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10 Translated Books - 2012


Under 5

Happiness is a Watermelon on Your Head
Stella Dreis
Translated & rewritten from Portuguese
by Daniel Hahn
Phoenix Yard Books  

Why is Miss Jolly so happy? She exudes a cheerfulness that proves extremely irritating to her miserable neighbours Miss Whimper, Miss Grouch and Miss Stern. In their desperate quest to find out the secret of her happiness, they create weird and wonderful hats from all manner of strange objects, but nothing seems to do the trick.  Until, that is, they are showered with a whole lot of pink and rather messy watermelons!  The illustrations are a riot of colour with brilliant rhyming verse by Daniel Hahn.

Poo Bum
Stephanie Blake
Translated by Linda Burgess
Gecko Press

This quirky picture book will have toddlers in fits of laughter right from the start.  Little rabbit is loved by his family but there is just one problem. Whenever a member of his family asks him a question he can only answer rudely and say one thing – “Poo Bum”.  Stephanie Blake has created a very funny, irreverent story with eye-catching illustrations.


In the Forest
Anouck Boisrobert
Translated from French
Illustrated by Louis Rigaud
Tate Publishing

This is an amazing and unusual novelty book from France.  In the Forest everything is green, everything is full of life.  The animals and birds roam the forest and a sloth sways gently in the leaves.  Can anything spoil this tranquility? One day the peace is shattered by a ‘metal monster’ that attacks the forest from all sides.  The creatures are forced to flee and soon there is complete devastation. In the Forest is a tall-format book depicting a three-dimensional pop-up forest that represents the world’s disappearing rain forests. 


The Factory Made Boy
Christine Nöstlinger

Translated from German by Anthea Bell
Illustrated by Frantz Wittkamp
Andersen Press

Mrs Bartolotti’s life is turned upside down when she receives a strange-looking large, heavy parcel that contains Conrad, a factory-made, seven-year-old boy who is perfect in every way. Although a shock at first, as Mrs Bartolotti is not used to children, she becomes very fond of Conrad and sets out to be a good mother enrolling him at the local school and even finding him a ‘father’ figure too. Renowned Austrian author Christine Nöstlinger’s 1975 classic was reissued by Andersen Press in 2012 keeping the original comic illustrations by Frantz Wittkamp.


Streams and Dreams and Other Themes
Sonja Danowski

Translated from German by Anthea Bell

An exquisite picture book full of poetry and stunning artwork by German author/illustrator Sonja Danowski.  Every page is brimming with intricate, minutely detailed illustrations that accompany a verse, recounting the thoughts and hopes of the characters portrayed as well as everyday incidents. The verses are beautifully translated from German by award-winning translator Anthea Bell.

Tistou: the Boy with Green Thumbs
Maurice Druon

Translation by Humphrey Hare, updated by Francoise Jones
Illustrated by Ray Hedger
Hawthorn Press

Eight-year-old Tistou is sent home from school after falling asleep in class. His father decides that he will continue his education by learning from real life and where better to start than in the garden!  It is then that Tistou discovers that he has a most remarkable gift; he has green thumbs and everything he touches grows into beautiful plants. Now Tistou has no time to sleep because he learns the most extraordinary thing – ‘flowers prevent evil things from happening’. Written in 1957 and considered in France to be a classic on a par with The Little Prince this is a charming parable that deals with the darker side of human life, the insanity of war and mortality.


Ursula Poznanski
Translated by Judith Pattinson
Allen & Unwin

‘Enter. Or turn back. This is Erebos’.  These are the daunting words that confront Nick Dunmore as he loads a brilliant and absorbing computer game. Nick notices that his friends start behaving strangely, missing school, appearing exhausted and acting out of character, but before long he too is engrossed in the game unable to escape its manipulative power.  An international bestseller from Austria by Ursula Poznanski, excellently translated by Judith Pattinson, this suspenseful novel is an unusual thriller that is hard to put down.  A cleverly woven contemporary story about the technological age combined with the fantastical world within the computer game of Erebos itself.

My Brother, Simple

Marie-Aude Murail
Translated from French by Adriana Hunter Bloomsbury

Seventeen-year-old Kleber is a sixth form student in Paris who is searching for a flat-share, a challenge which is made rather more problematic by the fact that he is also bringing his elder brother Barnaby (or ‘Simple’).  Simple has learning difficulties and while their father wants to see him packed off to a dismal institution, this is an idea Kleber is resolutely determined to avoid. This highly original novel succeeds in being far more than a standard ‘coming of age’ tale.  Simple is a young man with an ability to see things differently, demonstrating enviable levels of logic, honesty and humour and successfully peeling away the pride and superficiality behind which other characters try to hide.

Bartolome: The Infanta's Pet
Rachel Van Kooij
Translated by Siobhán Parkinson
Little Island

Bartolome is a highly memorable novel that was inspired by a real painting, on display in the national art gallery in Madrid. Ten-year-old Bartolomé has restricted growth, deformed feet and kyphosis (curvature of the upper back, then known as a ‘hunch back’).  It’s the 17th century and attitudes towards disability are less than positive, however at least Bartolomé has his family for comfort.  Then the children’s father is presented with the chance to move to city and become a coachman at the royal palace. The historical detail is exacting, the translation by Siobhan Parkinson smooth and sinuous and the narrative powerful and enthralling.


Boy on the Edge
Fridrik Erlings
Translated from Icelandic by Fridrik Erlings Meadowside Books

Henry is angry and disturbed; he is relentlessly bullied at school because of his club foot, stammer and difficultly in communicating.  After a violent outburst towards his mother he is sent to ‘The Lesser Brethren’, a home for troubled boys located on a remote farm in the middle of nowhere amidst a vast lava field on the Icelandic coast. Fridrik Erlings, award-winning Icelandic author of Fish in the Sky, offers a sometimes stark novel about a boy on the edge which is both cruel and tender in equal measure, exploring desperation as well as kindness and remorse.


     2012 Anniversary Book List Aug17





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