New Children's books
Reading with Plenty of Substance
In new children’s books, a raccoon helps an outsider along, a pony farm turns into an educational establishment. And travel galore!
By Holger Moos
In Hieronymus oder Wie man wild wird (Hieronymus or How to Be Wild), Annette Pehnt tells the story of outsider Luki, who is badgered and teased by his classmates. His single mum cares for him, training him to be well-behaved and smart. One day, Hieronymus, a talking raccoon, suddenly appears in his garden and asks for his help. He’s run away from home because his siblings make fun of him for being too well-behaved and obedient. He wants Luki to teach him how to be wild. Witty and surprising, this gripping parable tells how the two dissimilar friends manage to find their own identities. And, of course, there are multiple happy endings. According to the Austrian Institut für Jugendliteratur, Pehnt presents “a clever, mischievous story of friendship that takes children’s feelings seriously and describes them in a narratively convincing way.”
Sophie is asked to take care of the abused, distressed pony Socke, considered a “problem horse”. An experienced rider teaches Sophie how to approach a timid horse. And she finally has so much horse-sense that she can teach Socke to be a well-behaved school horse. In Juli Zeh’s Socke und Sophie, girl and pony take turns telling the story, which makes why they eventually become soulmates even more understandable. “An adventure in which the pony farm becomes an educational establishment,” writes Sonja Zekri in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
a holiday adventureIn Annika Scheffel’s Sommer auf Solupp, twelve-year-old Mari and her family go on a convalescent holiday to the small island of Solupp after her father’s long, serious illness. A beautiful summer story unfolds with serious subject-matter. Mari and her brothers Kurt and Bela make new friends, experience surprising adventures and uncover an island secret in this mixture of Astrid Lindgren and Kirsten Boie. Ines Klisch sums it up on KinderundJugendmedien.de: “To be given an easy-going storybook with plenty of substance – it’s simply wonderful.”
© Carlsen Ten-year-old Oskar goes on a four-week sailing trip with his parents and their dog Lucy –he’s expecting sheer boredom. Then suddenly everything changes, because Oskar and his parents rescue two children, Nala and her little brother Moh, who have fallen from a refugee boat into the sea. This is the dramatic story in Cornelia Franz’s book Calypsos Irrfahrt (Calypso’s Odyssey). Attempts to bring the two refugee children ashore fail. No authority feels responsible. After an odyssey and with Oskar’s resourceful help, the parents give in and smuggle the children to Hamburg. It’s an authentic book leading to the essential conclusion for young readers that humanity and solidarity win. “The riveting novel about a special friendship impressively portrays the problems of sea rescue,” recommends Stiftung Lesen.
UNESCO World heritage sites in germanyAdventures of a very different kind await young readers in the non-fiction book Abenteuer Welterbe. Entdecke besondere Orte in Deutschland (World Heritage Adventure: Discover Special Places in Germany. The 46 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany – from the Viking houses in Haithabu on the Danish border to the Wieskirche in the so-called Bavarian “Pfaffenwinkel” in the far south – are significant cultural, architectural and geographical treasures to this day. They are presented in this large-format volume with detailed descriptions of their history complemented by colour illustrations. In addition, the authors Anna Elisabeth Albrecht and Susanne Rebscher describe strikingly how difficult it can sometimes be to preserve the World Heritage Sites.
Anna Elisabeth Albrecht, Susanne Rebscher /Anne Ibelings (Ill.): Abenteuer Welterbe. Entdecke besondere Orte in Deutschland
Bamberg: Magellan, 2021. 79 p.
Cornelia Franz: Calypsos Irrfahrt
Hamburg: Carlsen, 2021. 141 p.
Annette Pehnt: Hieronymus oder Wie man wild wird. Mit Illustrationen von Henrike Wilson
München: Hanser, 2021. 128 p.
Annika Scheffel: Sommer auf Solupp
Stuttgart: Thienemann, 2021. 319 p.
Juli Zeh: Socke und Sophie. Mit Illustrationen von Flix
München: dtv, 2021. 240 p.
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