Playing with words and pictures
Children’s book author Nadia Budde juggles words and drawings, arranging both in such clever associations that she inspires readers and critics alike.
By Romy König
The world of adults is strange and difficult to understand – and as a child, it is impossible to imagine one day becoming part of that world. It is this unique child’s-eye view that Nadia Budde reflects in the (visual) language of her comic, “Such’ Dir was aus, aber beeil Dich” (Pick Something out, but Hurry up) and which won over the German Children’s Literature Award jury in 2010. The author and illustrator was recognized for her “new, sensory viewpoint” and her talent for recording children’s special “perceptions, thought patterns and conclusions”. The Berlin artist’s successful career began much earlier though.
"Viele Mädchen aus dem Haus sähen gern wie Elfen aus" Illustration by Nadia Budde. | Photo: © Peter Hammer Verlag/Nadia Budde
Award-winning debutBorn in 1967 in East Berlin, Budde first trained as a commercial artist and later studied graphic design at the School of Art and Design Berlin Weißensee and at the Royal College of Art in London. Her first book, “One, Two, Three Me” published by Peter-Hammer-Verlag in 1999, was a success with critics and audiences. It won the 2000 German Children’s Literature Prize and has been translated into seven languages to date. This was followed by the children's books “Trauriger Tiger toastet Tomaten” (Sad Tiger Toasts Tomatoes), awarded the “Luchs" prize by the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and Radio Bremen, and "Kurz nach sechs kommt die Echs” (The Lizzard Arives just after Six).
"Eins zwei drei Tier" Illustration by Nadia Budde. | Photo: © Peter Hammer Verlag/Nadia Budde
“…and then the racoon starts ironing his clothes”A quick perusal of the German titles reveals Nadia Budde’s penchant for puns. Her work is full of and inspired by rhymes, alliterations and onomatopoeia. In an interview with the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, she revealed her associative approach to her work, explaining that she sometimes starts with words she likes that rhyme and then finds animals that fit the rhyme scheme. At other times, she noted, the name of the animal comes first and serves as the inspiration for the rest, like the raccoon whose German name Washbär, literally “the wash bear”, logically brings up an association with laundry and ironing. This led to the clever rhyme “Und ist die Wäsche glatt, ist er von der vielen Bügelei eben platt” (and once the laundry is wrinkle-free, he is out of energy).
"Krake beim Schneider" Illustration by Nadia Budde. | Photo: © Peter Hammer Verlag/Nadia Budde
Postcards and game appsNadia Budde has steadily expanded her oeuvre: in addition to numerous other book illustrations, she designs postcards with unicorn motifs, runs her own animal comic series at Die Zeit and gives workshops for children and young illustrators – such as on behalf of the Goethe Institute in India. Her successful debut “One, Two, Three Me” was recently released as a games app. Readers and critics clearly appreciate her impressive work ethic. As the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung once wrote, you “can’t get enough” of her illustrated stories “even if you’re reading them aloud for the thousand time.”
"Mein Onkel Parzival" Illustration by Nadia Budde. | Photo: © Peter Hammer Verlag/Nadia Budde