White Ravens: Spanish
Spain (Spanish) - 1993 - 146
Saban, Aránzazu (transl. from Basque)
Memorias de una vaca
(Memoirs of a Cow)
Madrid: SM, 1992. 206 p.
(Barco de vapor)
cow autobiography - civil war (Spain) - Maquis - outsiders - homeland
Peace in Spain at the beginning of the 1940s. Not quite, since in the Basken region far from Madrid insubordinate people, the Maquis, fight for their hereditary rights. The cow Mo grants us a partial but thorough insight into these disputes. Her voice and reflections reach us from her exile in France. We owe the memories to the "inner voice" every cow is born with, whose continual interference Mo must often argue against. Intelligence and animal wit in supple prose: this combination is as unusual as the flawlessly maintained narrative perspective. The author (and publishing house) must certainly be likewise congratulated for finding this translator. (12+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1993 - 147
Madrid: Anaya, 1992. 129 p.
(Translated from Catalan)
literature - war (Indochina) – underworld
Before moving house, the first-person narrator comes across a yellowed manuscript. It is the story of a hero modeled after Papillon, in reality an unscrupulous adventurer nicknamed "blowfly" with whose story the destitute narrator and his former girlfriend and her father wanted to acquire lots of money and achieve literary fame. On another narrative level, set off typographically, the tensions in the writers' workshop and their costly background research are described and the moral of the experiment is drawn (among other things: don't do anything without a good contract!) (15+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1993 - 148
Farias, Juan (text)
Monreal, Violeta (illus.)
Madrid: Susaeta, 1992. 77 p.
Middle Ages - poverty - kidnapping - marriage - tramp
Farias never needs many words to sketch his figures and their poor lives and to guide them into the tragedies which for poor people, especially when they must eke out a living by stealing, begging and doing other unpleasant things and live in the Middle Ages, certainly seem predestined. What is astonishing is how he designs types of people with such frugal means, allowing them to kindle our sympathy, how he makes life circumstances experienceable without making his denunciations explicit. (11+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1993 - 149
Mozo, Paloma de San Juan (text)
Ginesta, Montse (illus.)
Me la he cargado
(I Certainly Botched That Up Nicely)
Madrid: Alfaguara, 1991. 125 p.
(juvenil alfaguara 425))
A long essay, written by the protagonist during school vacation at the bidding of her teacher, makes quite a stir. With a light-hearted, naive attitude, quasi without periods and commas, great and insignificant events and observations are related: we are precisely informed about Franco's death in 1975 and the welcome free period which results - although without the TV series, about the strange conduct of the art teacher while rolling his cigarettes (and certainly immediately afterwards) and also about the hygienic conditions of the toilets. The fact that the conduct of the teachers and directors does not reveal much about their pedagogical abilities and feelings of responsibility becomes particularly obvious in this narrative style which breaks taboos. The consequence is; the student is expelled from school. (13+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1994 - 160
Andruetto, María Teresa (text)
Melgar, Patricia (illus.)
El anillo encantado
(The Magic Ring)
[Buenos Aires]: Sudamericana, 1993. 59 p.
(Pan Flauta 21 (Cuenlos del mundo))
These seven fairy tales, whether set in the Orient, in the European Middle Ages or so- for the most part well-known. But this volume is not simply an edition of modernized versions of old tales. The particular fascination of this edition lies instead in the form. The transition from several short sentences to a longer one, and the deliberate repetition of narrative segments give these texts a poetic structure in which each word has its place, determined by both the meaning and rhythm. (10+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1994 - 161
Shua, Ana María (text)
Franco, Coca (illus.)
La puerta para salir del mundo
(The Exit Gate of the World)
[Buenos Aires]: Sudamericana, 1992. 59 p.
(Pan Flauta 19 (Sentimientos))
Truth - Lie - Reality - Dream - Adult
As a result of his visit to a television studio, Andrés is shattered to find that everything in television is an outright lie. At home he seeks comfort with his stuffed dog, Pelusa. A mysterious Mr. Qwerty enters his room through the wall, offering to let him pass through the blue door to the world "where everything is true" - but only if he doesn't tell a single white lie for 24 hours. The second story of this volume. The Dove's Feather, also involves the use of contrasting worlds in order to learn to recognize the present reality better, making it easier to bear: Gustavo saves a dove and receives a magic feather without learning how it is to be used. In any case, it doesn't help him to learn his multiplication tables. Only later, as a grown- up, does he discover its properties by accident - when he watches seemingly carefree children at play, and wishes he could return to that age again, his wish is immediately granted. The author tells her stories cleverly and with humor. (8+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1994 - 162
Villafañe, Javier (text)
Contarbio, Delia (illus.)
El hombre que debía adivinarle la edad al diablo
(The Man Who Had to Guess the Devil's Age)
[Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1991. 53 p.
(Colección Pan Flauta 15 (Cuentos de América))
Argentina/Fairy Tale - Poet
Javier Villafañe is a well-known and respected puppet-player and fairy tale teller even far beyond the border of Argentina. The title story of this volume is known everywhere, but enhanced here with local color and word play. The second story. El tío Kive reveals the interaction of fantasy and reality: While Alejandro is working on geometry problems, the admonishing and controlling voice of his father brings him back again over and over to the school-boy reality he would like to flee, but random images of street-life take on a nimble, improvable life of their own. His thoughts also wander off to his uncle, whose eyes he has supposedly inherited. Alejandro's imagination and his simultaneous worlds are quite convincingly and humorfully portrayed. Dreamers will easily recognize themselves here. (9+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1994 - 163
Mendoza, Susana (text)
Dávalos, Felipe (illus.)
Cuento de Junio
(Tales of June)
[Amecameca]: C.E.L.T.A./Amaquemecan, 1991. 26 p.
(Barril sin Fondo)
Myth - Sommer Soltice - Sun - Jaguar - Indians
At the start of this book we see a panorama of luscious vegetation, a woman and three girls going through the forest as the sun begins to rise. Armadillos and birds are still sitting in the darkness. Only on the next page does the story of the encounter of the young girls with the great "tiger", the golden shining one, really begin. Is it the sun? The old grandfather, whom the children tell about this encounter, believes it. Pages of text alternate with double-spread illustrations. The sequence invites the reader to linger with the pictures which portray both the mythic dimensions of the story and the subjective experiences of the girls. The illustrations of this updated version of the solstice myth are brilliantly colored and mysterious, but also reflect a realistic Mexican landscape. (8+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1994 - 168
Cervantes, Miguel de (text)
Ginesta, Montserrat (illus.)
Gimenez-frontín, José Luis (adapter)
[Barcelona]: La Galera, 1993. 86 p.
(La Galera a proa 1)
Experience shows that the adventures of Don Quixote have become a byword, but hardly a pupil knows them from actual reading - the book is too thick, the language too difficult. This adaptation will hopefully tempt readers to delve into the original at the right time. This edition contains the well-known adventures and characteristic elements which make its reading a delight. The illustrations by the artist Ginesta emphasize the light-hearted, burlesque side of the novel. (10+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1994 - 169
Faner, Pau (text)
Vila, Jordi (illus.)
La Dama de la media almendra. La Isia de los Hombres
(The Lady of the Half-Almond. The Island of Mankind)
[Barcelona]: Destino, 1992. 132 p.
Fairy Tale/Spanish - Love - Knight - Adventure
Beauty which drives men crazy is a well- known motif. The places below and above earth where dramatic rescue attempts or wild adventures take place are also well-known. And also the helpful spirits, bewitched princes and princesses. All this and much more is mixed together by the author in a new fairy tale novel. At the same time he interrupts the long series of descriptions, which have any amount of purple, silver, and bell-like laughter, for two or three short, profane statements from his protagonists just at the right moment, in order to keep his readers suspended between pathos, irony and persiflage and well-entertained. The sequel to this novel is titled "El camino de las rocas negras." (12+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1994 - 170
Farias, Juan (text)
Gatagán, Tino (illus.)
La Espada de Liuva
[Barcelona]: SM, 1990. 123 p.
Shepherd - Family - Law - Freedom - Amadis - Middle Ages
The young shepherd wants to lead a life for himself, not for his lord. With his father's blessing and a piece of bread he sets out into the world. He learns to keep on his toes and meets a girl who becomes his companion. They travel through burned out plains, and have to flee from murderous masters. They settle in a place where their child is born. He works the land and unquestioningly takes in other solitary travelers - a robber and a herbalist. They all want just one thing - to satisfy the elementary needs of food, warmth and a life not subject to arbitrary power. This story takes place in a fictitious Middle Ages, which demands the saving intervention of the knight Amadis, The chronicler, however, comes from another point in time: books are his "time machine." Human needs are shown to be as constant today as they were then. (10+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1994 - 171
Fortún, Elena (text)
Munoa, Rafael (illus.)
Celia en el colegio
(Celia at School)
[Madrid]: Aguilera, 1973 (1st ed. 1950). 224 S.
(Celia y su mundo)
Schoolgirl - Boarding School - Child/Adult
When Celia appeared in the Spanish literature (her adventures began in the 1930s and continued into the 1950s) she was enthusiastically welcomed. Today she is a fixed part of Spain's cultural knowledge. A few years ago her books were successfully reprinted. Although some parts are only of historical interest, the Elena Fortúns dialogue technique (the series Celia and her World is constructed only with dialogues) is exemplary and her consistent partisanship for the child in a world dominated by adults remains relevant, (8+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1994 - 172
Gregori, Josep (text)
Bosca, Ferran (illus.)
Carreño, Soledad (transl. from Catalan)
La brujita Teresita
(The Little Witch Teresita)
[Barcelona]: La Galera, 1993. 130 p.
Witch - Broom - Child-swapping - Friendship - Magic
A man and wife witch couple is shocked at the appearance of their newborn daughter - red-cheeked, no warts, smiling, simply despicable! The daughter does however develop into a good little witch, though with a few peculiarities. She secretly trains the vacuum cleaner, she prefers milk and vegetables to flies' legs and rat-tails. When all the magic brooms are stolen one day from the witches' village, she is the one who discovers the thieves -lazy men who try to get out of their household chores with this present lo their wives. Along the way she also saves a young boy who seems to fit quite well into the witches village. The observations, dialogue and conclusions of this many facetted game with the entire arsenal of witchery are a source of light- hearted fun. (8+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1994 - 173
Martin Gaite, Carmen (text/illus.)
Caperucita en Manhattan
(Little Red Riding Hood in Manhattan)
[Madrid]: Siruela, 1991. 205 p.
(Las tres edades)
New York City - Grandmother/Granddaughter - Little Red Riding Hood <Motif> - Freedom - Statue of Liberty - Stawberry Pie
As the book blurb says: Sara Alien is a 10- year-old girl living in Brooklyn. Her greatest wish is to go one day all alone to Manhattan to visit her grandmother and bring her a strawberry pie. This grandmother was once a variety show dancer and married several times. The wolf is here Mr. Wolf, a pastry cook and multimillionare who lives in a skyscraper near Central Park. But the magical path of the story leads to Miss Lunatic, an ageless beggar who lives in the Statue of Liberty by day and spends her nights out-side. An encounter with her changes a person's life. In any case, the declared reader's age of "For 8 to 80" for this series is correct for this book, which is much deeper than just a literary game, but which is also fun. (8-80)
Spain (Spanish) - 1994 - 174
Pelegrín, Ana (intro.)
Isia de rojo coral
(Island of the Red Corals)
[Salamanca]: Lóguez, 1993. 136 p.
Lyric/Spanish - Cuba - Anthology
This selection of poems from different cycles is particularly well suited to showing the wide spectrum of work by this extraordinary poet (1902-1989) who also wrote especially for children. His poems are in part set to music, a fact which, in view of the marked rhythm of his verses, sounds almost like a tautology. In his poems he sings the praises of his homeland Cuba and its inhabitants, the descendants of Africans and Spaniards, and makes a plea for social justice, tolerance and freedom. (12+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1995 - 126
Montes, Gracielia (text)
Roldán, Gustavo (illus.)
Venancio vuela bajito
(Venancio flies too low)
Buenos Aires: AZ editora, 1994.  p.
(serie del boleto)
Dog - Flying
It's not true that dogs cannot fly. They just like to fly quite low. So begins the story of the dog Venancio who learns to fly and to everyone's astonishment whizzes through the air - for instance, to the butcher's shop two streets away. But in time protests grow louder because the rather plump Venancio reveals himself to be a notorious low-flyer who reeks all kinds of havoc, such as landing in Professor Gutiérrez' potato casserole. Finally he must put an end to his excursions, though he is allowed to continue his aerial arts at home. This curious story is full of witty charm and bizarre eccentric events. Equally original are the water-color illustrations, a mixture of comic art and the wild colorfulness of children's paintings. (3+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1995 - 127
Shua, Ana María (text)
Dias Costa, Mariza (illus.)
Cuentos Judíos con Fantasmas & Demonios
(Jewish tales of ghosts and demons)
Buenos Aires: Shalom, 1994. 168 p.
Jews/Mythology - Fantasy
In writing the eight tales in this collection Ana María Shua let herself be inspired by stories, themes, motifs and characters from the rich Jewish oral tradition, such as the legendary and mysterious figures of the Golem or the Baalshem. On the basis of familiar folktales she has created new fan- tasy tales in order to emphasize what is un- usual and particularly Jewish about them. Various ghosts and demons are first intro- duced in a foreword and at the end of each tale, the author gives the details of the ori- gin and history of the content. An unusual book which introduces the reader to an unfamiliar, fascinating world. (12+) ☆
Mexico (Spanish) - 1995 - 130
Libura, Krystyna (text)
Burr, Claudia (text)
Urrutia, María Cristina (text)
De lo que contaron al fraile
(What they told the monk)
México: Tecolote: SEP, 1994.  p.
(Colección Ya verás)
Mexico/History - Aztecs
The series "Colección Ya verás" offers glimpses into various epochs and events in Mexican history. The editors and authors have turned to historical texts and pictures from the respective periods in order to make their portrayals as authentic as possible. In this volume Aztec society is depicted on the basis of Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España by Bernardo de Sahagún. The book's content of short, adapted texts from the original, accompanied by illustrations from the Codex Florentinus. As in the other volumes of the series, only some of the historical highlights can be presented, but an interested reader will be stimulated in any case to find out more about the subject. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1995 - 133
Cañizo, José Antonio del
iCanalla, traidor, morirás!
(Scoundrel, traitor, you will die!)
Madrid: SM, 1994. 106 p.
(El Barco de Vapor I Serie Roja; 77)
School holiday - Village - Spanish Civil War/Post-war
The narrator recalls a summer in a village in the Castilian mountains where he spent his school holidays as a child - above all reading exciting comic books, playing Indians or gazing at the starry heavens at night. These are also the Franco years of law-and-order, just after the end of the Spanish Civil War. So it was no wonder that a citation from a comic ("Scoundrel, traitor, you will die") thoughtlessly scribbled on a stone sets off a considerable upcry, which ends sadly with the imprisonment of a solitary former Republican soldier who had been hiding in the mountains. José Antonio del Cañizo succeeds in portraying the various moods and sides of character in the young boy in a lively and discriminating manner: child-like curiosity and joy of adventure, fear of choleric adults, a sense of justice, guilt feelings and a powerless sadness over the loss of a barely known human being. This is a wonderful story - enthralling, full of ideas, humane, sometimes serious, but without pathos and, despite the subject, on the whole quite witty, light and humorous. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1995 - 134
Estrada, Rafael (text)
Gabán, Jesús (illus.)
El rey Solito
Madrid: SM, 1994. 64 p.
(El Bano de Vapor / Serie Blanca; 56)
King - Loneliness - Self-suggestion - Roleplaying
When everyone deserts a kingdom befallen by poverty, only little King "Allalone" remains behind. Out of loneliness and boredom he takes on a variety of roles: he becomes the horn-blower or the servant and even conducts war against himself, trying "at least to kill time." His longing for human company becomes ever stronger and along with it his ability for self-deception. Finally he even takes himself in marriage lust to be no longer so alone. His illusions dissolve in the end when a real-life shepherdess stands before the castle one day, bringing him back to reality and providing him with a happy-end. The humorous and at the same time poetic fairy tale is told in a simple voice. The text is aptly accompanied by numerous comic-like, delicately colored drawings. (6+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1995 - 135
Gisbert, Joan Manuel
Los espejos venecianos
(The one-way mirrors)
Zaragoza: Edelvives, 1994. 135 p.
(Sueños de papel; 1)
Padua/History 1792 - Student - Palace - Phantom - Superstition - Science
This novel is set in 1792 in the Italian university town of Padua. A young student of history, Giovanni, discovers a palace in ruins which is the object of dark legends. Mysterious events occur, persons appear and disappear, old documents provide coded clues. With sharp intelligence and the aid of covert helpers, Giovanni succeeds in discovering the secret of the ancient building. Well known for his fantastic tales, which often have historical backgrounds, Gisbert combines here the elements of historical fiction, mystery and ghost stories. He is clever at leading his protagonists - and readers - astray. The decisive question here - what is real, what is imaginary - is answered only at the very end. A thrilling, entertaining and masterly told story. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1995 - 136
Lindo, Elvira (text)
Urberuaga, Emilio (illus.)
Madrid: Alfaguara, 1994. 136 p.
Madrid - Family/Boy - School - Everyday life/Metropolis
Manolito Gafotas, a clever youth living in a not so posh suburb of Madrid, has an energetic mother, an eccentric grandfather, good friends, a little brother he calls "Imbecile", an overworked school psychologist and, above all, lots of things to tell about. He passes through life with his eyes and ears wide open, snapping up words adults use and endowing them with his own meaning, telling the reader about his experiences and thoughts as best he can. With staggering logic and a dry humor he depicts the various episodes of his daily life in a style reminiscent of Goscinny's "Little Nick, " With Manolito Gafotas, the hero of a favorite Spanish radio program since 1987, the reader learns in an entertaining manner much about a child's life in a Spanish metropolis. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1995 - 137
Xirinacs, Olga (text)
Baizola, Asun (illus.)
El árbol de mi patio
(The tree in my courtyard)
Barcelona: Edebé, 1994. 32 p.
(tren azul; 16)
Chestnut tree, laurel tree, weeping willow, etc.: each of Olga Xirinacs' short, imagi- native pieces focuses on a representative of a particular tree species. These "protago- nists" are living beings just like people or animals, they have souls, and quite unspec- tacular experiences, which prompt the reader to think about our "neighbor," the tree. The well-known Spanish artist Asun Baizola created unusual color illustrations to accompany these lyrical texts. With their sharp contours and glowing monochrome surfaces, the figures resemble linoleum cuts, but in fact they are the result of computer based graphics. (5+) ☼
Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 146
Andersen, Hans Christian (text)
Mestres, Apeles (illus.)
Roca y Roca, J. (transl.)
Madrid: Compañía Literaria, 1994. 355 p.
(Facsimile ed. of the first edition: Barcelona: Biblioteca »Arte y Letras«, 1881)
Andersen, Hans Christian - Fairy Tales/Anthology
This beautifully bound facsimile edition contains a selection of twenty of Andersen's fairy tales illustrated by the famous Catalan artist Apel·les Mestres (1854-1936) with zinc etchings, full-paged wood-cuts and vignettes and borders. Although they date back to 1881, this work already portends that Mestres would be one of the most important representatives of the Spanish »Modernismo.« In this series the publisher has issued further facsimile editions such as Perrault's Tales and La Fontaine's Fables, both with illustrations by Gustave Doré. (8+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 147
Antoniorrobles (pseud. of Robles Soler, Antonio) (text)
Madrid: Siruela, 1994. 133 p.
(Las Tres Edades; 32)
Boy/Girl - Everyday life - Fantasy - Adventure
This new edition of Antoniorrobles' (pseudonym of Antonio Robles Soler, 1895-1983) classic children's book, which first appeared in 1939, relates eight tales from the life of a boy names Botón Rompetacones and his sister Azulita. At the time of its first publication it was considered quite innovative, and even today will surprise its readers with a special humor bordering on the absurd, with its interweaving of everyday events and fairy-tale like fantasy elements and adventures. This edition is also noteworthy for its meticulous, attractively designed format with the original illustrations by Peinador. (10+)
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+) ☼
Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 149
Cano, Carles (text)
Giménez, Paco (illus.)
¿En qué se diferencian el blanco y el negro?
(What is the Difference between White and Black?)
Barcelona: Aura Comunicación, 1994.  p.
White <color> - Black <color> - Theory of Color
Following up the previous titles by the team Cano and Giménez »¿En qué se diferencian una selva y un abecedario?« and »¿En qué se diferencian el mar y un elefante?«, this book deals with the seemingly insignificant colors of white and black. It poses the question what if they didn't exist and then points out their fundamental significance and the fact that they complement each other in a phantastic way. Clever and surprising examples from everyday life, from painting, literature and the animal kingdom give proof to their claims. The design and the imaginative illustrations as well as the unusual use of the horizontal format for picture and text make this a very special book. (9+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 150
Cano, Carles (text)
¡Te pillé, Caperucita!
(Little Red Riding Hood, I've Got You)
Madrid: Bruño, 1995. 121 p.
(Colección Altamar; Serie Teatro; 90)
Fairy tale/Parody - Theater - Travesty
Using the technique of a play within a play, this drama works the figures and plots from famous fairy tales against the grain by letting the actors spontaneously change their roles. Little Red Riding Hood is a cheeky little brat, Puss-in-Boots turns out to be an ordinary bandit, one of the Three Pigs changes into the revenger of his butchered and sausaged brother. Parody and travesty are heightened even more between the acts by »advertising« in which still other fairy-tale figures sing the praises of imaginary products. A fast-paced, hilarious piece of nonsense, this work won the prestigious Premio Lazarillo in 1994. (11+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 151
Nunca seré como te quiero
(I'll Never Be Like I Want You to Be)
Madrid: SM, 1995. 146 p.
(Gran Angular; 140)
Social status - Alcoholism - First love
Seventeen-year-old Jacobo lives alone with his father in the waterfront district of Santander, a town in northern Spain. His mother abandoned the family twelve years before; his father, a former teacher, works as a fisherman and struggles with alcoholism. When Jacobo enters high school, he must go every day »to the other side,« to the old district of town, the well-to-do neighbourhood of Santander. Removed from his familiar surroundings, he must now adjust to a new setting which he feels to be strange and at times even threatening. Along with these difficulties, he is preoccuppied with his father's illness and his love for Christine, a girl in his school. Although the author employs certain themes and elements typical of a young adult novel, the book does not contain the usual images and elements of plot. The characters seem very much real and convincing, the problems tangible, and the reader is given no easy solutions. The boy's conflicts, his vacillating reactions to his father's decline and the fascination of his first romance are very plausible. The convincing portrayal of the city, the waterfront, and life near the sea round out this novel, and keep the reader turning the pages to the very end. (14+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 152
Hauff, Wilhelm (text)
Cañas Cortázar, Alicia (illus.)
Bombín Izquierdo, Elena (transl.)
(The Complete Tales)
Madrid: Anaya, 1994. 285 p.
This is the first time that a complete edition of the Hauff tales has been published in Spanish. This large-sized book has been excellently designed from paper to printing quality. Alicia Cañas has very fittingly reproduced the mood of the texts in her illustrations. Exotic and bizarre figures, animals, fabulous creatures populate the scenes, moving about within magical landscapes and meticulously designed interiors. Whether full-paged color illustrations or small pencil vignettes, there is always something new for the viewer to discover. (6+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 153
Martínez Gil, Fernando
El verano de la linterna mágica
(The Summer of the Laterna Magica)
Madrid: Alfaguara, 1995. 166 p.
Spain/1974 - Spain/16th century - Humanism - Inquisition
This novel has two plots which are narrated on the one hand by a boy who discovers an old manuscript and a Laterna Magica hidden in the cellar of a house and on the other hand by a young man who invented this apparatus. Both stories are set in Toledo - in 1974 and in the middle of the 16th century - and are connected together by the young firstperson narrator. The passages of the history tale are of particular interest due to the lively and suspenseful portrayal of life in Spain after the expulsion or forced Christianization of the Jews, a period strongly influenced by humanistic ideals but also the first signs of the Inquisition. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 154
Meléndez, Francisco (text/illus.)
Núñez, Justo (text/illus.)
Aventuras de Mr. Boisset. Tomi-Kikansha. (Continuación de las aventuras de Mr. Boisset)
(The adventures of Mr. Boisset. Tomi-Kikansha. The Continued Adventures of Mr. Boisset)
Zaragoza: La Biblioteca de Lastanosa, 1995.  p.
Japan/19th century - Invention - Steam locomotive - Travel
The steam locomotive Tomi, the creation of the inventor genius Mr. Boisset - who landed in Japan after many adventurous travels - and his assistant Omuro, finds itself alone one day and sets off to discover the world. Tomi's travels are a wondrous journey through 19th century Japan, and end finally after crossing the ocean in California. Just like the naive, inexperienced locomotive, the reader will also be captivated by the fascination and peculiarities of Japanese life. Encounters with apes, washerwomen, a monk, a feudal lord and his samurai, a travelling Bunraku puppet theater, etc. join to make a many-facetted image. Francisco Meléndez, inspired to write this book during a study tour, has succeeded here in creating an exceptional story. Funny, richly detailed, imaginative pictures, different types of paper and illustration techniques, creatively used Japanese characters and a meticulously printed text form an original, artistically remarkable book that will appeal to youth and to adults. (14+) ☆
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+) ☼
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1996 - 156
Rodríguez Almodóvar, Antonio (text)
Meléndez, Francisco (illus.)
Animales de aventura
Madrid: Altea, 1995. 64 p..
(El viaje imaginario)
This large-scale, richly illustrated book offers young readers a short, entertaining glimpse into a number of classics of children's literature, including several books written for adults, but also read by younger readers. The special uniting element is that in each story a literary animal figure is the main character, as for example, Pinocchio's companion, the cricket, or the swordfish in Hemingway's »The Old Man and the Sea.« The texts have been illustrated by Meléndez's bizarre, and at times very original interpretations. Short portraits of the authors are included in an appendix. (12+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1996 - 162
Historia de un amor exagerado
(The History of an Exaggerated Love)
Buenos Aires: Colihue, 1995. 65 p.
(Libros del malabarista)
This brief story deals with a gigantic bouquet of flowers, happiness and sadness, a lively correspondence and the largest love letter the world has ever seen. It is the story of two children whose moving and inspiring love story is followed by some with pleasure and benevolence, while others criticize it as »un-childlike« and boundlessly exaggerated. With a sure feel for mood and sentiment as well as a sense of poetry and nuances, Graciela Montes describes the magic and uniqueness of love, its simplicity and absoluteness. (10+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1996 - 163
Suez, Perla (text)
Rojas, Mara (illus.)
El árbol de los flecos
(The Tree of Scraps)
Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1995. 54 p.
(Colección Pan flauta; 32)
This is a collection of five traditional Jewish stories which the author heard from her parents. They belong to the rich culture of orally transmitted story-telling among the East European and Oriental Jews. The stories are set in different epochs and in different places, such as Russia or Turkey. The fascination of these stories, reduced to their essential components, lays in the austerity of the language. The plain, almost reticent style is excellently matched in the wood-cut style black-and-white illustrations. (12+) ☆
Colombia (Spanish) - 1996 - 169
León Zamora, Aníbal Eduardo (text)
Meza B., Mariluz (illus.)
(An Aymará Dream)
[Medellín]: Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, 1995. 247 p.
Peru - Andean Highlands/Everyday life - Village life - Aymará/Everyday life
Set in a small village in the Peruvian Andes, this story focusses on a group of children belonging to the Aymará people, who live still today in the highlands of Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile. Described from the perspective of the boy, Basilio, this story of village life connects the past and the present in many short chapters. In this way the Peruvian author succeeds in creating a lively and authentic picture of everyday life of the Aymará, their traditions, legends, their religion and the way they see and understand the world about them. (12+) ☆
Venezuela (Spanish) - 1996 - 170
Rivas, Ivonne (text)
Savino, Irene (illus.)
El dueño de la luz
(The Lord of Light)
Caracas: Ekaré, 1995.  p.
Venezuela/Warrau/Legend - Light - Creation myth
This book is based on a legend of the Warao, a tribe living in the area of the Orinoco Delta. It tells how light was given to the people who had lived in darkness and how it came about that the sun and the moon »circle the earth.« The short text is very poetic and forms a highly successful whole with the unusual illustrations. In these atmospheric pictures the focus is not on people but rather on the real protagonists of the story, darkness and lightness, night and day, reflected light, mirror images and water as the living space of the Warran. (8+) ☆
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+) ☼
Spain (Spanish) - 1997 - 157
Alcántara, Ricardo (text)
Quién quiere a los viejos?
(Who likes old people anyway?)
Zaragoza: Vives, 1996. 105 p.
(Ala delta; 200; Serie verde)
Old man - Old woman - Love - Respect - Dignity
Violeta loves Evaristo and Evaristo loves Violeta. This would be nothing special except that they are not youngsters anymore. When Evaristo is finally ready to confess his love to Violeta, her niece Josefina goes to all extremes to prevent Violeta from learning that Evaristo wants to marry her. Until the happy end finally arrives, the unsuspecting Violeta is just a pawn in the hands of Josefina, who strives above all to protect her inheritance. Although this entertaining and sometimes even suspenseful and touching story tends at times to be a little too black-and-white, it convicingly conveys the idea that falling in love is something quite natural and can happen to anyone at any time in life. (9+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1997 - 158
Davi (i.e. David Zaday Caballero) (text/illus.)
Historias de soles
(Stories of suns)
Barcelona: Destino, 1996. 36 p.
In this story the sun has many faces. In short episodes and events we encounter such strange species as the spaghetti sun or the pirate sun and learn about its everyday routines, the differences between the sun that rises over the mountains and the sun that rises over the ocean. With humor, poetic charm and witty, absurd wordplay the text takes aim at various stereotypes and platitudes - which may not always be readily understood by the very young readers. The text finds a congenial match in the line drawings which are touched in warm colors and seem just dashed off. This still quite young author-illustrator (born 1974) won the Apel·ls Mestres Pize for Illustration with this work. (5+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1997 - 159
Fraile, Ruth (text)
Alcover, José Luis (illus.)
Hamburguesa de mamut. Historia de la alimentación humana
(Mammoth hamburgers. The history of human nutrition)
Madrid: Ediciones de la Torre, 1996. 110 p.
(Colección Alba y Mayo; Serie Ciencia; 2)
This information book provides a short, entertaining outline of the history of human nutrition. It takes into consideration everything from the menus of our Stone Age ancestors to our present-day eating habits. Along with the historical developments there is also information about habits determined by climate or culture and practical tips for a balanced diet. Humorous color illustrations round out this informative book. (10+) ☆
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+) ☼
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1997 - 161
Los cañones de Durango
(The canons of Durango)
Madrid: Alfaguara, 1996. 168 p.
Mexico/Revolution/History 1915 - Father/Son - Quest - War - Civil war
This novel looks back upon the adventure of an about 18-year-old Spanish youth, Salvador, during the confusion of the Mexican revolution. After his mother dies, he travels to that country, already torn by Civil War, to find his father who is fighting on the side of Pancho Villa, the revolutionary. After surviving several death-threating situation, he finds his father, but can only speak to him for +a short time before his father is killed in the battle of the city of Torreón. Salvador then returns to Spain. The novel is absolutely gripping and skilfully interweaves the adventures o a fictitious hero in the process of growing up with historical events. The real protagonist of the book is war itself. As a representative of other (civil) wars, it is clearly portrayed as merciless cruelty that stops for nothing and no one. War is like a game of chance in which survival is only an accident, and life worth nothing. People are shot without hesitation, hung up or cruelly mistreated. The warprofiteers feather their own nests, reporters try to get »good« pictures. All this is depicted very realistically, direct and without any filters, from the not yet warped perspective of the newcomer, Salvador. The novel does not moralize and yet it is deeply moral, since the images speak for themselves, making any commentary superfluous. (14+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1997 - 162
Morábito, Fabio (text)
Seoane, Marina (illus.)
Cuando las panteras no eran negras
(When the panthers were not yet black)
Madrid: Siruela, 1996. 98 p.
(Las tres edades; 45)
Panther - Evolution - Transformation - Group/Individual - Freedom - Independence
This story about the supposed transformation of the panther from an animal of the savannah to a cat of prey of the jungle is in essence a parable of the antagonistic relationship between the strict rules governing a group and the self-determining, independent loner. The author poses the thesis that independence and the desire to overcome boundaries are superior to a desire for security and the fearful clinging to everything familiar. The precise and intense descriptions of nature and sometimes surprsing applications of huan parameters to the animal kingdom make fascinating reading. Yet the novel provokes protest in as much as by making animals think as humans it suggests that the law of the jungle, Darwin's principle of the survival of the fittest, is also a determinant for human life. (13+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1997 - 163
Moure Trenor, Gonzalo
Madrid: SM, 1996. 109 p.
(El barco de vapor / Serie roja; 92)
Outsider - Loneliness - Courage - Self-confidence - Personality development
Lili is still new in town and feels uncomfortable, alone and unnoticed. And it is not easy to get along with her mother, who has gotten heavily involved in her profession since the divorce from Lili's father. When Lili is the only one to appear in the classroom without a costume on the day before Mardi Gras, she is suddenly the center of attention - and is all the more so when she is the only one to appear in costume on the following day. The teachers accuse her of being defiant and insubordinate, but for Lili it is the way she takes to strengthen her self-confidence nd define her own personality. The story describes very exactly and sensitively the feelings of children who have to deal with their surroundings and their role as an outsider. (11+)
(Premio El Barco de Vapor 1995)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1997 - 164
Piérola, Mabel (text/illus.)
Historia de la piedra y la montaña
(The story of the stone and the mountain)
Barcelona: Edebé, 1996.  p.
(Tren azul; 26)
Ignorance - Hate - Jealousy - Intimacy - Friendship - Love
Since time immemorial stone and mountain have lived along side one another in a vast, barren landscape. The involuntary neighbors are united in their mutual distaste and a jealousy based on the other's differentness. It is finally the wind which must blow for hundreds of years in order to bring the two together before they discover with amazement that they are made of the same material. Mabel Piérola has set highly individualistic illustrations to her parabel about ignorance and prejudice held by two basically identical beings. The forms seem t recede into blurs, only hinted at in the earth-tone pictures. Some objects are given only an abstract representation, as for example time, which is represented by little grey rectangles. (6+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1997 - 165
Rosell, Joel Franz (text)
Sesé, Daniel (illus.)
Las aventuras de Rosa de los Vientos y Perico el de los Palotes. Novela en ocho cuentos y medio
(The adventures of Rosa of the Winds and Perico with the Sticks. A novel in eight and a half stories)
Barcelona: Arca, 1996. 115 p.
(Tren de cuerda; 21)
Kite - Fantasy journey - Foreign world - Social criticism
The protagonists of this fairytale-like fantasy take leave of their home country, a tiny kingdom »as big as a fly-speck« with their self-made kite. In the course of their travels they encounter foreign societies, bizarre rulers and puffed-up scholars. In the end they return to their own country, which they had once saved from the expansionst efforts of their king. This highly imaginative story by the Cubanauthor, Rosell, follows th tradition of the »voyage imaginaire« and provides much food for thought. As in »Gulliver's travels« the countries visited are satirical reflections of the protagonists' own world. By looking in from the outside, it is possible to criticize the authorities and the deficiencies of human society. (9+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1997 - 171
Birmajer, Marcelo (text)
Forcadell, María Gabriela (illus.)
Buenos Aires: Ed. Sudamericana, 1996. 79 p.
Fables - Animals
Marcelo Birmajer follows in te tradition of Aesop's and LaFontaine's animal fables, but breaks with it in as much as he very consciously avoids ending his short, laconic texts with the usual, ready-to-use moral of the story. Perhaps this is the very reason that these fables encourage the readers to ask such elementary questions as: What is good and what is evil? Is there such a thing as a moral? And who gives us the right to judge the behavior of others? Would we turn into a-moral, wild beasts if there were no moral principles? With their often surprising turns of plot and unexpected ndings, these fables invie discussion and contradiction because they depart from the accustomed trains of thought. (12+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1997 - 172
Montes, Graciela (text)
Rojas, Oscar (illus.)
Aventuras y desaventuras de Casiperro del Hambre
(Adventures and misadventures of Poordog the Starved)
Buenos Aires: Colihue, 1995. 140 p.
(Colección Los Libros de Boris)
City life - Dog - Outsider - Poverty
The dog Oreja struggles through life as a true underdog, doing service among other things as a circus attraction or as a model for toys. At long last he finds someone - like himself also a homeless streetwalker - who endows him with a sense of worth and nobility in the form of a melodious name which resembles that of Spanish aristocrats, Casiperro Gil del Hambre, Caballero de la Oreja. As the title of the book suggests, this masterfully told story borrows from the picaresque novel. With the autobiograpical, demasking perspectve of an outsider and an episodic narrative structure, it casts light on the ways of the world - in this case, in a modern-day metropolis. (10+)
Chile (Spanish) - 1997 - 176
Morel, Alicia (text)
Gerber, Thomas (illus.)
La era del sueño
(The age of dreams)
Santiago de Chile: Dolmen Ed., 1995. 109 p.
Fairy tales - Legends - Fantasy worlds
This information book introduces the world of fairies, trolls, dwarfs and giants. In various chapters the figures of legends, mythical tales and folktales, as well as literary fairy tales or the works of Shakespeare are presented. Furthermore, the reader becomes acquainted with legendary and magical places such as the famous islands such as Avalon, castles such as Camelot or distant worlds such as El Dorado. This book gives a glimpse of the nearly inmeasurable diversity of the topic; by moving across cultures and epoches and approaching the subject in thematic groups, it shows interesting lnks and parallels beteen creatures and places of different origins. (13+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 1997 - 177
Reyes, Yolanda (text)
Rabanal, Daniel (illus.)
El terror de sexto »B« y otras historias del colegio
(The terror of class 6B and other school stories)
Bogotá: Santillana, 1995. 96 p.
In a skillful, psychologically insightful manner Reyes tells seven stories about everyday life at school each with a different main protagonist. They are school children that can be found anywhere. The reader will recognize them and identify with their experiences such as falling in love or dreading to face the next day of school. The stories are witty and humorous, at times subversive, and in each case showing an irreverent attitude toward school as an institution. The author does not try to pretend to be one of the kids by using a supposedly youthful slng, nor does she pointa moralizing finger. (10+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 1997 - 178
Posadas, Carmen (text)
Martínez, Enrique (illus.)
Liliana bruja urbana
(Liliana, the urban witch)
México, D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1996 (1st ed. 1995). 47 p.
(A la orilla del viento; 63: Para los que están aprendiendo a leer)
Witch - Tom cat - Modern life - Tradition - City life - Country life
Although Liliana, an urban witch, appreciates the comforts of modern life, she is simply sick and tired of the hustle and bustle of her surroundings. So she decides to move to the country, taking along her spoiled tom cat, Gómez, who finds the idea awful. Life in the country turns out to be idyllic but quite uncomfortable because the convenient instant magic potion cubes soon run out and Liliana has to begin brewing everything in the old fashioned mannr again. In the end thetwo city creatures return to their old haunts in the city. This tale casts an original light on the differences in life styles between city and country; the fluent, humorous narrative is abundantly spiked with witty ideas. (8+)
Special Mention - Venezuela (Spanish) - 1997 - 179
Cotte, Carlos (illus.)
Chumba la cachumba
Caracas: Ekaré, 1995. 28 p.
(Colección Clave de sol; Canciones tradicionales para cantar y contar)
Venezuela/Folk song - Cemetery - Skeleton
Thirteen verses of a traditional Venezuelan nonsense song give structure to this amusing and very originally designed picture book. The catchy rhythm of the monotonous melody encourage everyone to sing along, to dance and clap along. The rhythm is also evident in the dynamic of the double-sided illustrations, which are a mixed technique of computer graphic and hand-painted pictures. The song gives answer to the question as to how the dead keep from being bored to death. They let their imagination run wild, they put on plays, dance and sing. These pale, boney figures dance their funny-scary roundabouts against the background of the cemetery with its stylized, interlocking crosses and gravestones in varying shades of grey under a petroleum green sky, facing the eye of the beholder as if on a stage or in front of a camera. Between the grotesque contortions, grimaces and funny props the adult reader will discover sophisticated citations from literature, art and popular culture such as the Mona Lisa or the Infanta from Velázquez's »Las Meninas«. The most irreverent reference is surely the parody of Da Vinci's »The Last Supper« in which the skeletons are found devouring tasty deserts while in the background a stained-glass window portrays the saints of our modern consumer society: sport heros and Mickey Mouse. (3+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1998 - 147
Armijo, Consuelo (text)
Gómez, Fernando (illus.)
Seráse una vez
(Once upon a time there will be)
Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1997. 119 p.
(Espasa Juvenil; 25)
Cow - Pasture - Country life
A herd of wayward cows romps about the pastures of the farmer Adolfo, their eccentricity giving him all kinds of trouble and keeping the entire village on edge. In eleven episodes Consuelo Armijo describes the richly varied lives of these cows - such as an encounter with a conceited breeding bull imported from Holland, or their identity problems such as when one considers itself to be a bird, while another takes itself for a monkey. Altogether they lead a paradisical life that is then only be surpassed in the real bovine heaven. Armijo endows this absurd, witty and grotesque fairy tale-like story with a fast rhythm, corresponding to the fast tempo of her protagonists' escapades. The continuous use of the future tense seems at first glance peculiar, but is quite in keeping with the pleasures of creative storytelling, with all its speculation and disregard for plausibility. (8+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1998 - 148
Un espía llamado Sara
(A spy called Sara)
Madrid: Acento Ed., 1997. 150 p.
Spy - War - Senselessness - Survival - Spain/History 1833-1839
The sailor Martín, a spy for the supporters of the pretender to the Spanish throne during the Carlist Wars, delivers an important message and remains in a village, now transformed into an army camp, for several days. At first convinced of the noble cause of this war, he becomes disillusioned by its brutality, treachery, intrigues, and the vain ambitiousness of the military leaders. A mixture of historical fiction and crime story, this novel shows the dubious nature of war and reveals the powerlessness and often accidental involvement of individuals. (13+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1998 - 149
Madrid: Ed. SM, 1997. 160 p.
(El barco de vapor / Serie oro [roja]; 10)
Odyssey - Outsider - Search for identity - Growing up
Unable to steer her boat, Ulaluna drifts away from her home, an isolated village, and makes a long odyssey through her native country, a fictictious place »in the north«, until she finally finds her way home. Her tale is a mixture of adventure, fairy tale, science fiction and coming-of-age story, making it an unusual tale in which places and people have a metamorphic significance. Hence Ulaluna's story is above all a journey through the basic patterns of lives and customs in human society. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1998 - 150
Jiménez Soria, Ángeles (text)
Prestifilippo, Pablo (illus.)
León: Ed. Everest, 1996. 31 p.
Parent/Child - Coat - Magic - Imagination
Jeremías' coat is old and worn, but comfortable and endowed with magic. The sleeves, for instance, are caves for bewitched frogs, the collar protects him from blood-thirsty vampires. When his parents buy him a new jacket, Jeremías falls into despair until they also sense how magical the old coat is and with its help journey back to their own childhoods. The coat, a symbol of the desire for security and familiar things, also represents the power of childlike imagination. The spacious, open illustrations in soft, flowing colors leave much room for the beholder's imagination. (6+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1998 - 151
Mallorquí, César (text)
Krahn, Fernando (illus.)
El último trabajo del señor Luna
(Mr. Luna's final job)
Barcelona: Edebé, 1997. 245 p.
Drug traffic - Organized crime - Highly gifted child - Identity - Growing up
The paths of three quite different people cross for just a brief time in Madrid. Flor Huanaco, on the run from a cocain boss, finds a job as household helper with the family of Pablo, a boy who is highly gifted but emotionally immature. Then she is tracked down by the contract killer Luna. How Flor and Pablo save their own lives - with Luna's unexpected help - is told from different perspectives in this well-structured thriller. At another level it also describes how Pablo overcomes his personal difficulties. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1998 - 152
Ribera, Jaume (text)
Ballester, Arnal (illus.)
Un problema de narices
(A nose problem)
Madrid: Anaya, 1997. 93 p.
(El Duende Verde; 98)
Siblings - Jealousy
During his holiday in the Pyrenees, Jorge finds playmates among the other families at the guest house. The holiday mood is dampened only by the continuous fighting between two unlike sisters, Ingrid and Gina. Although Ingrid is constantly given special favors by her parents, she likes to humiliate her sister at every opportunity. When Gina is suspected of a „crime", Jorge is able to unmask Ingrid as the guilty intriguer. With a sure feeling for characters, situations, and dialogues, Ribera develops a well-paced and humorous story that convincingly captures the jealous power conflict between the two girls. (10+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1998 - 153
Timossi, Jorge (text)
Cuentecillos y otras alteraciones
(Mini-stories and other disturbances)
Madrid: Ediciones de la Torre, 1997. 78 p.
(Alba y Mayo/Narrativa; 13)
Anecdote - Aphorism
The intelligent, subtle texts of this Cuban author - aphorisms, anecdotes and mini-stories - play a juggling game with simple observations and language. Unconventional turns of phrase stimulate the reader to ponder the story and how it could be continued. Much is used to send the reader's thoughts off course, to »disturb« the reader, as the title suggests. Drawings of Felipe, a friend of the famous cartoon-hero Mafalda, accompany the texts. The preface explains that Jorge Timossi continues here a long tradition of Spanish short prose. (14+)
Special Mention - Argentina (Spanish) - 1998 - 161
Andruetto, María Teresa (text)
Buenos Aires: Ed. Sudamericana, 1997. 106 p.
Italy/Emigration - Argentina/Immigration
At the age of 19 Stefano leaves his home in Italy to emigrate to Argentina. This novel begins with his farewells and describes the sea passage, the first difficult years on a farm and ends when he meets his future wife, Ema. Narrated in the third person, the tale is occasionally interrupted by short passages in which Stefano speaks for himself. In these monologues to Ema, Stefano recapitulates and reflects upon the loosening of his ties to his mother. Her at times wordless, at times bitter reproaches at being left behind in Italy run through the entire story like a red thread. Stefano's story is narrated in a sparce language. And yet, the feelings of lonesomeness, sadness and hope shine clearly through the realistic, seemingly emotionally dry text. It is precisely this reticent tone and the underlying thoughts and emotions that make this novel so touching and memorable. (12+)
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+) ☼
Special Mention - Argentina (Spanish) - 1998 - 163
Roldán, Gustavo (text/illus.)
Cómo reconocer a un monstruo
(How to recognize a monster)
Buenos Aires: AZ Ed., 1997.  p.
(Serie del tipito)
Monster - Identification
A little man with a tall green hat tries to answer the question of how to recognize a monster. Rather timidly Tipito approaches a giant red fabulous creature and discovers armoured plates, hard as steps, ears from which long black hair grows, a mouth as big as an eggplant. After that there is no doubt more: a real monster! The charm of this story lies in the minimalist, seemingly scribbled illustrations. Done in vivid colors, each one shows only an excerpt of the monster, allowing the viewer to replicate the limited, dwarfed perspective of the story's hero. (4+)
Chile (Spanish) - 1998 - 169
Morel, Alicia (text)
Gerber, Tomás (illus.)
Leyendas bajo la Cruz del Sur
(Legends below the Southern Cross)
Santiago de Chile: Ed. Andrés Bello, 1996. 86 p.
Latin America/Tales - Latin America/Legend
This anthology of fifteen tales draws upon the rich treasury of Indio myths and legends from Central and South America. A common characteristic is their habit of explaining natural phenomena through myths. For instance, we learn that in ancient times the legendary constellation Southern Cross was an ostrich and that the whale once lived on land, where he wreaked much havoc because of his size. Such tales, masterly and vividly rendered by the Chilean storyteller Alicia Morel, will be of special interest to readers from other cultural backgrounds. (9+) ☆
Special Mention - Mexico (Spanish) - 1998 - 170
Gedovius, Juan (illus.)
México, D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1997.  p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
Imagination - Creativity - Oppression
Juan Gedovius' wordless picture book leaves much room for fantasy and choice of interpretation, thus setting in motion what the pictures illustrate: imagination. Creativity that cannot be held back, won't be cut down to size, and always finds a way to be expressed is the focal point here, personified as a bubbly, green, disheveled gnome. He smears color on the walls, is chastised by a »heavenly« hand, then plopped into a bathtub to get clean, threatened by the thick pencil tail of a dragon and singed by its blazing flames. And in spite of it all, he begins to decorate the walls again, this time with his sooty body. Although there seems to be little to see in this very original, attractively illustrated book, it calls for a closer look. Then it is possible to discover the wit and to become curious about what else might be hidden behind these pages. (6+)
Special Mention - Mexico (Spanish) - 1998 - 171
Rojo, Vicente (illus.)
Zapopan, Jalisco: Petra Ed., 1996; Supplement by Hugo Hiriart: Castillos en el aire.. 23 p.
(Arte y lenguaje)
ISBN 968-6445-17-x; 968-29-9587-6
Castle - Palace - Paper theater
Upon opening this folder one finds nine pieces of colored cardboard: round, rectangular, pointed forms, openings and slots. Are they to fold, stand up, look through - a castle, a temple a theater? Portals, merlons? Anything is possible, for this paper scenery gives few instructions; it is merely an invitation to play and experiment to one's heart's desire. An attractive brochure provides additional suggestions about theater and paper theater, about transforming and fabricating, and about abstract pictures and forms. (7+)
Venezuela (Spanish) - 1998 - 172
Calderón, Gloria (illus.)
Mambrú se fue a la guerra
(Mambrú went to war)
Caracas: Ed. Ekaré, 1996.  p.
(Colección clave de sol; Canciones tradicionales para cantar y contar)
War - Soldier - Farewell - Longing - Death - Grief
The well-known folk song about the bridegroom who must go to war on the day of his wedding and never returns home inspired the illustrator to tell the story in colored linocuts in which animals play the human parts. The reserved facial expressions and gestures and the dark, blue-toned night colors permeate the illustrations with a melancholy atmosphere, which contrasts the cheery, rhythmical melody of the song. Easily decipherable symbols (rose, letter, ship, etc.) elucidate the message of this story of love, faithfulness, longing, death and grief. (4+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1999 - 155
Echegaray, Marta (text)
Castillo, Jorge (illus.)
Inciértico o La rica historia del Sexto Océano
(Inciértico or The wonderful tale of the Sixth Ocean)
Madrid: Ed. Siruela, 1998. 91 p.
(Las tres edades ; 60)
Fantasy travel - Island - Alphabet - Language - Alice in Wonderland <motif>
Twelve-year old Marisol and her turtle Kikí reach the land of Inciértico by boat. This is a country consisting of 26 islands, each named after a letter in the alphabet, and is ruled by the slightly despotic King AyZee. With this monarch, who gladly shows her his whole kingdom, Marisol is able to conduct witty, sometimes absurd, sometimes sophisticated conversations. Consciously drawing parallels with Lewis Carroll's »Alice in Wonderland,« this story follows in the tradition of classical nonsense literature in which wordplay and games involving logic are more central to the story than any plot. (12+)
Spain (Spanish) - 1999 - 156
Otero, Rodolfo Guillermo (text)
Vassallo, Stephane (illus.)
La estrella Peregrina
(The star Peregrina)
Barcelona: Noguer y Caralt Ed., 1997. 63 p.
Universe - Stars - Star of Bethlehem - Transiency - Death - Philosophy of life
A star is born and sets off along on a journey through the universe. Peregrina (which means pilgrim) meets other stars, »red giants,« comets, makes friends, learns the meaning of farewells, and gradually becomes familiar with the mysteries of life, growth and decaying, welcome and separation, life and death. This easy-to-understand and sensitive text with color illustrations is an inquiry - using stars as an example - into existential questions and the meaning of life and underscores the value of every individual being. What Peregrina's fate is, is found out in the end, as a bright star comes to shine over a small village named Bethlehem. (7+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1999 - 157
Peña Muñoz, Manuel
Madrid: Ed. SM, 1998. 175 p.
(Gran Angular ; 177)
Chile 1940s - First love - Farewell - Memories - Returning - Homeland
Fourteen-year old Víctor Manuel travels at the end of the 1940s with his mother from Valparaíso to the tiny village Maillines in the southern part of Chile. His mother has been asked to deliver an ominous-looking blue packet from Spain to a long-lost man whom she was once in love with, during their youthful years in Spain. Maillines is a slumbering, secluded place, a world of its own that follows its own slow rhythm of life and time. In this „magical" place, which signifies the final destination of a journey to the past for the mother, and the beginning of the boy's passage into adulthood, the life stories of quite dissimilar persons are interwoven for a few days. Maillines becomes the symbol for homeland, meeting and parting, hoping and waiting. Writing in a calm, compact and atmospheric language, the author (born in 1951 in Valparaíso) helps the reader to appreciate the poesie of the moment and the moods (e.g., intense anticipation, sadness, melancholy) of the novel's figures. (12+)
(Premio Gran Angular, 1998)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1999 - 158
Piérola, Mabel (text/illus.)
(I don't know)
Madrid: Ed. SM, 1998. 30 p.
Naivity - Curiosity - Philosophy of life
Children are hungry for knowledge, they observe our world with their own eyes and are interested both in the big questions and the little details of life. Why don't we walk on four legs? Why do I get goosebumps? Or even: where was I before I was born? On each double-spread of this picture book one such question is posed. Each question stands alone, but together they give an entertaining and profound insight into the way children think. Mabel Piérola has created her dynamic, sparingly colored illustrations using mixed media on torn greyish brown and white paper, completely from the children's perspective. (4+)
(Premio Internacional de Ilustración de la Fundación Santa María, 1997)
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+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1999 - 160
Prada Samper, José Manuel de (reteller)
Filella, Luis (illus.)
Las mil caras del Diablo. Cuentos, leyendas y tradiciones
(The thousand faces of the devil. Folktales, legends and traditions)
Barcelona: Ed. Juventud, 1998. 246 p.
(Colección cuentos universales)
The folktales and legends in this extensive anthology all deal with the figure of the devil. José M. de Prada has done a meticulous job of researching and re-telling the traditional tales from many countries and cultures. The result is an interesting mixture, that enables a multi-faceted view at a well-known, many-sided character. Using a thematic approach - such as the origins of the devil or the classical motif of the devil's pact - the author offers interesting connections. Initial vignettes, black-and-white and some color illustrations, as well as an extensive list of sources and secondary literature round out this exemplary book. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1999 - 161
Ramírez Lozano, José A.
El cuerno de Maltea
Madrid: Alfaguara, 1997. 102 p.
Goat - Superstition - Large city - Rural life
When is sister and brother-in-law move to Sevilla, Lulino has no choice but to accompany them. The crass adjustments from provincial life in the country to life in the big city are further exacerbated by the fact that the boy had insisted on bringing his goat Maltea with them. Maltea gets loose and causes various upsets, is taken for an incarnation of the devil and in the end must play with its life on account of human superstition and of being alien and intolerably disruptive to city life. Told from Lulino's naive, at times almost picaresque point of view, this is a colorful, humorous story with a sense for situational comic. (10+)
(Premio Literario Jaén, 1997)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1999 - 162
Sierra i Fabra, Jordi
Un hombre con un tenedor en una tierra de sopas
(A man with a fork in an earth of spoons)
Madrid: Bruño, 1998. 171 p.
(Paralelo Cero ; 22)
Chiapas (Mexico) - Aborigines - Oppression - Social Conflict - Photographer - Suicide
The younger brother of a Spanish photographer wants to find out why his brother chose to commit suicide, even though he had received an important prize for the publication of a photo of a massacre in the Mexican state of Chiapas only a short time before. The question leads him to the center of the conflict, the jungle of Lacandona. This suspenseful, ficticious story by one of today's most widely read young adult writers in Spain is based on the real suicide case of a photojournalist. The book not only sheds light on the background of this socio-political conflict but also shows clearly the implications of journalism. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 1999 - 163
Estricnina con yogur
(Strichnine with yoghurt)
Madrid: Anaya, 1997. 129 p.
(Espacio abierto ; 51)
Verónica only wants nothing more than to spend a romantic weekend with her boyfriend at a holiday camp for highly gifted teenagers (though she finds the camp itself terribly boring). What happens in the time between her arrival and that of her boyfriend can hardly be summarized in this short space because this fastpaced narrative is so absurd and grotesque. In less than 24 hours Verónica runs into five Doberman dogs with psychopath looking faces, is nearly killed by a catapult, and much more. All in all a rather unspectacular story but it provokes laughter again and again. The author has a masterful way with words and a conspicuous talent for unconventional, spontaneous, and imaginative ideas. (13+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 1999 - 167
Buenos Aires: Ed. Sudamericana, 1998. 198 p.
(Imaginario (Primera Sudamericana))
Large city - Crime - Violence
Badly beaten up and seriously injured, Agustín tells his life story from a hospital bed. After the death of his father during Argentina's military dictatorship, he grew up first with near strangers in a poor quarter of Buenos Aires until he learned to fend for himself. He gives a realistic account of his life there: personal conflicts, social conflicts in the neighborhood, violence, drugs, police intervention, but also solidarity among individuals. In this tale, which has elements of a crime novel, the narrative switches skillfully between the flashbacks of the first-person narrator, Augustín, and the events in the hospital as told by his roommate. (13+)
Special Mention - Argentina (Spanish) - 1999 - 168
Wolf, Ema (text)
Sanzol, Jorge (illus.)
Pollos de campo
Buenos Aires: Alfaguara, 1997. 150 p.
(Infantil - juvenil)
Circus - Circus artists - Odyssey (Journey)
Big Rita, Lithe Mimí, the Magician Jesús and the Bear (who, one never knows, is perhaps human after all) are in a terrible quandary. The other members of their circus troupe have moved on to the next engagement without them. That wouldn't be much of a problem if only one of the four could only remember where it is. When the 13-year old circus acrobat Pedro suddenly turns up in their rickety old circus wagon, they begin an adventure-filled odyssey through the Argentine province searching for their colleagues and Pedro's missing brothers. In the course of their travels, during which they earn their keep with impromptu performances, the five highly individualistic characters encounter a large number of no less unique people. Ema Wolf's story burst full of amusing ideas and scenes. As already proven in previous children's books, her sense for absurd and screwy situations and rich imagery are successfully united here in this highly entertaining book. (12+)
Chile (Spanish) - 1999 - 174
Balcells, Jacqueline (text)
Jullian, Andrés (illus.)
El Mar de las Maravillas
(The Sea of Marvels)
Santiago de Chile [et al.]: Bello, 1997. 172 p.
(Editorial Andrés Bello ; 158 : Nivel 3)
The author has located the »Sea of Marvels« in the Pacific Ocean - a magical piece of ocean consisting of archipelagos and individual islands. The seven stories in this volume revolve around just these places - which will be found on no map. The island Omega, for example, which is waiting to become uninhabited, so that it too, like its sisters before it, can sink back into the ocean; or the island that fell in love with a human being and gives expression to its (obviously not merely) human feeling in a quite unique »language«. In her stories, Jacqueline Balcells combines elements of fairy tales, legends, and myths with the phantastic to form mysterious tales that reflect upon basic human concerns. (11+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 1999 - 175
Román, Celso (text)
El imperio de las cinco lunas
(The kingdom of the five moons)
Bogotá: Ed. Norma, 1998. 346 p.
(Colección torre de papel : Torre amarilla)
Fratricidal war - Good/Evil
The fantasy world which is presented in this novel bears strong resemblance to the reality of contemporary world in Latin America. The plot draws upon the legend of the five moons which prophecize the war between the fraternal countries of the tapirs and the pecaris and the ascendancy of the spider and snake kingdoms. The story focusses on a hero whose powers have been endowed by the animals, each represented by one moon. On his journey through the kingdom of evil he is confronted with difficulties that shape his character and allows the author to cast light on the values and problems facing Colombian society today. This is an initiation novel with a circular narrative structure that renews the meaning of traditional legends. (11+) ☆
(Premio Latinoamericano de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil Norma - Fundalectura, 1998)
Mexico (Spanish) - 1999 - 176
Bautista, Ana Gabriela (text)
Coupry, Claudine (illus.)
Cómo escalar un pastel
(How to climb a cake)
México, D.F.: Ed. Petra / Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1997.  p.
ISBN 970-18-0647-6; 968-36-5389-8
Cake - Mountain climbing - Nonsense
How do you climb a cake? Actually it is no different than climbing a mountain, except that one needs to ness of cakes steeped in alcohol, and also be aware that anti-meringue boots are best suited for the job. Ana Bautista and Claudine Coupry have »baked« a colorful, baroquely playful picture book. The ingredients are: a crazy nonsense idea that invites the reader to continue fantasizing; bold, double-spread pictures in glowing, creamy colors on a rough, wallpaper-like background; and an imaginative typography that renders the short text quite inventively. (6+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 1999 - 177
Jorajuria, David (text)
Jara, Maru (illus.)
El gato palomero
(The pigeon cat)
México, D.F.: Ed. Corunda, 1998. 23 p.
(Mis segundas letras)
(Coed. with Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes)
ISBN 970-7444-38-X; 970-18-1581-5
Cat - Pigeon - Flying - Power of will - Self-confidence
Is it insanity, naivity, trickery or pure mischief when a cat climbs up the bell tower and stubbornly insists that it is - admittedly a somewhat unusual - pigeon. The pigeons are most amused, but also find it irritating when the cat refuses under any conditions to leave their tower. When she is challenged to demonstrate her powers of flight, the impossible becomes real. Rather clumsily, but quite genuinely, the cat flatters about and thus manages to lay claim to her right to join the pigeons. This engaging story about will power and belief in the impossible is complemented by stylized illustrations in brilliant colors. (4+)
(Premio FILIJ de Cuento para Niños, 1997)
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+) ☼
Mexico (Spanish) - 1999 - 179
Sandoval, Jaime Alfonso
El Club de la Salamandra
(The Salamander Club)
México, D.F.: Ed. SM / Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1998. 223 p.
([Gran Angular] / M] ; 6)
ISBN 968-7791-43-8; 970-18-1055-4
Science - Philosophy of science - Fanaticism - Expedition - Submarine
Completely by chance Rudolph Green - a fifteen-year old boy who already teaches at the university and speaks eleven languages - finds himself in an adventure involving »anti-scientistis.« A mysterious message that he finds in a can of tomatoes in New Guinea takes him first to Rome and then later to unfathomable ocean caves. There he gets to know more about the »antiscience,« a conglomeration of theory and knowledge developed by a secret society which has been persecuted by traditional scientists for centuries. Humor, irony, love, a bit of science and a strong dose of lunacy are the main ingredients of this amusing adventure story. (12+)
(Premio Gran Angular, 1997 - México)
Mexico (Spanish) - 1999 - 180
Serrano, Francisco (comp./preface)
24 poetas latinoamericanos
(Twenty-four Latin American poets)
México, D.F.: CIDCLI, 1997. 254 p.
Eleven publishers have collaborated in the »Coedición Latinoamericana« to produce anthologies of Latin American stories, fairy tales, legends, etc. for young adult and adult readers. Through such co-editions it is possible to produce large printings of ambitious projects at comparatively low prices. Each volume in the now fourteen volume series is prepared by one publishing house. The coordination of this ex- emplary form of cooperation lays in the hands of CERLALC, an instituion which promotes literature and book production throughout Latin America. This volume represents an excellent and wide selection of Latin American poetry. (13+) ☆
Venezuela (Spanish) - 1999 - 181
Krahn, Fernando (text/illus.)
Bernardo y Canelo
(Bernardo and Canelo <proper names>)
Caracas: Ed. Ekaré, 1998.  p.
(El jardín de los niños)
Circus - Performance artists - Dog - Friendship
Bernardo and his little dog Canelo return home very impressed from a circus performance. While Bernardo has his mother sew him a costume and begins to practice juggling enthusiastically, though rather unsuccessfully, Canelo begins his training in secret. When he disappears one day without a trace, the intensive search ends finally at the circus with a happy reunion. Fernando Krahn tells this story step by step in easily understandable pictures that would be clear even without the brief text. The black-and-white illustrations have flat overlays in the basic colors of red, yellow and light blue in the style of the 1950s. This makes for a bright and cheery tale. (3+)
Venezuela (Spanish) - 1999 - 182
Lima, Chely (text)
Rodríguez, Juan (illus.)
El cerdito que amaba el Ballet
(The piglet who loved ballet)
Caracas: Monte Ávila Ed. Latinoamericana, 1998. 33 p.
(Primera dimensión : Serie dorada)
Pig - Ballet - Career wish - Self-fulfillment
A piglet worships a prima ballerina and hopes with all its heart to become a ballerina, too. Although the family declares it insane, the piglet tries to enroll in the dance academy but finally has to accept that it has not got the right constitution. In order to be near the adored dancer, there is an alternative. Piglet chooses to become an accomplished photographer of dance. The Cuban author tells the story of someone who does not give up easily, and demonstrates much empathy for the determined protagonist. Brisk, cartoon-like color sketches accompany this witty story. (5+)
(Premio Internacional de Literatura Infantil »Juan Rulfo«, 1996)
Spain (Spanish) - 2000 - 147
Gallego García, Laura
(The end of the world)
Madrid: Ed. SM, 1999. 207 p.
(El barco de vapor / Serie oro roja ; 17)
Prophecy - End of the world - Prevention - Monk - Millennium
Visions of Doomsday were widespread at the turn of the century one thousand years ago. Wars, plagues, conquests, rampages are a continual threat to mankind when the young monk Michel saves a mysterious pergament manuscript from his burned down monastery in the year 997. It contains gloomy prophecies which anticipate the end of the world if the so-called three axes of the time wheel could not be fitted together. Only this would enable mankind to live another thousand years. In his battle against time the monk travels throughout Europe with the juggler Mattius. In her debut novel Laura Gallego García tells a story filled with adventure and fantasy whose vividness and fascination stem from the interweaving of profound historical detail. (12+)
(Premio El Barco de Vapor; 1999)
Spain (Spanish) - 2000 - 148
Mallorquí, César (text)
Vila Declòs, Jordi (illus.)
La cruz de ElDorado
(The Cross of El Dorado)
Barcelona: Edebé, 1999. 207 p.
(Periscopio ; 70)
Eldorado - Search - Greed - Game of chance <Motif>
In 1900 a thirteen-year old boy loses his father, a gambler and swindler, in a shipwreck on their journey to Colombia. Jaime struggles on alone. When he comes into the possession of a map that shows the way to the legendary »Cross of El Dorado« he undertakes an adventurous journey through Colombia, accompanied by three people - a taciturn Arab, a cunning adventuress and his reappeared father. Told from the perspective of the sometimes naïve, sometimes crafty young protagonist, a well-paced and gripping story develops around a cast of characters who entertain the reader with witty dialogues. And the moral of the story? Life is a game in which one either wins or loses. (12+)
(Premio Edebé de Literatura Juvenil; 1999)
Spain (Spanish) - 2000 - 149
La tienda de palabras
(The word shop)
Madrid: Ed. Siruela, 1999. 255 p.
(Las tres edades ; 68)
Shop - Language - Word-play
The history teacher Carlos finds himself in a peculiar kind of shop that offers none of the usual kind of wares, but only words. At each of his visits he delves ever deeper into the fascinating world of language: its history, disappeared or not yet invented words, the endless possibilities of fantastic word-games are presented to him. All this occurs not in a dry and theoretical manner, but imbedded in a story that encourages the readers' creativity. This title is yet another example of the internationally successful trend that began with J. Gaarder's »Sophie's world« to present abstract topics such as philosophy or mathematics within a narrative tale. (13+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2000 - 150
Pascual, Emilio (text)
Serrano, Javier (illus.)
Días de Reyes Magos
(Three Kings' Days)
Madrid: Anaya, 1999. (2nd ed., rev.) 158 p.
Father/Son - Reading - Storytelling
As a result of family conflicts and his aversion against preparing for literature exams, the 16-year old first-person narrator decides to take some time out. During his »therapeutic absence« from normal life, a Madrid underground station becomes his 'school of life', and there he meets a blind man who acquaints him with the secrets of life and literature. The blind man, who in the end is killed by a subway-train, turns out in retrospect to have been his father, an actor, who had been leading a double life parallel to his family life for a long time. This intellectually challenging story is a kind of Entwicklungsroman in which the narrator looks back twenty years later at this episode in his life that helped him grow into adulthood. On the other hand the book is also a hymn to literature and the love of reading. Imbedded in the narrative are numerous literary quotations and excerpts as well as allusions to world classics such as »Don Quixote«, »Lazarillo de Tormes« or Ernesto Sábato's »Sobre héroes y tumbas«. (15+)
(Premio Lazarillo; 1998)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2000 - 151
Rubio, Gabriela (text/illus.)
Las fotos de Sara
(Photos of Sara)
Barcelona: Ed. Destino, 1999.  p.
Appearance - Dissatisfaction - Identity search
Actually Sara is quite satisfied with herself and doesn't give a darn about her appearance. There are more important things in life. But when she has her picture taken in a camera booth, she is suddenly plagued with doubts. Aren't the others much prettier than she is? Wouldn't it be nice to look different? A fairy fulfills her wish and causes confuses Sara's feelings for the rest of the day. In the end she is quite happy to be herself again. This story about wishing to be someone else is illustrated by Gabriela Rubio with very expressive, wild pictures. In the strong energetic brush strokes, the reader recognizes the personality and the imaginative powers of this willful, fantasy-loving protagonist. (7+)
(Premio Apel·les Mestres; 1998)
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+) ☼
Colombia (Spanish) - 2000 - 166
La venganza de la vaca
(The cow's revenge)
Bogotá: Grupo Ed. Norma, 1998. 114 p.
Cow - Unexplained phenomenon
A group of teenagers are involved in a series of mysterious misfortunes, each related to cows, which seem to be connected with a conspiracy or other inexplicable circumstances. Held together by an overall storyline, nine stories are told that draw upon an arsenal of horror and spooky stories and take on a bizarre note through the subject »cow.« The suspense stems from the fact that evil is not tangible, but rather in the heads of the protagonists, and always unavoidable. All in all, the individual stories are more successful than the outside story, that loses its effect somewhat by having a rational conclusion. (12+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2000 - 167
Coll, Ivar da (text/illus.)
¡No, no fui yo!
(No! It wasn't me!)
Santafé de Bogotá: Panamericana Ed., 1998. 38 p.
(Que pase el tren)
Excursion - Embarrassment - Friendship
In rhymed verses Ivar da Coll tells the story of three friends who take an excursion one sunny day to have a picnic in an idyllic meadow. Refreshed and with full stomachs, each of the three lets slip some fairly unpleasant noises on the journey home. This is, of course, most embarrassing and leads to resolute denials. The guilt is always passed off to some mysterious fabled beast - a rather unsettling idea that causes them to hurry home as fast as possible to crawl into their safe beds. Ivar da Coll illustrates his humorous story of the three animal friends with appealing colored drawings that give amusing renderings of each stage of this »uproarious« excursion. (3+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 2000 - 168
Rendón Ortiz, Gilberto (text)
Bohórquez, Rossana (illus.)
Los cuatro amigos de siempre
(Four friends for eternity)
México, D.F.: Ed. SM, 1999. 120 p.
([El barco de vapor / M / Serie naranja] ; 3)
ISBN 968-7791-82-9; 968-7791-76-4; 970-18-2367-2
Physical handicap - Physical activity - Friendship - Illness - Daydream - Grandmother/Grandson - Death
Manuel lives with his grandmother in a house in the country with a giant yard. It would be a paradise for a boy not tied to a wheelchair and sickly. In order to fulfill his longing for freedom and friendship, Manuel creates his own dream-world, that is drawn largely from his wide reading experience. There he finds the friends and experiences the adventures that are denied him in the real world. With Manuel himself as narrator, reality and fiction become interwoven. In his mind, the borders are shifting and both merge together to form a new reality. In spite of the sad conclusion, this emotional tale is carried by an optimistic tone. (10+)
(Premio El Barco de Vapor - México; 1998)
Mexico (Spanish) - 2000 - 169
Sastrías, Martha (text)
Nava Bouchaín, Francisco (illus.)
El sapo que no quería comer
(The toad who didn't want to eat)
México, D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1998.  p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
Toad - Eating habits
The toad king has been invited to the spring festival of the turtle queen. All would be well if only the guest did not spurn every delicacy that is offered to him. The difficult riddle of what he would like to eat draws contributions from various specialists. Lamb, fish, toadstools? Perhaps fruit? No, none of these! His private physician must be summoned to explain what his master likes best of all: insects, insects, insects - morning, noon and night! Sketchy, fleeting, comic stripstyle drawings accompany this simple, clearly structured fairy tale-like story. They reflect the erratic mood of the toad king in particular in his facial play and gestures. (3+)
Venezuela (Spanish) - 2000 - 170
Faría, Rosana (illus.)
El adivino. Cuento popular
(The seer. A folk tale)
Maracay, estado Aragua: Playco Ed., 1998.  p.
Farmer - Social advancement - Trickery - Naïveté - Seer
In this traditional Latin American story a farmer declares that he is a seer and claims he can trace down things that have been lost. His bragging brings him into difficulties, but in a perfect pícaroon-like mixture of insolence, trickery, naïveté and luck that is common to the Hispanic storytelling tradition he even wins favor with the viceroy. Rosana Faría illustrates the humorous story with small black-and-white drawings and full-page color pictures done in soft, warm pastels. The exaggerated gestures and expressions capture well the different prototypical characters of this burlesque tale. (8+)
Venezuela (Spanish) - 2000 - 171
Urdaneta, Romer (reteller)
Rondón, Javier (illus.)
González Uliana, Jorge (transl.)
Kaarai el alcaraván. Literatura wayuu
(Kaarai the alcaraván bird. A Wayuu tale)
Caracas: Ed. Tinta, Papel y Vida, 1998. 35 p.
(Colección delfín : Serie indígenas)
(Text Spanish and Wayuu)
Wayuu/Myth - Sun - Light - Bird - Punishment
Throughout the world there are myths and tales that explain natural phenomenon in surprisingly simple and imaginative ways. Why, for example, does the Kaari - a bird found in Venezuela - have such long legs but is not able to fly? Because, according to the Wayuu tribe, it tried to steal the light of the sun god Ka'i. He pursued the bird, pulled on its legs and condemned it to spend its whole life earthbound. The publishing house Tinta, Papel y Vida has taken a special interest in making the language and cultures of the Venezuelan aborigines more familiar. Along with the illustrated Spanish version of the story, the original text is included in an appendix, as well as basic information about the Wayuu tribe. (6+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2001 - 151
Álvarez, Blanca (text)
Salmerón, Rafael (illus.)
Milú, un perro en desgracia
(Milú, an unlucky dog)
Madrid : Espasa, 2000. 139 p.
(Espasa juvenil ; 143)
City life - Dog - Misfortune
The narrative I, Milú, a manifest mongrel, lives happily with his human family, who has picked him off the street. But ever since the day the cleaning-lady told him that he would soon be thrown back out into the streets, Milú is completely nerve-wrecked. From the point of view of the worried »underdog«, the reader learns a lot about stuck-up, high-strung pure-breds, about humans and about life in general. The funny observations of and commentaries on everyday life derive their humorous potential from the apparently naive perspective of the protagonist, who nevertheless is endowed with shrewdness and a good dose of sarcasm. (10+)
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+) ☼
Spain (Spanish) - 2001 - 153
Madrid : Ed. SM, 2000. 203 p.
(Gran angular ; 202)
Brittany <13th century> - Cathedral - Construction - Satanism
Navarra during the 13th century: 14-year-old stone carver Telmo is sent to Brittany in order to assist in the construction of a gigantic cathedral, financed by some obscure chivalric order. Telmo is also on a secret mission: He is to find out about the underlying reason of this strange construction. When it turns out that the monstrous temple is to enable the return of Lucifer, whom the commissioners want to be their leader in the battle of Armageddon, the race against time begins. Mallorquí combines elements of historical, adventure and fantasy novels, displaying once again the mastery of his craft. The narrative flows easily, while the suspense is sustained until the very end. (12+)
(Premio Gran Angular; 1999)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2001 - 154
Martín, Andreu (text)
Martín Farrero, Inés (transl.)
Mentiras de verdad
(Catalan orig. title: Veritats a mitges)
Madrid : Ed. Siruela, 2000. 190 p.
(Las tres edades ; 73)
Father - Son - Truth - Lie - First love - Spain <1967>
Barcelona 1967: The strained relationship between 18-year-old Pep and his conservative, taciturn father threatens to fall apart completely when Pep suspects his father to have a mistress. His enquiries lead to an unexpected discovery and hold the mirror to the indignant but also selfrighteous Pep: Just like his father, he entagles himself in lies when he attempts to impress his fellow student Julia. This multi-layered, gripping novel, crafted like a detective story, explores the question of the motivations for lying. The wellknown Catalan author succeeds in describing the moods, feelings, fears, desires and anxieties of the characters with a keen sense of observation, while evoking an engaging portrait of the era. The speechlessness, the contorsions and tabus in Pepe's family reflect the restrictive, petty-bourgeois and decrepit nature of the Franco-regime, that penetrated all walks of life. (14+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2001 - 155
El bostezo del puma
(The yawn of the puma)
Madrid : Alfaguara, 1999. 231 p.
Suicide - Guilt - St. Jacob's trail - Quest for identity
Abram is tortured with feelings of guilt, because he thinks he may be partly responsible for the suicide of Lisa, his friend. To find answers to his questions, he goes on the St. Jacob's pilgrims' trail. He is pursued by Lisa's flat mate, Tim, who considers him Lisa's murderer, and he is shadowed by the police. But along the way, he also comes upon people like French Marion or the German Jewish young woman Alma, who fascinates him and whom he falls in love with. Through the different, psychologically convincing characters, this suspenseful and touching novel explores the fundamental question of the meaning of human existence. (14+)
(Premio Jaén de Narrativa Infantil y Juvenil; 1999)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2001 - 156
Prats, Joan de Déu (text)
Filella, Luis (illus.)
Noche de Reyes
(Catalan orig. title: Nit de Reis)
Barcelona : Edebé, 2000.  p.
(Biblioteca religiosa Edebé)
Three Wise Men - Balthasar - Immigration/Europe - Xenophobia - Racism
»Do you have a working permit, and is your camel vaccinated at all?«, King Balthasar is confused. He only wanted to deliver a present in time for Epiphany in Spain, but at the borders of Europe he finds himself (black) face to (white) face with rough border police officers, who refuse him the entry permit. How he finally does reach his destination, how his camel is deported from the noparking space on the way, and how he is confronted with racist attacks – all this is related in this intelligent picture book for children and adults. Witty parodies and simple devices unmask racism and xenophobia. (6+) ☆
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+) ☼
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2001 - 158
Sánchez Alcón, Chema
El radiofonista pirado que desenterraba filósofos para explicarse el mundo
(The presenter of the pirates' radio station who dug out philosophers to explain the world)
Madrid : Anaya, 1999. 215 p.
Pirates' radio station - Philosophy
This entertaining story is all about »philosophy for everyone«. A radio presenter questions the sense of his work, and, to overcome this crisis, he secretely starts a nocturnal feature on philosophical themes, inviting listeners to participate. When a concerned husband and father complains to the station, because he doesn't want his family spending the nights philosophising around the radio, it all comes out and the presenter is sent to prison. He suspects that he was really imprisoned for inspiring people to think for themselves. The book takes the reader into the world of philosophy with wit, humour and lightness. (12+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 2001 - 164
Pescetti, Luis María (text)
Buenos Aires : Alfaguara, 2000. 203 p.
Boy - Everyday life - School - First love - Self-confidence
Frin, whose strong dislike for his sports teacher is the only special thing about him, is not happy with his low profile existence. He struggles with a minority complex and suffers from jealousy, because he has fallen in love with his school-mate Alma, who seems to like another boy better. Only some positive experiences, entirely new to him – a good friend, the first kiss, a successful appearance on television – gradually provide Frin with the self-confidence he lacked for so long. The realistic, humorous and thoughtful story relates the life of an unspectacular hero with a good deal of sympathy. (10+)
Chile (Spanish) - 2001 - 171
Carvajal, Victor (text)
Urquiza, Carlos (illus.)
Sakanusoyin, cazador de Tierra del Fuego
(Sakanusoyin, hunter from Tierra del Fuego)
Santiago de Chile : Aguilar Chilena de Ed., 2000. 119 p.
Tierra del Fuego - Ona <people> (=Selknam) - Hunt - Love of nature
There is a growing awareness of the indigenous cultural heritage in Latin America. This book taking up old myths is set in Tierra del Fuego. The boy Sakanusoyin, excellent hunter, is the hope of his people which suffers from the depletion of Guanacos, their main source of nutrition. But because he regards the animals as his kin, he is faced with a dilemma. The wanderings through the forests together with Salisuyosin (a boy his age), are also a process of initiation. The calm tone of the story and the figurative language advocate the love of nature and introduce the reader to the traditions and myths of the no longer existing Selknam people. (11+) ☆
(Premio Consejo Nacional del Libro y de la Lectura)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2001 - 172
Rosero, Evelio José (text)
Castellanos, Diana (illus.)
(Knife <proper name>)
Bogotá ; Barcelona [et al.] : Grupo Ed. Norma, 2000. 154 p.
(Colección torre de papel : Torre azul)
Teacher - Hatred - Prejudice
The first-person-narrator and his brother are not too thrilled when their notorious history teacher, nicknamed »Cuchilla« (»The Knife«) by the schoolchildren, moves into the house next-door. They secretely observe him and have to come to the somber conclusion that he leads a perfectly normal life: he sometimes comes home drunk, he has friends, makes music and so on. Slowly, the human qualities of the despised teacher become apparent. The story is told with humour and convinces with its concise language. With economic means, the author succeeds in developing memorable characters. (10+)
(Premio Norma-Fundalectura; 2000)
Uruguay (Spanish) - 2001 - 173
Bavosi, Ana María (adapt.)
Cassinelli, Horacio (illus.)
(Pedro Fourteen <proper name>)
[Montevideo] : Bicho Feo Ed., 1996. 23 p.
Giant - Strength - Devil - Fairy tale
Pedro Fourteen is a hell of guy: he is as big and strong as fourteen men, he works like fourteen men – but unfortunately he also eats like fourteen men. That's why the villagers want to get rid of him and literally send the candid voracious eater to hell. How Pedro fights a whole pack of nasty little devils, and why the devil is first put in a sack and finally ends up in a cool grave on top of a high mountain, that's what this peculiar fairy tale will tell you. The caricaturesque style of the energetic line-drawings, partially washed with watercolours, perfectly suits the humorous text. (5+)
Venezuela (Spanish) - 2001 - 174
Cottin, Menena (text/illus.)
Caracas : Camelia Ed., 1999.  p.
House - Upside-down-world <motif>
What would happen if everything suddenly stood on its head? A girl walks about day-dreaming through the upside-down-world of her familiar home. The chandelier looks like a tree, the shower rains upwards, and the stairs go up, down, or up-down? A strikingly simple idea inspired the illustrator to create a charming story, taking the onlookers on a little discovery tour and inviting them to keep on raving in this topsy-turvy world. »Upside-down«, originally an animated cartoon, now is published as a book with realistic, soft-coloured pencil drawings. (3+)
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+) ☼
Spain (Spanish) - 2002 - 146
Ballesteros, Xosé (text/transl.)
Olmos, Roger (illus.)
Pontevedra : Kalandraka, 2000.  p.
(Libros para soñar)
(Orig. text Galician)
Wolf – Little Red Riding Hood – Trick <fun> – Fear
This parody of Little Red Riding Hood drastically illustrates the risks of unbridled gluttony. The heroine, wearing a cap in the shape of a giant strawberry, has a sweet (but also rather vicious) tooth and raids »Uncle Wolf's« food basket while trying to outwit the old fellow by exchanging the goodies with donkey droppings and tepid water. A bad conscience and fear follow, but too late: In the dark of the night, the angry wolf comes down the chimney. The story's grotesque humour and its unrelentingly rising tension are congenially captured by the double-spread illustrations. They are funny, wild, vivid, and excessive. Rich colours, daring perspectives, and the play with light and shadow heighten the dynamic effect. (5+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2002 - 147
Grimm, Jacob (text)
Grimm, Wilhelm (text)
Hidalgo, Herrín (select.)
Dumas, Oliveiro (illus.)
Gálvez, Pedro (transl.)
El señor Korbes y otros cuentos de Grimm
(Mr. Korbes and other Grimm tales)
Valencia : Media Vaca, 2001. 155 p.
(Media vaca ; 9)
Do you know the fairytale of Mister Korbes? Never heard of it? Then pick up this anthology of rather unknown treasures from the Grimm fairytales, and get to meet an artist who has illustrated these tales in an exceptionally witty, unconventional way. Oliveiro Dumas' furious mix of caricaturesque drawings, irreverent cartoons, and daring collage elements brings out the often neglected subversive, hardly childlike, gruesome side of the truly »Grimm« texts. Take a close look to discover all those bizarre details, hidden visual puns, and clever allusions – you're sure to appreciate, for example, the monstrous eruption of »Sweet porridge« in the shape of a mushroom cloud or Augusto Pinochet in the role of the evil one in »The peasant and the devil«. A few years ago, the publishing house Media Vaca started producing a small, fine series with new and newly discovered texts, high-quality illustrations, and aesthetic, bibliophile design. Buy, read, and hold on to it! (6+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2002 - 148
Juan, José Luis de
Recordando a Lampe
(Memories of Lampe)
Madrid : Ed. SM, 2001. 203 p.
(Gran angular ; 216)
Kant, Immanuel – Prussia/1800
In February 1802, the philosopher Immanuel Kant dismissed his domestic Martin Lampe, who had served him for almost 40 years. Using this event as his point of departure, the author, well-known for his adult fiction, has created a highly entertaining novel, ingeniously intertwining fact and fiction. The story follows the further fate of Lampe, who had endured his eccentric master for decades; embittered by his dismissal, he now nourishes feelings of vengeance against his successor. Apart from developing a gripping plot, the novel offers a vivid portrait of life in Kant's hometown, Königsberg, Eastern Prussia, some 200 years ago. (14+)
(Premio Gran Angular ; 2000)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2002 - 149
Martín Garzo, Gustavo (text)
Gabán, Jesús (illus.)
Una miga de pan
Madrid : Ed. Siruela, 2000. 126 p.
(Las tres edades ; 77)
Animals – Dog – Love – Hate – Will to live
Little puppy Tana is just over a few weeks old when her mother dies. »Life is hard«, her mother admits, but she trusts in the intelligence of her pup; she knows that on the night of her birth, a fox »infected « Tana with that cleverness still sparkling in her eyes. Following this sad but beautiful and touching beginning, a tale full of unsuspected turns unfolds – a literary surprise packet somewhere between fable and fairytale. It is a story about the conflict between love and hate and about humans, who fight for one or the other side. Keeping in line with the previous books by the well-known author, the narrative is powerful and emotional. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2002 - 150
Moure Trenor, Gonzalo (text)
Martín Godoy, Fernando (illus.)
Zaragoza : Edelvives, 2001. 93 p.
(Ala delta ; 244 : Serie verde)
Sinti and Roma – Gypsies – Ethnic minority – Social outcast – Father – Son
Maíto, ten-year-old son of a gypsy-family, lives with his parents and siblings in poor conditions on the outskirts of a small town. When his father Elías is taken to prison for a crime he never committed, an unusual communication begins: Maíto draws and sends pictures to the prison, while his illiterate father answers with similar »visual letters«. A dialogue without words unfolds, sustained by mutual affection and the longing for freedom. Related with great empathy, this father-son story has found an unusual and expressive way to open a new perspective on the troublesome relations between majority populations and their disdained minorities. (10+)
(Premio Ala Delta ; 2001)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2002 - 151
Nesquens, Daniel (text)
Arguilé, Elisa (illus.)
Hasta (casi) 100 bichos
([Almost] 100 beasts)
Madrid : Anaya, 2001. 207 p.
This highly amusing and imaginative bestiary features almost 100 entries in alphabetical order. The literary Noah's Ark is populated by a beastly lot of peculiar and unexpected species: Just when the animals start looking familiar, puns, surreal connotations and nonsense distort them. It may even happen that new species make their appearance among »normal« animals like the pig, the snail, or the whale – as is the case for the screwdriver. This delightful book is sure to captivate its readers with its spirited, light-hearted, and playful language. The small-format illustrations in different shades of brown at the beginning of each story perfectly complement this bestial collection of curious creatures. (14+)
Special Mention - Argentina (Spanish) - 2002 - 160
Los días del Venado : la saga de los confines
(The days of the stag : epic of the lands at the end of the world)
Buenos Aires [et al.] : Grupo Ed. Norma, 2001. (3. ed.) 322 p.
The Good – The Evil – Freedom – Cultural conflict – America/Conquest
This gripping fantasy narrates the clash of two worlds and cultures. Following a prophecy of their Holy Scriptures, the people of the »Fertile Lands« await the arrival of representatives of the »Ancient Lands«. Contrary to what they expected, however, these do not come with peaceful intentions but as conquerors who want to destroy anything foreign to them. The invaders, led by the »Son of Death«, threaten to be the victors in a terrible battle – had it not been for a warrior who sacrifices himself for the freedom of the »Fertile Lands«. The author creates settings, characters, and plots with a great deal of imagination and skill, so that the reader is inextricably drawn into this fictional world. Many allusions also make this a novel about the discovery and conquest of the Americas, told from the point of view – in real history – of the vanquished. (14+)
Chile (Spanish) - 2002 - 166
Parra, Marco Antonio de la
El año de la ballena
(The year of the whale)
Santiago de Chile [et al.] : Alfaguara, 2001. 128 p.
Family conflict – Parents – Child – Divorce – Coming of age – First love – Uncle – Friendship
Ismael has the impression of being shipwrecked: In the »year of the whale«, as he calls it, everything in and around him threatens to sink. His family breaks up. His mother is depressed, and he is estranged from his father who has fallen in love with another woman. Ismael finds an understanding friend in Uncle Juan, a non-conformist individualist and book-maniac, who initiates him to the world of books. His sister helps him confront the difficulties of the family and deal with the turmoil of growing up. With empathy and great earnestness, the first-person narrative describes the coming of age of an alert and sensitive adolescent, who reflects on a decisive year of his life. (14+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2002 - 167
Repún, Graciela (adapt.)
Weiss, Mónica (illus.)
(Legends from Argentina)
Bogotá [et al.] : Grupo Ed. Norma, 2001. 126 p.
(Colección torre de papel : Torre azul)
16 myths and legends of indigenous peoples from Argentina, from the north of the country all the way to the Tierra del Fuego, were rewritten for this slender volume. Like in many texts of this genre, these tales follow man's inclination to explain the origins of natural phenomena or animals as, for example, the constellation of the Southern Cross or various birds. The language is restrained and almost sparse – and it is from this very restriction that the text derives its intensity and poetic impact. The timeless quality of orally transmitted poetry is preserved, still its age is palpable; at the same time, the author has found her own convincing style suitable to pass on the timeless tales of the elders to the young readers of today's generation. (9+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 2002 - 168
Comotto (= Agustín Comotto) (text/illus.)
Siete millones de escarabajos
(Seven million beetles)
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2001.  p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
Beetle – Birthday – Family
What happens when seven million beetles decide to embark on a great, dangerous journey over the seas to congratulate their beloved cousin Marcelo on his birthday? That's what this picture book tells us with wit and a twinkle-in-the-eye sideswipe at the sometimes overwhelming sympathy of the »dear family«. With great originality and spirit, Comotto creates a busy million-bustling-beetlesworld. His sketchy, edgy, scrawly, and caricaturesque lines bring to life a repulsive, creepy, yet equally fascinating character cast. Limiting himself to the tones of black, grey and white, he courageously goes against the conventional aesthetics of picture books. (4+)
(Premio A la orilla del viento ; 2000 ; Libro ilustrado)
Mexico (Spanish) - 2002 - 169
Gedovius, Juan (illus.)
Morado al cubo
(Sticking to the dice)
México, D.F. : Alfaguara, 2000.  p.
Dice – Chance
When you open this book, you will be faced with a bunch of bizarre and prehistoric-looking gnomes, giants, and dinosaurs: furry and bristly ones, greenskinned and wrinkly ones, teeny-weeny and massive creatures. By chance, a dice happens to be thrown into this world. It starts poking the giant's foot, then it happily thrives in a flower-pot-like deformity on the gnome's head, serves as dragon food, and finally ends up with the angry giant again, who originally wanted to get rid of it. This simple circular tale without words fully focuses on the characters, only adding a few minor details. The illustrations powerfully strike the imagination because they leave ample room for the readers' own crazy ideas and mental experiments. (4+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 2002 - 170
Jaeger Cordero, Silvia
El huevo azul
(The blue egg)
Monterrey, Nuevo León : Ed. Castillo, 2000. 119 p.
(Castillo de la lectura) (Serie verde)
Tyrant – Power – Dream – Prophecy
Even though timeless like a fairytale, this story is undoubtedly inspired by the myths of the Aztecs, the ancestors of today's Mexicans. The mighty governor Tutul impels his subjects to acknowledge him as their absolute ruler and insists on being henceforth addressed by all – even his omnipresent Ara – as »King Tutul«. At the peak of his power, Tutul dreams a mysterious dream. Instead of announcing his fortune, as anticipated, this dream, which in truth is an ancient prophecy, predicts the fall of the despot. The poetic, figurative language and the humorous narrative of this story make this an entertaining read even for younger readers. (7+)
(Premio de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil »Castillo de la Lectura«)
Venezuela (Spanish) - 2002 - 171
Garmendia, Salvador (text)
Faría, Rosana (illus.)
El turpial que vivió dos veces
(The trupial <yellow-breasted oriole> that lived twice)
Maracay, estado Aragua : Playco Ed., .  p.
Birds – Trupial – Freedom – Protection of animals
This picture book relates the simple and touching story of a colourful trupial, which is taken into captivity and regains freedom. Told from the bird's point of view, the retrospective narrative focuses on the change of the boy, who shoots the bird down from a tree with a sling, puts it in a cage, and finally, of his own free will, releases it. The delicate double-spread colour illustrations, partly on white, partly on brown paper, perfectly capture the story's changing settings and shifting moods. Narrowing their focus from the vast Venezuelan savannah to the confined space of the dark cage and widening it again for the final scenes out in the open nature, they visualise the book's message in an attractive and convincing way. (6+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2003 - 146
Huye de mí, rubio
(Run from me, towhead)
Zaragoza : Edelvives, 2002. 201 p.
(Colección Alandar ; 3)
Central America – Guerillas – Military – Civil war – Kidnapping
For his holidays, Ismael travels to Central America with his father, who works there for a multi-national company. When the 15-year-old boy is kidnapped and taken to a guerilla camp in the rain forest, he suddenly sees himself confronted with the violence reigning in the civil war-torn country. Faced with this extreme situation, Ismael grows more mature and develops a different perception of his problems with his family and his life in the European consumer society. The first-person-narrator relates his experiences with realism and in a direct, humorous, sometimes sarcastic colloquial tone. This narrative approach makes for a convincingly authentic psychological portrait of a boy seeking orientation. (14+)
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+) ☼
Spain (Spanish) - 2003 - 148
Gallego García, Laura
La leyenda del Rey Errante
(The legend of the Wandering King)
Madrid : Ed. SM, 2002. 215 p.
(El barco de vapor : Serie roja ; 143)
Arabia – Prince – Poets’ competition – Envy – Adventure
Walid, a young Arab prince, is defeated three times in a poet’s championship by a simple, uneducated carpet weaver. Overwhelmed by his thirst for revenge, he has to go into exile. He lives with Bedouins in the desert and works as rich merchant’s secretary in Damascus. The suspenseful novel combines many elements and devices of traditional oriental narratives, while the nuanced psychological portrayal of the characters adds a modern and realistic touch. Despite the geographical and cultural distance of the subject, the reader is quickly captured by the imaginative plot and by the poetic language. (12+)
(Premio El Barco de Vapor ; 2002)
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 - Spain (Spanish) - 2003 - 150
Plaza, José María (text)
Pérez, Laura (illus.)
En septiembre llegó el desastre
(The disaster started in September)
Barcelona : Edebé, 2002. 164 p.
(Periscopio ; 96)
Puberty – Search for identity – Group – Outsider
13-year-old Fran is shocked and confused when he sees his school friends returning from their summer holidays with lower voices, peach fuzz, and some centimetres taller than him. Because they are suddenly interested in girls while he still prefers to play football, he is terrified by the thought of becoming an outsider. The fast paced novel follows Fran, who – in his desperate urge for recognition – increasingly entangles himself in a self-wrought net of white lies. The author relates the experiences and emotions of boys on the threshold between childhood and adolescence, plagued by insecurity and complexes, with realism and many comic situations and punch-lines. (13+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2003 - 151
Ventura, Antonio (text)
Morales, Judit (illus.)
Gòdia, Adrià (illus.)
La mirada de Pablo
Madrid : Ed. Siruela, 2002. 134 p.
(Las tres edades ; 93)
Boy – Everyday life – Siblings – Mother/Child
In 31 short chapters, this novella presents episodes of the life of nine-year-old Pablo, who experiences a time of insecurities and changes. The father no longer lives with the family, his sister Clara suffers from a disease of the lungs, and the mother has many worries. To make matters worse, they have moved and the boy has to get used to a new life in a small apartment in the big city. In a clear, subdued, calm tone and great sensitivity, Antonio Ventura depicts ordinary everyday life things and situations of a childhood dating back a few decades. It is his almost tender, poetical eye for seemingly insignificant details, which makes this book attractive to children and adults alike. (9+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 2003 - 160
Andruetto, María Teresa (text)
Nine, Lucas (illus.)
La mujer vampiro
Buenos Aires : Ed. Sudamericana, 2001. 62 p.
(Cuentámerica) (Primera Sudamericana)
Horror tale – Fear
For the six stories of this anthology, María Teresa Andruetto has explored the treasures of the oral storytelling tradition and presented elements of old horror tales in new forms. Supernatural beings, ogres, vampires, and humans transformed as animals, do not live in the remote past but right here and now in our own, normal everyday world. The stories are told in a succint, sober, and literary language. The horror doesn’t make a grand and grotesque entry but approaches quietly and with cunning: The reader is unsettled by small, unpretentious gaps in the narrative behind which one can only suspect a different, uncanny reality. (10+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 2003 - 161
Walsh, María Elena (text)
Ink, Lancman (illus.)
Hotel Pioho’s Palace
(Hotel Louse’s Palace)
Buenos Aires : Alfaguara, 2002. 166 p.
Metropolis – Adventure – Fantasy
Dalila spends a few days in a small, quite colourful hotel in Buenos Aires with her uncle. They have hardly put down their bags before the girl is drawn into many a strange adventure. In one, for example, she finds herself in a grotto under the city with the slightly batty descendants of pirates, who were stranded there 200 years ago. Whether it’s Greta, the Swedish backpack tourist, or Manuelita, the talking turtle: All characters of this story are unique individualists. With great linguistic skill and wit, the author weaves ever new ideas into the rather crazy plot which takes a lot of unexpected turns. The reader follows the daring turns with delight and is fascinated by how easily the boundaries between reality and fantasy are transgressed. (10+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2003 - 169
Bogotá : Ed. Norma, 2002. 88 p.
Egypt – Pharaoh – Wisdom – Storytelling
A pharaoh sends his eight sons out into all corners of his territory with the mission to find out wherein the strength of his people lies. The sons return from their travels, during which they have studied ancient writings and consulted wise scribes, with stories of love, hatred, courage, or envy. The pharaoh understands that the real strength does not reside in the single person, but that it is rooted in the sum of memories, stories, and experiences of all the people. Lilia Lardone narrates the brief framing story and the eight example-like tales in a symbolic, archaic- sounding language. Her unusual, lyrical tone transports the reader into a world long gone. (12+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 2003 - 170
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2002.  p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
Mother – Daughter – Authoritarian education – Mother’s love – Balloon
»One day, Camilla’s wish came true. Her mother turned into a balloon and didn’t shout at her anymore.« Until the end of this simple, yet refined picture book, it is not clear whether this transformation really happens. It may be only wishful thinking by the girl who avoids her mother’s verbal attacks in this way. The red balloon resembles all that Camila wants her mother to be: It does not shout, she likes it, and she has a lot of fun with it. »Well,« Camilla finally sums up »you can’t have everything.« The witty illustrations – sketchy, cartoon-like drawings combined with red, yellow, and green backgrounds – perfectly capture the little girl’s emotions. (5+)
Venezuela (Spanish) - 2003 - 171
Martínez, Rocío (text/illus.)
Matías dibuja el sol
(Matías draws the sun)
Caracas : Ed. Ekaré, 2002.  p.
(El jardín de los niños)
Artist – Art – Preference – Interpretation – Artistic Dispute
This is the third title of a series with stories about Matías, a mole with great talent and passion for art. In this volume, the artist wants to draw the sun. It takes several attempts before he is happy with his work – only to find out that his friends, goose, frog, and hamster, prefer the neglected »rejects« over his own favourite picture. That’s what art is all about: Everybody associates different memories and emotions with it: where one sees an egg, another sees the moon’s reflection, and a third an entry to a cave. The cheerful, brightly coloured picture book clearly teaches children in a sympathetic and simple way that art is always subject to dispute. (4+)
Venezuela (Spanish) - 2003 - 172
Rodríguez, Lucho (text/illus.)
ABZoo : abecedario zoológico
(ABZoo : a zoological alphabet)
Maracay, estado Aragua : Playco Ed., 2001.  p.
(Los mejores de Playco)
Animals – Alphabet
ABC-books are a particularly popular genre in children’s literature, and among them, animalalphabets undoubtedly form one of the favourite group. In this example, it is not so much the brief, informative texts, but rather the illustrations and the overall design which make this book stand out. For each letter of the alphabet, a wild animal is introduced: quetzal, tapir, wapiti, fox, and other animals from five continents. The characteristic physiognomy of every animal is appropriately depicted in a stylised form by the artist, who masterly works with simple shapes and pure colours. Small blackand- white vignettes and an aesthetic typography visually round off this beautiful book published in an unusual portrait format. (4+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2004 - 140
Vázquez, Alberto (text/illus.)
Onil (Alicante) : Ed. de Ponent, 2002. 60 p.
Emigration – Immigration – Identity – Uprooting – Homelessness – Generation conflict
In the form of a comic, this story tells of the fate of migrant workers. Looking back, the now grownup first-person narrator relates how he was uprooted from his familiar surroundings, tried to make the foreign country his home, and was again uprooted, losing his first love, when the family returned to their old, almost forgotten home country. This story convincingly describes the scars that such events can leave and the conflict between the children who long for integration and the adults who often (partly intentionally, partly accidentally) fail to to gain a foothold. Quiet black-and-white drawings aptly capture the narrator’s melancholy and the atmosphere of the 1960s. (12+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2004 - 141
Gasol, Anna (ed./adapt.)
Olmos, Roger (illus.)
El libro de las fábulas : relatos de hoy y de siempre
(The book of fables : tales for today and every day)
Barcelona [et al.] : Ed. B, 2003. 110 p.
For this beautifully designed collection, fables from different sources were gathered, retold and arranged into thematic groups. Naturally, Aesop and Lafontaine are not missing, but readers will also find Spanish examples by Calderón de la Barca or Samaniego, as well as texts by the 19century Latin American writers José Martí and Rafael Pombo. Roger Olmos has created powerful unconventional colour illustrations that perfectly complement the texts. His animals, landscapes, and objects with strangely distorted proportions add a unique, expressive, sometimes even mysterious note to the fables. (8+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2004 - 142
El cazador de estrellas
(The star hunter)
Zaragoza : Edelvives, 2003. 168 p.
(Colección Alandar ; 40)
Western Sahara – Refugee camp – Child – Illness – Imagination
12-year-old Bachir lives in a refugee camp in the Western Sahara, which has been occupied by Moroccan troops for many years already. Because of a lung disease, Bachir is confined to his tent; the sounds and noises coming through the thin walls are his only connection to the outside world. His illness is like a prison that also inhibits his inner development. But when Jamida enters into his life, the boy finally gains new hope. Thanks to the old man, who is invisible to the boy, Bachir and the readers learn about the history of his people and the distant world of the stars. Ricardo Gómez conveys the coming-ofage of this boy with great empathy and sympathy for his protagonist. (12+)
(Premio Alandar; 2003)
Spain (Spanish) - 2004 - 143
Guerrero, Pablo (text)
Urberuaga, Emilio (illus.)
[Madrid] : Kókinos, 2003.  p.
Child – Choice of career – Feeling – Love
The text for this picture book was taken from a song. Written in a form similar to the classic concept of »When I am grown-up...,« the text consists of lovesong-like statements such as »When I am a painter, I’ll paint your almondtree-sky for you.« or »When I am a pilot, I’ll see you in every cloud.« For each verse, the internationally renowned artist has drawn a double-page picture that adds entirely new dimensions to the lyrical text by having a child speak the words and experience their meaning. The illustrations with their bright colours and imaginative details take the readers on a poetic journey through a child’s world of thoughts and feelings. (4+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2004 - 144
Muñoz Puelles, Vicente (text)
Arguilé, Elisa (illus.)
Sombras de manos
Madrid : Anaya, 2002.  p.
(Los álbumes de Sopa de libros)
Shadow – Shadow games – Imagination
One evening, Olga and her parents muse about an ordinary phenomenon that holds a lot in store: »Does everything have shadows?« »Yes, everything that exists.« The next, almost philosophical question, »Why do shadows exist?«, paves the way for handson experiments. Olga and her parents bring to life various characters on the wall: fleeting shadow creatures that inspire the imagination of both performers and audience. The simple, subdued text is perfectly complemented by the illustrations. The artist sets her doll-like protagonists off against empty black or white backgrounds. Earthy colours and soft round forms create an intriguing contrast to the stark outlines of the poses seemingly frozen in time and space. (4+)
(Certamen Internacional de Álbum Ilustrado »Ciudad de Alicante«; 2002)
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 - Argentina (Spanish) - 2004 - 155
Baredes, Carla (text)
Lotersztain, Ileana (text)
García Rodríguez, Gonzalo (illus.)
¿Por qué es trompudo el elefante? : y otras curiosidades de los animales a la hora de comer
(Why does the elefant have a trunk? : and other peculiarities of animals at meal time)
Buenos Aires : Ed. Iamiqué, 2003. 59 p.
Animal – Physiognomy – Eating habits – Evolution
It is certainly true that many non-fiction books for children are well-made but, nevertheless, they often seem a little boring because they follow conventional concepts. This non-fiction title about animals published by a small new publishing house is refreshingly different. As the second volume of a series called ¡Qué bestias! (What amazing animals!), it examines the interesting question of why certain animals look the way they do, and why and how they eat the things they eat. With funny and smart headlines, entertaining yet well-founded texts, and cartoon-like colour illustrations, this book offers an original introduction to the animal world and the secrets of evolution. (8+)
Special Mention - Argentina (Spanish) - 2004 - 156
Libro de los prodigios
(The book of miracles)
Buenos Aires : Grupo Ed. Norma, 2003. 135 p.
(Torre de papel : Amarilla)
Example – Supernatural creature – Inexplicable phenomenon
In this book, the author – who is nominated for the Hans-Christian-Andersen-Award 2004 – parodies the genre of medieval exemplum-literature, albeit without its characteristic moralistic elements. 24 tales describe astonishing supernatural phenomena, such as cats made of sand, or tigers who have mysterious messages imprinted on their foreheads. In a brilliant manner, Ema Wolf exploits Latin and Arabic, religious and secular sources, plays with different styles, and mixes archaic and ancient terms with modern colloquial expressions. Thus she creates a refined intertextual blend that can be interpreted in various ways by teenage and adult readers alike. (14+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2004 - 161
Heredia, María Fernanda (text)
Díaz, Carlos Manuel (illus.)
Amigo se escribe con H
(You write Amigo with H)
Bogotá [et al.] : Grupo Ed. Norma, 2003. 125 p.
(Torre de papel : Azul)
Friendship – First love
María Antonia, the 10-year-old first-person narrator, is an alert girl, sometimes terribly disheartened, at other times courageous. She relates her everyday life – in which H, a boy from the neighbourhood, plays an important role – with a keen sense of observation, wit, and a hint of black humour. On the cusp between childhood and adolescence, things just seem to become more complicated – especially if they concern love and the first sexual sensations. That’s exactly what happens to María Antonia and H. The Ecuadorian author captures happy and less happy moments of a normal young life with great sensitivity and respect for the emotional turmoil of her two protagonists. (9+)
(Premio Latinoamericano de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil Norma-Fundalectura; 2003)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2004 - 162
Bogotá : Ed. Trescabezas, 2003. Each vol.  p. (4 volumes in a slipcase: Zooacuático; Zooaéreo; Zooígneo; Zootelúrico)
Animals – Imagination
Zootica presents a magnificent panoply of animals. The four square little volumes, with their black cloth binding and differently coloured dust jackets are gathered in an appealing cardboard slipcase and immediately catch the reader’s attention. Each of the books without words deals with one of the four natural elements: fire, water, air, and earth. Mysterious and bizarre fantasy creatures, which seem to have been inspired by Hieronymus Bosch, surrealist art, or maybe the imagery of American Indians’ folk art, fill the pages. With long tentacles, sharp spines, flame-like tongues, etc., they inspire the reader’s imagination and eagerness to interpret the pictures. (6+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 2004 - 163
Lago, Angela (text/illus.)
Juan Felizario Contento : el rey de los negocios
(Lucky Juan : the king of bargaining)
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2003.  p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
Fairy tale – Lucky Hans – Happiness – Materialism/ Idealism – Civilisation/Nature
The Brazilian illustrator Angela Lago keeps surprising her readers with new, unusual pictures – as in this ingenious interpretation of the fairy tale of Juan, the »King of bargaining«. Juan inherits a gold coin. After several trade-offs, he is left with a bird’s feather that seems to be worthless but rewards him with an »immeasurable moment of joy.« Juan’s itinerary begins in an urban setting scarred with high-rise-buildings and motorways that Lago illustrates with a chaotic myriad of colourful brush strokes. As Juan leaves this world behind, the background gradually quietens down. In the last picture, which shows the moment of happiness, there are merely two soft fields of colour: the blue of the sky and the beige of the earth. (5+)
Special Mention - Venezuela (Spanish) - 2004 - 164
Sáez Castán, Javier (text/illus.)
Los tres erizos : pantomima en dos actos con colofón
(The three hedgehogs : farce in two acts with colophon)
Caracas : Ed. Ekaré, 2003.  p.
(Colección Ponte Poronte)
ISBN 980-257-297-7. - 84-933060-0-2
Hedgehog – Apple – Food – Trial – Justice
Three hedgehogs raid an apple-orchard for windfalls. »Revenge!« scream the people. Once they finish hibernating and leave their cosy cave, the culprits will be in for it. But they are lucky because just then, a little apple tree they ‘planted’ decides to push its head through the earth. The benefactors shall be pardoned! Overwhelming emotions, medals, happy end! This unconventional picture book owes its exuberant originality to the discrepancy between the simplicity of the pseudodidactic tale, its subdued tone, and the warm, quiet illustrations on the one hand and its elaborate form and many literary allusions on the other. Javier Sáez Castán quotes elements of classicist drama or adds banners with Latin or French inscriptions as comments to imitate medieval paintings and ends up producing an intelligent ironic farce that can be appreciated by child and adult readers on very different levels. (6+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2005 - 137
Arenal, Sandra (interviews/text)
Chiesa, Mariana (illus.)
No hay tiempo para jugar : relatos de niños trabajadores
(There is no time for playing : working children talk about their lives)
Valencia : Media Vaca, 2004. 115 p.
(Últimas lecturas ; 4)
Child labour – Children’s rights
All over the world, the work capacity of innumerable children is being exploited. For many years, Sandra Arenal from Mexico (1936-2000) desperately fought for the rights of working children. One of the numerous results of her commitment is this collection of texts based on interviews with underage workers. These children between the age of 6 and 16, who live in Monterrey in Northern Mexico, talk about their work, their lives, their dreams, and their disappointments in an open, laconic way – some are full of illusions while others have completely lost theirs. Twelve years after its first publication in Mexico, these authentic reports are just as important and topical as they were then. The black-and-white-and-red wood cuts that the Argentinean artist Mariana Chiesa has created especially for this new edition are equally impressive. Full of strength and expressiveness, they are the perfect addition to these powerful texts. (13+) ☆
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2005 - 138
Gómez Cerdá, Alfredo (text)
Segovia, Carmen (illus.)
El tigre que tenía miedo a las gallinas
(The tiger that was afraid of chickens)
Madrid : Anaya, 2004. 138 p.
(Sopa de libros ; 99)
Children’s home – Youth detention centre – Outsider – Friendship – Freedom
Even though he is an outsider, Antonio considers life in the detention centre to be primarily safe and dependable. His new room mate Pedro, however, disturbs this stability because he doesn’t want to be a »tiger that is even afraid of chicken«. Soon enough, his longing for freedom also ‘infects’ Antonio. The two boys decide to escape from the home and although they don’t get far, this step marks an important moment in Antonio’s personal development. Alfredo Gómez Cerdá describes the fears and wishes of the two adolescents in a realistic and convincing tone. Both the various characters and life in a detention centre are exceedingly well portrayed. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2005 - 139
Martín Garzo, Gustavo (text)
Gabán, Jesús (illus.)
Tres cuentos de hadas
(Three fairy tales)
Madrid : Ed. Siruela, 2003. 131 p.
(Las tres edades ; 106)
Literary fairy tale
In Gustavo Martín Garzo’s novels, the readers frequently come across magical elements that are described with great casualness and naturalness. The same natural combination of real and supernatural motifs is evident in this book’s three literary fairy tales, which are of high linguistic quality and will appeal to child and adult readers alike. One characteristic example is the tale about a forest fairy that takes possession of the soul of a dead girl. Without growing any older, the fairy remains in her own body but leads the girl’s life until the soul finally deserts her when the dead child’s mother dies. Jesús Gabán’s dream-like colour illustrations wonderfully capture the melancholic and nostalgic tone that runs through all three tales. (10+)
(Premio Nacional; 2004)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2005 - 140
Neira Cruz, Xosé Antonio
El armiño duerme
(The stoat is sleeping)
Madrid : Ed. SM, 2003. 158 p.
(Gran angular ; 245)
Italy/16th century – Florence – Medici, Bianca di – Love – Fictional diary
In historical documents, there is hardly any information about Bianca di Medici, Duke Cosimo I.’s illegitimate daughter who was brought to her father’s court in Florence as a child. The author has taken the few indisputable facts available as his starting point for this novel. Through her diary, which was allegedly found in her coffin, Bianca directly addresses the readers, telling them about her life in the golden cage and her unhappiness in love. In this exceptional book, the fictional elements and the carefully researched and vividly described historical context are interwoven in a superb way. Another outstanding quality of this novel is its rich multi-faceted language. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2005 - 141
Schimel, Lawrence (text)
Rojo, Sara (illus.)
No hay nada como el original
(There is nothing like the original)
Barcelona : Destino, 2004.  p.
Single child – Loneliness – Boredom – Cloning – Identity
Creativity knows no bounds. When a boy is left alone in his mother’s office, he spontaneously produces a bunch of copies of himself. Suddenly he has a wonderful supply of look-alikes who are going to play with him and take over all the tasks he himself doesn’t feel like completing, such as doing his homework, visiting the dentist, cleaning his room, etc. Yet, what if the lovely homunculi decide to start a rebellion? What if Mum cannot tell the original from the copies anymore? In a witty and refreshingly non-didactical way, the text and illustrations of this very original picture book play with wishes and fears that are familiar to many children of our time. (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+) ☼
Argentina (Spanish) - 2005 - 150
Buenos Aires : Pequeño Editor, 2003.  p.
Eating – Being eaten – Food chain
Eating and being eaten, this natural law does not only apply to the wilderness but also to a modern dinner table – as this story with its comic-book-like illustrations clearly proves. A frog that suddenly leaps from a plate of soup to catch a few delicious flies turns from hunter into prey. Who would have thought that in the soup’s mysterious depths, a voracious crocodile was lying in wait...? The almost text-less picture story, which is only accompanied by a few onomatopoeic words, is a witty example of the small square picture books published by Pequeño Editor (Small Publisher). With titles by well-known illustrators and cartoonists, the publishing house adds a new facet to Argentinean children’s literature. (5+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 2005 - 151
Bodoc, Liliana (text)
Trillo, Matías (illus.)
Sucedió en colores
(It happened in colour)
Buenos Aires : Grupo Ed. Norma, 2004. 94 p.
(Torre de papel : Azul)
Literary fairy tale
Following her gripping fantasy trilogy »La saga de los confines« (The legend of the end of the world), Liliana Bodoc now proves her remarkable skill in the short literary genre. Inspired by folk tales and myths whose narrative tone she perfectly captures, she presents five different texts, each one dedicated to one particular colour. Each colour appears in characters and objects of the respective tale but, beyond that, it has also a symbolic meaning representing human feelings and moods. It is remarkable how the Argentinean author manages to surprise her readers with unusual pictures and unexpected turns of events. (9+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 2005 - 152
González, Fernando (text/illus.)
Buenos Aires : Ed. del Eclipse, 2004. 28 p.
(Libros-álbum del Eclipse)
Within the past few years, several new small Argentinean publishers have leapt unto the market, attracting attention because of their fresh, courageous, and innovative ideas. In 2004, Ediciones del Eclipse made their debut with eight picture books, each of them with its own very distinctive format, illustrative style, and layout that demonstrate the huge range of the Argentinean art of illustration. Animals, acrobats, and clowns are romping about in Fernando Gonzalez’s book. The short nonsense texts are set against bright monochrome backgrounds and illustrated by sketchy line drawings. This imaginative mixture perfectly matches the crazy and colourful circus life. (6+)
Special Mention - Argentina (Spanish) - 2005 - 153
Pescetti, Luis María (text)
Nadie te creería
(No-one would believe you)
Buenos Aires : Alfaguara, 2004. 175 p.
(Próxima parada : Desde 10 años)
Child – Everyday life – Short story – Nonsense literature
Luis Maria Pescetti, who is one of the most famous authors of Argentinean children’s literature, presents a splendid collection of 45 texts that hint at the author’s other passions: acting and making music. Many of the short stories, dialogues, and poems start off with an ordinary everyday situation that quite suddenly (or fairly slowly) takes an unexpected and absurd turn. In the first tale, for example, a mother speaks to her child’s teacher and spontaneously decides to swap her son for one of his classmates, as if this were nothing out of the ordinary. And the book continues with equally crazy twists, story after story. In a brilliant way, Pescetti does not only make his readers laugh out loud; he also manages to disturb them and make them think. Not even the language itself – words, sounds, or meanings – are safe from the explosive power of his imagination. This magnificent book also perfectly lends itself to reading aloud. (10+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2005 - 160
Manual de pelea
(Manual of quarrelling)
Bogotá : Grupo Ed. Norma, 2004. 252 p.
(Colección La otra orilla)
Family – School – Peer group – Hierarchy
In his debut novel, the author deals with the life of middle class teenagers in the city of Medellín. The triangle of family, school, and friends forms the determining coordinates for 14-year-old Santiago. Hovering between a cocky macho attitude and the adolescent feeling of insecurity, the protagonist makes readers share his daily life, concerns, and conflicts, as well as his first experiences with the opposite sex. The meticulous description of the hierarchy among teenagers is quite disturbing: Without compassion, everyone who is neither a natural winner nor regarded as mainstream person is branded as an outsider. This powerful realistic youth novel is a far cry from the illusory image of the ›happy youth‹. (13+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2005 - 161
Reyes, Yolanda (text)
Coll, Ivar da (illus.)
Una cama para tres
(A bed for three)
Bogotá : Alfaguara, 2003.  p.
Child – Going to bed – Night – Fear – Warmth
Yolanda Reyes relates the common evening squabbles over going to bed in a very humorous way but still takes children's fears and their longing for comfort and security seriously. Very realistically, she describes how the child suddenly needs to finnish some utterly important matters or how it asks its irritated mother hundreds of urgent questions. The adults always know better, they want to decide everything, yet they don't have a convincing answer to why children are now allowed to crawl into their parents' bed when they are afraid. Ivar da Coll's imaginative, cartoon-like pictures perfectly illustrate the cheerful and thoughtful everyday episode of an ordinary family like you and me (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+) ☼
Venezuela (Spanish) - 2005 - 164
Polo, Eduardo (text)
Ballester, Arnal (illus.)
Chamario : libro de rimas para niños
(Chamario : book of verses for children)
Caracas : Ed. Ekaré, 2004. 47 p.
(Colección rimas y adivinanzas)
Children’s poetry – Pun
This square little book stands out for its attractive design and the exquisite combination of text and pictures. A dancing hippo, a clumsy rider, or a scorpion playing piano – these are just a few of the many characters featuring in the 20 poems, whose real protagonist is language itself and the pleasure of playing with it. By swapping and pushing around syllables and words, surprising new combinations come into existence. They illustrate the never-ending possibilities of language and invite readers the join the game while the highly graphical, playful illustrations underline the poems’ absurd tone. This book fits in well with Ediciones Ekaré’s general intention of providing attractive volumes of poetry, rhymes, and songs for children. (6+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2006 - 141
El hombre que quería recordar
(The man who wanted to remember)
Madrid : Ed. SM, 2005. 139 p.
(Gran angular; 254)
Crime Identity – Camouflage
Santiago, an intern at a newspaper in Buenos Aires, gets drawn into a dangerous criminal case becoming a pawn in an obscure and confusing game. A slightly »mad« man, who allegedly suffers from amnesia, asks him to assist with his attempt to regain his memory in order to reconstruct his former life. Unintentionally, the young man turns into an accomplice in a sophistically staged, risky game, in which changing identities play a central role. Not only Santiago and other protagonists, but readers as well are thrown off the track by cleverly prepared red herrings. The Argentinean author skilfully juggles the various possibilities offered by the genre of crime fiction, playing with the tradition of storytelling and blurring the line between reality and fiction. (12+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2006 - 142
Liván, Paco (text)
Olmos, Roger (illus.)
La cosa que más duele del mundo
(The most painful thing in the world)
Pontevedra : OQO, 2005.  p.
(parallel editions in Galician and Catalan) Animals Truth – Lie – Folk tale – Fable
This folk tale based on the oral storytelling tradition of the Ivory Coast deals with the meaning of truth and as its counter point – the pain that lies and injustice can cause. The protagonists, hyena and rabbit, discuss what might be the most painful thing on earth. When the hyena comes up with nothing but superficial arguments, the rabbit decides to teach him an unforgettable lesson. This story is rich in symbolism, as is typical for a folk tale, and radiates with humour, boldness, and witty philosophical discussions, which will also delight small children. The splendid illustrations – a symphony of bright colours – stand out both for their skilled technique and their composition. The numerous hidden allusions invite young and older readers alike to »read« the pictures on a second level. This picture book is an example of the high quality books that the new publisher OQO is producing since 2005 in Galician, Spanish, and Catalan. (5+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2006 - 143
Nesquens, Daniel (text)
Arguilé Elisa (illus.)
Madrid : Anaya, 2005.  p.
(Mi primera sopa de libros)
This small-format board book stands out from the big group of books for very young children, which are often of average artistic quality. The simple, original story deals with the arbitrariness of cause and effect and points out how an accident (or is it fate?) can trigger off a long chain of events. A rain drop falls on the back of a dog, who gets a fright and barks, scaring off a cat, who meets a mouse, who in turn runs into a hole, ... And whose »fault« is it? The rain cloud’s, of course! The clear and unostentatious yet elaborate pictures, which focus on the few central elements of the plot, perfectly reflect the style of the text. This book will inspire the readers’ and listeners’ imagination to continue the story. (2+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2006 - 144
Rosell, Joel Franz (text)
Torrão, Marta (illus.)
Pájaros en la cabeza
(Birds in the head)
Sevilla : Kalandraka Andalucía, 2004.  p.
(Tiramillas ; 3)
Power Politics – Wisdom – Ambition
Told as a fairy tale, this story is more of a practical parable about the art of ruling wisely. Although a king is so old and short-sighted that he wouldn’t even recognise a dragon from three steps away, he rules with farsightedness, wisdom, and always keeps nature and the interests of the whole country in mind. Not so his ministers of defence, economy, and »everything else«. Driven by ambition, they are eager to carry out their own plans, such as war, huge construction projects, and the raising of taxes. Just like a »proper« fairy tale and unlike real life – the tale ends happily. The witty text by the Cuban author is rife with poetical images and topical satirical sideswipes about the power game. The expressive, abstract colour illustrations invite readers to reflect and look closely. (8+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2006 - 145
Ventura, Antonio (text)
Nesquens, Daniel (text)
Pérez Escrivá, Victoria (text)
Ranucci, Claudia (illus.)
6-colores : tres cuentos
(6 colours : three stories)
Madrid : SPR/MSH, 2004. 96 p.
Friendship Individuality – Otherness
This carefully designed volume in a black slipcase contains three tales by three different authors. A child, who loves painting with »wrong« colours; a bear, who is born into a human family; the friendship between a child and a stranger, who is »different «. At first glance, the three texts do not seem to have a lot in common. Yet, the right for individuality, the right to be different, to decide freely and not to let oneself be influenced by other people’s pre-concepts these are issues common to all three stories. Another feature that binds them together are the delicate, humorous, sometimes slightly surreal pictures by Claudia Ranucci. For each tale, she uses two colours, which adds up to a total of six colours – hence the title of the book. (8+)
Special Mention - Spain (Spanish) - 2006 - 146
Vicente, Marta (text/illus.)
Barcelona [et al.] : Albur, 2005.  p.
(Libros del zorro rojo)
ISBN 84-96509-11-7 / -9795-193-X
Circus Love – Jealousy – Freedom
This fascinating picture book relates how love and the longing for freedom stand their ground against jealousy and possessiveness. Totó, member of a gang of street dogs, falls in love with beautiful Adelaida, star of a travelling circus. With the help of his mates, Totó rescues his beloved from »imprisonment« by the bird-of-prey-like circus director and magician Rampur, who is so outraged that he sets fire to the circus tent and is then consumed by the flames. The atmospheric pictures painted with powerful brush strokes by the young Argentinean artist depict a melancholic and gloomy, almost unreal world, in which the suburbs’ drabness and the magic of the glittering yet declining circus world form a special bond. (6+)
Special Mention - Argentina (Spanish) - 2006 - 154
El mar y la serpiente
(The sea and the serpent)
Buenos Aires [et al.] : Ed. Norma, 2005. 105 p.
Argentina/1975-1985 Dictatorship – Political persecution – Missing person
The country’s military dictatorship is a topic also dealt with in Argentinean children’s literature. In her impressive novel, Paula Bombara describes the traumatic experiences of the daughter of one of the thousands of »desaparecidos« (missing people). While the first part starts off in the middle of the 1970s, the other two parts are set eight and ten years later. It is moving to see how the adults strive to protect the little girl from the brutal reality, but thereby involuntarily prevent her from understanding the sudden and inexplicable loss of her father and from coping with it. Only years later, when her mother hesitatingly breaks the silence, is the daughter able to come to terms with it. The story focuses exclusively on the first-person- narrator’s perspective and experiences. The concise language of the author, who observes and states facts without commenting or explaining anything, is very powerful. Thus, the events described gain immediacy and strength. (12+) ☆
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+) ☆ ☼
Chile (Spanish) - 2006 - 162
Balcells, Jacqueline (text)
Cardemil, Carmen (illus.)
Simón y el carro de fuego
(Simón and the fire carriage)
Santiago : Ed. SM Chile, 2004. 240 p.
(El barco de vapor : Colección volantín; 3)
Treasure Search – Time travel – Chile/1674 – Friendship
During a visit to the colonial museum at the Franciscan monastery in Santiago de Chile, twelve-year-old Simón looks at a painting and discovers a horse carriage, which looks exactly like the little wooden artefact left to him by his mother, who died in an accident together with his father. When he tries to solve the mystery of this so-called fire carriage, the boy goes on an exciting time travel adventure to 18th-century Chile and Peru. In this fast-paced, compelling novel, the author skilfully combines elements of historical novel and detective story and creates a number of convincing characters. Last but not least, this is also the story of two boys in today’s Chile, whose close and constant friendship overcomes huge social differences. (10+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2006 - 163
Lara, Enrique (illus.)
García, Luis (illus.)
Circo de pulgas
Bogotá : Ed. GatoMalo, 2005.  p.
Street dog Outsider – Flea circus
Within the past few years, a number of small publishing houses have sprung up in Latin America, which are seeking their fortune in the fairly difficult children’s book scene. In 2005, the Colombian publisher Gato Malo (Bad Cat) started with a handful of titles such as this textless picture book a genre quite common on that continent. The dynamic, caricature-like illustrations – sketchy black-and-white drawings, which are partly coloured – tell the story of a dog who is driven from his home and has to survive in the streets. With a lot of courage and creativity, he forges a new career as the founder of a successful flea circus. On the outside, this optimistic book is a funny animal story, yet on a deeper level it also addresses the topic of outsiders living at the edge of society. (3+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2006 - 164
Paz Castillo, María Fernanda (ed./adapt.)
Osorio, María (illus.)
Muertos de susto : leyendas de acá y del más allá
(Paralysed with fear : tales from near and far)
Bogotá : Alfaguara, 2005. 77 p.
(Nidos para la lectura) (Yo leo solo )
Horror story Fear
The series »Nidos para la lectura« (nests for reading) presents a number of carefully designed anthologies of folk tales, poems, and other short literary genres. This volume offers retellings of twelve horror stories of European and Latin American origin. The varied and by no means bloodthirsty selection is perfect for children who are in for a pleasant shudder of fear but not too much. The illustrations are a feast for the eyes. The abstract, dynamic digitally produced graphics, which dramatically amplify the characters’ expressions and gestures, consist of black, grey, white, and red fields of colour. They provide an attractive contrast to the tales from bygone times. (8+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 2006 - 165
El siglo XX
(The 20th century)
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2004. 125 p.
(A través del espejo)
Tradition Modernity – Civilisation – Freedom
In this riveting novel, partly told in the archaic language of ancient legends, Marcelo Birmajer again demonstrates his talent for creating gripping plots. Here, »The 20th century« is not only an era but also a country and modernity in general with its achievements for civilisation as well as its barbaric downsides. That’s where Juan travels, a member of an isolated tribe, whose rites and myths offer clarity and comfort but on the other hand also prevent progress and individual freedom. Taking the boy, who struggles with inner conflicts but becomes more mature during his journey, as an example, this novel points out that the lines between tradition and mordernity, innocent paradise and modern hell, suppression and freedom are blurred and not nearly as clear as we would expect them to be. (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+) ☼
Venezuela (Spanish) - 2006 - 167
Espinoza, Gerald (text/illus.)
Gallo Galí Galo
(The cock Gali Galo)
Caracas : Camelia Ed., 2004.  p.
Cock Gali Galo is a very special representative of his species: an animal with two heads or could it be two animals in one body? Be that as it may, both of them are headstrong and have very different views of the world around them. Each double page in this picture book presents a moment in the life of Gali and Galo. One gets up too late, the other too early, one finds the teacher attractive, the other considers her rather ugly, one feels comfortable, the other wants to go home. Gerald Espinoza captures the odd couple’s experiences in strongly coloured pictures, which focus on the amusing, partly absurd pairs of opposites depicting them in a more or less abstract way, and inspire readers to come up with their own examples. (3+)
Venezuela (Spanish) - 2006 - 168
Franco, Mercedes (text)
Salvador, Carmen (illus.)
Criaturas fantásticas de América
(Imaginary creatures from America)
Maracay : Playco Ed., 2004. 33 p.
America Mythical creatures
Who knows the big-footed Sasquatch, the gnome Zipito, or the lizard-like Güije? For thousands of years, with their boundless imagination and pleasure in telling stories, people have conjured up a huge variety of mythical creatures, often used to explain magical and mysterious phenomena. Quite naturally, both Americas abound with creatures from indigenous traditions as well as those shaped by European and African influences. This volume introduces sixteen mythical creatures from as many American countries, from Canada down to Chile. Each double page presents a descriptive text and a colour illustration, which shows each being in its typical context. This attractive and informative book enables readers to meet a flock of fascinating creatures. (7+) ☆
Spain (Spanish) - 2007 - 142
Blanco, Riki (text/illus.)
Barcelona : Thule Ed., 2006.  p.
A circus-setting offers a lot of space for fantastic events. »Cuentos pulga« is a collection of 14 ultra-short stories, each one about one member of a very special group of circus performers such as trapeze artist Regina, who is not afraid of heights but rather of the floor, or snake woman Elena, who disappears forever into her own navel. With a lot of creative energy, the author has developed these witty and absurd tales from the characteristics of the various circus professions. The full-page illustrations are mainly rendered in shades of red and brown. Thanks to their depiction of strong gestures and distinct forms, they perfectly mirror the exaggeration of this weird world. The beautiful typography skilfully complements both content and pictures. (5+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2007 - 143
Carreras de Sosa, Lydia (text)
Zabala, Javier (illus.)
Las cosas perdidas
(The lost things)
Zaragoza : Edelvives, 2006. 115 p.
(Ala delta : Serie verde; 58)
Kleptomania – Friendship – Embarrassment
Tami discovers that Uncle Daniel, a close family friend, is a compulsive thief who steals regularly. For the boy, this discovery is a huge shock. Torn between anger, embarrassment, and helplessness, Tami seeks help in order to cope with this situation. Kleptomania is a fairly unusual topic for a children’s book. Therefore, it’s all the more remarkable how sensitively and comprehensibly the author points out that kleptomania is a serious illness. In a psychologically refined and meticulously observed way, she describes the reactions and emotions of all the people involved. Both children and adults are confused and disappointed, they remain silent about the problem or try to deny it, and they are worried about their friend. This deliberately unspectacular book is well worth reading. (7+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2007 - 144
El reino de los sueños
(The kingdom of dreams)
Madrid : Ed. SM, 2006. 636 p.
(El ejército negro; 1)
The Middle Ages – Alchemy – Magic – Immortality – Philosopher’s stone – Parallel world – Library – Archaeology
This voluminous first volume of a fantasy trilogy tells two parallel tales that focus on the search for the philosopher’s stone and on people’s longing for immortality. Both plots – one of which is set in the 10th century, the other one in the present – are connected by their main protagonists: the alchemist’s assistant Arturo Adragón, who later becomes a knight, and a modern-day boy of the same name, whose father owns an archive of precious historical manuscripts. Step by step, the two narrative threads are woven into a refined, mysterious web that prepares the ground for further adventures in the book’s sequels. This cleverly constructed, thrilling imaginative novel features numerous interesting characters, places, and plot strands. (12+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2007 - 145
(The tunnel boring machine)
Barcelona : Ed. Bambú, 2006. 209 p.
(Bambú : Exit) Tunnel – Attempted murder – Detective
This detective novel perfectly illustrates that the border between teenage- and adult literature is becoming increasingly difficult to define. It is unusual however, that not a single young character appears in the whole story. The protagonist Fermín Escartín – a private detective and former university professor in Zaragoza – is hired to search for an engineer working in the construction of underground train tunnels who has disappeared without a trace. The detective’s investigations lead the readers deep below the city. Fernando Lalana, a successful and award-winning author of teenage novels, has constructed a gripping plot. With a lot of wit and unusual ideas, he captures his readers right until the end. (14+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2007 - 146
Neruda, Pablo (text)
Ferrer, Isidro (illus.)
Libro de las preguntas : un poema
(The book of questions : a poem)
Valencia : Media Vaca, 2006. [ca. 180] p.
(Libros para niños; 14)
Philosophy – Reflection – Question
Is it true that amber contains the tears of sirens? Why do poor people forget what poverty is like as soon as they are no longer poor? In his book, originally published in 1974, the Chilean Nobel prize winner strings together innumerable questions, including simple, complex, political, philosophical, witty, and metaphorical ones, to create a text resembling a long poem. Just like a lyrical monologue, the text doesn’t provide any answers but rather invites the readers to look for them themselves. Isidro Ferrer’s black-and-white illustrations don’t offer explanations either. Like on a stage, the artist produces a mysterious visual tale by putting together photographs, objects, and drawings. Doors, locks, stairs, and labyrinths hint at the unsolved mysteries of our world. (8+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2007 - 147
Nesquens, Daniel (text)
Arguilé, Elisa (illus.)
Madrid : Anaya, 2006. 197 p.
With »Mi familia«, Daniel Nesquens and Elisa Arguilé, who have already worked together several times, present their most original book to date. In Nesquens’s stories, family – an inexhaustible topic – is a bizarre cabinet of curiosities of very peculiar, both ordinary and weird, characters. The author portrays the dear relatives with all their idiosyncrasies in a witty and ironical way. Nevertheless, the descriptions are never defamatory because they always point out people’s humane side. Elisa Arguilé has translated the characters into brilliant illustrations. Her collage portraits in black-white-and-red show imperfect, deformed people who breathe individuality and self-confidence. (14+)
Spain (Spanish) - 2007 - 148
Roncagliolo, Santiago (text)
Wensell, Ulises (illus.)
Matías y los imposibles
(Matías and the Impossibles)
Madrid : Ed. Siruela, 2006. 111 p.
(Las tres edades; 136)
Grandfather – Grandson – Outsider – Death – Storytelling – Imagination
Matías is constantly teased and bullied. The only person who loves and understands the orphan boy (and tells him wonderful stories) is his grandfather with whom he lives. When the old man dies, Matías tries to escape his grief and loneliness by hiding in the wardrobe. Quite unexpectedly, characters from his favourite stories start knocking at the wardrobe door and take the boy on an adventure in which the line between reality and the imagined world becomes blurred and eventually disappears completely. Matías’s story, which offers child readers a lot of room for identification, is not only told in a gripping and amusing way; it also shows, in a sophisticated manner, the possibilities that people have for creating new worlds for themselves. (8+)
Argentina (Spanish) - 2007 - 156
Gandman, Alexiev (text/illus.)
Los planos de mi ciudad
(The maps of my city)
Buenos Aires : Ed. del Eclipse, 2005.  p.
(Libros-álbum del eclipse)
The city in this imaginative picture book is a complex organism with innumerable cords connecting its sometimes very quaint parts in an ingenious way. Alexiev Gandman’s black-and-white illustrations present an urban habitat that seems magical and mysterious, sophisticatedly constructed, yet cheerfully playful. An unspecified first-person narrator explores the world in which he lives by drawing maps of the city, then of the surrounding area, and finally of outer space. Eventually, he ends up in his own room again, a place that he considers just as »wonderfully inexplicable« as the whole city. This scintillating book invites readers and observers to create their own individual spaces for living that are hitherto unseen. (5+)
Argentina (Spanish/Portuguese) - 2007 - 157
Giampieri, Elena (text)
Farías, Carolina (illus.)
Papelote = Papelino
Córdoba : Comunic-arte, 2006.  p.
(Los niños del Mercosur)
(Bilingual ed.: Spanish and Portuguese)
Paper – Longing – Happiness – Flying
Papelote, a plain sheet of paper, longs to be a bird or a butterfly; or maybe a page in a book, because then he would be able to comfortably sit in a bookshop. Instead, he is forced to brave the world as a newspaper page. Although he still wishes he were something different, something better, something more beautiful, he slowly starts to enjoy life a little, as fragrant flowers are wrapped inside him, or as he is folded into a paper hat for a child. Eventually, after he has been crumpled up and thrown into the gutter, his great dream of flying finally comes true. In a poetic way, the simple text describes Papelote’s utterly human feelings, especially his desire to burst his (metaphorical) chains. The double-page mixed-media colour illustrations aptly express this longing. (4+)
Colombia (Spanish) - 2007 - 164
Rodríguez, Lucho (text/illus.)
Baena, Valeria (text)
Animales en extinción : Colombia ; Región del Caribe
(Endangered animals : Colombia ; Caribbean region)
Bogotá [et al.] : Ed. B., 2006.  p.
Colombia – Animals
The five titles of this attractive non-fiction series introduce various examples of Colombia’s rich fauna grouped according to geographical regions. Unfortunately, all these animals have one thing in common: They are in great danger of becoming extinct. The book »Caribbean Region«, for example, offers worthwhile details about the »tití« (a monkey with the beautiful Latin name »sanguinus oedipus«) or the Colombian peacock. The factual information is clearly structured (What does the animal look like? How does it live? Why is it endangered? etc.) and followed by a double-page featuring a legend that approaches the respective animal from a different, i.e. a narrative, point of view. Appealing stylised illustrations of the animals round off this enchanting book. (10+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 2007 - 165
Barajas Mariscal, Libia E. (text)
García Bernal, Víctor (illus.)
Vida y fortuna de un muchacho inquieto que se convirtió en científico
(The life and fate of a restless boy who became a scientist)
México, D.F. [et al.] : Castillo, 2005. 23 p.
(La otra escalera) (La máquina del tiempo)
Sigüenza y Góngora, Carlos de – Mexico/1645-1700 – Astronomy – Science
At his time, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora was one of the most renowned scientists on the American continent. Observing nature in a methodologically exact and careful way, he argued in favour of a strict divide between astronomy and astrology, a field which was then still regarded as very important among scientists. This comprehensible, well structured non-fiction picture book gives an excellent overview of the versatile astronomer and geographer’s life and work. Fairly unusual for a work of non-fiction are the double-page illustrations composed of details from old photographs, maps, documents, and books. Drawn figures move between these elements as if they were on a stage. Thus, the illustrations are not only informative, they also have a narrative quality. (9+)
Mexico (Spanish) - 2007 - 166
Pellicer, Carlos (text)
Pellicer López, Carlos (select./illus.)
Colores con brisa : [poesía para mirar en voz alta]
(Colours with a breeze : [poetry to be looked at aloud])
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica; Anturios Ed., 2006.  p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
Poetry – Nature
It’s the magnificently designed pictures that turn this book into something special. They consist mainly of shapes and colours. Huge, almost monochrome planes, squares, rectangles, waves, circles, and torn and cut paper form partly abstract compositions in bright colours that have a fascinating power to draw readers to them. In his pictures, the well-known illustrator Carlos Pellicer López (born 1948) opens up a new way of interpreting the literary work of his uncle, Carlos Pellicer (1897-1977). The texts are a selection of verses from the author’s lyrical work written mainly between 1920 and 1950. The imaginative descriptions of nature provide an insight into the literary cosmos of this poet who belongs to the Mexican avant-garde movement. (6+)
Venezuela (Spanish) - 2007 - 167
Bergna, Mónica (adapt.)
Vanden Broeck, Fabricio (illus.)
(The cockroach <Song title>)
Caracas : Camelia Ed., 2006.  p.
Cockroach – Folk song
The song »La Cucaracha«, the origins of which can be traced back to 15th-century Spain, is well known around the world in various versions. It gained particular popularity during the Mexican revolution when it was sung as political mockery of an odious general. In this new adaptation with catchy nonsensical verses, the disagreeable cockroach is joined by crickets, mice, vultures, and other animals that are all clad in the garments of »caballeros«, »señoras«, generals, priests, revolutionaries, and farm workers from the early 20th century. The figures, drawn with bold dynamic lines, are set against an empty brown background lending them a powerful presence. This burlesque picture book allows different readings according to the readers’ age. (6+)