Yeti and Yaks
Amazing facts and expressive illustrations make Dieter Braun's non-fiction book for children aged 8 and over a wonderful read for people of all ages - even those without a particular fondness for mountains.
By Victoria Engels
Dieter Braun succinctly sums up the theme of his book in the title: Die Welt der Berge (Mountains of the World). But who would have thought that this world is so diverse? Can mountains be higher than 9,000 meters? How many eight-thousanders are there on earth? What is the difference between mountain lions and pumas? Are the Alps in six, seven or eight countries? Is Kilimanjaro in Kenya or Tanzania?
In short, informative texts, the author describes animals, plants and people that are at home in various mountain regions. He gives an overview of various types of climbing, explains the genesis of mountains and portrays the outstanding protagonists of his book - the Matterhorn, Fuji, Aconcagua, El Capitan, Table Mountain and Uluru, to name but a few.
Non-fiction meets picture bookThe factual texts become almost secondary when looking at Dieter Braun's beautiful illustrations, and illustrate why the Stiftung Buchkunst counts the book among the most beautiful of 2018.
But just almost. After you have travelled around the world while browsing through the book and not only have had the questions mentioned at the beginning answered, the cleverly placed world map at the end of the book helps you locate places, animals and peoples more precisely. Otherwise the book does not follow a systematic narrative structure. If you read it, you will embark on a new, entertaining adventure, page after page. This element of surprise, which is inherent in every new page you open, increases your pleasure even when you read it many times over.
Fantastic landscapes and forms unfold like independent short stories on generous, transversely arranged double pages. In the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Jochen Temsch aptly describes the style and effect of the illustrations as too jagged to be considered cute. However, it is so rhythmic with colour surfaces and shadow effects that a pulsating liveliness is inherent in them.
Is the world of mountains male?It is a bit disappointing that the world of mountains that Dieter Braun tells us is a very masculine one. Although the author sensitively manages to incorporate the great themes of our time, such as human-induced environmental pollution and climate change, into his consistently aesthetically beautiful book, women and girls remain underrepresented.
Braun, Dieter: Die Welt der Berge
München: Knesebeck, 2018. 96 S.