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10 Translated Books - 2010

Under 5

Lola and the Rent-a-Cat
Ceseli Josephus Jitta
Translated from Dutch
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Lola and John have been together for fifty six years and are inseparable but one day John’s heart stops and Lola suddenly finds herself on her own.  After visiting a ‘rent a cat’ website where experienced cats offer company and affection, Lola chooses a cat called Tim and takes him into her home. Ceseli Josephus Jitta touchingly relates how people, as they get older, inevitably have to say goodbye to each other and effortlessly succeeds in transforming the story from being about bereavement into a tale about the joy of life.

When I was Born
Isabel Minhos Martins
Illustrated by Madalena Matoso
Translated from Portuguese
Tate Publishing

When I Was Born is an exploration of how young children discover the world for the first time.  All the senses – breathing, seeing, hearing, tasting and touch – are encountered and brought to life by the poetic text with its simple and engaging language by Isabel Minhos Martins.  The striking, bold colourful illustrations by award-winning illustrator Madalena Matoso make this a very visually appealing book.


 Tomi Ungerer
Translated from German

This is a powerful classic by Tomi Ungerer.  Narrated by Otto a German-born teddy bear who belongs to David, a young Jewish boy living in Germany before the outbreak of the Second World War. David and his best-friend Oskar always played with Otto and they had lots of fun together.  This comes to an abrupt end one day when David appears wearing a yellow star on his jacket. He and his parents are soon rounded up and taken away but before he leaves David gives his precious teddy bear to Oskar to keep him safe.

The Dangerous Journey
 Tove Jansson
Translated from Finnish by Sophie Hannah
Sort of Books

Susanna is sick of all the green that surrounds her and annoyed with her lazy, sleepy cat. Finding a magic pair of spectacles she puts them on and discovers that the meadow where she is sitting has been transformed into a very different landscape – sometimes it appears like a jungle, a volcano or a dried-up ocean.  As she tries to make her way home Susanna is eventually rescued by a balloonist who takes her back to Moominvalley. Featuring many of the Moominvalley characters, this beautiful version of Tove Jansson’s tale, originally written in 1977, has been brought to an English audience by Sophie Hannah. 


Aleksandra Machowiak and Daniel Mizielinski Translated from Polish by Elzbieta Wojcik-Leese Gecko Press

Readers are in for a treat with this very innovative and fascinating book about amazing architecture.  Polish authors and illustrators Aleksandra Machowiak and Daniel Mizielinski have created witty, richly coloured drawings together with concise, accessible descriptions of each extraordinary house.  H.O.U.S.E. explains the inspiration behind each design and the materials used.  The imaginative layout and different font sizes help to emphasise the text along with the visually intricate graphics explaining how the houses look on the inside are sure to capture the attention. 


The Pasta Detectives
Andreas Steinhöfel
Translated from German by Chantal Wright
Andersen Press

Rico calls himself a child ‘proddity’ which is a bit like being a child prodigy, but also the opposite. The trouble is, he thinks a lot but not particularly quickly and needs a lot of time to work things out.  When a spate of kidnappings by the mysterious Mr. 2000 take place in the city, Rico is fascinated.  Mr. 2000 kidnaps children but only demands a ransom of 2000 Euros. Rico notices things that no one else does.  A little piece of rigatoni pasta lying on the pavement can provide him with endless hours of detective work. Andreas Steinhöfel’s charming novel, deftly translated by Chantal Wright is a joy to read.


Fruitloops and Dipsticks
 Ulf Stark
Translated from Swedish by Julia Marshall
Gecko Press

Fruitloops and Dipsticks is a funny and heart-warming novel from the award-winning Swedish author Ulf Stark, translated by Julia Marshall. Simone is unhappy with her life.  She has to move house and school to follow her artist mother who is moving in with her new boring boy-friend, Ingvar.  To make matters worse Simone’s mother has forgotten her daughter’s twelfth birthday; their dog Kilroy is left behind and subsequently goes missing, and Grandpa has run away from the care home and turns up on their doorstep. There are several themes throughout this novel including identity, dysfunctional family life and adolescent sexuality.


Before We Say Goodbye
Gabriella Ambrosio
Translated from Italian by Alastair McEwen
Walker Books

Set in Jerusalem in 2002, the drama takes place during a single day.  Each short chapter covers an hour in the day starting at 7.00am in the morning.  It follows eighteen-year-old Myriam, an Israeli Jew, and Dima a Palestinian girl as they go about their daily lives discovering their thoughts, feelings and experiences of living in Jerusalem.  As each hour passes the tension mounts building up to a horrendous climax of a suicide bombing. The two sides in this conflict are clearly portrayed. Italian author Gabriella Ambrosio’s novel, excellently translated by Alastair McEwen, doesn’t take sides; it is just a beautifully written narrative of one of the tragic conflicts of the modern world.

Learning to Scream
Beate Teresa Hanika
Translated from German by Katy Derbyshire Andersen Press

Learning to Scream is not an easy read because it tackles the difficult subject of sexual abuse, albeit in a sensitive way. The story is narrated by thirteen-year-old Malvina, told from her own perspective.  Gradually over the course of the novel she slowly begins to reveal the terrible dark secret that has blighted her young life and that she has been unable to share with anyone else – even her best friend Lizzy.  Beate Teresa Hanika has dealt with this issue tastefully and the detail is never gratuitous or sensational.  Credit must go to the translator, Katy Derbyshire’s for an excellent translation.


No and Me
Delphine de Vignan
Translated from French by George Miller

Thirteen-year-old narrator Lou Bertignac hates the idea of having to give a presentation to the whole of her class. She needs to find a really good subject for her project which will make her stand out.  Lou likes to go to Austerlitz station where she watches people.  Here she comes face to face with eighteen-year-old No who is living on the streets of Paris.  Lou decides that her school project will be on homelessness and that she will interview No. No and Me by Delphine de Vignan, eloquently translated by George Miller, doesn’t shy away from presenting the harsh realities of homelessness and it is an honest and revealing insight into both Lou’s home life and No’s existence on the streets.


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2010 Anniversary Book List June17


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