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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)
Boy in Glasses (The)
by Hertha von Gebhardt
Age Range: 9-11
Readers may be forgiven for thinking that the boy in glasses is the leading character in this story, but this is not the case. The boy in glasses, is in fact, a suspected criminal who assaults an old lady with a toy pistol and steals her money. As a result of this incident many adults in town believe that all the children are up to no good and become very suspicious of their actions.
Hugh, a young boy from the countryside, has been living with his grandfather in town for the last six months. He is learning to play the violin and one day on his way to his music teacher’s house for his lesson he sees Miss Thatcher scurrying nervously past. The children of the town call her Miss Quacker, because of the umbrella she always carries, even in the brightest sunshine, with its handle in the shape of a duck’s head. This particular day the wind is very strong and Miss Thatcher struggles with her shopping and umbrella. Hugh kindly offers to help but she rudely sends him away, believing he’s planning some mischief. Perplexed and disappointed Hugh and the children from Gilbert Street wonder if they will ever be able to convince adults that they are not all like the boy in the glasses.
German author Hertha von Gebhardt (1896-1978) has once again splendidly tackled the subject surrounding misunderstandings, generalisation about age and gender and conveying the message that people sometimes form the wrong ideas or impressions. The translation by Oliver Coburn and Ursula Lehrburger has been adeptly executed and the illustrations by Dorothy Clark perfectly represent the story and the characters.
Von Gebhardt was a prolific German author with many of her titles being translated into English in the 1950s and 60s including: The Girl from Nowhere (1958), Love from Nicky (1960), The River Post (1961), Toffee and the Small Car (1961) Ruth’s New Friend (1963) and The Building Site (1964) – all on the website.