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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Marrying Off Mother
by Christine Nostlinger
Age Range: 9-11
Ten-year-old Sue and her older sister Julia (known as J) have moved with their mother to live with their strict grandmother, dotty Great-Aunt Alice who constantly quotes proverbs, and their mother’s younger sister Aunt Irma. The siblings’ parents have separated and there does not seem the remotest chance of them getting back together again any time soon.
Then Sue comes up with a brainwave. Why don’t they marry off Mother? She finds there are several possible contenders from Dr Hieberger the dentist to Fiery Salamander, her German teacher and even her friend Benny’s Dad, Mr Meier, even though he can’t stand her family!
The unexpected consequences of Sue's scheming make for a hilarious story from award-winning Austrian author Christine Nöslinger (1936-2018). Her quirky humour, almost slapstick in parts, and its maudlin elements are balanced by the underlying issue of the pain of the parents' separation and Sue's longing for a proper home again and for things to go back to the way they were.
Another excellent translation by Anthea Bell (1936-2018), one of the UK’s best and most prolific translators, which ensures that Nöstlinger’s novel, written in 1972, is still such an enjoyable read.
Nöslinger is the winner of the most prestigious international children’s literature prize, the Hans Andersen Medel, awarded to her in 1984. Other titles by Noslinger translated into English, many of which are on the website, are: The Cucumber King (1972), Mr Bat’s Great Invention (1978), But Jasper Came Instead (1986), Guardian Ghost (1986), A Dog’s Life (1990), Elf in the Head (1992), Fly Away Home (2003), The Factory Made Boy (2012) also published as Conrad.