White Ravens: White Ravens 1998
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 1
Fujimaki, Kumiko (text)
Tsuchida, Yoshiharu (illus.)
(The wonderous snowman)
Tokyo: Kin no hoshisha, 1996. 92 p.
(Shin tomodachi bunko; 9)
Father/Son - Longing - Help - Snowman
The father of seven-year old Fûta is missing in the mountains. Then one day his mother falls sick from overwork. To get her some medicine, Fûta goes into the village alone at night. Suddenly there is a snowman behind him, a protector. His love for his parents, longing for his father, the childlike fear of darkness and his encounter with the at first mysterious snowman who becomes more and more like his father - all these realistic and phantastic elements work together to form a sensitive story and a beginning reader of literary quality. (7+) ☼
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 2
Gunji, Nanae (text)
Orimo, Kyôko (illus.)
Beruna no me wa Nanae san no me
(Beruna's eyes are Nanae's eyes)
Tokyo: Doshinsha, 1996. (2nd ed.) 36 p.
(Ehon. Kodomo no hiroba)
Blind woman - Seeing-eye dog - Everyday life - Prejudice
After strenuous exercises to learn how to handle a seeing-eye dog, Nanae finally gets her own dog named Beruna. This expands her possibilities to take part in a normal everyday life considerably. But with her large dog she also encounters prejudice and lack of understanding. The problems of blind people in society are explained for children in an easily understandable way in this narrative picture book with colorful collage illustrations. (6+)
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 3
Hirokawa, Ryûich (text/photos)
Kawada, Etsuko (text)
Ryûhei no mirai. Eizu to tatakau 19sai
(Ryûei's future. A 19-year old's battle against AIDS)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1996. (9th ed.) 112 p.
HIV - Hemophiliac - Public protest - Public information - Will to live
Ryûei has suffered since birth from hemophilia and became infected with HIV through an imported blood serum. After accepting this twist of fate, he began to protest against the responsible institutions who caused this medical damage through carelessness. He makes public appearances, especially for young audiences, in order to inform them and improve the negative image of AIDS patients. The photojournalist Hirokawa has documented Ryûei's activities in excellent photos, enabling the tremendously constructive attitude of this 19-year old boy to make a strong impression on readers. (13+) ☆
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 4
Iizawa, Kôtarô (comp.)
Ajia sono hi sono hi
(Asia day by day)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan, 1997. 172 p.
Asia - Culture - Mankind - Nature - Life
Since 1976 the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for Unesco (ACCU) has organized an annual photography competition to promote the use of photography and to further mutual understanding and friendship in its member countries. The jubilee edition of the 20th competition with the motto »To feel Asia is to know Asia« encompasses 163 photos which were taken by amateur photographers in Asian countries between 1986 and 1996. They give a direct glimpse into the diversity of this part of the world. This photodocumentation (with texts in Japanese and English) can be recommended as an excellent book for use in schools, libraries and also families. (7+) ☆
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 5
Kanzawa, Toshiko (text)
Horiuchi, Seiichi (illus.)
Gin no honoo no kuni
(The land of the silvery flames)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1997. (Improved ed.) 372 p.
(Fukuinkan sôsaku dôwa shirîzu)
Life/Death - Justice - Survival - Reindeer - Wolf - Power struggle
After pronouncing a magic formula in fun, a brother and sister are suddenly torn out of their everyday lives. They find themselves in »the far north« of a fictitious country where a power struggle has erupted between the reindeer and the wolves. In accord with an ancient saying, these two figures are able to restore peace. In this dualistic story about life and survival, told in a rich language, the author deals with the issue of natural justice, i.e. the killing of other living creatures for the sake of one's own survival - where the death of one means life to another. (10+)
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 6
Kimishima, Hisako (text)
Ono, Kaoru (illus.)
Gin no udewa
(The silver armband)
Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1997.  p.
China/Tales - Cinderella
The oldest version of the fairy tale motif »Cendrillon« can be dated back to the 9th century in China, i.e. 800 years earlier than the well-known versions retold by Perrault and Basile. The sinologist Kimishima, whose area of specialization is fairy tales, retells a version known among the Yi ethnic group, and Ono supplements the text with ethnologically and culturally authentic illustrations. Unlike the more familiar versions, a silver armband takes on the function of the golden slipper, and after her marriage the heroine must first die and come to life again before finally achieving happiness, helped in this version by a cow and a magpie. (8+) ☆ ☼
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 7
Minamimoto, Shigeru (text/illus.)
Boku wa chiisana shiroi fune
(I am a little white ship)
Tokyo: Shikosha, 1996.  p.
Ship - Happiness - Modesty - Philosophy of life
Everyday the little ship Chiro brings children from the outlying islands to kindergarten on the large island. Sometimes it dreams of being a luxurious passenger ship, but the pleasures it has in the lively children, the screeching seagulls and its fellow ships make it so happy that Chiro can enjoy its peaceful life and security. Following his own personal philosophy of life, the author presents the happiness of modest individuals. The idyllic pictures with gentle outlines and harmonious colors convey to readers a kind of healing strength. (3+)
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 8
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Tôyama, Shigetoshi (illus.)
Otsuberu to zô
(Otsuberu and the elephant)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1997. 40 p.
(Nihon no dôwa meisakusen)
Big landowner - Exploitation - Solidarity - Justice
A great white elephant comes from the forest to work for the big landowner, Otsuberu. He mercilessly makes the naive, hard-working giant work himself to bone, until - nearly exhausted - the elephant calls upon his friends of the forest to free him. Highly venerated in Buddhist teachings, the white elephant plays a symbolic role in this modern fairy tale, set in earlier times, about justice, freedom and the conflict between landowners and peasants. The landscape of India is impressively rendered in oil painting illustrations. (10+)
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 9
Moriyama, Miyako (text)
Sano, Yôko (illus.)
Mahô tsukai no kurisumasu
(The sorceress' Christmas)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1997.  p.
(Akane sôsaku ehon; 38)
Sorceress - Jealousy - Metamorphosis - Saint Nicholas - Christmas - Love - Caring
Love and gift-giving is a favorite theme in Christmas stories. The sorceress is jealous of Saint Nicholas because he is beloved among children, so she tries to interfere with his good deeds. She turns herself into a Santa Claus and creates presents for the children through sorcery. But the children don't react as she had hoped and she is deeply disappointed. Full of anger, she turns herself into a little girl and, much to her surprise, receives caring attention and a gift from the old saint. This fully new experience makes her very happy at last. (5+)
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 10
Sasô, Yôko (text)
Yamada, Naito (illus.)
Bokura no saitê no natsu
(Our spoiled summer)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1997. 166 p.
Friendship - Family conflict
Punished for playing a dangerous game at school, two boys must spend their holidays cleaning the school's swimming pool. Their summer holidays seem to be ruined, except that their forced labor gives them the opportunity to become friends and also get to know each other's brothers and sisters better. In this way each of them gains insight into the problems of another family and learns how to recognize what is important in life. These attractive main characters, open and honest teenagers, are vividly portrayed by the author in a casual, readable style. (11+)
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 11
Satô, Takako (text)
Harada, Takehide (illus.)
Iguanakun no ojamana mainichi
(Day for day with our troublesome iguana)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1997. 263 p.
(Kaiseisha otanoshimi kurabu)
Green iguana - House pet - Gift - Family - Everyday life
Unfortunate circumstances force Juri and her parents to take in a iguana. The daily care they must give to this expensive and time-consuming house guest, which lives a quiet and seemingly carefree existence in its own green dreamworld, brings about a change in their consciousness. In spite of the financial burdens it creates, they are able to free themselves from their predicament. This is a crazy, entertaining family story with which readers living in a hectic and stress-filled world will be able to identify and enjoy for relaxation. (11+)
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 12
Suemori, Chieko (text)
Tsuo, Michiko (illus.)
Papa niwa tomodachi ga takusan ita
(Papa had many friends)
Tokyo: Suemori Books, 1995.  p.
Father - Death - Grief - Sympathy - Role model
How do children cope with the death of a parent? This picture book attempts to give an answer. The sudden death of a family's father was an unbelievable shock for both his wife and his two sons. Retreating from the world, the mother does nothing but listen to her husband's favorite music, while the boys try on his pullovers, seeking contact with him in that way. As the boys visit his workplace and become acquainted with a part of his world they had not known before, they discover a fully new image of their father. His co-workers, energetic and fully involved in their work, help the unhappy boys to overcome their grief. The father with so many dear friends becomes a role model that gives them a new optimistic outlook on life. The sparse text and illustrations done in the style of fashion drawings - a rather unconventional choice for this topic - complement each other convincingly. (7+)
Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 13
Takadono, Hôko (text/illus.)
Kirokochan to midori no kutsu
(Little Kiroko and the green shoes)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1997. (4th ed.) 169 p.
(Ohanashi fesuta; 7)
Shoe - Mirror image - Stubbornness - Considerateness
Kiroko's new shoes are very stubborn and cause her much trouble, because she can only move as they want to move. Suddenly she begins to dance smoothly or has to run quickly, even if it is dangerous. Gradually she learns to adjust to the shoes and they get along well together. This funny, fantasy story, written in a fast-paced child-like language, conveys the message that everyday life would be much easier and full of harmony if people would be more disciplined and be consi-derate of one another. (9+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 14
Tang, Yaming (= Tô, Amei) (text)
Yu, Dawu (= U, Taibu) (illus.)
Jûmanbon no ya
(The hundred thousand arrows)
Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1997.  p.
China/History 220-265 - General - Jealousy - Intrigue - Cleverness
This original Japanese picture book is an easily understandable retelling by a Chinese writer and Chinese illustrator of the 46th episode of the historical novel »The three kingdoms« (San-guo zhi yan-yi or San-kuo chih yen-i) by Luo Guanzhong (or Lo Kuan-chung) dating from the Ming dynasty. A famous general known for his cleverness must supply one hundred thousand arrows within ten days without being given any materials or laborers. Against all expectations he fulfills this devious task brilliantly by the third day. The visual interpretation of the text in the style of royal, scholastic Chinese painting is a feast for the eye. Extremely fine brush strokes, transparent colors and unusual proportions present the classical heroic period of ancient China in stunning picture compositions which satisfy both aesthetically and humorously. (9+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 15
Yamamoto, Yôko (text/illus.)
Tokyo: Shogakukan, 1996. (2nd ed.)  p.
Individuality - Childhood memories - Parody
The young girl Okochan has a strong personality that just radiates with vitality. She acts in accordance with her own imagination, impulses and logic, causing her parents and grandparents such amazement that they are nearly bowled over time after time. These delightful episodes from the author and graphic artist's own childhood are rendered here in short sketches which parody the well-known Japanese children's song »Zôsan« (Little elephant) by Michio Mado (Hans Christian Andersen Prize winner) and Ikuma Dan. This is an unconventional autobiography that sparks the reader to laughter again and again. (5+)
Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 16
Popura no aki
(A poplar tree in autumn)
Tokyo: Shinchosha, 1997. 218 p.
(Shincho bunko Yu-6-2)
Old/Young - Friendship - Death - Letter-writing - Withdrawal - Fear
Seven-year old Chiaki struggles to deal with the death of her father, her mother's suffering, and a new home and school. Feeling quite at a loss herself, she becomes acquainted with their landlady, a very old woman who explains that she is collecting letters to the dead which she will personally deliver to the afterworld when she dies one day. Upon hearing this, Chiaki begins to write to her father and thus finds a way to free herself from her fear of death, from her grief, her inner withdrawal, and all her worries. Chiaki's strange but wonderous friendship with the old woman is told in a gentle, melancholy tone in flashbacks. (13+)
Republic of China (Chinese) - 1998 - 17
Lai, Ma (text/illus.)
Wo biancheng yi zhi pen huo long le!
(I am a fiery dragon!)
Taibei: Guoyu Ribao (Kuo Yu Daily Newspaper), 1996.  p.
Dragon - Fire - Tears
Bo-Tai is a mosquito who likes to sting irritable people and animals, infecting them a »firespewing disease«. One day he stings the sleeping dragon Ah Ku Li, who awakens and spews flames, turning his possessions, including his teddy bear and his food, to charcoal and nearly destroying his home. After he burns his neighbors and friends, no one else will come near him. Nothing he tries will extinguish the fire - a pool of water, a fire extinguisher, a refrigerator. Hungry and sad, he cries and his tears finally do what seemed impossible. Ah Ku Li laughs, knowing at last that tears and laughter are the best cure for his »disease.« (5+) ☼
Republic of China (Chinese) - 1998 - 18
(Youth. The dragonboat crew)
Taibei: Tianwei (Trump Publishing Company), 1993. 190 p.
Taiwan - Festival - Quarrel
Every two years a dragon-boat competition between the upper and the lower villages is held on Double Dragon River. But when the eldest grandfathers of each village have a quarrel, it is cancelled. Believing that the dragon-god will appear on the first evening of the Lantern Festival, four teenagers sneak into the dragon-boat dockyard and discover Grandfather Huo-Jen, too proud to take back his angry words, praying to the dragongod that the boat competition be reinstated. This humorous story reveals much of Taiwanese customs and the bonds of the villagers to their country. (10+) ☆
Egypt (English) - 1998 - 19
Marston, Elsa (text)
El Guindi, Abdel Aziz (illus.)
Free as the desert wind
Cairo: Hoopoe Books, 1996.  p.
Father/Son - Desert - Camel - Disobedience
With great reluctance his father allows twelve-year old Omar to join him on the long camel drive from Sudan to Egypt. Omar experiences the loneliness of the journey and the extremities of a sandstorm. Soon he befriends a young camel, who helps them find a desparately needed water well. Unable to sell the camel and save him from the slaughter house, Omar secretly sets the young camel free in the desert, but the loyal animal soon returns. Attractively illustrated with color-pencil drawings, this well-told story will enrich multicultural library collections. (8+) ☆
Kenya (English) - 1998 - 20
Fulani, Dan (text)
Kirby, Patrick (illus.)
Janjo and Shika. Historic Adventures in Africa. The battle for Mombasa (1696-1698)
Nairobi: Jacaranda Designs, 1995. 44 p.
Mombasa/History 1696-1698 - Power - Rivalry - Monkey - Time travel
Kenya's coastal port of Mombasa was once a strategic site for the Portuguese traders along the Indian Ocean. Jealousy and rivalry among the local rulers and power struggles with the Arabs from the north and the Portuguese led to the destruction of Fort Jesus. To bring one historical episode to life, Fulani allows an African school boy and his pet monkey to time-slip and relive the dramatic siege. Many factual details are included in the story and in informative boxed inserts. Colorful, somewhat comic-caricaturist illustrations spice this engaging lesson in history with humor and visual action. (8+)
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1998 - 21
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1997. 132 p.
Death - Grief - Family violence - Friendship - Suicide attempt - South Africa/History 1994 - Race relations - Alzheimer's disease
After his beloved stepfather is victim of a random street murder, Jakey and his mother move to a middle-class neighborhood where his mother has become the housekeeper of an older widow who is beginning to suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Still in weak health from his grief, Jakey takes lessons at home from this warm-hearted, independent woman. And Jakey soon becomes friends with the lonely white boy next door, who is being mishandled by his unhappy father, and helps Hendrik run away from home.When this fails, Jakey's sensitivity helps to prevent Hendrik's suicide.This is a realistic story about tension, grief and unhappiness in several families, but there is also an undercurrent of hopefulness and joy at the personal and political level. The day of the first free elections in 1994 is a significant event in the narrative. Beake weaves a well-balanced story with several narrative threads and an interesting array of characters caught up in a rapidly changing society. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1998 - 22
Pinnock, Patricia Schonstein
Saturday in Africa. Living history through poetry
Cape Town: African Sun Press, 1996. 70 p.
Poetry - South Africa/History - Everyday life
This collection of poems written in various styles and meters draws upon many aspects of life and memories in South Africa, focussing especially on the joyful anticipation of the new era beginning under Nelson Mandela's presidency. Many poems are accompanied by well-chosen, expressive blackand- white photographs taken from numerous sources. Unusual words and historical contexts are explained in endnotes. This is a very attractively produced volume which will enrich library collections. (10+)
Special Mention - South Africa (English) - 1998 - 23
Turkington, Nola (text)
Mathew, Gillian (illus.)
Matilda and Meggie
Cape Town: Human & Rousseau, 1997. 23 p.
School project - Role play - Egg - Parent/Child - Responsibility
Matilda's fourth grade class end-of-year project is learning how to take responsibility by caring for an egg for one week. Unlike many of her classmates, Matilda is quite fastidious, and learns quite a bit about the burdens of „child-rearing", but in a surprise turn of events she uses the egg to foil a supposed burglar. The humorous, tale in paperback format is complemented with very attractively stylized black-and-white pen-andwash illustrations. (7+) ☼
Swaziland (English) - 1998 - 24
Manzini: Macmillan Boleswa, 1997. 122 p.
Sailing - Adventure - Friendship - Family problems
When fourteen young adults from all around South Africa are chosen for a crew of a training ship sailing ship from Durban to Mauritius, they experience more than they had anticipated. Each must master an extensive range of nautical skills, and also learn to work as a team. Whitton focusses upon a number of individuals with different family backgrounds in this multicultural troupe, making the basic plot of an adventure story with modernday problems and dreams come to life. (12+) ☆
Zimbabwe (English) - 1998 - 25
Alumenda, Stephen (text)
Marita goes to school
Harare: Baobab, 1997.  p. With illustrations
School - Wish - Father/Daughter - Secret - Reward
Marita dreams of being allowed to attend school, but her father thinks it is a waste of time and money and fears that his daughter could grow up to be a misfit in their community. But when Marita is secretly tutored by the local teacher (a young woman who wears trousers!), she is able to help her father read an important letter. This is an affirmative story about a spunky modern African girl whom young readers can identify with. This paperback children's book is very attractively produced on sturdy paper and with lively black-and-white illustrations. (6+) ☆ ☼
Zimbabwe (English) - 1998 - 26
Jessicah the mountain slayer
Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1995. 92 p.
(Excl. dist. by African Books Collective Ltd., Oxford)
Orphan - Grief - Dream - City life - Garbage dump - Friendship - School
Twelve-year old Jessicah must leave her village when her mother dies and go to live with the sister of her father, who deserted the family long ago. Though she is still inwardly grieving, she must work very hard for her foster parents and give up school. She runs away to Nairobi, where she experiences dangers but also friendship in the person of an old woman who becomes her mentor and protector. Living as a garbage-picker in the »wasteland«, her situation finally improves when a journalist becomes interested in the situation of the squatters. This well-told, inspirational story is carried by its appealing main characters. (10+) ☆
Australia (English) - 1998 - 27
Brian, Janeen (text)
Cox, David (illus.)
Leaves for Mr Walter
Hunters Hill: Margaret Hamilton, 1998.  p.
Old/Young - Neighbor - Tree - Friendship
Old Mr Walter keeps a very tidy yard inside his thick wooden fence, and the dropping leaves of the gum tree in the yard of the vacant house next door make him very grumpy. This all changes when young Emilia and her parents move in. With her winsome, innocent ways, she soothes him by happily carting away the leaves, then gets him to oil her bike, and ultimately build her a tree house with the wood he had bought to reinforce his fence. The skilful slap-dash pen-and-wash pictures capture the emotions and enthusiastic mood of this charming, universally appealing story of intergenerational friendship. (4+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 28
Ringwood: Penguin Books Australia, 1997. 174 p.
Mother - Death - Grief - Brother/Sister - Love - Dreamworld - Symbolism - Aliciade
Greylands is the place where someone goes when they are sad or scared. That is the interpretation which Jack, the youthful author-protagonist of the story within a story, finds for himself and his sister at the end of his symbol-filled tale. After their emotionally ill mother suddenly dies, he works through his grief by writing a fictional story, sharing it at times with his sister. Emotionally deserted by their father, who has retreated into his own world of grief, the two teenagers struggle to come to terms with their mother's death in this very moving and illuminating story. Carmody skilfully employs literary devices to propel the narrative and captivate the reader. (12+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 29
Caswell, Brian (text)
Chiem, David Phu An (text)
Only the heart
St. Lucia: University of Queensland, 1997. 212 p.
Vietnam/Emigration - Australia/Immigration - Postwar trauma - Family - Escape - Diary
Though Caswell uses his characteristic style of alternating perspectives to expand the horizon of the narrative, the content of this fictional story with real-life background comes from Chiem, a Vietnam-born Australian filmmaker of Chinese descent. The four-generation family tree at the outset is useful in following the diary-like entries - in both first and third person voices - of two main protagonists, cousins, and several other characters in this saga which spans from 1977 to 1996. This is a very immediate, gripping story of survival and coping in the face of the abominations of war and its traumatic consequences. (14+) ☆
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 30
Crew, Gary (text)
Woolman, Steven (illus.)
Flinders Park: Era, 1997.  p.
Vietnam - War - Veteran - Friendship - Death - Memory
This artistically innovative graphic novel deals with the tragic effect of war. Ironically, it begins with a young boy phantasizing about the heroic aerial attack of a war pilot while he explores the ruins of a deserted factory. He comes upon an old man, a war veteran who has lost all hold on life, wallowing in the memories of his fallen buddy. Jimmy hears his tale and learns about the terrible price paid by combat soldiers. Visually the book resembles a graphic comic, though with more variety and creativity; the text is also more richly descriptive. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 31
Lester, Alison (text/photos)
The quicksand pony
St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1997. 162 p.
Death - Disappearance - Single parent - Island - Pony - Robinsonade - Adventure
This is the first full-length children's book by a well-known picture story book author. An adventure story set in the bush, it weaves together the fascinating, but quite different tales of two child protagonists. Joe was taken to an uninhabited island as a baby by his grief-stricken, widowed mother and they live a secret Robinsonesque life until she dies, leaving him alone. When Biddy's horse is trapped in quicksand she is forced to abandon it, but later finds it had been rescued. Her search leads her to Joe and to his reintegration into the community. This is an unusual story that will appeal to many young readers. (10+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 32
Prayer for the twenty-first century
Port Melbourne: Lothian, 1997.  p.
Peace - Future
John Marsden is an internationally renown author of controversial, challenging novels for mature teenagers as well as humorous works for children. This beautifully designed picture book shows another dimension of his obvious interest in the growth and well-being of the next generation. In lyrical, partially rhymed verses he gives expression to heart-felt concerns about human civilization and nature. A fascinating diverse selection of artwork from photographs to modern paintings from museums in Australia, set off against a stylized background, illuminate the individual thoughts. (8+)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 33
Morris, Jill (text)
Muir, Lindsay (illus.)
Maleny: Great Glider, 1996.  p.
ISBN 0-947304-30-4 (pb)
Australia - Wildlife - Frog - Instinct
Australia's gastric-brooding frog was discovered in a sub-tropical area of Queensland in 1974. By 1981, as the afterword of this informative picture story book reports, it had disappeared. Without any live frogs to photograph, this book makes use of a stunningly life-like alternative. Muir has created three-dimensional pictures of the frogs and their environment from glazed and kiln-fired clay. In a very attractive page design accompanied by a slightly oversized typeface text, the life and adventures of a frog named Silus is entertainingly told in such a way that could be read aloud to children of any age group, from four to twelve. (4+) ☼
(Shortlist, Crichton Award, 1996)
Special Mention - Australia (English) - 1998 - 34
Winton, Tim (text)
Louise, Karen (illus.)
Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia, 1997. 151 p.
ISBN 0-330-36038-8 (pb)
Mother/Son - Snorkel diving - Fish - Nature - Oceanography - Growing up
Abel grows up on a remote coast of Australia alone with his widowed mother. He loves their almost daily snorkel diving, whose abalone harvest gives them just enough to survive, and treasures his lifelong relationship with a large pet-like blue groper. But Abel must leave this idyll for further schooling and his decision to become an oceanographer takes him far away for years, until he returns to his roots to establish a natural oceanwater preserve. This is a poetic story of growing up which spans decades of one individual's life, a captivating and unusal biographical narrative. (10+)
India (English) - 1998 - 35
Agarwah, Deepa (text)
Guhathakurta, Ajanta (illus.)
The toy horse
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1997.  p.
Toy - Imagination
This picture book describes a brief encounter between two small girls who covet each other's toys. Rami, a gypsy girl whose family makes a living by selling iron tools and decorative handsewn cloth horses by the roadside, decides to sew a horse of her own to play with. Hers is not as perfect as the others, but in her imagination she travels far on its back. One day another small girl insists on buying Rami's cute horse and no other. Rami tearfully agrees to sell it at her mother's insistence, but is rewarded then with the other girl's lovely modern doll in exchange. This is a charmingly illustrated story with universal appeal. (4+) ☆ ☼
(2nd prize, Read-aloud, Competition for Writers of Children's Books, CBT)
India (English) - 1998 - 36
Ghosh, Subir (text)
Bansal, Richa (text)
Chakraborty, Ashim Ranjan (illus.)
The dream machine
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1997. 101 p.
Father/Son - Scientific invention - Conspiracy - Friendship - Adventure
The motherless fourteen-year old Shailesh returns home from his boarding school eager to enjoy summer holidays, only to find his workaholic scientist father completely preoccupied with an extraordinary breakthrough discovery - a machine which can convert dreams into visual images. And an international conspiracy of greedy scientists is hot on the tracks, hoping to claim the invention and the considerable rewards. Shailesh and his childhood girlfriend are suddenly caught up in a dramatic, dangerous adventure. This science fiction fantasy is a fast-paced narrative with two interesting youthful protagonists. (12+)
(2nd prize, Science Fiction, Competition for Writers of Children's Books, CBT)
India (English) - 1998 - 37
Sarabhai, Mrinalini (text)
Roy, Subir (illus.)
Stories of India
New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1996. 78 p.
India/Tales - Creation - Buddha - Mahabharata - Panchatantra - Love - Trial
This collection of eleven tales from the rich storytelling tradition of India's heroic epics and religious legends is written in an accessible, easyto- read style by one of India's foremost dancers and choreographers. Attractive watercolor illustrations throughout the book capture the highlights of the narratives. (5+) ☆
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 38
Dare truth or promise
Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1997. 180 p.
First love - Lesbian - Homosexuality - Mother/Daughter - Homophobia - Identity
Louie is a fast-talking, witty girl who likes acting and plans to be a lawyer. Willa is quieter, has a dog as a constant companion, likes fencing and hopes to become a chef. In two marvellous early scenes of the skilfully told narrative, which alternates, in the third person, between Louie and Willa, each personality is brilliantly captured. The ups and downs of their gradually acknowledged feelings - which give way to passionate romance - and the varying reactions of others are authentically portrayed. Not only does Boock depict each scene with much insight and vivid detail, she also brings in a large supporting cast of well-drawn characters - friends, family, schoolmates and working colleagues - to create a very realistic background. As in many relationships that break norms, there is a long painful separation as Louie copes with the negative reactions of her family and re-examines her feelings. Unlike earlier books about homosexuality in which anxiety and conflict prevail, here the joy of finding a kindred spirit is portrayed, making it evident that love and romance can take the same course regardless of the sex of the partners. (14+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 39
Buxton, Jane (text)
Newman, Penelope (illus.)
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1997. 144 p.
Runaways - Donkey - Adventure - Parentage - Secret
When three children between fourteen and six years of age learn that their mother has left suddenly for Australia to help a sick aunt, they decide to set off to visit the father they have not seen in six years. Travelling in a cart pulled by their pet donkey they learn to deal with each other and fend for themselves on the 100 kilometer journey. Covertly followed and indirectly helped by a family friend, they arrive safely in the end and learn from their father the true circumstances of their parents' marriage and separation. Illustrated with attractive black-and-white sketches, this vividly told adventure story is a real page-turner. (+9)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 40
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1997. 112 p.
Friendship - Maori culture - Prejudice - Step-father - Betrayal
Glyn's best mate is a Maori, much to the dismay of his future stepfather, an omnipresent representative of the local police. During summer holidays Glyn and Api make two valuable archeological finds, over which Api's grandmother is quite excited. When she is then brutally beaten and robbed, the police first arrest an innocent Maori before discovering that the rich white young man who had slyly befriended Glyn and Api is the real culprit. The local flavor of New Zealand's people and social fabric adds to the reading pleasure of this richly textured adventure story, with its colorful characters and romantic subplots. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 41
Because we were the travellers
Dunedin: Longacre, 1997. 155 p.
Survival - Old/Young - Mutual aid - Growing up
In an unnamed country a clan of people wander as nomads in a circular cycle through a rough, scorching landscape that can scarcely support them, governed by the rules of survival of the fittest. When the lame Ish's father is murdered by a rival and his protective older sister taken as booty, he has to survive outside the group, learning what he needs to for himself and an wise old woman he joins up with. This skilfully developed futuristic fantasy gives a realistic view of human society in primitive conditions and the maturation of a boy whose future course will be eagerly followed in the announced sequel. (12+)
Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 42
London: Andersen, 1997.  p.
Siblings - Excursion - Courage
This simple episodic tale describing two brothers and two sisters taking a walk across the fields is told in the first person by the oldest sister. The first half is fraught with tension because the youngest child is being a „cry-baby", frightened and unable to climb fences and jump streams like the older ones can. But when her comfort blanket becomes completely unravelled, she surprises them all by running the whole distance back alone to gather the wool in a skein. In her unmistakeable, sensitve and painterly style, Brown captures the shifting emotions with the perfect choice of perspective and an eye for details in the natural surroundings. (4+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 43
Browne, Anthony (illus.)
Willy the dreamer
London: Walker, 1997.  p.
Dream - Imagination - Art history - Popular culture
With his patterned vest, green corduroy trousers and hair parted down the center, Willy has acquired the quality of instant recognition. His mildmannered way of meeting all the challenges of this world has a sense of universality. Now taking a different tack, Browne offers no narrative but takes a visual journey through Willy's surrealist dreamworld. It is filled, of course, with the omnipresent banana, but also with allusions to familiar literary works and cultural heroes, and spiced with visual jokes. Browne pays hommage to famous artists from Dalí to Sendak, giving children a first taste of art they will recognize again. (5+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 44
Doherty, Berlie (text)
Bailey, Siân (illus.)
Daughter of the sea
London: Hamish Hamilton, 1996. 115 p.
(Text French and German)
(USA ed. New York: DK, 1997)
Sea/Legend - Selkie - Seal - Island - Fishing - Childless couple - Adoption
This is an absorbing, atmospheric tale of an older childless fisher couple who adopts a baby found on the shoreline on a stormy night. It is also a frame story in which numerous sea legends dealing with the relationship of man and seals are embedded. The well-drawn characters of this tight-knit fishing community on a remote windy island come alive in Doherty's narrative. One imagines the smells and sounds, and feels the emotional pull of the now teenaged selkie child toward her own people, setting the mood for the suspenseful climax. (10+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 45
Dowswell, Paul (text)
Tomlins, Karen (illus.)
The Roman Record
London: Usborne, 1997. 32 p.
Rome/History 753 B.C.- 500 A.D. - Newspaper
Read all about it! Buy the »Roman Record« and you, reader, can learn everything you always wanted to know about the trials and tribulations of life as a slave - if you are so dumb - or as a senator - thank your favorite goddess - in Roman times. Find out all about those battles and conquests! Read about the fall of Rome! Ladies, check out the latest kitchen facilities and newly arrived shipments of jewelry! Find out how predictions are made! Page after page of the latest news, concisely laid-out facts and analyses. Colorful mosaics and paintings from-on-the scene reporters make your reading pleasure complete. (10+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 46
Moore, Robin (text)
Ambrus, Victor (illus.)
My life with the Indians. The story of Mary Jemison
London: Franklin Watts, 1997. 32 p.
North America/Indians - Abduction - Adoption - Cultural conflict
The biography of Mary Jemison, based on the account she told at the age of 80 in 1823, spans a turbulent period of North American history. The sole survivor of an Indian raid on her home in Pennsylvania - a result of the French and British war for territory - she was adopted by another tribe, married twice and mother of a large family. She choose to remain with her Indian family and friends, rather than return to a bigotted white civilization, but still suffered many family sorrows through the changing times. Masterly pen-andwash illustrations adorn this fascinating documentation, followed by factual information in an appendix. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 47
Nimmo, Jenny (reteller)
Jones, Jac (illus.)
Llandysul: Pont Books/Gomer, 1997.  p.
(Legends from Wales)
Wales/Legend - Ireland - Alliance - Marriage - Intrigue - Revenge
In this tragic tale from the Mabinogi, the Welsh heroic saga, a wise and mighty king of Britain gives his lovely sister Branwen in marriage to the king of Ireland, but the wrath of their half-brother, Efnisien, and the jealousy of the Irish court breaks the young couple's happiness. The exigencies of power lead to the bloody war between the two armies, and to many deaths, including the British king, the rueful Efnisien, Branwen's child, and broken-hearted Branwen - the high price of family loyalty. The readable telling of this tale is accompanied by beautiful watercolor illustrations which convey the emotions and dramatic action of the tale. (8+)
Special Mention - Great Britain (English) - 1998 - 48
Dancing through the shadows
London: Julia MacRae, 1997. 120 p.
(USA ed.: New York, DK, 1997)
Mother/Daughter - Breast cancer - School - Dance - Well - Legend
A school girl learns to deal with the fears and uncertainties of her mother's breast cancer operation and her moodiness during the subsequent chemotherapy. She becomes absorbed in helping a teacher with the renovation of an ancient well near her school and performing modern dance routines with a group of school mates. The events of everyday life in a normal family and suburban neighborhood setting make an enjoyable backdrop for the development of the likeable main character. This is a heartwarming family story with an authentic ring. (10+)
Ireland (English) - 1998 - 49
Dunbar, Robert (ed.)
Enchanted journeys. Fifty years of Irish writing for children
Dublin: O'Brien, 1997. 192 p.
Taking as motto for this anthology that »all good stories for children offer the prospect of 'enchanted journeys', ...voyages of discovery«, Ireland's leading children's literature expert, Robert Dunbar, has selected 17 authors whose works represent the breadth and diversity of Irish children's literature. The volume contains excerpts from each story, arranged in reverse chronological order, and range from Conlon-McKenna (1996) back to Conor O'Brien (1941). Dunbar also provides a detailed biographical sketch about each of the authors. (10+)
Ireland (English) - 1998 - 50
Dublin: Wolfhound, 1997. 157 p.
Adoption - Secret - Parent/Child - Expectations - Friendship
An adopted black Irish teenager begins to doubt the details of her adoption in Africa, when she finds a photograph of herself as a baby, surrounded by people she doesn't know. Sure that her (white) parents have lied, she secretly searches for her natural mother and in the end uncovers several unexpected truths. Parallel to her own identity quest, her boyfriend from a broken, tragedy-filled family, and her helpful, well-to-do school friend are also struggling with half-truths and selfdelusions in their families. O'Sullivan skilfully develops several suspenseful sub-plots and character portraits that reflect the complex realities of modern youth. (14+)
Special Mention - Ireland (English) - 1998 - 51
Four kids, three cats, two cows, one witch (maybe)
Dublin: O'Brien, 1997. 192 p.
Island - Friendship - Recluse - Adventure
The winner of Ireland's annual Bisto Award for Children's Literature in 1996 gives us another highly readable story about lively, appealing young adults who are caught in the throes of growing up, gradually gaining self-confidence and valuable experience along the way to adulthood. During summer holidays two girls and two boys are thrown together, partially by chance, and embark on an adventure which leads them to an island. There they make the acquaintance of an eccentric recluse and learn to see life with different eyes. One special part of their adventure story involves the highly revealing »fairy tales« each one must make up and tell to the others, stories within a story. In this way Parkinson can introduce tension and conflicts with which any person could be faced with, while still portraying teenagers whose lives are fairly »normal«, like those of many of her readers. (12+)
Canada (English) - 1998 - 52
Fitch, Sheree (text)
Labrosse, Darcia (illus.)
If you could wear my sneakers
Toronto: Doubleday, 1997. 32 p.
Children's Rights - Poetry
In fifteen witty, lively poems and full page backdrop illustrations, Fitch and Labrosse draw connections to the content and spirit of some of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child. One of Canada's leading poets, Fitch writes in a melodic, rhythmic way with a humor that embodies the wonderfully childlike - and surely Fitch's own - perspective on life. Not in the least pedagogical, the poems have animal protagonists and behave in a way that corresponds to a basic principle of the convention. At the close of the book the reader is invited to match the poem with the appropriate »right«. (6+) ☼
Canada (English) - 1998 - 53
Funston, Sylvia (text)
Stevens, Pat (illus.)
Animal smarts. The secret life of animals
Toronto: Owl Books/Greey de Pencier, 1997. 48 p.
Animal - Intelligence - Scientific research
This information book offers a wealth of information which describes to what extent animals actively use their brains, i.e. learn, rather than rely on inborn instinct. Each double-page spread discusses an aspect of the topic and gives three to five examples and explanations of phenomena that scientists have observed and drawn conclusions from. Since it is repeatedly made clear that our knowledge is still preliminary, young readers with an inclination toward science will be fascinated by still the open questions. The very attractive layout with different typography and styles of illustration make the book highly appealing. (12+)
Canada (English) - 1998 - 54
The seven magpies
Toronto: HarperCollins, 1996. 148 p.
Scotland/World War II - Boarding school - Ostracism - Soldier - Deserter - Celtic mythology
As a newcomer in a girls' boarding school in Scotland in 1939, 14-year old Maureen is at first ostracised and becomes interested in Celtic legends. But once she is admitted to a secret club she must learn how to assert herself and also find her place in the group. When she accidentally discovers the hiding place of her neighbor's son, an army deserter, she faces a real dilemma. In both cases she gains maturity by wrestling with problems of social and moral conduct. The credible narrative is rich in characterization and background. (12+)
(Shortlisted for 1997 Geoffrey Bilson Award For Historical Fiction For Young People)
Canada (English) - 1998 - 55
Zeman, Ludmila (text/illus.)
The first red maple leaf
Toronto: Tundra Books, 1997.  p.
Canada - Winter - Wind - Seasons - Tree leaf - Modern folktale
The well-known emblem of Canada, the red maple leaf, is finally given a history by this recent immigrant artist. She draws upon motifs of ancient folklore - talking animals, animals and trees helping mankind, merciless natural forces - to create a memorable story about the protective function of the leaves and the coming of summer to Canada. Using somber, wintry colors that convey the mood of a northern climate, Zeman divides some full-page spreads into smaller frames to capture the dramatic events of the tale. (5+)
Canada (English) - 1998 - 56
Zhang, Song Nan (text/illus.)
Cowboy on the steppes
Toronto: Tundra Books, 1997.  p.
Mongolia - China/History 1968-1969 - Herdsman
As a part of China's re-education program during the Cultural Revolution, the author's brother, a student in Beijing, was sent to Inner Mongolia. The diary of his year within a commune of nomadic herdsmen is the basis for this illustrated children's book. The diary entries describe Yi Nan Zhang's gradual assimilation into the clan, his learning how to care for livestock, and the hard way of life on Mongolia's steppes. They also reveal something of the growth of a young man (now a journalist in Beijing) taken far away from his own world. The stunning color pencil drawings enhance the appeal of his unusual experiences. (8+) ☆
USA (English) - 1998 - 57
The iron ring
New York: Dutton, 1997. 283 p.
King - Debt - Quest - Good/Evil - Talking animals - Growing up - Indian/Folktale - Adventure
When a young king, Tamar, loses everything he owns in a dice game, an iron ring, symbol of his bondage appears on his finger and he must set off for the distant kingdom of his victor. In the course of his quest, his entourage grows to include talking animals and characters from different castes. Together they fight battles and savour happy moments together. The narrative is filled with Indian folktales and driven along by Tamar's adherence to a code of honor, dharma. At the end of his epic adventure, he has learned much about life and honor. Alexander is a master storyteller who entertains and enlightens his reader with all the literary techniques of good fantasy. (11+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 58
Cowan, Catherine (transl./reteller)
Paz, Octavio (story)
Buehner, Mark (illus.)
My life with the wave
New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard/Morrow, 1997.  p.
Ocean wave - Friendship
This deliciously absurd tale by the Nobel Prize winner, Octavio Paz, is beautifully rendered in fullpage color paintings, which speaks to the fantasy in all of us. On his first trip to the seashore, the boy narrator is befriended by a small but most playful wave. The wave cajoles the boy's father into taking her home with them and at first all goes well. But when the wave's wild moods and ghastly nightmares become unmanageable, they have to return her to the ocean. Buehner's illustrations capture the nuances of this poetic, yet straight forward text and expands on them exquisitely with many ironical touches. A delightful gem to be reread many times. (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 59
Gallo, Donald R. (ed.)
No easy answers. Short stories about teenagers making tough choices
New York: Delacorte, 1997. 323 p.
Conflict - Moral choice - Guilt - Atonement - Growing up
This anthology contains sixteen short stories, written for this collection, by some of the leading writers for young adult in the U.S. and Canada. As the title makes clear, each of the protagonists is faced with a choice between alternative actions. Often the difficulties lie in the conflict between ambition or fulfillment of a dream and the reality of hurting other people. The situations they find themselves in involve drugs, pregnancy, blackmail, handicapped victims, or revenge. At the end of each short story, a two-page biographical sketch lets the reader know what other books by the author are available. (12+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 60
Hausherr, Rosmarie (text/photos)
New York: Scholastic, 1997.  p.
Family - Adoption - Divorce - Single parent
Many varieties of family structure are presented here in fourteen double-spread pages. Each portrait includes a photo of a child with the members of his or her family and one of a typical favorite activity - whether gardening, repairing a bicycle, visiting Dad in prison, or playing games on the computer with an older foster brother. Short, descriptions reveal the many ways families may be formed (including bi-racial and same gender parents) and formed again after change (divorce, separation, adoption). (7+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 61
Hearne, Betsy (text)
Andersen, Bethanne (illus.)
Seven brave women
New York: Greenwillow, 1997.  p.
Genealogy - Biography - Courage
With the intention of showing that history is also »her« story and our common history is not necessarily one of war and aggression, this picturebook biography gives brief portraits of seven women ancestors, telling what made each of their lives remarkable and memorable. This short firstperson chronicle of one woman's family history, which is also set in a wider context of world events that are mentioned in passing, makes a lasting impression. The naive-abstract double-page oil paintings capture the main elements of each life and the times. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 62
Sun & Spoon
New York: Greenwillow, 1997. 135 p.
Grandmother - Death - Grandfather - Bereavement - Family life
Two months after his grandmother's death, Spoon (his family nickname) realizes that he needs to find a special memento to remember her by. This gentle story of his search is set against the background of warm, caring relationships. But even these need to be cultivated, like the family garden, and the grief of both grandson and grandfather lead them to a new understanding. Henkes has a remarkable talent for depicting the nuances of his subject in dialogues, inner reflections that ring true, and simple situations weighty with meaning. His natural, crafted prose seems to flow effortlessly. (9+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 63
Koller, Jackie French (text)
Lewin, Betsy (illus.)
No such thing
Honesdale: Boyds Mills, 1997.  p.
Bedtime - Monster - Fear
When a little boy moves into an old house he has trouble falling asleep because of the monsters living under it. In this delightful twist on a familiar plot, both little Howard and the charming little green monster exasperate their mothers with their fears until they finally find the courage to talk to each other and discover neither wants to harm the other. In an open-end conclusion they call out to their mothers once again - and the reader must guess what will happen. Full page watercolors with bold black contour strokes capture the universal child's nighttime fears with a dose of humor. (4+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 64
Lelooska, Chief (reteller/illus.)
Normandin, Christine (ed.)
Echoes of the elders. The stories and paintings of Chief Lelooska
New York: Dorling Kindersley (DK) in assoc. with Callaway Editions, 1997. 38 p.
Kwakiutl/Tales - North America/Northwest coast - Animals/Myths
This beautifully designed oversized book of five animal tales is a tribute to the decades of oral storytelling and intensive efforts to preserve the Northwest Coast Indian culture by Chief Lelooska, a descendent of the Cherokee who was adopted by the Southern Kwakiutl tribe. The large two-dimensional ornamental renderings of the animal protagonists enhance the lengthy, didactic but entertaining stories. A compact disc included with the book gives proof of the famous storytelling powers of Chief Lelooska, who died in 1996. (8+) ☆
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 65
Myers, Walter Dean (text)
Myers, Christopher (illus.)
New York: Scholastic, 1997.  p.
Harlem - African-Americans
This stunning picture book is a visual and lyrical hymn to the persistent hopes and dreams of African-Americans living in Harlem, that famous section of New York City. Harlem was an important gathering point where jazz and Black culture began to blossom in the early part of the 20th century. Its pulsating vitality is given bold expression in the assembled multi-media collages by the artist son of Walter Dean Myers, the wellknown young adult writer who grew up in Harlem. (6+) ☆
(Caldecott Honor Book 1998)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 66
Beethoven in Paradise
New York: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997. 153 p.
Father/Son - Grandmother - Music - Expectations - Conflict - Friendship - Identity
Twelve-year old Martin lives with his parents in a trailer park name Paradise. His permanently unhappy father has placed all his hopes in Martin becoming a „normal" boy he can be proud of. But Martin is a loner whose real natural talent lies in music. His grandmother and a neighbor encourage him in different ways to develop himself, and after numerous angry scenes and much anguish, he is finally able to stand up to his father. O'Connor captures the sweltering atmosphere of this close, lower-class setting and depicts the hopes and limitations of the main protagonists with great sensitivity. (10+)
Special Mention - USA (English) - 1998 - 67
Pinkney, Andrea Davis (text)
Pinkney, Brian (illus.)
New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1998.  p.
Ellington, Duke - Jazz - African-Americans
The picture book biography of the world's most famous jazz pianist, band leader and composer, Duke Ellington (1899-1974), is told succinctly for children in an upbeat contemporary vernacular with African-American idioms that capture the natural swing, wit and esprit of modern times. The musical rhythm of the text is reflected and extended in the ideally suited, brightly colored twopage spreads done in Brian Pinkney's hallmark scratchboard paintings. The reader is offered factual information but may also feel inspired to hear and learn more about this musical genius and about jazz. (6+) ☆
Austria (German) - 1998 - 68
Blazejovsky, Maria (text/illus.)
Wien: Jungbrunnen, 1997.  p.
Seagull - Name - Outsider - Identity - Adventure - Homecoming
The moon, the wind, the rain drops, a monkey, and a raven become friends with the strong-willed seagull Pippifilippi during her journey around the world which she is taking because she doesn't want to be named just Emma, like all the other seagulls. She insists on having her own name and leading her own life. The result is that ever since then each seagull picks out a second, secret name that fits no one else. This is a book which encourages independence within the social group. (5+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1998 - 69
Herfurtner, Rudolf (text)
Boratyński, Antoni (illus.)
Mödling: St. Gabriel, 1997.  p.
Garden - Captivity - Escape - Cultural contact - Community
One day a sheltered child finds, quite literally, a »hole in the wall« of his untouched world. Outside the wall he finds children who have had completely different experiences. Yet they find a common language. Now they all return to the well-tended garden, but are no longer in captivity. This is a book about growing up and becoming independent which makes use of an unusual visual language. Until unity is created, it is monstrous shapes that encounter each other. Once they have formed a community the little gnomes become elves. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1998 - 70
Janisch, Heinz (text)
Oberdieck, Bernhard (illus.)
Sarah und der Wundervogel
(Sarah and the magic bird)
Wien: Betz, 1996.  p.
Bird - Miracle - Captivity - Help - Rescue
The splendid magic bird has lost its colors and its magic powers during captivity. A little girl brings life back to him through her questions. It tells her all about freedom. With each tale one of the ropes that is holding it falls away and one day he has disappeared from its cage. Tired, earthy colors depict its captivity, light colors stand for life and freedom. The reader may be reminded of the Andersen tale of the Emperor's Nightingale, but fortunately this story ends happily. (6+)
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1998 - 71
Reinl, Edda (text/illus.)
Adam der Gaukler
(Adam the juggler)
Innsbruck: Tyrolia, 1997.  p.
Juggler - Monastery - Music - Dance - Prayer
The Adam from the legend »The juggler and the good Lord« performs his colorful stunts for little children until the snow comes and he finds shelter in a monastery. All the colors there are in the monotone brown of the monks' habit, until one night Adam cannot stand it any longer. He stands at the chapel altar and plays his violin for the good Lord. All the monks come running and are amazed at the intensity with which he plays. It is not known whether the dear Lord ever punished Adam for this caper. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1998 - 72
Treiber, Jutta (text)
Blazejovsky, Maria (illus.)
O, sagt der Ohrwurm. Ein Anti-Lärm-Bilderbuch
(Oh, said the noisy-worm. An anti-noise book)
Wien: Betz, 1997.  p.
City life - Noise - Responsibility
The noisy-worm comes out of the radio and makes itself at home in a the human ear. It lives from noise. The fatter he has gotten, the louder things are, until noise is ready to explode. Now everyone is called upon to take responsiblity. People must learn again to be still. Then the noisy dragon-worm becomes smaller and quite humble. And it is easier to take care of him. This more and more urgent problem is taken up in an easy and understandable manner. The illustrations change from earthy, still colors to bombastic, loud tones, emphasizing the message of the text. (6+)
Special Mention - Austria (German) - 1998 - 73
Walbrecker, Dirk (text)
Poppel, Hans (illus.)
Wien: Betz, 1997.  p.
Hat - Loneliness - Metamorphosis - Play
Papa's hat and papa's little boy have one thing in common - loneliness. With a little fantasy, this becomes a wonderful day. The hat transforms itself into a football, a drinking cup, a magical machine and much more. Until the little boy lays down his head in the evening and falls asleep. At first the overtaxed hat resists such impertinence, but then after all Papa can get himself a new headpiece. The pictures of peacefulness and dynamic movement alternate according to the game and the hat's function. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 74
Auer, Martin (text)
Luetke, Joachim (illus.)
Der dreckige Prinz
(The filthy prince)
Stuttgart: Thienemann, 1997.  p.
Cleanliness - Education - Identity - Personality change - Surveillance - Perfection
The Queen always insists that her son stay always immaculately clean. When the prince becomes king, he only dares to wallow in filth at night in his dreams. But during the day he proclaims that the entire kingdom is to be kept clean, and he enforces it strictly. This is a cautionary tale directed against perfectionism, in which children's dreams collide with the exaggerated demands of adults. The illustrations contain a wide range of techniques of style that manage to overrule one another, just as, analogously, children's desires are constantly being overruled by the forces surrounding them. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 75
Bärsch, Thomas (text)
Ticha, Hans (illus.)
Der Streik der Buchstaben
(The alphabet goes on strike)
Leipzig: Faber & Faber, 1996. 62 p.
Letter <alphabet> - Strike - Orthography
The letters of the alphabet feel abused and make plans for a total strike. Suddenly there is not an E, G, T or P to be found anywhere. Not even in the minds of the people, who can no longer read or write anything. Chaos takes over. New auxiliary rules of spelling are established. But more and more letters disappear, and nothing works any longer.This is largely a humorous persiflage of the current wrangling over the introduction of new orthography rules in German-speaking countries. Black-and-white vignettes of letters try to give a proper picture. The book is one of the series »Die Sisyphosse« with a compact format and attractive book design. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 76
Berner, Rotraut Susanne (text/illus.)
Hase Hase! Freundschaft auf acht Pfoten
(Hare Hare! Friendship on eight paws)
Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1997. 75 p.
(rororo Rotfuchs; 20866)
Family - Enemy - Play - Danger - Reconciliation - Friendship
Hare Hare and Hugo Dog are not allowed to play with one another. So they secretly participate in a running contest with all the other village (animal) children, but get caught in a sudden downpour and lose their way completely. Then when they save Marie Pig from the flood, they become the joint winners of the first prize - a pair of roller skates (for two). Now all their problems are solved - how and why to be friends. Simple, stunning colored pencil drawings in which yellow, blue and green dominate, printed on coarse paper, arouse the readers' interest in looking and turning one page after the other. (4+)
Germany (German) - 1998 - 77
Boie, Kirsten (text)
Bauer, Jutta (illus.)
Man darf mit dem Glück nicht drängelig sein
(One must not be too pushy with one's luck)
Hamburg: Oetinger, 1997. 173 p.
Divorce - School holidays - Travel - Step-children - Family
During their family vacation in Sweden, Linnea, the youngest of three children doesn't call her divorced father »Papa« but »Mr. Schulze«; after all, his presence on this vacation trip is not exactly voluntary. And then Friedrich, the son of his new girlfriend, also appears on the scene. On top of that they are about to get a half-sister or half-brother, although they think Papa already has enough children. But the positive side of all that chaos finally helps to win the day. This highly enjoyable book works against the neurotic tendencies in the children's coping with their current problems by use of much humor and wit. The graphic design exudes with a high-spirited holiday mood. (8+)
Germany (German) - 1998 - 78
Zwischen zwei Scheiben Glück
(Between two slices of happiness)
München: Hanser, 1997. 82 p.
Germany/History 1938-1945 - Persecution of the Jews - Hungary
Peter has spent the greater part of his childhood in Hungary with his grandfather, a strict elderly gentlemen, who is just the opposite of Laszlo, Peter's father, a diplomat on service in war-time Berlin. Only later does Peter discover that the letters he got regularly from his father were written by his grandfather, in order to conceal the death of his father. This enchanting book gives much space to joyful moments and to sad moments. It shows a child's attempts to look upon world events so as to make them fit into his own life. The author handles very complicated subjects seemingly without effort, often humorously, and tragic moments with a dash of gentle irony. (8+) ☆ ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 79
Enzensberger, Hans Magnus (text)
Berner, Rotraut Susanne (illus.)
Der Zahlenteufel. Ein Kopfkissenbuch für alle, die Angst vor Mathematik haben
(The number devil. A pillow book for everyone who is afraid of mathematics)
München: Hanser, 1997. 263 p.
Dream - Mathemathics - Magic - Fun
One of Robert's mostly unpleasant dreams deals simply with numbers and the devil that goes with them. The reader will become increasingly engrossed in Robert's nightly adventures with numbers, especially on account of the elaborate color scheme used to liven up the rows of examples, the illustrations and resourcefulness of both Robert and the Number Devil. The first chapters will even be of interest to second graders; progress can continue then gradually, with the support of an interested adult. (8+)
Germany (German) - 1998 - 80
Fried, Amelie (text)
Gleich, Jacky (illus.)
Hat Opa einen Anzug an?
(Does Grandpa have a suit on?)
München: Hanser, 1997.  p.
Grandfather - Death - Bereavement - Language
A young boy experiences the death of his grandfather and his own emotions. The narrative focuses on the typical verbal responses of adults and the difficulties this causes for a young child. From the point of view of both aesthetics and content an impressive book, it nonetheless leaves some questions open. It is difficult to know whether the illustrations match the text from a child's point of view, and whether both text and pictures give an adequate representation of the feelings and experiences of a child taking leave of a deceased loved one. Will a child identify with this portrayal? The actual target readership may well be older than the three or four-year old protagonist. (12+)
Germany (German) - 1998 - 81
Geve, Thomas [pseudonym] (text)
Es gibt hier keine Kinder
(There are no children here)
Göttingen: Wallstein, 1997. 151 p.
Drawing - Auschwitz - Childhood memories
Thomas Geve was sent to Auschwitz at the age of thirteen and during the liberation of the camp by the U.S. Army in 1945 he prepared documentary sketches of everyday life at the concentration camp. Published here for the first time, these drawings give substance to the horrors and the desolateness in which the boy had been living for two endless years of captivity. The accompanying text in German, English and Hebrew should appeal to a wide audience and deserves the attention of anyone interested in human rights issues. (14+)
Germany (German) - 1998 - 82
Hacks, Peter (text)
Häntsch, Uwe (illus.)
Prinz Telemach und sein Lehrer Mentor
(Prince Telemachus and his teacher Mentor)
Berlin: Eulenspiegel Verlag, 1997. 124 p.
Homer - Odyssey - Telemachus - Didactics
Peter Hacks retells Homer's Odyssey for children. The pert young prince Telemachus seeks out a teacher who can teach him how to find his father, in order to bring Odysseus back to his rightful kingdom, now overrun with upstarts, and to his family. The masked goddess Minerva (gods are almighty, teachers are all-powerful, therefore teachers are gods?) takes up his offer and in the form of a very unconventional pedagogue by the name of Mentor she leads the prince to success and his father back home. With expertise and irony, in relative clauses and allusions, the Greek legend of gods and heroes is given a new meaning. With a brilliant, easy flowing style, and an irreverence toward the crusty old (humanistic) teachers and teaching methods, each sentence and chapter of this text makes for a true reading pleasure. (10+)
Germany (German) - 1998 - 83
Giftiges Gold oder Großvaters Esel
(Poison gold or Grandfather's donkey)
Weinheim: Anrich, 1997. 160 p.
Ireland - Gold - Mining - Ecology - Tourism
Gold is discovered on a small island off the coast of Ireland. The island's inhabitants are able to prevent the exploitation of the mine, which would have led to the pollution of the sea with environmental poisons. The children of the island, who fear for the future of their home, play an important role. With trickery and the help of Grandfather's donkey, they succeed in averting the danger. With humor and a sense of place, the author describes how an unspoiled landscape is saved from being destroyed by profit-seekers. (8+)
Germany (German) - 1998 - 84
Heidelbach, Nikolaus (text/illus.)
Ein Buch für Bruno
(A book for Bruno)
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1997.  p.
Book - Adventure - Trickery - Reading - Friendship
Ulla Herz, an enthusiastic fan of books, falls in love with Bruno Würfel, a book-hater. Though he prefers things that go crack-bang-slam, one day she is cunning enough to get him to experience a book as an »event« in its own right. And he wants more. How the two of them start with the parental library and swing (wordlessly) on a bookmark from adventure to adventure, page after page, is another piece of Heidelbach creativity. Here he takes a stand on reading for fun, but one thoroughly devoid of pedagogical undertones. (6+) ☆ ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 85
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1997. 244 p.
Bohemia - Germany/History 1938-1945 - School - Discipline - Humanity
A teenager in Bohemia during World War Two, Josef is sent to a teacher training institute whose basic tenents are unconditional obedience and discipline. The conflicts and skurmishes the young man experiences in this misanthropic institute, but also the positive encounters and experiences of those years make up the atmosphere of this weighty book. It bears witness to one man's mental resistance against active violence and structural force; a convincing testimony not only in a literary sense but by means of its wisdom and humanity. (10+)
Germany (German) - 1998 - 86
Jandl, Ernst (text)
Junge, Norman (illus.)
(To be fifth)
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1997.  p.
Doctor - Waiting room - Children's poetry
The doctor's waiting room is filled with all kinds of busted characters: Penguin, Duck, Teddy and Tin Frog. The fifth patient, a little Pinocchio, is suffering from a broken nose. The door has to open and close four times before it is the last one's turn, along with Ernst Jandl, to say »morning doctor.« During the long wait, the injured reveal only minimal mimical changes in each of the nearly identical pictures - a perfect interpretation of the anxiety of each (small) patient in a doctor's waiting room. An artful, well-composed book designed for very close listening and looking. (4+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 87
Jenseits des Meeres die Freiheit
(Beyond the sea of freedom)
Ravensburg: Ravensburger Buchverlag, 1997. 221 p.
(Ravensburger junge Reihe)
Spain/History 1492 - Persecution of the Jews - Escape - Seafaring - Christopher Columbus
In the aftermath of the pogroms against the Sephardhic Jews in Spain, the young Jewish girl, Esther, signs up incognito as a ship's boy with Christopher Columbus in 1492. Risking the double dangers of being discovered a Jew and a woman, Esther hopes to gain freedom in the New World as Columbus' page boy. But the terror and horrifying images of the pogrom continue to haunt her. The author relates the fascinating story of life in the cramped spaces of a sailing ship, the coarse camaraderie of the men, and the absolute hierarchical chain of power and command. (12+) ☆
Germany (German) - 1998 - 88
Lind, Hera (text)
Marcks, Marie (illus.)
Der Tag, an dem ich Papa war
(The day I was Papa)
Frankfurt (Main): Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, 1997. 131 p.
Father/Son - Role reversal
Fridolin and Papa change places for one day and manage to steer their respective worlds pretty far off course. Fridolin, in the shape of Papa, takes business partners to the playground and to McDonald's, while Papa, with Fridolin's appearance, goes to a café instead of to school. But the magic only lasts one day. Unconcerned with logic or realism, the author allows the reader to take subversive pleasure in the improbable father-and-son conspiracy. (8+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 89
Maar, Paul (text)
Ballhaus, Verena (illus.)
Lesezauber. Eine Fibel mit Reimen und Geschichten
(Reading magic. A reader with rhymes and stories)
Berlin: Volk und Wissen, 1997. 115 p.
Alphabet - First reader - Children's poetry - Play
In a compendium of pictures, letters and first words, short poems, and longer texts the beginning reader is gradually introduced to the written word and reading matter in this most pleasurable beginning reader. Breaks for play are worked into the text. Using lots of humor and graphics, the authors also provide a basic stock of knowledge about everyday life in Germany and elsewhere. Visual citations from widely known picture books and children's books (including those of the author) produce a larger (literary) context for the young reader. All in all this is a »school book« for happy learning. (5+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 90
Meißner-Johannknecht, Doris (text)
Plöger, Juliane (illus.)
Die Geschichte vom Hasen
(The story of Hare)
Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1997.  p.
Hare - Everyday life - Stress - Relaxation - Identity
A hare who always feels unnerved, terrified and on the run from dangers takes stock of his life: he doesn't want to run, to flee and be constantly on guard any more, just to save his own fur. He stretches out all four legs and simply lies down in the warm sun for a nap. And in his head he hears the echos of the hunters' steps and the buzzing of their machines; and the warnings of his brothers and sisters. But there is one sound he had never heard before - the beating of his own heart. That is why he sticks to his decision - no more hectic. The search for identity is captured here in opulent, spacious summer colors. They find no clear limitations either through the edge of the page or one another, thus documenting Hare's totally new sense of life. (4+)
Germany (German) - 1998 - 91
Muggenthaler, Eva (text/illus.)
Der Schäfer Raul
(The shepherd Raul)
Wuppertal: Hammer, 1997.  p.
Shepherd - Identity - Country life - City life - Love
The shepherd Raul is vain. When he sets off for the city to get prettied up, his herd of sheep take offence and follow him. They create a nuisance in the city and become, so to speak, criminals. And they interfere with the shepherd's newly found happiness. Finally he flees with them back to the country - and finds that fortune has not deserted him. An endearing story in which both man and sheep win, is well told with picturesque illustrations and excellent typography. (6+) ☼
Germany (German) - 1998 - 92
Oeser, Wiebke (text/illus.)
Wuppertal: Hammer, 1997.  p.
Play - Imagination - Drawing - Reality - Loneliness
A school girl experiences very lonely afternoons, seemingly alone in the world. She folds her drawings into paper boats and a big fish gobbles one up. When she catches it, the fish throws up all the junk it has found in the ocean. Then Berta sits at the computer until she falls in the hammock, dead tired. Finally she makes a painting of all the things she has experienced and sends it off in the bottle. The style of the drawings reflect the situation of a lonely child - filled with chaos and desolation. The pictures are done in sensitive lines, mostly wiggly, set against and on flat, colored backgrounds. The pages with text in even-sized block letters in one typeface on unicolor pages serve as an order-giving contrast. The tension thus created produces a harmonious whole. (8+)
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1998 - 93
Haus der Kunst. Ein Gang durch die Kunstgeschichte von der Höhlenmalerei bis zum Graffiti
(The Art Gallery. A stroll through the history of art from cave paintings to graffiti)
München: Hanser, 1997. 367 p. With many illus.
This art book for children is based on the idea of filling up a ficticious museum with exponents from every epoch. This provides the young reader with a chronological overview, through arranged in different »rooms«, of the most important periods and their contexts. The author avoids the use of intimidating insider-jargon and speaks to the reader, without being ingratiating, at an immediate level, which encourages page-turning inspite of the wealth of material being covered. Historical and aesthetic background information is elucidated with the help of maps and explanatory notes. All art forms are covered here, thus giving this work a good chance of becoming a standard work for children interested in art. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1998 - 94
Pressler, Mirjam (text)
Krömer, Astrid (illus.)
Nora ist mal so, mal so
(Nora is sometimes so, and sometimes so)
Frankfurt (Main): Alibaba, 1996.  p.
Sexual abuse - Secret - Friendship
The other children in her kindergarten group cannot understand why Nora reacts so very erratically. Often she sets herself apart from others without any recognizable reason. The problem behind this behavior is only hinted at in the text. With laudable caution the delicate topic of sexual abuse is approached here in text and pictures. Instead of overprotection as a guard against such threats, the book suggests childlike solidarity between the friends. In this manner, new direct dependency upon adults can be prevented. (5+)
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1998 - 95
Berlin: Elefantenpress, 1997. 142 p.
Sicily - Mafia - Witness - Family - Escape - Identity
A Sicilian boy mistakenly believes that his disappeared father has been murdered by the Mafia. But instead his father has turned witness for the state. The lives of all the family members are now in danger and they must take on a new identity. The older brother still believes firmly on the laws and honor code of the Mafia and betrays his father; then he is nearly killed himself. The state prosecutor they have trusted becomes incriminated and commits suicide. This is an impressive treatment of a topic which has been largely ignored in children's literature up to now. (10+)
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1998 - 96
Märchen aus Malula
(Tales from Malula)
München: Hanser, 1997. 237 p.
Malula - Fairy tales
In a traditional Oriental manner, Rafik Schami weaves the traditional tales from his home village in Syria into a carpet of captivating incidents. He discovered an old edition of tales written in Aramic at the Heidelberg University Library - an unexpected stroke of luck. Many of the figures he found described there were known to him as old people in his village. The text acquires a particular intensity through this personal point of view. (12+) ☆
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1998 - 97
Schmidauer, Elisabeth (text)
Knappe, Joachim (illus.)
Als die Tiere den Zoo verließen
(When the animals left the zoo)
Esslingen: Esslinger, 1997.  p.
Zoo animals - Homeland - Freedom - Paradise
The old elephant came to the zoo very young, but its longing for its home has never gone away. In the night of a shooting star that makes dreams come true, the chains fall from its legs and the bar doors open of their own accord. The animals of the zoo follow the elephant into freedom. The next morning all the cages are empty. Only two children have observed the animals leaving the town, but no one believes them. Everyone is convinced there has been a crime. Nighttime colors enhance this poetic story. (8+)
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1998 - 98
Schubiger, Jürg (text)
Berner, Rotraut Susanne (illus.)
Mutter, Vater, ich und sie
(Mother, Father, me and her)
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 1997. 106 p.
Siblings - Family - Language - Everyday life
This is the tale of a boy who tries to come to terms with his life in his family and especially his relationship with his younger sister with the help of words. For him, language always has a literal, direct meaning. Thus he makes quite surprising discoveries about the world, such as: »The weather today has more than one R - weatherr, weatherrrr. It is raining from every direction.« This is not a matter of spelling, but an example of precise observation. This makes for a gripping reading experience, given most delightful variation by Berner's pictures and vignettes. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Germany (German) - 1998 - 99
Weiss, Ruth (text)
Janssen, Susanne (illus.)
Sascha und die neun alten Männer. Das Fest der Lichter. Zwei Erzählungen
(Sascha and the nine old men. The festival of lights. Two tales)
Wuppertal: Hammer, 1997. 120 p.
Russia - Jews - Prayer - Religious holiday - Christ
The old men of Yevka, near Odessa, are no longer able to celebrate Minyan, the Jewish worship service with all the sacred rites, because they lack the necessary tenth believer. Little Sascha, a future detective who is curious about all the secrets surrounding him, leads his father's British business partner into the synagoge. As he is also Jewish, the congregation finds its tenth man. In an impressive narrative, the author, herself Jewish, depicts the old atmosphere of an East European shtetl from the naive perspective of a modern non-Jewish child. (8+) ☆ ☼
Switzerland (German) - 1998 - 100
Fuffy und Max
Zürich: Nagel & Kimche, 1997. 117 p.
Runaway - Drug scene
Quite unintentionally and trustingly, Max finds himself in the company, and soon dependent upon the drug-users scene in Hamburg. This and his father's remarriage lead him into a heavy emotional crisis. Fuffy, a girl at his school, helps him to get over it. This lively, realistic novel works without any noticeable didactic overtones. (10+)
Switzerland (German) - 1998 - 101
Hoffmann, E[rnst] T[heodor] A[madeus] (text)
Innocenti, Roberto (illus.)
Nußknacker und Mausekönig
(The Nutcracker and the Mouse King)
Aarau: Sauerländer, 1997. 135 p.
Dream - Nutcracker - House mouse
An opulent text calls for the same quality of pictures and design. With Roberto Innocenti it finds its master and the publisher offers another example of excellent production. The illustrator's pictorial space make use of both the real and dream levels of the story. Exquisite detail ensures additional compositional fantasy. Innocenti lends his unmistakable perspective to this classic children's tale. (8+)
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1998 - 102
Janisch, Heinz (text)
Zwerger, Lisbeth (illus.)
Die Arche Noah
Gossau: Neugebauer, 1997.  p.
The centaur and the unicorn have been extinct ever since - if one is to believe this wonderful picture book - and on account of Noah, because they found no place on the Ark. A skilful narrative and inimitable pictures lead the reader through two levels of the story. On the one hand, in the obvious one as it has been handed down - with imaginative artistic enhancements - and on the other hand, strewn in perhaps as a reminder of the earnestness of God's intention to preserve one pair of each species, leaves reminiscent of old natural science books portraying the types and classes of animals. And also something usually not remembered - the sole beneficiaries of the great water were the fishes and creatures of the sea, who could now play in the cave-like windows of the flooded houses. The book radiates the contemplative clarity and serenity which often accompanies the inevitable. (6+)
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1998 - 103
Maar, Anne (text)
Ballhaus, Verena (illus.)
Der Käfer Fred
(Fred the Beetle)
Zürich: Pro Juventute, 1997.  p.
Dung beetle - Stag-beetle - Costume - Competition - Victory - Identity
Fred the dung beetle is considered dirty and has few friends. And yet he wins first prize in the costume competition at the party of the arrogant stag-beetles. But when the rumor that a proletarian dung beetle is among them horrifies the noble group, Fred takes his leave of them with a defamatory song and gladly returns to his old - and clean - life as a dung beetle. Gentle insets, at times reminiscent of Ernst Kreidolf's creations, populate the pages of this book; the occasionally garish tones allude to the plot's image of a precarious social fabric. (8+)
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1998 - 104
Reider, Katja (text)
Roehl, Angela von (illus.)
Vom Glück ein dickes Schwein zu sein ... Eine Geschichte
(How lucky to be a fat pig... A story)
Gossau: Nord-Süd, 1997.  p.
Animals - Individuality - Insult - Apology - Joy of life
»To each his own« is the wish behind the text and pictures of this life-affirming book. Before a snail can imagine what it is like to be a pig, or a spider to be a goose, each of them insults the other out of pure ignorance. The initial lack of understanding is followed by thoughtful reflection and a round of mutual apologizing, thus assuring the individual joy of each protagonist. The paths of the animals shown here are paved with dramatic action and movement, earthy colors characterize the complacency of the individual realms, each with their own special pleasures. (5+)
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1998 - 105
Steiner, Jörg (text)
Müller, Jörg (illus.)
Was wollt ihr machen, wenn der Schwarze Mann kommt?
(What will you do when the Black Man comes?)
Aarau: Sauerländer, 1998.  p.
Rumor - Play - Threat - Mischief - Everyday life
The »Black Man« is both a children's game and a form of parental threat for misbehaving children. But one day the children make believe what it would be like if he really came. Suddenly there are black footsteps around town, for instance, though no one is able to see him. Security measures are implemented, people lock themselves inside. This goes on for a while, and then things return to normal. What really happened is never quite clear, but the fear of strangers and the security precautions remain. In one especially memorable full-size illustration scary nightmares are depicted in which black shapes creep out from the cracks in the wall, windows and even the pavement. This book can also be read as a bitter persiflage on today's craving for security. (8+) ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1998 - 106
Ungerer, Tomi (text/illus.)
Cramer-Klett, Anna von (transl.)
Zürich: Diogenes, 1997. 30 p.
Cat - Dog - Offspring - Outsider - Fraternity
A lovely child is born to cat parents. It is a little dog. (Wasn't there a pug dog in the family...?) The fact is that (parental) love alone is not enough for a child's well-being. So young Flix is an outsider in Cat City, until fate leads him to rescue a little cat child (fame in Cat City!) and a young poodle lady (love in Dog City!). They get married and have a baby. It's a little girl and its first cry is »Meow!« The story could continue this way forever. Just as in real life. With Ungerer's pictures it wouldn't be boring either. (8+) ☆ ☼
Special Mention - Switzerland (German) - 1998 - 107
Waechter, Friedrich Karl (text/illus.)
Da bin ich
(Here I am)
Zürich: Diogenes, 1997.  p.
Cat - Offspring - Drowning - Rescue - Irony
A young cat gives an account of its path of destiny in a brief text and expressive illustrations. The large litter is drowned by the fisher or eaten by sharks - all except one. In a reversal of roles the little cat kills the shark, eats from him to grow big and strong before returning to shore. As if a human being, it travels for a time by train all about Germany and then rings the bell at the right door and announces: »Here I am!« Full of irony, the text and the cat's facial expressions reduce all of our sentimental love for animals and mankind to absurdity and life itself to the law of »survival of the fittest.« In one sense, this message could even be called fatalistic. (9+)
Special Mention - Cameroon (French) - 1998 - 108
Njeng, Pierre Yves (text/illus.)
Vacances au village
(Vacation in the village)
Yaounde: Akoma Mba, 1996.  p.
Cameroon - City life - Country life - School holidays
A city family spends its holidays in a country village with the grandparents. The leisurely pace of life leaves much time for playing outdoors, excursions into the woods and fishing along the river. In the evening by the shine of petroleum lamps grandfather tells traditional tales about heroes while grandmother prepares supper over an open fire. The rural scenes are rendered in strong earthy tones, arranged in an authentic sequence like snapshots in a photo album. The subtitles below the pictures are provided by Nwemb, the son. Candidly he admits his initial fears of the new and unknown situation. By the time of departure, he has grown to love and appreciate it. Promising to return, he exchanges gifts with his new-found playmate - his books for a turtle. The album acquires its particular charm through this youthful perspective. (6+)
Special Mention - Cameroon (French) - 1998 - 109
Nomo, Vincent (text/illus.)
Le cri de la forêt
(The cry of the forest)
Yaounde: Akoma Mba, 1995. 24 p.
Jungle - Deforestation - Wildlife
With screeching chainsaws and tractor trucks, with stinky fumes and deafening noise civilization forces its way into the jungle forest to begin clearing and destruction. The animals join together in a counterattack and drive the invaders from their severely wounded paradise this time. In artistically confident illustratrations Nomo makes tangible the contrast between the mysteriously teeming, pristine forest, whose highest trees go beyond the doublepaged format, and the massive, angular bulldozer that ruthlessly sets about to devour Nature. (6+)
Belgium (French) - 1998 - 110
Jamar, Corine (text)
DeKemmeter, Laurence (illus.)
Donne-moi la main, Arthur
(Give me your hand, Arthur)
Bruxelles: Casterman, 1997.  p.
(Les albums Duculot)
Weakness - Protection - Compensation
Arthur is small for his size and sickly. He compensates for this weakness by always wearing boxing gloves and taking an aggressive posture. With all their indulgence and encouragement his parents still cannot talk him out of it. With a subtle gesture a girl at his school is finally able to find a way past his armour and show him that friends shake hands trustingly, without gloves, in order to get along well. The illustrations convey considerable sympathy for the child's basic need for security. Humorous details prevent Arthur's problem from appearing to be a psychological abnormality. (5+)
Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1998 - 111
Nottet, Pascal (text)
Girel, Stéphane (illus.)
La princesse de neige
(The snow princess)
Paris/Bruxelles: Pastel/L'École des Loisirs, 1997. [30, xi ] p.
River traffic - Tugboat - Winter - Puppet-theater
A sloop is locked in the ice of the Canal du Midi. Abel, the son of the barge-master, performs a puppet theater for Alys, the daughter of the lock-master. When the ice begins to melt, the barge sets off again. Abel's final play deals with a princess and a sailor, ending with a romantic promise of faithfulness. Meticulously composed illustrations, rich in mood, make this wintertime idyll a multilayered picture story with little Abel playing the leading role. An informative appendix with colored drawings describes the fact of shipping life on the canals of Europe. (5+)
France (French) - 1998 - 112
Burko-Falcman, Berthe (text)
(The hidden child)
Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1997. 186 p.
France/World War II - Persecution of the Jews - Childhood - Identity - Bereavement - Postwar life
During the Nazi occupation of France the Jewish child Esther is sent to live in the country and thus becomes the sole survivor of her immediate family. Her host family has her baptised and gives her the name Estelle. After the war she lives in an orphanage until an aunt in Paris takes her in. As a teenager, once again called Esther, she is painfully aware of the fragile balance in her life. Her diary reflects her efforts to find her own identity by going beyond her individual role within the collective Jewish fate, and thus establish a way of life for herself. (15+)
France (French) - 1998 - 113
Cabral, Tristan (text)
Mellinette, Martine (illus.)
Mourir à Vukovar
(To die in Vukovar)
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon: Cheyne, 1997. 45 p.
Bosnia/War - Poetry
The poet Tristan Cabral experienced the war in Bosnia with his own eyes. In simple texts he captures images, faces, scribbled slogans on walls and gravestones. His impressions reflect the absurdity of war and the vast reaches of human brutalization which even encompassed children as victims and as witnesses. The book design uses yellow marbled paper resembing crumbled walls as a backdrop for traces of graffiti containing the last words of the murdered for the survivors. (13+)
France (French) - 1998 - 114
Casterman, Geneviève (text/illus.)
Crowter, Kitty (illus.)
Copain des peintres
(Comrade of painters)
Toulouse: Milan, 1997. 294 p.
Painting - Aesthetics
This handbook is a successful approach to practical, aesthetic and cognitive art appreciation. It tempts the reader to take up painting and subtly even trains the eye to look. The practical instructions are stimulating and easy to follow with the help of photos and humorous illustrations. Reprints of children's art are presented in the same manner as works from »real« painters, preferably modern painters. The child can compare and learn from the masters. He or she can develop without inhibitions and activate a perspective on art through his or her own activity. (9+)
France (French) - 1998 - 115
Dieterlé, Nathalie (text/illus.)
Où es-tu, Lulu?
(Lulu, where are you?)
Paris: Kaléidoskope, 1997.  p.
Love - Play - Fear - Lost/Found
Any child will be able to identify immediately with Lulu, the little crocodile child, who also loves that wonderful game of hide-and-seek, loves the joy of being found again by mama or papa. Surely there is no better proof of being loved. This ceremony takes a surprising turn when Lulu wanders off too far away and gets into danger. Because Lulu's fear of being alone and lost is a universal experience, every child will enjoy the way Lulu's homecoming is portrayed here with much charm and amusement. (3+)
France (French) - 1998 - 116
Paris: Rageot, 1997. 186 p.
Computer - Software - Murder - Family problems
A series of mysterious deaths have occurred on the super computer Omnia 3. Does the software have the power to kill? The hero of this murder mystery risks playing a virtual murder game. Computer freaks will appreciate how she manages to solve the technical part of the case. The dangerous perfection of virtual weapons point out the risks of the new media, while the classical format of the solution reveals a human tragedy with all the traditional themes of love, coldheartedness, greed, disappointment and revenge. (14+)
(Prix Tam-Tam 1997)
France (French) - 1998 - 117
Hoestlandt, Jo (text)
Novi, Nathalie (illus.)
La géante Solitude
(The giant Loneliness)
Paris: Syros, 1998.  p.
Differentness - Exclusion - Loneliness - God - Humanity - Suffering
Children who feel lonely, misunderstood, and unloved will be able to identify with the ostracized girl giant. They can suffer with her as she travels around the world. In the end they will both be distracted by the pain and suffering of the many other people they encounter. Whether God exists is answered in a mysterious, thought-provoking picture. The illustrations reflect the melancholy condition of loneliness. But the conclusion shows that this is not only negative. The sad child giant is changed into a beautiful, lonely island, loved by many people. (6+)
France (French) - 1998 - 118
Le Rochais, Marie-Ange (text/illus.)
De l'eau fraîche pour Louise
(Fresh water for Louise)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1997. 37 p.
Water cycle - Ecology - Purification of water - Responsibility
For over four million years water has circulated on Earth in a balanced cycle and as the cradle of life has guaranteed the world's continued existence. It is easy to understand how this cycle operates and what is involved in keeping it going when one accompanies father and daughter from the bathtub to the ocean in this realistic, fascinating illustrated information book. The informal question-and-answer dialogues are convincingly employed to show how we all must share responsibility and act accordingly when dealing with this indispensible elixir. (8+)
France (French) - 1998 - 119
Lévêque, Anne-Claire (text)
Corazza, Lynda (illus.)
Attention à la marche!
(Watch your step!)
Rodez: Rouergue, 1997.  p.
Street - Passers-by - Movement - Fun
A young girl amuses herself by watching the passers-by from her balcony over the street. Funny, grotesque-looking images depict how weird their gait looks from above. Inspired by these observations, the girl invents a different style of walking for every day of the week, turning walking into clown antics which become rather tricky to perform in traffic. The loosely rhymed text follows her criss-cross movements all about the page. These funny scenes may encourage the reader to invent other new ways of walking. (5+)
France (French) - 1998 - 120
Mettler, René (text/illus.)
La nature au fils des mois
(Nature through the months)
Paris: Gallimard, 1997.  p.
Landscape - Nature observation - Seasons
For a full year an artist casts his eye on the same landscape, drawing twelve large-sized pictures showing the changes in nature. The reader will be enchanted by the details - the deep snow tracks in Febuary give way to springtime blooms in March. Tractor and mower follow. The meadow on the river fills with campers and empties itself again. Animals and plants are equally involved in the landscape, just as are rainstorms, fog and the changing colora of the vegetation. Foldout information sheets with details about climate, flora and fauna enhance this picturebook perspective on nature. (8+)
France (French) - 1998 - 121
Montella, Christian de
Le premier homme sur la lune
(The first person on the the moon)
Paris: Fayard, Librairie Arthème, 1997. 104 p.
Growing up - Sexuality - Responsibility - Humanity - Longing
Night after night a 14-year old boy observes a girl on the balcony across the street. He is shy, reflective and at times filled with self-contempt. The girl, who has a bad reputation, has also been observing him. When she unexpectedly pays him a call, their encounter leads him to examine himself more closely. Hesitantly he becomes aware of his own sensuality and recognizes in the girl a still child-like purity despite her physical maturity. He understands intuitively that longings encompass more than merely sexual desire. (13+)
France (French) - 1998 - 122
Ma vie a changé
(My life has changed)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1997. 180 p.
Divorce - Mother/Son - Love - Unconsciousness - Unreality
The first-person narrator is a working mother with an eight-year old son. She manages her complicated daily life pragmatically and with grim humor, critical of herself, attentive to her son. Unknown to them, a little elf has moved in who reeks havoc with practical jokes, magic and mix-ups. The depiction of the very real presence of this unreal being is a masterpiece of narration. The scenes shift from comic absurdity to touching sentimentality. The reader readily accepts the unbelievable and senses that the feelings and needs of mother and child are crystallized in the elf. And with its help, they achieve a positive change in their own lives. (12+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 123
Le livre des créatures
(The book of creatures)
Paris: École des Loisirs, 1997. 120 p.
Myth - Legend - Supernatural
The myths and legends of all the cultures of this world tell about fabulous beings, monsters, and spirits which bring either blessings or curses to mankind. Nadja provides us with portraits and short narrative characterizations so that we can recognize them when we meet them. Presented on pitch-black paper they appear at once fascinating and horrifying. The artist makes rich use of earthy tones, appropriate to those monstrous products of our fears and premonitions. The texts offer sober suggestions based on traditional wisdom about how to escape the often destructive demonism or how to capture the rarer magical powers of such creatures. In the appendix a table gives a geographic overview of the different cultural sources. This most unusual book goes along well with the current fashion of horror stories by satisfying the desire for the thrills of shock and disgust in a way that is only made possible through the rich imaginative powers of all mankind. (13+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 124
Noël, Geneviève (text)
Le Goff, Hervé (illus.)
Je m'ennuie dans mon lit
(I am so bored in my bed)
Paris: Père Castor Flammarion, 1997.  p.
Sleeplessness - House mouse
It is midnight. The mouse child can't sleep. She wakes up mother mouse and then begins the ritual of diversionary tactics to avoid having to go to bed that every child knows so well: going to the potty, singing, playing, hunger and thirst. In the end slumber comes of its own accord. But now mother mouse is wide awake and gleefully repeats what the child had been through. Now it is father mouse's turn to help bring on sleep. One can well imagine how the story continues, by going once again page for page through the humorous illustrations of the mouse house. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 125
Perec, Georges (text)
Pommaux, Yvan (illus.)
Je me souviens
Paris: Éditions du Sorbier, 1997.  p.
France/1950s - Memory - Everyday life
In 1978 Georges Perec (1936-1982) published a collection of 480 sentences which began with the phrase »I remember...« and named things which were characteristic of the everyday life and experiences of his age group (today's grandparents). Twenty of these sentences have been chosen by Yvan Pommaux and illustrated in his typical comic-book style. This album invites browsing and offers a wealth of authentic details which give the older readers pleasure of rediscovery and show the younger ones a quite foreign, long forgotten way of life. (6+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 126
Piquemal, Michel (text)
Bloch, Serge (illus.)
Nul en pub
(Failed in advertising)
Paris: Rue du Monde, 1997. 36 p.
Consumption - Advertising
Ludo is derided by his friends because he is completely ignorant of campaign slogans and brandnames. In order to redeem himself, he studies long and hard and even wins a silly game contest. But the main prize turns out to be a hoax. Disgusted, Ludo can at last return to his favorite hobby, fishing with his grandfather. The burlesque watercolor drawings, which are interspersed like ads on television, carica-ture the idiocy of advertising. The peppy brush strokes become more subtle when they give expres-sion to the emotional sensitivity of the child. (6+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 127
Prual-Reavis, Roberto (illus.)
Une idée de chien. Dans les air
(A dog's idea. In the air)
Paris: Les Éditions Didier, 1997.  p.
Drawing - Illusion - Dog - Bird - Flight
Attractive line drawings without text tell this circular story with no ending. A dog gazes after a bird. Then it jumps on the back of the next bird flying by and they land on an island where a bird magician draws the dog a pair of wings with which it can fly back to where it started. Here it turns over its wings to a chicken who trots by and gazes after it flying away. The final image is identical to the first; the story can begin again - in the same way or differently, wherever the inspiration of the reader-child leads. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 128
Serres, Alain (text)
Blondon, Hervé (illus.)
Un grand-père transformidable
(A transformidable grandfather)
Paris: Albin Michel, 1997.  p.
Grandfather - Grandson - Love - Imagination - Metamorphosis
The perspectives of the illustrations in this oversized book parallel the nearly unlimited willingness of the grandfather to fulfill the wishes of his grandson, who transforms him into a dinosaur, a giant apple pie, etc. The results, depicted in bizarre, earthy toned dreamy images, are always reversed with a kiss. But when grandfather is turned into an intergalactic warrior against his will, the reversal fails. Yet in the happy ending the two of them together again without the help of any magic. (7+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 129
Taravant, Jacques (text)
Sís, Peter (illus.)
Le marchand d'ailes
(The wing dealer)
Paris: Grasset & Fasquelle, 1997.  p.
Bird - Wings - Angel
The lovely idea that the good lord forgot to give birds wings when he created the world and thus had to send out a messenger boy to distribute them is the ideal material for this well-known illustrator. His favorite figures are the messengers between two worlds. Sís gives the young wing dealer an aura of pure naivity and sends him into a wide, unpopulated world, depicted in gentle tones on a plain background in his inimitable pointilistic style, giving it the virgin freshness of the first day of creation. The last pair of wings let the young messenger become the first angel, bringing genesis to its completion. (4+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 130
Tullet, Hervé (text/illus.)
Comment j'ai sauvé ma maman
(How I saved my mother)
Paris: Seuil, 1997.  p.
Mother - Everyday life - Bad luck - Sympathy - Love
Today is mother's bad luck day. The turbulent, chaotic pictures, rendered in the style of a child's drawings, recapitulate how everything she tries to do goes wrong. What fun it is to watch. At each turn of the page round peep holes make for new surprises. Every time the sympathetic child tries to cheer mother up, the confusion only becomes greater. But with a little cuddling, everything turns out well in the end. (3+)
Special Mention - France (French) - 1998 - 131
Wagneur, Alain (text)
Fleutiaux, Pierrette (text)
La maison des voyages
(The house of travel)
Paris: Gallimard, 1997. 102 p.
Puberty - Father - Daughter - Childhood memories
Sonia is in the middle of puberty. She is moody and feels lonely. Her mother is long dead and she thinks her father, a sea captain, doesn't understand the younger generation. Quite by chance, during a trip they take together, her father returns to the scene of his youth. Memories come rushing back and he tells her, at first shyly and hesitantly, about himself, his dreams, his friends and his first love. Sonia listens with growing interest and learns that her father, through his own experiences, has known the same feelings and problems and can thus understand his daughter. (13+)
Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 132
Argilli, Marcello (text)
Manna, Giovanni (illus.)
Il fantasma di Trastevere e altri racconti
(The ghost of Trastevere and other tales)
Firenze: Fatatrac, 1997. 72 p.
(I nuovi ottagoni; 14)
Rome/History - City life - Adventure
These seven lively tales are woven around the city of Rome, with its ancient history, squares and buildings. In each story Rome is both setting and protagonist. With just the right balance between reality and imagination, each tale focuses on a real aspect of the city (such as a statue, a famous person, or even the Pope), allowing the legends and glorious moments of ancient Rome resurface. The historical and topographical information in these fantasy tales are well-matched by the pen-and-brush drawings depicting past and present scenes of Roman life. (9+)
Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 133
Buongiorno, Teresa (text)
Nidasio, Grazia (illus.)
Camelot. L'invenzione della Tavola Rotonda
(Camelot. The invention of the Round Table)
Firenze: Salani, 1997. 176 p.
Round Table/Legend - King Arthur - Hero - Middle Ages
The legend of King Arthur and his knights is retold here in the form of a fictitious manuscript containing diary-like entries by Merlin, Morgana, Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Galahad as teenagers. Handing down the pen from one to the other, each character tells his own story and something of the others' from their own perspective. The use of a diary-style narrative is a successful choice because it appeals to teenage readers. It allows the adventurous tales of the Arthurian cycle to be told with adolscent eyes and values, while also conveying historical, mythical and literary knowledge of the Middle Ages. (11+)
Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 134
Cinquetti, Nicola (text)
Rapaccini, Chiara (illus.)
Eroi, re, regine e altre rime
(Heroes, kings, queens and other rhymes)
Roma: Nuove Edizioni Romane, 1997. 80 p.
(Nuova biblioteca dei ragazzi; 20: Poesia)
Children's poetry - Children's rhymes - Wordplay
Achilles, Copernicus, Cicero, Penelope, Pasteur and Michelangelo are only some of the famous persons portrayed in these 54 poems. With a light and ironical touch, using puns and pithy expressions, the author invites children to make their acquaintance with these internationally known figures from history, mythology, science and art. This is a stimulating, enjoyable collection of verse, rhymed and unrhymed. Noteworthy are the black-and-white drawings which complement the text, highlighting its sharpness and lyricism. (7+)
Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 135
Fallai, Paolo (text)
Scarpa, Laura (illus.)
Le 3 chiavi
(The 3 keys)
Milano: Mondadori, 1997. 128 p.
(Junior +10; 72 (Libri per ragazzi))
Father/Son - Friendship - Parental separation - Growing up - De Chirico/Painting
When Andrea's father is accused of painting forgeries of De Chirico's paintings and arrested, the son decides to make his own investigations. Along the way he learns some things that shake his glowing image of his father. But three mysterious keys, which also have metamorphic significance, help to solve the dilemma and resolve his feelings: a budding romance, concern about his parents' separation, and his anxiety about growing up. The chronicle style narrative is structured as a thriller with plenty of suspense. (11+)
(Premio Laura Orvieto 1996)
Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 136
Clara nella nebbia
(Clara in the fog)
Trieste: Ed. EL, 1997. 55 p.
(Le letture; 110)
Comics - Myopia
Six-year old Clara loves comic-strip stories and spends most of her time reading them. Her family thinks that her absent-minded and dreamy behavior comes from her passion for comics and don't notice that the fog that seems to surround her existence is due to something else. Only when Clara's teacher discovers that she has a mild case of myopia does she get a pair of glasses that helps to solve this problem. This is an attractive story set between fantasy and reality, where the comic strip characters come out of the pages and chat with the child. The black-and-white sketches stimulate the reader's imagination. (6+)
Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 137
Gandolfi, Silvana (text)
Orecchia, Giulia (illus.)
L'isola del tempo perso
(The island of lost time)
Firenze: Salani, 1997. 256 p.
(Gl'istrici: i libri che pungono la fantasia; 120)
Time - Friendship - Adventure - Fantasy
During a school trip Giulia and her bosom girlfriend, Arianna, get lost in an abandoned mine and suddenly find themselves on the island of lost time. This is a fantastic place where they encounter all sorts of things that are often lost on earth: keys and umbrellas, but also threads of conversation, memories, patience, and even people. The detailed and vivid narrative carries the reader into the dimension of »lost time«, thus revealing the importance of cultivating interests, friendship or even simply reading a book. This story is full of ingenious narrative tricks and suspense, complemented by excellent pen-and-ink drawings. (9+)
Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 138
Giardina, Andrea (text)
Luzzati, Emanuele (illus.)
La terribile storia de Nerone
(The terrible tale of Nero)
Bari: Laterza, 1997. 92 p.
Nero/Legend - Rome/History
Telling the story of Emperor Nero's life is not an easy task, but the author provides an accurate and meticulous portrait of this merciless despot (37-68 A.D.). The most important stations in the emperor's life and career are set in the context of historical and cultural events, giving insight into his identity as a politician, poet and musician. Luzzati's colorful illustrations are daring and graphically experimental, done in caustic, clashing colors which heighten the dramatic power of the narrative, underlining Nero's cruelty. (12+)
Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 139
C'è una lettera per te
(There is a letter for you)
Milano: Mondadori, 1997. 79 p.
Adolescence - Work - School
This short novel gives a detailed description of a typical day in the life of teenaged Maria. Because she never liked school, she now works as an apprentice at a hairdresser's shop and hopes to have her own beauty salon one day. The narrative's strength lies in its witty real-life dialogues and inner monologues, studded with an adolescent's hopes, conflicts and desires. The underlying message for the young reader suggests that one should not understimate a person's abilities to make the most of his life and talents. (12+)
Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 140
Mariniello, Cecco (text/illus.)
Il cane che ebbe tre nomi
(The dog that had three names)
Casale Monferrato: Piemme Junior, 1997. 91 p.
(Il battello a Vapore / Serie oro; 3)
Dog/Child - Friendship - Adventure - Growing up - Nature - Ecology
During the colonial period in North America the daughter of the governor, Geneve, is given a dog. Though Lancillot becomes her best friend, the dog is turned out one day by her parents because it always comes home dirty. Lancillot sets off on a long series of adventures during which he experiences the marvels of nature of this sparsely inhabited continent. The cheerful, entertaining story closes on a happy note when Geneve and Lancillot meet again after many years. The attractive layout with warmly colored pictures captures the main events and the charm of the main character. (6+)
(Premio Nazionale d'Illustrazione »Il battello a Vapore«. Città di Verbania 1996)
Special Mention - Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 141
Quarzo, Guido (text)
Vivarelli, Anna (text)
Carrer, Chiara (illus.)
La coda degli autosauri
(The long line of autosaurs)
Casale Monferrato: Piemme, 1997. 154 p.
(Il battello a Vapore / Serie arancio; 34)
Traffic jam - City life - Conformity - Family
One day the long line of cars on the motorway turns into such a traffic jam that movement comes to a complete standstill. Stuck in this huge traffic jam for twenty days with his family, suspended in time and space, Edoardo writes down in his diary all the extraordinary things that take place, such as his encounter with Mr. Leonardo, an eccentric scientist who descends from the sky with a hang glider. The story ends when the family decides to abandon their car and continue by foot, now finally aware of the need to reduce the automobile's domination over the cities and over their lives. This is an absorbing novel full of real-life dialogues and inner monologues, skilfully showing that children can be quite perceptive in their analysis of the adult world. The author's vivid, engaging and ironical style is an excellent match for the immediacy of the narrative. (9+)
(Premio di Narrativa per l'Infanzia »Il Battello a Vapore« Città di Verbania 1996)
Special Mention - Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 142
Rapaccini, Chiara (text/illus.)
Dammi un whisky, Samanta!
(Bring me a whisky, Samanta!)
Firenze: Giunti, 1997. 60 p.
([Giunti ragazzi universale / Under 10]; 26)
Family - Everyday life - Child/Parent - Role reversal
What would happen if adults behaved like children? Ivan and Samanta have just such an experience when their parents suddenly spend the whole day playing with toys and watching cartoons on television. Forced into a reversal of roles, the two children must take care of the housekeeping, shopping and deal with naughty parents. The author succeeds in caricaturing a contemporary family's lifestyle with wit and subtle hyperbole. Told in an easy, plain narrative style, the main events of the story are highlighted with pen-andink caricature-like drawings. (8+)
Special Mention - Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 143
Terzagli, Matteo (text)
Zürcher, Marco (illus.)
Undici gatti paracadutisti
(Eleven cats parachuting)
Bolzano: AER, 1997. 36 p.
Counting - Cat - Flight - Adventure
A plane with eleven cats on board takes off and from high in the sky the felines parachute back to earth. The wind lets them drift apart in different directions, so that each cat experiences its own short adventure. The story is at another level a flight through the numbers (one to eleven), encouraging children to let their imaginations soar. Reminiscent of Květa Pacovská's style, the illustrations are rich in innovative graphic ideas, at once simple and bold. The warm and airy colors are harmoniously matched, creating an exuberant atmosphere that will surely appeal to pre-school children. (4+)
Special Mention - Italy (Italian) - 1998 - 144
Ziliotto, Donatella (text)
Nidasio, Grazia (illus.)
Le bambine non le sopporto
(I cannot stand little girls)
Trieste: Einaudi Ragazzi, 1997. 56 p.
(Einaudi Ragazzi / Narrativa; 58)
Friendship - Family conflict - School holidays - Growing up
Tonina cannot go on summer holidays to the mountains because she has to repeat her chemistry exam in September. But she is determined to enjoy her vacation, even if it means working as a counsellor at the children's summer camp. She describes this experience in six letters to her closest girlfriend Lucilla, revealing much of a modern teenager's inner life. The well-drawn characterizations in the narrative find their match in the witty line-drawings which extend this spirited, comical tale. (11+)
Portugal (Portuguese) - 1998 - 145
Saldanha, Ana (text)
Costa, José Pedro (illus.)
Porto: Edinter, 1997. 131 p.
(Edinter jovem; 16)
Fourteen-year old Loló is having a difficult time because of her poor health. At first she (and reader) suspect that she could be pregnant, but instead the diagnosis turns out to be diabetes. This novel describes how Loló, her family and her boyfriend learn to deal with the news and adjust to the chronic illness. The well-structured, unspectacular narrative takes the various perspectives of the main characters. The author, highly successful in Portugal, is able to deal with the topic of illness in children and young adults in a natural and uninhibited manner. (12+)
Romania (Romanian) - 1998 - 146
(The wolves' banquet)
Ploieşti: Ed. Prahova, 1996. 150 p.
Romania - Family - Everyday life - Superstition
With her special power of observation and empathy, the author carries the reader into the intimate world of a Romanian family. The stories in the first section depict the family's relationship to the animals they are raising. While they have a special place in the family and are given loving care, especially by the children, the adults see them rather as a part of the food chain. In the second part of the book, the stories show the influence and constant presence of superstition among the Romanian people - especially with regard to death, presentiment of death, and fighting illness with supernatural powers. These twenty stories are filled with a sense of atmosphere and authenticity. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - 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+)
Spain (Catalan) - 1998 - 154
Colom, Rosa Maria (text)
Canals, Mercè (illus.)
La Dama Blanca
(The white lady)
Barcelona: Edicions de la Magrana, 1997. 125 p.
(Petit esparver; 70)
This work continues the storytelling tradition of Majorcan folk tales, drawing on their traditional setting, the historical background and figures. In a very pleasing literary style she tells six of her own new tales about kings, poor wretches, witches and gnomes. The story which gives the book its title describes a white lady who turns people to ice statues by looking at them, while another tale deals with the last, lonesome giant who would like to marry again. A glossary at the end explains the Majorcan terms. (7+)
Spain (Catalan) - 1998 - 155
Garcia i Cornellà, Dolors
Contes a una cama trencada
(Stories told on a broken bed)
Barcelona: Galera, 1997. 117 p.
(LaGalera el corsari; 28)
Storytelling - Imagination - Short stories
Bernat, bedridden with a broken leg, is not pleased by his cousin Cèlia's plan to help him pass the days by telling him a story. But his aversion is soon forgotten because her stories are not so uninteresting after all. And furthermore Bernat reinvents a different ending for each story, because his is never satisfied with them. This book captivates the reader with its imaginative tales in the tradition of Gianni Rodari and the use of an entertaining frame story, in which the potential and fascination of storytelling become clear. (9+)
Spain (Catalan) - 1998 - 156
Piquer, Eva (text)
La noia del temps
(The weather girl)
Barcelona: Ed. Cruïlla, 1997. 127 p.
(El vaixell de vapor / Sèrie vermella; 76)
Mother/Daughter - Puberty - Weather - Clairvoyance
Iris causes a commotion when she applies to be the »weather prophet« at her school's own television station. Her daring forecasts („It will rain frogs") come true, thus causing problems for her mother, a professional weather forecaster at a TV station. This fantasy story is interwoven with realistic aspects in the life of the thirteen-year old girl, her relationship with her widowed mother, everyday life at home, at school, with her friends, and how she deals with the first signs of puberty. Realistic and phantastic passages flow together seamlessly to form a a fast-paced, witty story. (12+)
Spain (Catalan) - 1998 - 157
Sala-Valldaura, Josep Maria
Tren de paraules
(Train of words)
Lleida: Pagès, 1997. 57 p.
(Biblioteca de la Suda; Tansvaria; 2)
Children's poetry - Riddle
The cover of this book makes its subject evident - waiting for the train of words. A motley queue of people, a clock, a funnel-shaped loudspeaker. Not much, but enough to set the imagination of the beholder in motion. The art of reduction and allusion is characteristic for the texts of this multifaceted poetry book. The rhymed riddles, magic formulas, shortest-of-all poems, calligrams and much more are full of fantastic, imaginative wit and a feeling for language. Equally original and at times grotesque, the drawings round-out this enjoyable book. (8+)
Spain (Galician) - 1998 - 158
Casalderrey, Fina (text)
Rivera Ferner, Marta (illus.)
¡Prohibido casar, papá!
(Marriage forbidden, Papa!)
Vigo: Galaxia, 1996. 157 p.
(Arbore/Serie azul; 88)
Motherless child - Father/Daughter - Parent/ Romance - Jealousy
Fourteen-year old half-orphan Elia has a good and intensive relationship with her father. So she is most unhappy that he has found a new girlfriend, Berta. Lying in hospital for an appendectomy, she has much time to think about her life up to now, the new situation, and her total antipathy for Berta. Alternating between Elia's first-person perspective and the occasional, more neutral third-person observations, Fina Casalderrey develops a realistic, convincing picture of the emotional world of her young protagonist. (12+)
Switzerland (French) - 1998 - 159
Thiel, Henry (text)
Genève: La Joie de Lire, 1997. 40 p.
World War II - Persecution of the Jews - Horse - Friend - Escape - Death
For one whole summer, in 1943, the horse Hector is the focal point in life of the seven-year old Jewish boy, Moses. Fleeing from the Nazis, Moses is hiding on a farm. Due to their coarse manner, the farmer family is hardly able to show their love for him. Hence Moses is especially receptive to the vivacious, free spirit of the animal, which gives immediate expression of its affection for the boy. Forced again to flee, his happiness comes to a brutal end. The pursuers shoot the horse. The tragic events are given congenial expression in powerful, dark-toned watercolors. (10+)
Switzerland (French) - 1998 - 160
Tirabosco, Tom (text/illus.)
Ailleurs, au même instant ...
(Elsewhere, at the same moment ...)
Genève: La Joie de Lire, 1997.  p.
World - Diversity - Simultaneity
The events of one moment in time which take place at different places can be leafed through in a series of poetical chalk pictures. Each individual happening holds a story of its own and reveals another aspect of this world: while a child opens up a book in his room one evening, a whale lays dying on a distant shore, a pear falls from a tree somewhere, a piece of chewing gum sticks to a shoe ... and somewhere else a child on a sand dune near an ocean is closing its book. The infinite variety and simultaneity of real life is continued in a fictional, immaterial one through the opening and closing pictures, which each show a child with a book and seem to be saying that there is also a world, a life in books - at each place, for each reading child, something special happens. (6+)
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+)
Brazil (Portuguese) - 1998 - 164
Angelo, Ivan (text)
Azevedo, Ricardo (illus.)
Pode me beijar se quiser
(You can kiss me if you want to)
São Paulo: Ed. Ática, 1997. 160 p.
(Série sinal aberto: Humano)
Brazil/Country life - First love - Growing up
Miguel lives on an estate where his father earns the family's meager existence as field laborer. Miguel's quiet, uncomplicated life changes when his headstrong manner draws the attention of Doutor Nelson, the owner of the estate. The twelve-year old, who had hoped to join the circus, is sent to school instead. He is used by Nelson as a courier for love-letters and experiences his own first love experience with Lindinha, the daughter of his patron. In a clear, gentle language, sensitive but not sentimental, the author depicts Miguel's at times painful and saddening experiences at the end of his childhood. (10+)
Brazil (Portuguese) - 1998 - 165
Cruz, Nelson (illus.)
São Paulo: Paulinas, 1997.  p.
(Sonhar para acordar)
Vinci, Leonardo da - Monument - Dream - Memories
All alone at night in the little park of the large city he stands on his pedestal: Leonardo da Vinci - a lifeless, timeless stone monument. Then birds land on him, awakening him from his rigor. Birds? Flying! Memories come flooding back: flying machines, first attempts of flight, anatomical studies, sketches, an empty canvas soon to become the portrait of Mona Lisa. At the break of dawn the dream is over, Leonard steps again onto his pedestal. Nelson Cruz tells this wordless picture book, leaving room for the reader's ideas to »fly«. His pictures, done in water colors and gouache, are witty and yet mysterious in their portrayal of dream and reality, yesterday and today. (8+)
Brazil (Portuguese) - 1998 - 166
Eboli, Terezinha (text)
Lima, Graça (illus.)
A lenda da lua cheia
(The legend of the full moon)
Rio de Janeiro: Ediouro, 1997.  p.
Brazil/Legend - Kaxinawa - Indio - Moon
This book in the new series »Lendas brasileiras« tells a traditional tale of the Kaxinawa tribe which deals - like many other legends - with one aspect of the origin of the world. Where did the moon come from, and why does it »go to the heads« of so many people? Because it was once a head too - the severed head of a warrior, no longer of any use on earth, which took its place in the sky. The illustrations reflect very well the atmosphere of the text. The stylizing pictures - glowing color chalk on roughly structured black paper, fit well with the mysterious nocturnal tone of the legend. (6+) ☆
Brazil (Portuguese) - 1998 - 167
Grupioni, Luís Donisete Benzi
Viagem ao mundo indígena
(Journey to the world of the Indios)
São Paulo: Berlendis & Vertecchia, 1997. 48 p. With illustrations
(Coleção Pawana; 1)
Knowledge about the native Indian inhabitants of Brazil is usually quite vague and incomplete. Here the anthropologist Luís Grupioni offers the reader more insight into those groups and their greatly varying history, culture and language. This volume contains five short stories which depict everyday situations of children and youth of five different ethnic groups. They are supplemented with further information, photos, illustrations, maps and bibliographical details of additional sources of information. (9+) ☆
Brazil (Portuguese) - 1998 - 168
Mello, Roger (text/illus.)
Rio de Janeiro: Agir, 1996.  p.
Ship - River monster - Adventure
Maria Teresa, a widely travelled, but also rather timid ship with a lion's head, tells about its life on the River São Francisco and gives a flowery account of its highly dangerous encounter with the fierce river monster. Roger Mello has composed this story in lyrical, melodic verses and created exceptionally charming illustrations in warm, glowing colors. With a light and souvereign touch he ignores the rules of size, proportions and perspectives. His spacious panorama illustrations capture Maria Teresa's dramatic fantasies and the colorful life on the river. (6+)
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+)
Canada (French) - 1998 - 173
La mystérieuse bibliothécaire
(The mysterious librarian)
Montréal: Québec Amérique Jeunesse, 1997. 123 p.
Library - Reading - Passion - Literature - Illusion - Reality - Eccentricity
Books warm the heart and prickle the mind. That is the motto of Miss Charlotte, the new librarian. With bizarre new ideas she turns the musty old library in the attic of the city hall into a paradise for children and readers. The stories in the books become real for the impassioned reader. The children experience how Charlotte falls in love forever with the beast from the tale „Beauty and the Beast". Once the most notorious despisers of books have become bookworms, Charlotte's mission is completed. She disappears again as mysteriously as she came. (8+)
Canada (French) - 1998 - 174
Dubé, Jasmine (text)
Daigle, Sylvie (illus.)
Tu n'es plus seul, Nazaire!
(You're not alone any more, Nazaire)
Montréal: Courte Échelle, 1997. 61 p.
(Premier roman; 57)
Family - Tenderness - Pregnancy - Siblings
This young author has already received prizes for her life's work, which also includes theater plays for children. Her main area of interest is the relationship between parents and children, which she depicts with considerable diversity and subtlety. Seven-year old Nazaire is the hero of this popular series of beginning readers, which glows with the warmth of a happy family nest. This adroit and yet sensitive story tells about the mother's pregnancy, the birth of the new baby and the moments of tender intimacy with father and grandfather as seen through the eyes of a child. (5+) ☼
Canada (French) - 1998 - 175
Guérette, Charlotte (text)
Que le diable l'emporte!
(May the devil take him!)
Montréal: Éditions Hurtubise HMH, 1997. 139 p.
Canada/Folktale - Devil
These tales of the devil are taken from the oral tradition of French-speaking Canada. They stem from different sources and show the devil as a master of disguise and transformations. The enlightened young readers will be immune to the thrill of such frightful superstition. They can impartially enjoy the creative inventiveness of these stories and try to imagine themselves returned to the world of their forefathers. (12+)
Canada (French) - 1998 - 176
Damien mort ou vif
(Damien, dead or alive)
Montréal: Médiaspaul, 1997. 155 p.
Ghost - Satanic cult - Sadism - Family - Friendship
As is usually the case in fantasy novels, the feelings of friendship which the young girl Maxine harbours for the ghost of Monsieur Culdéric, who has been dead for 150 years, have no rational explanation. But an explanation is needed after all when another ghost appears. And Maxine will have to find it. The trail leads to the mother of the neighbor children who was married once to the leader of a satanic cult. He had sadistically held her and the twin boys in his power. The author, a master of storytelling and of psychology, develops a very plausible plot to show that the abysses of the human soul put a false bottom under our reality - even without ghosts. (11+)
Special Mention - Canada (French) - 1998 - 177
Waterloo: Éditions Michel Quintin, 1997. 144 p.
Veterinarian - Nature park - Animal preservation - Adventure
Simard and his team work toward wildlife protection and the nature conservation in the forests and on the large lakes of Canada, where they have close contact with bears, wolves, and reindeer. The prerequisite for their adventurous lives is a minute knowledge of nature and a rich store of experience in the wilderness. The narration of such episodes in the lives of the conservationists is thoroughly absorbing. Simard avoids any theorizing and moves entirely within the realm of real events. These give him vast opportunity to inform, to casually instruct and to show nature in her role as the great teacher of mankind. Nature satisfies man's curiosity, grants us fascination and mobilizes our mental, practical and social abilities to reach the level of perfection that marks a mature individual. (12+)
Special Mention - Canada (French) - 1998 - 178
Tibo, Gilles (text)
Poulin, Stéphane (illus.)
Choupette et son petit papa
(Choupette and her little papa)
Saint-Lambert (Québec): Héritage, 1997. 43 p.
Play - Mother - Authority - Growing up
Papa's standard phrase that he was always tied to his mother's skirts is taken quite literally by his young daughter, who pictures him in absurd, droll situations, smothered in the folds of the imposing skirt of a matronly mother. Having had such a sheltered childhood, Papa now has a lot to catch up on. And he does so to excess, while his daughter stands by and watches, slightly unnerved, but with understanding and affection. The author and illustrator, both renown for their past accomplishments, outbid one another in inventiveness and let Papa enjoy rollicking childlike capers. (6+) ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 179
Almajid, Fahmy (text)
Melbye, Inni Karine (illus.)
København: Høst & Søn, 1996. 93 p.
Irak - Golf War <1990-1991> - Kurd - Escape
Twelve-year old Kamiran and his family flee Irak over the Turkish border during the Golf War. At the end of the war only he and his mother are still alive. The Kurdish author, now living in Denmark, depicts in a clear, simple style the suffering of her people, who are not allowed to live anywhere in peace. Without condemnation, this tale of flight and survival from the point of view of the persecuted serves as an indictment against inhumanity in general. (10+) ☆
Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 180
Arguimbau, Damián (text)
Pedersen, Anne (illus.)
Makedeus og basketsko-engeln
(Makedeus and the gym shoe angel)
København: Forum, 1997.  p.
This is the story of the hare Makedeus, that runs into an angel who advises him to go to Noah and his ark, because a beastly rain is on the way. And he does so, taking a pack of other animals with him. All of them, including the angel, are portrayed here without the least degree of mawkishness, but rather grotesquely ugly and comical, just the thing to amuse children. The reason for God's new wrath is depicted in the background - weapons and war, factories and pollution, destruction of rainforests. The expressive, subdued style of the pictures is typical of the new, anti-realistic trend in picture books. (6+)
Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 181
Brandt, Hanne (text)
Ranheimsæter, Jon (illus.)
Den hovedløse rytter. Spøgelseshistorier fra danske slotte
(The headless knight. Ghost stories from Danish castles)
København: Forum, 1996. 95 p.
Denmark - Castle - Ghost
Ghost stories are not only read with pleasure by children, they are also short enough to keep the laziest reader interested. In this selection, the stories are set against the background of Danish cultural history. To add to the suspense, each one is told in the first-person and the uncanny twists of plot are illustrated in a quite congenial manner by an artist who has already proven to be an expert in the field of horror. (8+) ☆ ☼
Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 182
(The love of the fool)
København: Høst & Søn, 1997. 167 p.
Though very successful in Denmark, Haller continues to be systematically ignored by foreign publishers, perhaps because he takes the concerns of young adolescents, especially their agonies of love, seriously. In this novel, a boy of about ten years of age with speech and behavioral problems, throws himself and his unbridled love at a girl at the seashore with such force that she has no choice but to give him her attention. But rather than reaping love, he only experiences the radicalness of feelings that can attract one individual to another. (12+)
Special Mention - Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 183
Jensen, Helle Vibeke (text)
Schnack, Asger (illus.)
Hoved & hale. En billedbog om modsætninger
(Head and tail. A picture book about opposites)
København: Høst & Søn, 1997.  p.
The theme of this book is oppositeness - large and small, high and low, few and many, open and closed. But the intention of this outstanding picture book is not a didactic one, but rather to present the beholder with a creative, aesthetic game. The hero, a fish-headed girl, traverses the world of opposites in search of a new playmate. This simple construction gives the artist occasion to create richly contrasting pictures which unite the decorative elements from the turn-of-the-(20th)century - powerful contours - and surrealistic components - especially from Max Ernst and his collages in stimulating new compositions. (6+)
Special Mention - Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 184
En splint af korset
(A splinter from the cross)
Århus: Modtryk, 1997. 222 p.
Children's Crusade <1212>
The first-person narrator, 15-year old Isabel, describes the fate of a group of children in a crusade who end up as slaves in Alexandria. Isabel is only able to survive by escaping. A thrilling and impressive psychological narrative, this is an example of the wide range of historical novels for young adults being written in Scandinavia, which more often deal with the period of the Vikings. (12+)
Special Mention - Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 185
Rasmussen, Bent (text)
Bourgeat, Lene (illus.)
Den gode dværg
(The good dwarf)
København: Alinea, 1997. 60 p.
(Læs dansk bøgerne/Blå serie)
The author is also the editor of this new series for beginning readers and readers with reading problems. The series consists of three levels of difficulty. Following the postulates of reading teachers, the sentences use simple grammatical constructions laid out in short lines. And still the legend-like stories about dwarves are, thanks to the author, readable and exciting. (6+) ☼
Special Mention - Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 186
Seighali, Morteza (text)
Rød, Signe (illus.)
Lagkage på flugt ( = Kolac u bijegu)
(The cake on the run)
Århus: Husets forlag, 1997. 29 p.
Despotism - Resistance
The birthday cake of a king, who has let his country starve in order to gorge himself, runs away and lets itself be eaten up by those who helped to make it. This fable - written here in six languages (Danish, Croatian, Persian, Somalian, Arabic and Turkish) - and accompanied by naive but unerring illustrations, brings the Danish democracy into play for children who have come to Denmark from those countries where dictatorship rules. (6+) ☆
Special Mention - Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 187
Vebel, Susanne (text)
Edeltoft, Anne Mette (illus.)
Manden og katten
(The man and the cat)
Hillerød: Alma, 1997. 30 p.
Love - Cat - Metamorphosis
This ancient fable tells of a man who falls in love with a cat who, even after she has been transformed by Venus into a lovely young girl, is unable to renounce her true nature. The moral of the story still holds today: one should let each individual live according to his or her nature. And a further, rather bitter truth: love alone cannot overcome any barriers. In this first picture book created completely on her own, Anne Edeltoft has refined her typically vigorous contour lines to attain a light touch of caricature, but retains her rather somber palette of colors. (5+)
Special Mention - Denmark (Danish) - 1998 - 188
Winding, Thomas (text/illus.)
Hentze, Peter (illus.)
Emile og naturens orden
(Emile and nature's order of things)
Frederiksberg: Branner og Korch, 1996.  p.
Order - Imagination
For an African boy whose parents are artists, home is the quintessence of order and Nature that lies beyond it the quintessence of chaos. As a way of explaining that every part of Nature carries its own order within itself, even if not immediately evident, the illustrations which are at first fairly naive are then followed by a series of almost abstract compositions in which the shape of animals is only barely recognizable in the chaos of colors. A cow stung by a bee that ultimately tramples over the mother's jars of paint does indeed bring about a real chaos, the breakdown of order. (6+)
Finland (Finnish) - 1998 - 189
Lemmetty, Jukka (text/illus.)
Helsinki: Otava, 1996.  p.
City - Adventure
There are several Finnish illustrators, such as Hannu Taina and Kaarina Kaila, who are known abroad. The bustling books of the caricaturist Mauri Kunnas are also popular outside of Finland. Making friends with this book may be more difficult because its gaudy, bright colors frighten adults - but not necessarily children. With wildly drawn lines and painfully piercing colors this book tells the story of the absurd journey of a boy and a man through an urban Moloch, letting children anticipate what kinds of discoveries they could make in their own city. (8+)
Finland (French) - 1998 - 190
(The little Frog Prince)
Helsinki: Otava, 1996. 126 p.
Physical handicap - Self-assertion
Until now only known as a writer for young adults, Salminen now offers a book for children about a young, crippled boy. Though he is considered untalented, he is able to surprise everyone around him with his abilities and his imagination. Written in the dialect of south-eastern Bothnian, the story offers much verbal humor, while the secret world of the boy adds a fantastic element and the descriptions of everyday events remain realistic. (10+)
Iceland (Icelandic) - 1998 - 191
Guđjón Sveinsson (text)
Erlu Sigurđardóttur (illus.)
Kvöldstund međ pabba. Lítil saga handa börnum
(Evening hour with Papa)
Breidalvík: Mánabergsútgáfan, 1997. 35 p.
Father/Son - Everyday life
We become acquainted with an episode of childhood in Iceland when Karl Agnar and his sister spend an evening alone with their father because their mother has gone out. In accord with a familiar motif, father, a teacher, must come to terms with an unaccustomed activity. And along the way we learn something of Iceland's way of life. The several colored pictures which illustrate the book are done in modest realism; outstanding children's book illustrators are seldom found in this small country. (6+)
Iceland (Icelandic) - 1998 - 192
Magnús Scheving (text)
Halldór Baldursson (illus.)
Latibær í vandræđum
(Latibær needs help)
Reykjavík: Æskan, 1997. 103 p.
Small town - Adventure
While this small town slumbers along in summertime indolence, it is visited by a mysterious man in a black cloak and tophat, who causes much confusion among the town's sport fans, before taking to his heels in the end. This amusing story with robust, comic-like illustrations is the third volume in a successful series about the city of Latibær. (8+)
Norway (Norwegian) - 1998 - 193
Flamingohøsten har begynt. Skisser og samtaler i et forfatterverksted
(The autumn of flamingoes has begun. Sketches and conversations from a writing workshop)
Oslo: J. W. Cappelen, 1997. 119 p.
Writer - Poetry - Family life
A mother tries to reconcile her profession as a poet with her duties toward her family. The prosaic nature of everyday life (lost socks, unbalanced household accounts, scorched pans, etc.) which she takes as her subject matter leads to a fruitful dialogue about the issues of poetry. And yet there is a need for inspiration. »Inspiration is when I get no lunch«, comments the young son, in this thoroughly original and humorous contribution to a discussion of the nature of poetry writing. (12+)
Norway (Norwegian) - 1998 - 194
Fy å fy. Hundemanuskripta 3
(Fie! Fie! A dog's manuscript 3)
Oslo: Norske Samlaget, 1997. 41 p.
Dog - Jealousy - Rivalry
The ship dog Haktor had lived long and peaceably on the crane barge until the skipper came up with the barmy idea of getting a second dog, supposedly because Haktor is getting too old. On account of this new she-pup Loliletta, young, brazen and full of appetite, Haktor comes to the conclusion that life is no longer worth living. Fosse cleverly avoids using the weak, begging-for-sympathy mode of first-person narration, but still tells this short story from the dog's perspective, which gives occasion for an amusing choice of phrases. This book is an example of the publishers intention to make the artificial language of Nynorsk popular through good books. (8+)
Norway (Norwegian) - 1998 - 195
Johnsen, Kjell Erik (text)
Düzakin, Akin (illus.)
Herr Siml prøver å finne seg selv
(Mr. Siml tries to find himself)
Oslo: J. W. Cappelen, 1997.  p.
Bibliophile - Fiction/Reality
Since Mr. Siml cannot find anything anymore among his many books, in the end he cannot even find himself. His image appears only as a phantom between books and pictures - the great occasion for the very original illustrator to invent picture puzzles. When Mr. Siml becomes so desparate that he begins to cry, he begins to recall that he is a human being and he takes steps back into life again. This is a gentle admonition to young and old book lovers about the dangers of loosing one's self in the illusory world of books. (8+)
Norway (Norwegian) - 1998 - 196
Nicolaysen, Marit (text)
Dybvig, Per (illus.)
(The journey through the sewage canals)
Oslo: Aschehoug, 1996. 55 p.
(Aschehoug illustrerte barnebøker)
One hot summer day a group of school children are forced to make a tour of the sewage canal system. While they are being told about the function of the sewers - and on the brink of claustrophobia and nausea due to the stinking odors and the rats - one of the boys faints. He becomes acquainted with the romantic side of the sewer keeper, realizes that his house rat is a finer one than the canal rat and even gains a girlfriend through it all. Told with a dry sense of humor, this short tale and its outrageous caricatures in the style of Quentin Blake will be most enjoyed by children who are reluctant readers. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Norway (Norwegian) - 1998 - 197
Nyquist, Arild (text)
Graff, Finn (illus.)
Gullens drøm om en øy
(Sweetie's dream of an island)
Oslo: Aschehoug, 1997.  p.
Father/Daughter - Sexual abuse
A young girl, who is at the mercy of her father's advances because she gets no support from her weak-willed mother, dreams of being rescued by a dog, a sailor and a bird and finally fleeing from her somber home to live in peace on an island. Both text and illustrations handle this delicate topic neither in a blunt way, nor in awkward or crude manner, as in some other works, but in a poetic, alluding narrative with even more direct insinuations in the illustrations. These pictures make it clear that the father's fixation on his daughter may well be accompanied by an erotic ambivalence. The artist gives expression to this through the surreal scenes in which the very relaxed posture of the daydreaming girl - the composition copies a painting by Balthus - do not portray a suffering child, but a creature with an erotic aura. (12+)
Special Mention - Norway (Norwegian) - 1998 - 198
Sortland, Bjørn (text)
Hiorthøy, Kim (illus.)
Den solbrente mammaen som blei bytta mot ti kamelar
(The sun-burned mother who was traded for ten camels)
Oslo: Aschehoug, 1997. 83 p.
Jordan - Vacation - Culture clash
An unplanned vacation in Aqaba, in Jordan, leads to a surprising cultural experience for a Norwegian family when the mother, in good fun, accepts the bride price being offered by a native Jordanian. This is a burlesque novel with a touch of exotic by the now internationally renown author Sortland. It won the publisher's prize as best children's book in 1997. Just as unusual as the story are the binding and illustrations in a strictly linear style, which are a welcome change from the average naturalism of many children's book illustrations. (8+) ☆
Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 199
Brinck, Lotta (text)
Räder, Andréa (illus.)
Gröna rätter för unga kockar
(Green dishes for young cooks)
Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren, 1996. 77 p.
Vegetarian dishes from different countries are presented with clear, easy to follow instructions in such a way that young people can prepare them without problem. The dishes are not presented as photographs but in lovely, unpretentious color illustrations. (10+) ☆
Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 200
Dunér, Anna (text)
Raagaard, Kirsten (illus.)
Emilia i simhallen
(Emilia at the swimming pool)
Stockholm: BonnierCarlsen, 1997.  p.
This book for the youngest readers is representative of similar series for the same readership, which are typical for Scandinavian countries in their naturalness and matter-offactness. Many experienced, and even the best artists in the field work on these series. Kirsten Raagaard, for example, is a seasoned draftswoman who maintains a good balance between childlike and true-to-nature representations. Typically Scandinavian is the unabashed portrayal of nakedness or toilet-usage, as well as the presence of only one parent, mother or father. (3+)
Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 201
Eklund Lykull, Anita
Julia mitt i världen
(Julia in the middle of the world)
Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren, 1996. 331 p.
Adolescence - Love - Personality development
The third novel of a trilogy finds Julia now a student and having to readjust her life after just being left by her first boyfriend. The search for new relationships and a tour of Europe help to raise her self-confidence. This novel is an example of numerous Scandinavian novels which take adolescents on the doorstep of the adult world seriously and avoid any attempts at indoctrination. (14+)
Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 202
Klefelt, Lena (text/illus.)
Mosad banan. En bok för små och stora direktörer
(Smashed bananas. A book for young and old directors)
Stockholm: Eriksson & Lindgren, 1997.  p.
Infant - Adult - Role reversal
The artist takes the old theme of »topsy-turvey world« and gives it an original twist by letting an authoritarian director and father experience in a dream how an infant feels, how helpless and powerless one is as a child. Incidentally it seems to be typical for these times that only fathers are authoritarian and in need of re-education. The mothers in such books are notoriously modern and even unbearably tolerant. Klefelt's extremely unobtrusive, minimal line drawings and dry color pencil coloration complement this grotesque story excellently. (5+)
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 203
August Strindberg. Bilder ur hans liv
(August Strindberg. Pictures from his life)
Stockholm: LL-Förlaget, . 74 p.
In a very simple and factually condensed form, that is nonetheless quite interesting to read, this book presents Strindberg's life, documented with historical photographs, and creates a portrait of his times. This citation is also meant to give recognition to the remarkable publishing program of LL (Lättläst stands for ), which produces books that take their readership seriously. Some titles deal with developmental disorders, autism, aphasia or dyslexia, fighters, reluctant readers or immigrant children. Among LL's specialities are the heavily abridged re-editions of classics such as by de Maupassant, Shelley or Lagerlöf. Photodocumentary stories tell about the vacation of two developmentally retarded young women or about the love relationship of a woman in a wheelchair. The books are exceptionally attractive, well-illustrated, printed on good paper and nicely bound. Also the didactic conceptualization of the information books is excellent, their graphic design of lovely pictures and photographs is clearly arranged, and the text is kept as concise as possible. (12+) ☼
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 204
Lekander, Nina (text)
Zweigbergk, Helena von (text)
Ahlbom, Jens (illus.)
Pojken och staden
(The boy and the city)
Stockholm: Bonnier Carlsen, 1997.  p.
City life - Everyday life
Books which depict life in the city are still a relatively rare thing. All the more reason to welcome this picture book in which the daily troubles of city kids and their vexed parents are portrayed in witty, exuberant scenes of life. The city of Stockholm is readily recognizable, but the episodes involving parking violations, busses full of children, dog poop, and grocery shopping can be found in many similar cities. Typically Swedish is, however, the touch of local color, for instance, in the state-run alcohol shop with the advertisement »Buy a little less, be happy in moderation. (6+)
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 205
Lindgren, Barbro (text)
Höglund, Anna (illus.)
Nu är vi gorillor låssas vi
(Now let's pretend we are gorillas)
Stockholm: Eriksson & Lindgren, 1997.  p.
Play - Patronization
With their »alternative« picture books for the youngest readers, not those sweetish and ridiculous ones, Scandinavian publishers are still far advanced. This one deals with children at play, deftly illustrated with naive pictures that focus on the essentials of the plot. While adults are always faulted in children's books for being so patronizing to children, here the older child is allowed to get away with playing the »father« to the younger one, much to their mutual delight. (4+)
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 206
Ollars, Janne (text)
Örtengren, Lisa (illus.)
En onsdag i Karl Grans liv
(A Wednesday in the life of Karl Grans)
Stockholm: BonnierCarlsen, 1996. 95 p.
Karl Gran, a boy who cannot yet tell the difference between fantasy and reality, brings confusion to the adult world around him with his ideas. The naive tone of the narrative, told from Karl's perspective, is an ironic portrayal of adult fallibility. The traditional style line drawings are skilful caricatures. The author won the publisher's competition with this book in 1995. (8+)
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 207
Schenkmanis, Ulf (text)
Johansson, Sven-Gösta / Forsberg, Lasse (photos)
Waltmark, Barbro (recipes)
Stockholm: LL-Förlaget, 1997. 72 p.
The brief text gives a minimal explanation of the essential botanical details and other practical information. Very beautiful photographs of the individual berry sorts (including the well-known kinds of currants, wild and cultivated strawberries, and Scandinavian specialities such as blueberries, cranberries and others) make them easily recognizable. Several easy recipes which young adults will not hesitate to try are included at the end of the book. (10+) ☼
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 208
Toss, Anna (text)
Ahlbom, Jens (illus.)
Jag, mamma och Socka Musen
(I, Mommy, and Sockamouse)
Stockholm: Alfabeta, 1996. 77 p.
Mother/Child - Storytelling
A mother tells her young son phantastic stories in which the younger sister always plays a heroic part. The stories are understandable without being laboredly childlike and written with a dry humor that older children will also appreciate. This is an unpretentious read-aloud book with simple but skilfully drawn black-and-white illustrations. (6+)
Special Mention - Sweden (Swedish) - 1998 - 209
Stockholm: BonnierCarlsen, 1997. 206 p.
The by now widely-known author could not resist the temptation to write a sequel to »Vinterviken« as the middle volume of a trilogy. But Wahl's narrative skill, his inimitable portraits drawn from the oppressive milieu of social misfits, which he once knew first-hand as a social worker, and his dialogues are so captivating that one gladly gets drawn into his stories. Naturally the focal point is once again the socially marginalized hero, 19-year old John-John, who together with two friends becomes petty thief and runs up against big-time criminals, who force the boys to take part in a kidnapping. (14+)
Croatia (Croatian) - 1998 - 210
Macan, Darko (text)
Bartolič, Stjepan (illus.)
(Books are liars)
Zagreb: Znanje, 1997. 119 p.
School - Everyday life - Nickname - Rivalry
This is the first children's book by Darko Macan (*1966), an author already known for his comics and science fiction novels. In this funny and authentic depiction of the everyday life of fifth grade pupils in Zagreb, he casts light on their relations with one another and the first boy-girl romances from the psychological and sociological perspective. Of particular interest and effectively depicted is a longer section about the feuds and fights within the class, through which Macan portrays the structures of hostility and their origins. (9+)
Croatia (Croatian) - 1998 - 211
Maleš, Dubravka (text)
Stričevič, Ivanka (text)
Macolič, Nevenka (illus.)
Čolič, Marko / Krčadinac, Željko (photos)
U Zagrebu jednog jutra
(One morning in Zagreb)
Zagreb: Školska knjiga, 1996.  p.
This book has a dual focus. On the one hand it is a picture book story about little Darko when he gets lost while shopping with his mother and sister at the Zagreb market. In this part of the book, one is enchanted by the successful combination of simple drawings of the protagonists and photos of their surroundings. The second part is an information book for children which presents the most important buildings and historical sites of Zagreb through text and illustrations - from the equestrian statue of King Tomislav (crowned in 925) to the zoo at Maksimir Park and to Cibona Tower next to the new basketball arena. (4+)
Croatia (Croatian) - 1998 - 212
Matičevič, Ivica (ed.)
Kirin, Vladimir (illus.)
Hrvatske bajke i basne
(Croatian Tales and Fables)
Zagreb: Alfa, 1997. 166 p.
Croatia/Tales - Croatia/Fables
This meticulously designed book opens with the fairy tales of the classic Croatian chidren's writer Ivana Bilié-Maźuvanié (1874-1938) and the social critic Vladimir Nazor (1876-1949), who both drawn upon folk writings and integrate Slavic myths into their tales. In addition, the book contains very interesting modern fairy tales by five contemporary Croatian authors and also fables, some original, some retold by Croatian writers dating from the 18th century to today. (7+)
Czech Republic (Czech) - 1998 - 213
Branald, Adolf (text)
Lhoták, Kamil (illus.)
Praha: Albatros, 1996. 31 p.
Automobile - Motocycle - Motoring/History 1897-1915
Adolf Branald relates in an absorbing and vivid manner the history of the Czech automobile and motocycle manufacturer Laurent & Klement and life stories of Václav Laurent and Václav Klement in the period between the turn of the century and the outbreak of World War One. At the same time he depicts the beginnings of motor sport in other places, especially in Austria and France, within the context of historical and social factors. The book includes illustrations by the famous Czech sketch artist Kamil Lhoták, which reflect the spirit of the early 20th century. (10+)
Czech Republic (Czech) - 1998 - 214
Psůtková, Zdeňka (text)
Vychodlilová, Olga (illus.)
Praha: Albatros, 1997. 191 p.
(Klub mladých čtenářů)
Czechoslovakia/World War II - Everyday life/Youth
This sequel to the novel »Holidays with Bára« (Prázdniny s Bárou), which was published in 1985, is set in the years of German occupation of Czechoslovakia (1938-1945). The protatagonist Bára, whose experiences reflect those of the author, is ten years old as the story begins. From Bára's perspective, the author gives an believable portrayal of the absurdity of circumstances during the so-called »Protectorate« era and a sensitive glimpse into the daily joys and pains of an adolescent girl in this well-written novel. (12+)
Lithuania (Lithuanian) - 1998 - 215
Augiaus, Pauliaus (reteller/illus.)
(The tale of the beans)
Vilnius: Lietus, 1996. 26 p.
Lithuania/Tales - Beanstalk - Forbidden fruit
This Lithuanian tale incorporates motifs from the English tale »Jack and the beanstalk« and the Biblical story of the tree of knowledge. Paulus Augius (1909-1960) wrote this version while in exile and illustrated it in an expressive style combining elements of Lithuanian folk art and avant-garde. At long last Augiaus' lovely picture book, which conveys much of the past times in rural Lithuania, could be published in his own country. (4+)
Lithuania (Lithuanian) - 1998 - 216
Vainilaitis, Martynas (text)
Žviliuvienǵ, Irena (illus.)
Žydras povas povinǵja
(The blue peacock takes a stroll)
Vilnius: Lietuvos rašytojų sąjungos leidykla, 1996. 172 p.
One of the most renowned Lithuanian book illustrators has provided imaginative and at times surrealistic illustrations for this collected volume of old and new children's poems by the popular Lithuanian poet Martynas Vainilaitis. The poet finds inspiration in the Lithuanian folk literature tradition and celebrates above all motifs from nature, often using onomatopoeia and musical elements. Animals and plants are usually portrayed as anthropomorphic characters or as spirits. (5+)
Poland (Polish) - 1998 - 217
Banaszak, Dariusz (text)
Biber, Tomasz (text)
Leszczyński, Maciej (text)
Siejkowski, Lech (graphics)
Ilustrowane dzieje polski
(Illustrated Polish history)
Poznań: Podsiedlik Raniowski i Spółka, 1997. 131 p.
This richly illustrated information book about the history of Poland takes as its basis the history of its rulers, but also provides interesting information about ordinary life and customs in each epoch. The authors begin with the first Slav settlements in the territory of present day Poland and move on to the numerous wars, divisions and reunifications which have characterized its past. In addition, the book contains considerable information about the development of art and culture in Poland. (10+) ☆
Poland (Polish) - 1998 - 218
Glówka, Małgorzata (text)
Kasprzak, Jędrzej (text)
Streliński, Paweł et al. (photos)
Witkowski, Józef (illus.)
(Secrets of the forest)
Poznań: GMP, 1997. 38 p.
Poland - Forest
This information book, written in cooperation with the regional forestry agency of Posen (Poznań), is notable for its excellent photography and the both lyrical and informative text. It calls to mind the famous Russian picture book »God v lesu« from Ivan Sokolov-Mikitov and G. Nikol'skij. As in that book, the life of animals and plants over the course of a year are described. Along with photographs, this volume also includes drawings of the most characteristic types of trees found in the Polish forest. (7+)
Special Mention - Poland (Polish) - 1998 - 219
Musierowicz, Małgorzata (text/illus.)
(The Rob-Roy girl)
Łódż: Akapit Press, 1996. 219 p.
(Musierowicz, Małgorzata: Jeżycjady; 11)
The first young adult novels by the graphic artist
Małgorzata Musierowicz which she wrote at the end of the 1970s represented Poland's first significant modern novels for teenage girls. In this book, Robert, a distant relation of Walter Scott's novel hero Rob Roy, returns to his home town of Posen (Poznań) together with his daughter Arabella. At one level, the narrative describes the activities of the not especially pretty, but quite dynamic and assertive Arabella and day-to-day life of adolescents in Poland. On another, inserted into the narrative as flashbacks, one learns of the unhappy story of Robert. The individual episodes ultimately fit together like a puzzle to form an overall picture. Musierowicz employs a very vivid language and does not avoid addressing problems or making allusions to current political issues. (12+)
Special Mention - Poland (Polish) - 1998 - 220
Thor, Piotr Robert (arrangement)
Szancer, Jan Marcin (illus.)
Kolędy. Chwała na wysokości a pokój na ziemii
(Christmas songs. Jubilee on high and peace on earth)
Poznań: GMP, 1997. 144 p.
This very beautiful Christmas song book contains both songs from the different regions of Poland and internationally known songs which are widely sung in Poland (in Polish translation). The illustrations, which transplant the Christian motifs and setting to Central Europe and also make use of Polish folk customs, are by the great Polish graphic artist Jan Marcin Szancer (1902-1973). (5+)
Russia (Russian) - 1998 - 221
Moskvina, Marina L. (text)
Burkin, Vladimir (illus.)
Moja sobaka ljubit džaz
(My dog loves jazz)
Moskva: Olimpionik, 1997. 94 p.
Russia - Family - Everyday life
Is this a surrealistic book about the exciting daily life of a Russian family or an authentic portrait of the surrealisic everyday life of a Russian family in post-Soviet times? The sprightly stories, narrated by the youngest son, deal with school problems and special tutoring, with house plants and marital problems, with UFOs, extraterrestials and other strange visitors, with a burning tree and with a mumified and now resurrected German soldier from World War II. The final story tells about the family dachshund »Whale« who accompanies the oldest son to military service in the Pamirs and disappears across the border - but not really quite forever. The bizarre, idiosyncratic illustrations are well-suited to the unconventional text. (11+)
Slovakia (Slovak) - 1998 - 222
Hevier, Daniel (text/illus.)
Bratislava: Hevi, 1996.  p.
Daniel Hevier gives proof once again of his allaround talents. He has contributed both text and illustrations of this highly effective picture book of verses and published it in his own publishing house. The letters represent animals or objects which are of interest to children today. The texts, composed in a catchy rhythm, are witty and sassy. (5+)
Slovakia (Slovak) - 1998 - 223
Klimáček, Viliam (text)
Tóth, Dezider (illus.)
Noha k nohe
(Foot by foot)
Bratislava: Hevi, 1996. [128 ] p.
Foot - Tracks
In this intelligent book for children the author considers a wide range of situations children and adults may encounter in their lives. Starting point for him are the feet or, rather, the footprints and tracks which are usually - but not always - left by feet. Written in witty verses or in prose, the stories deal, for instance, with the first steps one takes, with a man with an adult foot and a child's foot, with a man who collects places to stand, with tracks on paper, with art in various forms, and other ideas. The illustrations range from humorous drawings to photos and collages. (6+)
Special Mention - Slovakia (Slovak) - 1998 - 224
Plická, Karol (text)
Valíček, Karol (storytelling)
Ševellová, Katarína (illus.)
Zámok na horúcom mori. Slovenské ropzprávky z Rumunska
(The castle at the hot sea. Slovakian tales from Romania)
Martin: Osveta, 1996. 182 p.
After the Second World War a small Slovakian minority in the Transylvanian Alps returned to the land of their forefathers, where they were discovered by Karol Plická in 1953 during a photography tour of northern Moravia. The tales of this ethnic group that he recorded then remained unpublished until now. Because these Slovakian storytellers had been isolated for nearly 150 years from the rest of their people and the influences of modern civilization, the language and narrative structures that were passed along retained their authenticity. The tales about witches, wizards, fairies, werewolves, talking animals and trees, dragons and golden castles are depicted in especially beautiful illustrations. The watercolors, both full-paged and vignettes, are full of atmosphere and the figures portrayed in a style reminiscent of Amedeo Modigliani. (8+)
Special Mention - Slovakia (Slovak) - 1998 - 225
Sliacky, Ondrej (adapt.)
Končeková-Veselá, L'uba (illus.)
Biblia pre deti a mládež. Čitanie zo Starého zákona
(The Bible for children and young people. Stories from the Old Testament)
Bratislava: D&D Studio, NONA, 1996. 248 p.
This very attractive children's Bible is notable for its excellent text version by Ondrej Sliacky, who has kept close to the traditional Slovakian translation. Modern phrasing has been used cautiously, without endangering the biblical style of expression. Remarkable is also that the editor addresses both Christian and atheist families in his foreword, stressing not only the religious but also the literary, philosophical and cultural significance of the biblical texts, thus orienting them around modern social reality. This volume is beautifully designed with an imitation vellum binding and antique-style gilt edge. Some of the illustrations by the popular Slovak painter L'uba Končeková-Veselá may well be considered masterpieces of art. (8+)
Slovenia (Slovenian) - 1998 - 226
Sitar, Jelena (text)
Cvetko, Igor (illus.)
Primeri detektiva Karla Loota. Skrivnost v galeriji ali zgodba o senčnih lutkah
(The cases of detective Karel Loot. The secret of the gallery, or the story of the shadow puppets)
Ljubljana: DZS, 1996.  p.
(Umetnost igre ; 2)
Art gallery - Shadow play - Detective
When the most valued picture in an art gallery begins to change constantly, the director calls in Detective Loot to clear up the mystery. Loot studies the picture very carefully and guards it all night long. Gradually it begins to change, shadows move back and forth across it. Karel Loot is stymied until he discovers that he is watching the scenes of a shadow play. But then suddenly Karel Loot vanishes, too. This picture book is illustrated with funny, bizarre pictures. The story is suspenseful and also reveals some information about the principles of shadow theater. (5+)
Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 1998 - 227
Dreesen, Jaak (text)
Heymans, Annemie (illus.)
Averbode: Altiora, 1997. 44 p.
Death/Child - Grief
In this magnificent poetic picture book the firstperson narrator is waiting, desparately missing Marieke. He has laid out all kinds of things under the apple tree, waiting for her to come and play. The combination of a melodious rhyming text and grey-tone illustrations evokes an atmosphere of increasing tension. Then, with the arrival of Marieke's mother, it becomes clear that the girl will never come again, though this is not stated explicitly. In spite of the tangible sense of emptiness, the open ending provides some comfort - Marieke is gone but will always be present in another way. (6+)
Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 1998 - 228
Driessen, Iny (text)
Westerduin, Anne (illus.)
Bruine ogen, Blauwe ogen
(Brown eyes, blue eyes)
Hasselt: Clavis, 1997. 43 p.
Adoption - Cultural identity
Six-year old Benjamin doesn't share the excitement of his parents and three brothers about the coming of two new sisters and it takes some time for him to accept the new situation. Simone and Erlan, the two sisters from Haiti, must take leave of their mother to join their new well-to-do family in Belgium. From Simone's perspective we learn about their sense of grief and difficulties of adjusting to their new lives. The two narratives in this book give an excellent picture of the experiences of adopted children and their families. It is written with warmth and respect while also providing useful background information. (8+)
Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 1998 - 229
Elias, Bettie (text)
Westerduin, Anne (illus.)
Water van zout
Mechelen: Bakermat, 1997. 108 p.
Death/Father - Grandfather - Grief
When their father dies in a car accident, eight-year old Dries and his sister have a very difficult time coping with their grief. In simple short sentences recorded in his diary, Dries is able to work through feelings of disbelief, anger, confusion and guilt. His grandfather is a constant presence and full of understanding. Both he and Dries' sister help him to come to terms with his sorrow. The attractive black-and-white pen drawings render the atmosphere of this sensitive story very well. (8+)
The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1998 - 230
Dros, Imme (text)
Geelen, Harrie (illus.)
Dit is het huis bij de kromme boom
(This is the house near the bent tree)
Amsterdam: Querido, 1997.  p.
Moving house - Lost/Found - Siblings
When the first-person narrator's little sister is born, his family's house is just too small. They move into the house of the deceased grandmother, taking all their belongings except the boy's little duck in the bathtub. His great sadness disappears when the mailman brings the toy after all. This simple, recognizable tale about loss and restoration, told with a cumulative, rhymed text, is accompanied by magnificent illustrations using thick black outlines and warm pastel colors which radiate a gentle, touching atmosphere. (4+)
The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1998 - 231
Ede, Bies van (text)
Thé, Tjong-Khing (illus.)
Malle Matte is zo gek
(Silly Matte is so crazy)
Amsterdam: Leopold, 1997. 87 p.
Mental illness - Imaginary world - Music
Nine-year old Matte is both mentally and physically handicapped. Because she is slow, clumsy and cannot communicate well, she lives largely in a world of her own. While her mother works in the evenings as a dancer in the café downstairs, Matte listens to the music and repeats the melodies on her piano. But her public performance for the neighbors turns out badly. The author sketches a realistic image of a girl whose handicaps limit her contacts with other people and gives insight into her view of the world. The poetic narrative is well suited to the atmosphere of the story, balanced between fantasy and reality. (10+)
The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1998 - 232
Gestel, Peter van (text)
Heymans, Annemie (illus.)
Baarn: De Fontein, 1997. 192 p.
Miracle play - Middle Ages - Identity - Feral child
Young Mariken grows up alone in a forest, completely isolated from the world. She is found by the peculiar Archibald who teaches her many things, but not enough to survive in the »real world«, where Mariken later comes into contact with many different kinds of people. Often she is just barely able to extricate herself from tricky situations. This novel is based on a little known miracle play from the Middle Ages. Van Gestel gives his own splendidly written interpretation of the story and also helps to introduce this »literary heritage« to young readers. (12+)
The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1998 - 233
Hagen, Hans (text)
Hopman, Philip (illus.)
De kat en de adelaar
(The cat and the eagle)
Amsterdam: Van Goor, 1997. 65 p.
Pakistan - Child/Work - Cat
Day after day eight-year old Farid works on the public bus that his father drives, collecting the fares from the passengers. He has taken over his mother's job because she can't work any longer after an accident. For some time, Farid has seen a black cat everywhere he goes and imagines that it is his mother. Hans Hagen tells a very expressive and balanced story in short sentences and brief chapters. This is a simple engrossing story in which fantasy alternates with reality in a most plausible manner. The reader can empathize with Farid and also get a feeling for everyday life in modern Pakistan. (8+) ☆ ☼
The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1998 - 234
Niks gehoord, niks gezien
(Nothing heard, nothing seen)
Amsterdam: Querido, 1997. 83 p.
Coping behavior - Child abuse - Friendship
Linda, who prefers the name River, is an only child and stays aloof of most people. Her new friend Walt is throughly involved with her parents. Linda's father and Walt are creating a picture book together. By reading between the lines, it becomes evident that Walt is an abused child. Only gradually does River come to realize the truth about her friend. The author gives convincing portraits of the two main characters, their ways of life and thinking. The issue of child abuse is integrated into the story, but not every reader will immediately recognize it. (10+)
The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1998 - 235
Lichtveld, Noni (text/illus.)
Anansi tussen god en duivel
(Anansi between God and the devil)
Rotterdam: Lemniscaat, 1997. 93 p.
The spider Anansi is a well-known character in the tales of many countries. Sometimes he comes to the rescue of others, sometimes he is a trickster. This collection includes Anansi tales of varying length from many different countries and cultural backgrounds. Lichtveld's retellings include considerable dialogue between the animal protagonists, making it an ideal read-aloud book. The colorful illustrations are rich in detail, extending the text, and inviting closer exploration. (6+) ☆
The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1998 - 236
Merle, Ditte (text)
Wolf, Alex de (illus.)
IJsberen en andere draaikonten in de dierentuin
(Polar bears and other fidgeters in the zoo)
Houten: Van Reemst, 1997. 128 p.
Zoo - Animal care
This is an information book about how animals are kept at the zoo. The author covers the history of zoos, their past designs, and the importance of keeping these animals in captivity active. The book also deals with the care and feeding of animals, reproduction, diseases, births and other topics. The text is very lively and filled with humor, extended by illustrations which also provide considerable information. The book has designed in an attractive, playful way with different fonts and a creative layout. (8+)
Special Mention - The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1998 - 237
Mileau, Sofie (pseud. of Carry Slee) (text)
Heymans, Margriet (illus.)
De verborgen prins
(The hidden prince)
Houten: Van Holkema & Warendorf, 1997. 36 p.
Lesbian - Romance - Eroticism
Inside herself, Lotte hides a second person, a prince who demands to be dressed up in a cape and cap secretly in the attic. One day Lotte's new neighbor, Eva, stands in front of her window, dressed as a princess. Later she persuades Lotte to visit her garden house and begins a ritual which has veiled erotic overtones. Yet Lotte's initiation is not innocent, as Eva turns their relationship into a power struggle, with the naive Lotte in a subservient role. Their fairy tale-like ritual turns malicious when Lotte breaks the barrier between fiction and reality and kisses Eva in the schoolyard. Eva betrays their »lesbian romance« by laughing at Lotte. This is a short story magnificently rendered in a strongly stylized narrative. (11+)
Special Mention - The Netherlands (Dutch) - 1998 - 238
Sluyzer, Betty (text)
Hout, Mies van (illus.)
Naarden: Kimio, 1997. 19 p.
Zoo - Animals - Grandfather - Human behavior
A black girl and a white boy visit the zoo together with the boy's grandfather. They observe how the behavior and appearances of the different animals resemble those of human beings. In this simple picture book funny sketches consisting of black outlines filled in with fresh colors on the left-hand pages are set off against short rhyming texts and small colored drawings on the right side, in which the two children comment on what they see. The author and illustrator capture the experiences of the children in a very appealing way. (4+)
Greece (Greek) - 1998 - 239
Chatzēdakē, Tonia (text)
Andrikopulos, Nikolas (illus.)
Ho peiratēs me ta alliōtika matia
(The pirate with different eyes)
Athēna: Hellēnika Grammata, 1997.  p.
Reading - Writing - Pirate - Book
One of the proudest treasures of the quite likeable pirate Mauroleōn is a large collection of books. One day he shows a letter in a bottle to his girlfriend, the mermaid, and wants her to read it to him. After he confesses that he cannot read at all, she agrees to teach him how to read and write. At the end of his strenous but ultimately successful schooling, he is even able to laugh at the spelling errors in his bottle post, and he takes the books on all his travels from now on. The text is filled with verbal jokes, enhanced by the excellent illustrations of the well-known illustrator, Nikolas Andrikopulos. (4+)
Greece (Greek) - 1998 - 240
Chatzēs, Giannēs (text)
Nachmias, Telēs (photos)
To stoicheio tēs Salonikēs. Sparaxikardia kōmōdia se praxeis treis kai skēnes oses Thelete
(The ghost of Saloniki)
Thessalonikē: Malliarēs Paideia, [ca 1997]. 48 p.
Shadow theater - Karagiozēs - Ghost - Metamorphosis
The young, talented actor, and author, Giannēs Chatzēs, presents a play from his shadow theater repertory, showing that this storytelling tradition is still very much alive in Greece today. The play tells about a ghost who keeps a young girl prisoner in the white tower of Thessaloníki. In the fairy-tale like ending, the famous Greek folk figure Karagiozē s has to intervene. The book is accompanied by stage photographs of a performance and directions for building a shadow theater stage and puppets. Chatzēs is known both for his performances and his writings about the Greek shadow theater. (5+) ☆
Greece (Greek) - 1998 - 241
Kanakēs, Nikos (text)
Gēorgopulos, Kōstas (illus.)
Ho lophos me tus korydalus
(The hill of larks)
Athēna: Patakēs, 1997. 132 p.
Country life - Everyday life
This collection of quite entertaining short stories depicts episodes of everyday life in the country, a world which is gradually disappearing but still holds charm and significance for the reader. Themes such as friendship, loyalty, helpfulness and also trickery and deception run through the texts. The life and activity of the protagonists are closely connected with their natural surroundings. (8+)
Greece (Greek) - 1998 - 242
San ta chelidonia
(Like the swallows)
Athēna: Patakēs, 1997. 71 p.
Tolerance - Grandfather/Grandson - Seeman - Gypsy - Friendship - Storytelling
This first work of the young, promising author, Helenē Katsama (*1973) is an intensive tale about individuality and tolerance. The young protagonist is very close to his grandfather, a former sea captain, who sometimes drinks a bit too much but tells wonderful, exciting tales. He has always impressed upon his grandson the need to be tolerant of differences. One day the grandfather ignores the signs of stormy weather and goes to sea. The grandson and a gypsy girl, whom he has befriended despite the disapproval of the village, risk their lives in vain to save him. (10+)
Special Mention - Greece (Greek) - 1998 - 243
Krontēra, Lēda (text)
Liapē, Bally (illus.)
Protē gnōrimia me tus Delphus tu Apollōna
(First encounters with the Apollo Temple in Delphi)
Athēna: Ekdotikē Athēnōn, 1996. 142 p.
Delphi - Greece/Ancient times - Archeology
This is the fourth volume in the series about cultural sites in ancient Greece. It takes the reader to the fascinating landscape and mythology surrounding Delphi and tells, for example, about the religious significance of the competitions held in honor of Apollo. This book tells the history of this holy site from its founding up to the modern day and also offers an excursion into the world of musical instruments. With its rich assortment of visual documentation, this volume stands out as an all-encompassing survey. The excellent selection of illustratory materials, for which the publisher is well-known, is further proof that children's books can be appreciated by all ages. (9+) ☆
Special Mention - Greece (Greek) - 1998 - 244
Tziapher Giasint Alē
Athēna: Patakēs, 1997. 170 p.
(Syllogē kyknoi; 26)
Cyprus - Friendship - Political conflict
This novel by one of Cyprus' best-known authors depicts the effects of the division of Cyprus on the daily life of the younger generation. The friendship between two young woman is put to the test when one of them gives shelter to a young Turkish man (in fact, Kurdish) and falls in love with him before helping him to flee to Germany. Her girlfriend doubts his claim of having a degree in agriculture because of his interest in poetry and the nature reserves on the island and has to decide whether to betray him (and her friend) to the police. Pyliōtu tells an exciting, suspenseful tale against an authentic background. (12+)
Special Mention - Greece (Greek) - 1998 - 245
Simopulos, Dionysēs P.
Ho thanatos tōn astrōn
(The death of the stars)
Athēna: Ereunētes, 1997. 102 p.
(Ta mystika tu sympantos)
Astronomy - Stars
The second volume of the series »Secrets of the universe« by the internationally renown astrophysicist Dionysēs Simopulos describes the origin and death of stars. In the wide selection of color photos and drawings, he presents complicated questions of astronomy such as the significance of mass for the origins and death of stars, what a black hole is, where matter goes when it disappears into a black hole, or what a red giant is, in an easily understandable and humorful manner. (10+)
Special Mention - Greece (Greek) - 1998 - 246
Skiadaresē, Maria E.
Athēna: Ammos, 1997. 55 p.
Greece/History 1821 - Sea battle - Fire ship - Kanarēs, Kōnstantinos
This book is an interesting account of an episode in the life of Kōnstantinos Kanarēs, a hero of the Greek revolution against the Turks in 1822, who was highly respected even by his enemies and later became a prudent and moderate politician. At the request of a Russian admiral, he relates in the first person his version of the attack which used burning ships set to explode after being tied to the enemy ships - a retaliatory measure following the massacre of Chios in 1822. The well-researched narrative brings a piece of European history alive and is accompanied by excellent visual graphics from several museums and a short biography of Kanarēs. (8+)
Special Mention - Greece (Greek) - 1998 - 247
Zacharopulu, Katerina (ed.)
Tsoklēs, Kōstas (illus.)
Ho hagios Geōrgios kai ho pythōnas
(Saint George and the Python)
Athēna: Kastaniotēs, 1996.  p.
(Paichnidi me tēn technē)
St. George and the Dragon - Python - Art appreciation - Modern art - Tsokl's, KÇstas
The editor of the series »Fun with Art«, herself an artist, endeavors to acquaint younger children with contemporary Greek art. In this volume she offers an appreciative portrait of the internationally known artist Kōstas Tsoklēs. It is not only an activity book, but also an opportunity to let children be creative and interact with modern art in an uninhibited manner. (6+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 1998 - 248
Lázár, Ervin (text)
Réber, László (illus.)
A Négyszögletű Kerek Erdő
(The round square forest)
Budapest: Osiris K., 1997. 166 p.
Forest - Animals - Handicap - Tolerance
The quadrature of the circle, the round square forest, is home for seven animals who have all the characteristics and imperfections of human beings. Here in the forest they have taken refuge from the outside world, which, because of their handicaps, does not accept them. In this peculiar world they experience a fairy-tale like existence in which every problem is solved, each individual is loved, accepted, and can accept his own fate. Notable are László Réber's pen-and-ink drawings with simple, but highly expressive lines. (6+)
Iran (Persian) - 1998 - 249
Samfūnī-i hammām. Mağmū`a-i dāstān barāy-i nūğawānān
(Symphonie in the bathroom)
Tihrān: Kitābhā-i Banafša, 1995 (= 1374 h.š.). 88 p.
(In Arabic letters)
Family - Poverty - Growing up
This volume contains three short stories written in the first person from the point of view of children of poor Iranian families. The first tale by a twelveyear old boy depicts the everyday life of his family, which is permeated by bitter poverty. And yet the slightly ironic, even satirical tone of this story and the others is one of humor and optimism. The focal point of the third story is a twelve-year old girl who learns to trust her own abilities to deal with life's problems. (12+)
Iran (Persian) - 1998 - 250
Rahgudar, Ridā (= Muhammad Ridā Saršār)
Agar bābā bimīrad
(If father dies)
Tihrān: Daftar-i Našr-i Farhang-i Islāmī, 1994 (= 1373 h.š.). (14th ed.) 44 p.
(In Arabic letters)
Family - Father/Son - Illness - Responsibility
Fourteen-year old Ismaiel lives with his family in a small village far from the city. When his father falls seriously ill, Ismaiel at first only accepts this stroke of fate in his prayers. But when his friend reminds him that praying is of little value without action, they set off together in the middle of winter on a dangerous, adventure-filled mission to get the medicine his father needs. Told in the first person, this story demonstrates the responsibility each individual shares for the entire family. (12+)
Iran (Persian) - 1998 - 251
Ramadānī, Muhāmmad (text)
Banī-Asadī, Muhammad 'Alī (illus.)
Bāgbān, žinirāl, wa 'atir-i gul-i surh
(The gardener, the general and the scent of roses)
Tihrān: Surūš, 1994 (= 1373 h.š.). 19 p.
(In Arabic letters)
Jealousy - Rivalry - War - Peace
A rose and its gardener take pleasure in one another day for day. The rose is the happiest rose in the world, he is the happiest gardener. But in the neighboring garden, the same story takes place every day. Jealously and rivalry between the gardeners arise, turning into hate and warfare. The roses and the gardens are heavily damaged, until nature and its healing powers is able to take its course. The men desist from their senseless war and devote themselves again to peaceable gardening. This story about the destructive power of jealousy is illustrated in remarkable pictures done in chalk and gouache. (8+)
Turkey (Turkish) - 1998 - 252
Çnaroğlu, Ayla (text)
Berkkan, Yaprak (illus.)
(The story of my canary)
İstanbul: Uçanbalk Yaynlar, 1996. (2nd ed.) 36 p.
Canary - Man/Animal
One day a family buys a canary and soon the grandmother claims she can understand the language of the bird. She tells the bird's story to her granddaughter, who writes it down here in a naive, but expressive style. The reader learns of the exciting, but also saddening and frightful experiences of the bird with its previous owner. Seen from the perspective of an animal, the description of our human world acquires a special touch. (8+)
Turkey (Turkish) - 1998 - 253
Gürdal Ünal, Ayfer (text)
Ceylan, Saadet (illus.)
Doğum gününde gelen ağaç
(The birthday tree)
İstanbul: Çnar Yaylnlar, 1996. 24 p.
(Çnar çocuk kitaplar)
Tree - Love of nature - Birthday present
This picture book tells about a boy who is very pleased with the many presents he receives at his seventh birthday party. But he doesn't know what to do with the little walnut tree given to him by one of his friends. He pays little attention to it, because he doesn't know what to do with it. After the tree has been planted in the garden, he recognizes how it differs from all the other presents. The tree will grow and prosper, keeping him company for many years. (5+)