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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)
Anton and Piranha
by Milena Baisch
Age Range: 9-11
Going on holiday with your grandparents is not exactly cool, but as far as Anton is concerned it’s okay because he plans to spend most of his time in the swimming pool. But then disaster strikes … it turns out that the holiday camp doesn’t have a pool, instead it has a lake. Anton is not impressed. He definitely won’t be swimming in the dark, murky, slimy water full of sludge and creepers and other things that he doesn’t even want to think about.
Anton’s grandparents worry about him, so in order to keep them happy, he promises to make friends but he’s bored and has no idea how he is going to survive the holiday. That is until he meets an unexpected friend!
This funny, quirky tale from German author Milena Baisch won the German Youth Literature Prize in 2011. Baisch's characterisation of Anton’s eccentricities shines through in the witty narrative. When his Gran sings “We’ll meet again”, from the ‘olden days’ it makes Anton’s ears queasy; “You cannot be serious” says Anton which sounds remarkable familiar if you happen to be a tennis fan!
Amidst the humour Anton and Piranha does deal with serious issues such as the bullying behaviour of Anton by an older boy he nicknames ‘Poodle’ and his longing for friendship. The small, amusing black-and-white illustrations by Elke Kusche supplement the text and Chantal Wright’s excellent translation has captured all Anton’s, sometimes hilarious, inner dialogue and off-the-wall comments beautifully.