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Children’s

Imaginative stories for the young (and old) – the most beautiful books for young readers.

Book Recommendation

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Kinder Julia Duerr

© Verlagsgruppe Beltz privat

Where does my schnitzel come from?

Author and illustrator Julia Dürr visited an industrial bakery, slaughterhouse, and other sites. Her new book uses charts and diagrams to explain how our food is produced.

That bright red tomato makes our mouth water. A soft-boiled chicken egg is often the highlight of our breakfast. To buy these and other groceries, we head to the supermarket, corner shop or farmers' market. But most people, both adults and children, have no idea of all the stages that our food passes through before it lands on our table.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Children’s Where Does Our Food Come From?

Julia Dürr (Text and Illus.): Where Does Our Food Come From?
Beltz & Gelberg, 40 pages, 14.95 €, ages 6 and up

“Where Does Our Food Come From?”, an illustrated non-fiction work by Julia Dürr offers enlightenment on the topic. To create her work, she visited large and small plants in Germany, examined production processes, and ended up filling dozens of sketchbooks. “The biggest surprise for me was that a chicken coop with 12,000 young hens does not smell bad, and how quickly and routinely living, still-grunting pigs are turned into lifeless cuts of meat.”
In detail and step-by-step, using milk, bread and five other examples, Dürr explains how our food is produced. On large-format pages, she compares the processes in both small-scale and industrial operations, highlighting the contrasts, as well as what they have in common.

The artist refrains from any form of judgement, informing us instead – objectively and benevolently. Children find the topic enormously engaging, but even parents come away better informed. Since her research tour, Julia Dürr has stopped eating eggs for now. This might not be everyone's conclusion, but the book might lead us to be more conscious of what we buy, and not to throw things away as quickly. A book we missed up until now.

Text: Verena Hoenig

Talk with: Erhard Dietl

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Kinder Erhard Dietl

© Sonja Och

„The Olchis are laid-back bon vivants“

It was 30 years ago that Erhard Dietl first created these amusing green creatures. Since then, the Olchis have inspired countless children to read – and next year they will be featured on the big screen, as their father and creator reveals in an interview.

“Farting frogs and beetle bile, laughter makes it all worthwhile.” Why are the Olchis always in such good spirits?
The Olchis enjoy the sense of security of an extended family, and like to take things easy. Nonetheless, they are free and adventurous, all of which creates an uplifting outlook toward life. I find that the Olchis are just bon vivants by nature, relaxed and with a positive attitude.

More than 6.8 million Olchi products have been sold worldwide. What do you think makes these little monsters so successful?
I’m sure it’s all their idiosyncrasies, the way they live and eat, but also their exciting and entertaining adventures. The stories also encourage readers to invent their own Olchi songs and stories, to paint or build them. I get a lot of mail from children along those lines.

“Stinky wind and toadstool tea, life's as good as it can be!”, sing the Olchis. They are so self-confident, loveable and enviably relaxed. What makes your own life so great?
My family, my friends, good books, my work. I am lucky to be able to make a living from something I really enjoy, even if my life is a bit more stressful than the Olchis’. I enjoy cooking together with friends, playing music, and coming up with stories and songs like Grandpa Olchi.

A raft of new Olchi books are planned for their 30th anniversary. How many hours a day have you spent working on the Olchis over the past months?
I don't keep track of the hours, but lately my face has been running a bit green. Every morning I go to my studio and draw or write. But when I come home in the evenings, I put the little green creatures completely out of my mind. At the weekends, I head out to the countryside: no Olchis allowed!

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Kinder The Olchis Throw a Birthday Party

Erhard Dietl: The Olchis Throw a Birthday Party
Oetinger, 32 pages, 14.00 €, ages 4 and up

The Olchis have made readers out of a lot of book-shy children. Are you proud of this fact?
Of course I’m happy when my Olchi stories encourage children to read more, even though that’s not why I wrote them. I’ve also written a lot of other children's books, but the Olchi books seem to have hit a nerve. Just the fact that they are still flourishing after thirty years is a miracle.

The Olchis will be coming to the cinema in 2021 as a 3D-animated film. How much influence have you been given over the production?
I was involved in the screenplay as well as developing and designing the characters. I check out the various stages of production, listen to the music and sound, and rework the Olchis' dialogues. It was exciting to finally hear the Olchis talk and watch them move. I'm really looking forward to the completed film.

Interview: Verena Hoenig

Focus on: Gone to the dogs

The joy of dachshunds and the pain of parting

They shed, drool and always need walking – still we love our dogs. Children are especially crazy about our four-legged friends, and it’s no wonder that recent years have brought litter after litter of new releases to children's literature. Here are six brand-new recommendations.

“Hallo, Teckel Tom” (Fetch the Ball, Tom!) lets young readers share the fate of dachshund puppy Tom. From his point of view, we see him separated from his mother and siblings, how he arrives at his new home and slowly but surely grows used to his new surroundings. Tom's soul reveals itself to us through his big round black eyes.

Hallo, Teckel Tom

Bette Westera / Noëlle Smit (Ill.): Hallo, Teckel Tom!
(English: Fetch the Ball Tom!)
Bohem, 32 pages, 15.00 €, ages 3 and up

16 dogs are piled up in a mound or rolling around in the mud. But not “Kleiner Streuner” (Little Brown). We don't know what made him such an outsider. In any case, he is so mad at the others that he steals their toys and doesn’t give them back. What’s there to do? A great story on how to talk about the way we deal with our emotions, and also a lesson in conflict resolution.

Marla Frazee: Kleiner Streuner

Marla Frazee: Kleiner Streuner
(English: Little Brown)
Aladin, 40 pages, 15.00 €, ages 4 and up

Mama loves dogs. But Selma panics at the sight of them. When she follows Mama's advice to try to really feel what it is like to be an animal, she finds herself transported into the body of a female poodle. A captivating comic for beginning readers, “Selma tauscht Sachen – Hundeleben” (Selma Can Change – a Dog's Life) helps them overcome their fear of dogs.

Martin Baltscheit / Anne Becker (Ill.): Selma tauscht Sachen – Hundeleben

Martin Baltscheit / Anne Becker (Ill.): Selma tauscht Sachen – Hundeleben
(English: Selma Can Change – a Dog's Life)
Kibitz, 88 pages, 15.00 €, ages 6 and up

“Kleiner schwarzer Hund in der Nacht” (Little Black Dog in the Night) is a mother-daughter collaboration set in wintry Stockholm. A dog sets off to find its mistress who was taken away in an ambulance. Through words and the luminous watercolour illustrations, we follow the odyssey of the lonely, brave flop-eared dog.

Rose Lagercrantz / Rebecka Lagercrantz (Ill.): Kleiner schwarzer Hund in der Nacht

Rose Lagercrantz / Rebecka Lagercrantz (Ill.): Kleiner schwarzer Hund in der Nacht
(English: Little Black Dog in the Night)
Urachhaus, 74 pages, 16.00 €, ages 6 and up

“Arthurs wildes Hundeleben” (Arthur's Wild Life as a Dog), for children 8 and up, is a fast-paced and witty story about swapping bodies – from both points of view. How does one walk on four paws, and what do kids do in school?

Heike Abidi / Barbara Fisinger (Ill.): Arthurs wildes Hundeleben

Heike Abidi / Barbara Fisinger (Ill.): Arthurs wildes Hundeleben
(English: Arthur's Wild Life as a Dog)
Hummelburg, 160 pages, 11.99 €, ages 8 and up

For young readers ages 10 and up, there is “Solange wir zusammen sind” (Stay). This truly heart-warming book celebrates togetherness and devotion between friends: Baby belongs to the homeless Jewel. Twelve-year-old Piper adopts the dog when Jewel suddenly disappears.

 

Text: Verena Hoenig

Bobbie Pyron: Solange wir zusammen sind

Bobbie Pyron: Solange wir zusammen Sind
(English: Stay)
Thienemann, 304 pages, 15.00 €, ages 10 and up

Portrait of: Antje Damm

Death and the fox

Illustrator and author Antje Damm thinks children are wonderful philosophers. Her new book “Füchslein in der Kiste“ (Little Fox in the Box) addresses a topic that children are deeply concerned with.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Kinder Antje Damm

© Leonie Damm

Her first dream job would have been an architect, but creating books was second. When Antje sits in her office, she draws, cuts, pastes, whittles, constructs, assembles collages, creates scenery and takes photographs. The illustrator and author has published more than 30 children's books and is still a wellspring of ideas. “I often think that I have one of the best jobs ever because I can address all the topics that interest me.” The 55-year-old is enthusiastic about nature and about philosophising with children.

“Frag mich!” (Ask Me! – 2002) marks the beginning of her series of philosophical question-mark books. “Ist 7 viel?” (Is Seven a Lot?), “Alle Zeit der Welt” (All the Time in the World), “Echt wahr?” (Really True?) and others followed. The principle is not to answer a child's question using language, but to offer up a photo or an illustration as food for thought. At the same time, the artist has created a whole new genre of children's literature, one which is perfectly suited for promoting dialogue with one's offspring. Antje Damm herself is the mother of four daughters.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Kinder Buchcover Füchslein in der Kiste

Antje Damm (Text and Ill.): Füchslein in der Kiste
(English: Little Fox in the Box)
Moritz, 32 pages, 12.95 €, ages 5 and up
Release date: 7 October

Which topic is of greatest concern for girls as well as boys? “Death. That is something that children find fascinating from the age of five on.” In her new storybook “Little Fox in the Box”, a rabbit and an old, toothless fox become friends and lovingly take leave of each other when the fox dies. He will remain alive in her memory. A comforting story.

The unique aspect: The pictures are three-dimensional illuminated miniature scenes created from cardboard. A technique that the artist also used for her storybook “Der Besuch” (The Visitor), whose English version made the “New York Times” list of the best storybooks in 2018. In the meantime Antje Damm is so well known that she undertakes reading tours and workshops not just in Germany, but also to Italy, China and the USA.

What can we add? “I am a pretty spontaneous person. I do whatever I feel like.” With her public appearances on hold due to the coronavirus, Anke Damm spends time at her studio decorating matchboxes with miniature pictures or assembling tiny dioramas, display boxes with 3-D figures “just for fun”. These brain-bogglingly creative caprices, works of art on their own, can be admired on her Instagram page and are offered on sale for very modest prices.

Text: Verena Hoenig

3 Reading tips

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Kinder Du bist mein Freund weil

You are my friend, because...

Günther Jakobs (Text and Illus.): Du bist mein Freund, weil ... (English: You are my friend, because...)
Carlsen, 64 pages, 15.00 €, ages 3 and up

Günther Jakobs (Text and Illus.): Du bist mein Freund, weil ... (English: You are my friend, because...)
Carlsen, 64 pages, 15.00 €, ages 3 and up

A declaration of love to our friends
How does one become a friend? There must be 1,001 reasons. Günther Jakobs has captured several of them in entertaining coloured sketches. Because he or she has “such funny gapped teeth”, “is always in a fairly good mood even when the weather is lousy”, or “is the best at shooting targets for miles and miles around”. That all might seem rather banal at first, but if you look closely, you will recognise that there is a lot more to it. Things like openness, or overcoming differences, about acceptance. A book you can look at over and over again, to be glad that we have friends ourselves.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Kinder Louisianas Weg nach Hause

Louisiana's Way Home

Kate DiCamillo: Louisianas Weg nach Hause
Translated into German by Sabine Ludwig. (English: Louisiana's Way Home)
dtv junior, 208 pages, 12.95 €, ages 9 and up

Kate DiCamillo: Louisianas Weg nach Hause
Translated into German by Sabine Ludwig. (English: Louisiana's Way Home)
dtv junior, 208 pages, 12.95 €, ages 9 and up

Louisiana, ganz allein
Louisiana, all alone
A curse made Louisiana leave her home. At 3 a.m., Granny drags her shocked granddaughter into the car and shortly thereafter, dumps her off alone at a motel. “Life is sometimes hard on us”, stated Kate DiCamillo once in an interview, “but it is also wonderful and a gift, and I want to tell all about it.” In each new novel by the author, two-time winner of the Newbery Medal, the highest award for children's literature in the USA, the unexpected awaits.

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 Themenwelten Kinder Als der Wolf den Wald verließ

A Wolf Called Wander

Rosanne Parry, Mónica Armino (Illus.): Als der Wolf den Wald verließ
Translated into German by Petra Knese. (English: A Wolf Called Wander)
Coppenrath, 208 pages, 14.00 €, ages 9 and up

Rosanne Parry, Mónica Armino (Illus.): Als der Wolf den Wald verließ
Translated into German by Petra Knese. (English: A Wolf Called Wander)
Coppenrath, 208 pages, 14.00 €, ages 9 and up

A wolf in grave danger
Flink is separated from his wolf pack and driven from the hills he calls home. Will the whelp manage to find his way back to the family he misses so deeply? Flink suffers an injury that makes his situation even more desperate. He finds new hope when he meets a raven who becomes his companion. The story is captivating and moving. A non-fiction appendix tells about fascinating creatures who have unjustly earned a bad reputation. Flink is based on a true story. The book even contains photos of the real Flink.