New Children's books
People, Animals, Numbers
The latest children’s books tell stories about animals holidaying on a farm, a girl who’s annoyed by her football-loving family and a maths ace who realises that not every equation works out in life. And there are two non-fiction children’s books about numbers and molluscs.
By Holger Moos
In Regina Wenig’s Bauer Errfin und der Kongokäfer (Farmer Errfin and the Sun Beetle), some animal parents are ready for a holiday, but they have to work. Instead, they send their children away on holiday. One after the other, a sun beetle, a cockatoo, a black stallion, a tiger, two flamingos and a llama travel by train to Plattling in Lower Bavaria. There they all spend their holidays on the farm of Errfin and Hulda. Each of the animal children experiences the stay from their own point of view. It’s all told in such a surprising, original and pleasantly entertaining way and illustrated so imaginatively by Liliane Oser that it’s a pure reading pleasure.
FootBALL aND MATHsLittle Eddie’s family’s enthusiasm for football is getting on her nerves. During the European Championship, all Eddie’s parents and her younger brother do is watch football, discuss goals and neglect things like meals; even Eddie has to ask whether pizza and popcorn are sensible nutrition. Then their father wins tickets to the German team’s final at London’s Wembley Stadium. Eddie takes the flight reluctantly, but gets to know the national team right away. Finally, she is able to use her big toe, which is so strong that she can crack nuts with it, in unexpected ways. A football miracle happens! Oh je, schon wieder Fußball (Oh No, Football Again) by author Zoran Drvenkar and illustrator Patricia Keller is a delightfully funny first reading book that is not only suitable for young football fans.
Nikola Huppertz’s Schön wie die Acht (As Beautiful as Eight) is about 12-year-old Malte, an overly protected only child. Everyday life and interpersonal contacts are hard for him, but he’s a maths ace. Numbers give him his bearings and security. His well-ordered world is shaken up when his 16-year-old half-sister Josefine suddenly moves in and a new girl turns up at the maths club who is at least as good with numbers as he is. Malte is overwhelmed and has to learn that life is not a math problem. Huppertz tells the story from the perspective of the boy, who is still very childlike in many ways, but already in the transition to the emotionally upsetting and unsettling phase of puberty.
The book not only won the Evangelischer Buchpreis of 2022, but was also nominated in the children’s book category for this year’s German Children’s Literature Award. The jury praised its straightforward, serene narrative style and linguistic form. It “is wide-ranging, comprising laconic, prosaic passages as well as atmospheric poems with number symbolism.” They highlighted the “warm-hearted black-and-white illustrations by Barbara Jung that show fragile, thoughtful teens.”
too much PIZZA aND CHOcOLAtEThe multi-award-winning duo of Christoph Drösser and Nora Coenenberg (illustrations) present Absolut rekordverdächtig. Dein Leben in Zahlen (Absolutely Record-Breaking: Your Life in Numbers), another book for number lovers. All life’s numbers begin at 1: birth. After all, along with death, it’s one of the few unique events in the life of every human being – unless you believe in reincarnation. Then it goes on to casually count how many things a person experiences or consumes on average in 80 years of life: A person has about three pets in their lifetime, falls in love four times, sheds 50 litres of tears and buys 183 pairs of jeans. We also learn how many plastic bags we use. The fact that we don’t eat a particularly healthy diet is demonstrated by the 1,040 frozen pizzas and 7,296 bars of chocolate we eat in our lifetime – far more than the number of books we read. Surprisingly, men go to the hairdresser more often than women, although the latter spend twice as much money on getting their hair done. For the last number in the book, humans are outdone by the world’s smallest mammal. The heartbeats of a dwarf shrew add up to an incredible number: 800 beats per minute! Absolutely Record-Breaking is a real treasure trove you’re invited to lose yourself in. The concise texts and beautifully designed infographics make the numbers and correlations very comprehensible and relatable.
Austrian author Michael Stavarič has written his first non-fiction book for children. In Faszination Krake (Fascination Octopus), he explains why these molluscs are so intelligent, likeable and all-round fascinating. They have three hearts, eight arms and two thousand suckers. Moreover, they have populated the earth for about 400 million years and are among the most intelligent animals. During the 2010 World Cup, the octopus Paul achieved special media fame: he was believed to correctly “predict” the outcome of the football matches. Well, humans are known to be prone to exaggeration. In any case, the octopus is a member of the class of cephalopods. The word comes from the ancient Greek and means “head-feet.” “Kind of obvious, because what do octopuses look like? A big head and a lot of feet!” Stavarič’s book is a charming declaration of love for these animals, peppered with knowledge, humour, wisdom, even far-fetched and corny elements. Moreover, Michèle Ganser illustrated the book fabulously. The captivating book received both the Austrian Children’s and Young People’s Book Award 2022 and the Science Book of the Year 2022 in the category of junior science books. For the jury, it tells “a true story that, despite all its factual knowledge, does not lack poetry, creative ideas and mysterious adventures. ... The fact that you also learn something about light, the earth, evolution and genetics along the way is an added benefit.”
Christoph Drösser / Nora Coenenberg (Ill.): Absolut rekordverdächtig. Dein Leben in Zahlen (from 8 years)
Stuttgart: Gabriel, 2022. 107 p.
Zoran Drvenkar / Patricia Keller (Ill.): Oh je, schon wieder Fußball (from 7 years)
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg 2022. 60 p.
You can find this title in our eLibrary Onleihe.
Nikola Huppertz / Barbara Jung (Ill.): Schön wie die Acht (from 10 years)
München: Tulipan, 2021. 224 p.
You can find this title in our eLibrary Onleihe.
Michael Stavarič / Michèle Ganser (Ill.): Faszination Krake. Wesen einer unbekannten Welt (from 8 years)
Graz: Leykam, 2021. 144 Seiten
Regina Wenig / Liliane Oser (Ill.): Bauer Errfin und der Kongokäfer (from 7 years)
Frankfurt a.M.: Moritz, 2022. 823 p.