Press, 2006.  p.
(US ed. by Peachtree Publ., 2006) Boy – Creature – Mischief
Under normal circumstances, Nate is a tidy little boy, good at pouring his milk at breakfast and painting neat pictures at school. But the day when »The Opposite« happens isn’t a normal day at all – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Milk gets spilled and paint is splashed everywhere by the mischievous creature, and poor Nate gets all the blame; but only until the boy comes up with an ingenious idea to get rid of the troublemaker. Spanish illustrator Elena Odriozola’s trademark illustrations are rendered in cheerful watercolours. The lanky figures, dressed in brightly patterned clothes and set against white or pastel-coloured backgrounds, make this hilariously quirky story come alive for young and old readers alike. (3+) ☼
Great Britain (English) - 2007 - 42
Rayner, Catherine (text/illus.)
Augustus and his smile
London : Little Tiger Press, 2006.  p.
Tiger – Smile – Loss – Search – Happiness
Poor Augustus has lost his smile and no matter where the mighty tiger searches for it, whether he climbs to the tops of the highest trees or dives into the deep blue ocean, his smile is nowhere to be found. Yet then it starts raining – pitter, patter, drip, drop, plop! – and the joyful sound makes the stripy animal realise that happiness (and his smile) is everywhere around him if he just opens his eyes and heart to it. The succinct and poetical text of this tale merges almost inconspicuously with the vibrant mixed-media illustrations. Shown from varying perspectives reminiscent of film techniques, the sprightly tiger bounces through wideopen coloured or white spaces inviting young readers to share his adventures. (4+) ☼
(Booktrust Early Years Awards, Best New Illustrator; 2006)
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2007 - 49
Poe, Edgar Allan (text)
Price, Ryan (illus.)
Toronto, ON [et al.] : KCP Poetry, 2006.  p.
(Visions in poetry)
Love – Loss – Despair – Mental illness
The fifth volume in the highly praised »Visions in poetry« series again brings a classic poem alive for modern day readers. »The raven« – a compelling poem about a man’s suffering and slow descent into madness after his true love’s death (and probably Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known work) – was originally published in 1845 but has lost nothing of its appeal. Using a technique called drypoint printmaking, in which the artist crafts an image onto a copper plate with sharp-pointed tools (similar to etching), Ryan Price has created stunning illustrations that perfectly capture the sinister, chilling atmosphere of the timeless text. The slightly distorted pictures show the raven-like protagonist with his spindly arms and huge eggshaped head gloomily brooding inside his hut. The unusual perspectives underline the man’s growing despair when it becomes clear that the threatening figure of the raven will disappear »nevermore«. (14+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2007 - 50
Sawa, Maureen (text)
Slavin, Bill (illus.)
The library book : the story of libraries from camels to computers
Toronto [et al.] : Tundra Books, 2006. 72 p.
Library/3000 BC-2000 AD – Writing – Reading – Book
Over the centuries, books have come in all kinds of shapes and forms – and so have libraries. Whether they consist of clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform, hundreds of leather scrolls in a cave, thousands of books carried by 500 camels walking in alphabetical order, or even virtual documents in cyberspace, they all store and provide important knowledge. In an engaging text that reads almost like an adventure story, this non-fiction book traces the history and development of writing, reading, and libraries from the ancient beginnings in Mesopotamia in 3000 BC to the present day. Short factual paragraphs focusing on particular aspects and a bibliographic appendix offer an entertaining combination of background knowledge, trivia, and information for further reading. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2007 - 51
Scowen, Kate (text)
Szuc, Jeff (illus.)
My kind of sad : what it’s like to be young and depressed
Toronto [et al.] : Annick Press, 2006. 168 p.
Depression – Eating disorder – Mental health
While depression is not at all a recent phenomenon, Kate Scowen points out that »adolescent depression has only been recognized as a medical diagnosis in the past 25 years.« In this non-fiction book, the author discusses this illness, its various manifestations in adolescents, the different problems accompanying it, the possible treatments, and some strategies for dealing with it. The clear text is cut into short paragraphs by quirky black-and-white illustrations, lists of facts, headlines in bold type, and quotations from interviews with young people from 9 to 23. Despite the slightly repetitive style that allows readers to read chapters individually, the book offers a good introduction to affected teenagers, and their friends and families to this topical issue. (12+) ☼
Special Mention - Canada (English) - 2007 - 52
Yolen, Jane (retell.)
Stemple, Heidi E. Y. (recipes)
Béha, Philippe (illus.)
Fairy tale feasts : a literary cookbook
Vancouver : Tradewind Books, 2006. 197 p.
Fairy tale – Recipe – Cookbook
In this unusual fairy-tale-anthology-cum-cookbook, young readers are offered a delicious feast for their eyes, ears, and bellies. Divided into five sections (breakfasts, lunches, soups, dinners, and desserts), the square volume dishes up crisp, modern retellings of twenty popular mostly European folk tales with some worthwhile information about the tales, their origins, and different versions added in the margins. Each retelling is followed by a step-by-step recipe of a meal taken from the corresponding tale, such as »Runaway Pancakes« or »Snow White’s Baked Apples«, including some suggestions for tasty variations and a number of facts about the dish. Vigorous, boldly coloured full-page illustrations and vignettes perfectly complement this family treat. (8+) ☼
USA (English) - 2007 - 56
Newman, Jeff (text/illus.)
Hippo! No, Rhino!
New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2006.  p.
Zoo – Rhinoceros – Sign – Mistake
Poor Rhino is dumbfounded: How can all the dimwitted zoo visitors actually believe that he is a hippo, even though it’s perfectly clear that he is not! And all this because the mischievous zookeeper has (deliberately?) put up the wrong sign in front of his pen. Yet all the outraged pachyderm’s desperate efforts to knock down the hateful sign (including using one of the tick birds on his back as a dart) are useless, until his peace of mind is finally restored by a sympathetic child. The uproarious story is conveyed in boldly coloured mixed-media illustrations with only a few words of text in »rhyme-o«. The graphic pictures, drawn in a style reminiscent of 1950s poster art, depict the animal’s growing frustration and eventual relief. A visual treat for readers of all ages. (3+) ☼
USA (English) - 2007 - 58
Prelutsky, Jack (text)
Berger, Carin (illus.)
Behold the bold umbrellaphant and other poems
New York : Greenwillow Books, 2006. 31 p.
Imaginary animals – Portmanteau-word – Poetry
Have you ever heard of the wondrous clocktopus or encountered the panthermometer in its natural habitat? Have you wondered why the bizarre alarmadillos can’t fall asleep or what makes the fearful zipperpotamuses weep? If so, the nonsensical texts in this whimsical collection of poems, introducing the most bizarre creatures imaginable and their strange characteristics, will certainly satisfy your curiosity. The exotic bunch of portmanteau-animals described in sparkling rhymes spring to life in powerful and quirky double-page collages. They confidently stride and leap across the pages buzzing with energy. Young and old readers will gleefully stroll through this eccentric zoo again and again. (4+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 2007 - 61
Wiesner, David (illus.)
New York, NY : Clarion Books, 2006.  p.
Beach – Camera – Mystery – Photograph
Award-winning author and illustrator David Wiesner’s latest picture book is another true gem. In a quick succession of magical watercolour illustrations in various sizes, this outstanding textless work chronicles a young boy’s adventurous day at the beach. Exploring the edge of the sea, the inquisitive child happens upon an old-fashioned underwater camera washed ashore complete with film inside. He quickly has the pictures developed and gapes open-mouthed at the fantastic scenes opening up before him: an ancient octopus holding a story-telling session in an underwater parlour; or a giant blown-up puffer fish gliding balloon-like across the ocean. In the end, the boy takes his own snapshot (just like other chance owners of the camera seem to have done before) and returns the camera to the sea for the next child to share its miraculous treasures. This fascinating visual adventure won’t release its grip on the readers until they have turned the last page. (5+) ☼
(Caldecott Medal; 2006)
Austria (German) - 2007 - 65
Grossmann-Hensel, Katharina (text/illus.)
Wie Mama und Papa Verliebte wurden
(How Mum and Dad turned into lovers)
Wien [et al.] : Betz, 2006.  p.
Parents – Falling in love – Marriage – Childhood memory – Storytelling
As everybody knows, small children find it hard to imagine that there was a time when their parents did not yet know each other. Two individualists – the chaotic and imaginative mother and the extremely orderly father – are both longing for their perfect counterpart; and then they bump into each other. The collision could not have been any more extreme. On a metaphoric level, it resembles the love for colours meeting the love for black-white-and-grey. Nevertheless, counterbalancing each other’s opposing qualities, the two partners reach a state of harmony and their life together offers an exciting story to their son. One question remains, however: Even if, in the end, it is clear how and when they met, the reason why they did still remains a mystery. The story is presented in convincingly detailed pictures and text. (6+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2007 - 77
Flotwell, Polly (text)
Biermann, Franziska (illus.)
Wilma wünscht sich was
(Wilma has a wish)
Düsseldorf : Sauerländer, 2006.  p.
Girl – Wish – Daydream – Imagination
Her name is one of the first things little Wilma would like to change: Jeannette, Luna, or Barbarella would be nice... Apart from that, she longs for a »brother machine « to wipe out the faults of her own imperfect brother; a mountain of money, so that her parents could stay at home; a tree house with loads of friends (who might also make a great family); a forest; and a guinea pig, too. Do other people have similar wishes? On the last page, large imaginative pictures show that Wilma is sensible after all and decides that – if not all of her wishes can come true – the most important one is to get the little pet. Both the text and the pictures of this book take children’s (secret) wishes seriously and therefore manage to place them in a real life context. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 2007 - 81
Hein, Sibylle (text/illus.)
Wenn Riesen niesen
(When giants sneeze)
Hamburg : Carlsen, 2006.  p.
Giant – Sneeze – Shipwreck – Cause – Effect
Small matters can often have great consequences, and even fateful ones: When the water-rat family steals the giants’ cold medicine, the giants start sneezing terribly, thus causing a storm that results in a ship’s collision with a sea monster. Fire breaks out producing clouds of smoke, misinterpreted as smoke signs by a tribe of Indians. This misunderstanding saves a white man and his daughter from being burned at the stake, which in turn leads to the girl falling in love with her (accidental) saviour. So, the whole story ends with a wedding ceremony. Witty, apt verses and caricaturelike, humorous sequences of pictures present this wondrous chain of events to the cheerful readers. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 2007 - 93
Vohn, Maria (text/illus.)
Mein Hund ist rot
(My dog is red)
Wuppertal : Hammer, 2006.  p.
Dog – Looks – Outsider – Solving problems
»There is no such thing as a red dog!«, the little girl says. Although the little boy’s dog actually is red, the female reasoning sounds so plausible that the boy almost believes her. What confusion! They paint the dog and the boy now claims his dog has never been red. At present, it is white – until the next rain shower. The children consider turning the dog out but that’s not really an option. So, the girl has to bring her own dog – which is: green. Suddenly, people and pets are at peace and perfectly happy. On an implicit and abstract level, this board book introduces strategies for solving problems – those that are realistic and socially possible as well as those that are not. The example given is completely convincing, rationally, emotionally, and in the way it is portrayed. (3+) ☼
Switzerland (German) - 2007 - 97
Bougaeva, Sonja (text/illus.)
Zürich : Atlantis, 2006.  p.
Dog – Dog owner – Moodiness – Escape
If a bad-tempered man constantly bullies his amiable little dog and never shows any concern for the pet’s needs (»Shame on you, Barnie!«, »Come here immediately! «, »Stop that noise!« etc.), then it is bound to happen one day: Together with one of his fellow dogs, Barnie escapes. True, the flight itself with the two dogs at the steering wheel of a delivery van is a bit farfetched; still, Barnie seems truly relieved. The contrast between the evil dog owner and the dog, who is happy at last, is presented in such a convincing combination of text and pictures that there is no need for any comment on the action other than the child’s final question: »Dad, where is Barnie?« The answer is evident: The dog has left. (4+) ☼
Switzerland (German) - 2007 - 100
Wittkamp, Frantz (text)
Brosinski, Jenny (illus.)
Gute Nacht – oder : der lange Weg ins Bett
(Good night – or : the long way to bed)
Zürich : Atlantis, 2006.  p.
Falling asleep – Storytelling
This outstanding bedtime story introduces a multitude of stops that you have to pass until you finally reach your bed. There is the blue house and the bronze horse with its rider – be careful not to get sidetracked by other things like the cat on the roof or the crying woman who seems to be looking for it – then you pass by the post office and »over there to the right, you see an old streetlight«. On each new page, readers discover a delicately drawn chaos of many different events through which they will only get by sticking exactly to the written directions. It is easy to imagine that all these adventures will make children so tired that they are happy to fall asleep at the end. The rhymed text offers a calming rhythm and inspires readers to repeat it together and learn it by heart. (5+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 2007 - 174
Asbjørnsen, Peter Christen (text)
Moe, Jørgen (text)
Nygren, Tord (select./illus.)
Rud, Anine (transl.)
Asbjørnsen og Moes bedste eventyr
(Asbjørnsen and Moe’s best fairy tales)
[København] : Gyldendal, 2006. [ca. 260] p.
Norway – Fairy tale
This edition, produced in cooperation with the Swedish publisher Opal, contains some of the most popular Norwegian fairy tales from the famous collection of Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. In 1841, they both started to edit and publish tales that they had been collecting in various Norwegian villages. Although the stories were printed in Danish, which was the official literary language at the time, they were larded with Norwegian expressions. Swedish artist Tord Nygren’s wonderful watercolour illustrations, which radiate a rich atmosphere and perfectly characterise the various figures, turn this volume into a real gem. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Norway (Norwegian) - 2007 - 184
Kaldestad, Roald (text)
Torseter, Øyvind (illus.)
[Oslo] : Cappelen, 2006.  p.
Child – Loneliness – Cat – Death
This picture book describes the loneliness of a Norwegian child who lives on a fjord in a tiny hamlet with only a few scattered houses. Her only playmate is a little cat, and when it dies, the child silently grieves in private. Although parents obviously exist, they never feature in the pictures. Instead, the girl is shown sitting in empty rooms, which further amplify the impression of her loneliness. With her illustrations, Øyvind Torseter returns to the style of the 1950s not only with the choice of chalky colours reminiscent of lithographic prints, but also with her evocation of wide spaces. What little there is of modernity, such as various electric appliances, is stripped of its metallic glimmer and thus blends into the overall picture. The focus of the book thus always remains on the protagonist herself, the little child. (6+) ☼
Sweden (Swedish) - 2007 - 192
Grähs, Gunna (text/illus.)
Tutu och Tant Kotla
(Tutu and Aunt Kotla)
[Stockholm] : Alfabeta, 2006.  p.
(En hejhej bok)
Sweden – Immigrant – Foreigner – Integration – Multicultural society
With this series, the publisher offers a number of small picture books dealing with all kinds of integration. In this volume, the reader follows a black boy delivering newspapers on a snowy grey winter day. He trudges through one of the bleak Swedish suburbs of newly-erected houses so unlike the boy’s familiar African home. Nevertheless, in one of the tall buildings a door suddenly opens and he is invited for coffee and cake by a lonely old woman simply because she likes his friendly face. He tells her about Africa, she tells him about her childhood. In the end, Tutu walks away with a smile. Such a sweet story might easily turn into a pedagogical lecture if it wasn’t for this wonderful artist who combines a fresh, decorative, spacious style with original visual ideas. (5+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 2007 - 196
Stolpe, Marika (text)
Pehrson, Lars (photogr.)
Ida & elefanterna
(Ida and the elephants)
Stockholm : Ström, 2005.  p.
Kenya – Elephant – Wildlife reserve
This photo documentary accompanies a Swedish girl on her visit to her friend John in a wildlife reserve in Kenya. The author makes Ida tell in first-person, eyewitness style about how young elephants are brought up and looked after. Both children help with the feeding, play with the animals, and sleep close to them at night to give them a sense of security. The factual narrative is complemented by equally factual, lively photographs, which present an accurate picture of everyday life at the reserve and enable children to (almost) share the protagonists’ experiences. The readers are offered a true introduction to African nature without getting dazzled by picture-perfect, glossy magazine photographs. (8+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - The Netherlands (Dutch) - 2007 - 225
Verroen, Dolf (text)
Nahmias, Veronica (illus.)
Slaaf kindje slaaf
(Slave, my little child, slave)
Rotterdam : Uitg. Ger Guijs, 2006. 95 p.
(also published in German in 2005)
Surinam/18th century – Slavery
This touching story is told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old white girl on the threshold of maturity growing up in Surinam in the 18th century. Maria’s birthday present is a small black boy – her first personal slave. For the girl, slavery is completely natural, and she talks about it without a trace of guilt. Today’s readers, however, are confronted with the cruel reality of adults treating slaves like property. The text is written in short and simple yet carefully constructed sentences. The pencil drawings faithfully depict all the different characters of the story, who look just as modest and austere as they are described in the text. (Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, 2006; Gustav-Heinemann-Friedenspreis, 2006) (10+) ☆ ☼