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 Best Books from around the World in 2014

Deborah Hallford selects some of the best books
published in 2014


 You can download this list by clicking the PDF 




 Under 5


April the Red Goldfish
Marjolaine Leray
Translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone
Phoenix Yard Books

April the Red Goldfish is the second book by Marjolaine Leray, following Little Red Hood. April is different.  She is a very red teenage goldfish with issues.  But she is also a lonely red goldfish seeking adventure and searching for the meaning of life.

100 Bears
Magali Bardos
Translated from French
Flying Eye Books

100 Bears is no conventional ‘learning to count’ picture book.  Magali Bardos has created something a little bit different. With sparse text, wacky humour and vibrant, brash illustrations, children can follow the number trail in a visually stimulating way from 1 to 100.


Poka and Mia at the Cinema
Poka and Mia Football
Kitty Crowther
Translated from French by Ann Drummond
Tate Publishing

The 'Poka' books are the enchanting creations of renowned writer and illustrator Kitty Crowther. The ‘Poka and Mia’ series of books are available in English for the first time. The delicate, distinctive illustrations in pencil, crayons and ink are bound to be extremely popular with a new audience.


The Big Question
Leen van den Berg, illustrated by Kaatje Vermeire
Translated from Dutch by David Colmer
Book Island 

Elephant has something on her mind.  It’s a difficult question and she can’t stop thinking about it.  Luckily it’s the annual general meeting so everyone will be able to help her to find the answer. Leen van den Berg’s unusual, philosophical tale is a modern fable with a wonderful message about the many sides of love, eloquently translated by David Colmer, and complimented by the startling surreal illustrations by Kaatje Vermeire.

The Day No One was Angry
Toon Tellegen, illustrated by Marc Boutavant, Translated from Dutch by Bill Nagelkerke
Gecko Press

The Day No One Was Angryis a collection of twelve short stories by master storyteller, Toon Tellegen with sumptuous illustrations by French artist Marc Boutavant. These wry, philosophical tales show anger in all its guises seen through the eyes of different animals.


The Rabbit and the Shadow
Mélanie Rutton

Translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone
Book Island 

The Rabbit and the Shadow is a story of a Rabbit who wants to grow up, an anxious and caring Stag, a Soldier at war, a Cat who keeps having the same dream, a Book who wants to know everything and a Shadow. Mélanie Rutton’s whimsical tale is rich with meaning in both the poetic text and the stunning visual language that has been beautifully translated by award-winning translator Sarah Ardizzone. An absolutely charming picture book about growing up, love and loss, facing fear and the challenges of life. It is also about the importance and the power of love.




The Cat Who Came in off the Roof
Annie M.G. Schmidt
Translated from Dutch by David Colmer
Pushkin Children’s Books

When young reporter Tibble, (who only writes articles about cats) meets a young woman called Miss Minou it is in the most unlikely of circumstances; she is stuck up a tree after being chased by a dog.  Tibble befriends Minou and discovers that she displays some worrying cat-like traits including being able to communicate with other cats. This proves useful when she sets up Cat Press Agency and provides local human news that Tibble can use for his articles. This quaint tale is a true classic. Written in 1970 by Annie M.G. Schmidt, it is now available in English for the first time.


The Pointless Leopard
Colas Gutman
Translated from French by Stephanie Seegmuller Pushkin Children’s Books

A short novella, The Pointless Leopard is a popular prize-winning hit in France selling more than 132,000 copies. Colas Gutman has created a quirky, tongue-in-cheek tale that is both funny and philosophical as it poses a vitally important question: what exactly are children for?

Waffle Hearts: Lena and me in Mathildewick Cove
Maria Parr
Translated by Guy Puzey
Walker Books

Fans of Pippi Longstocking will love Waffle Hearts by Maria Parr. Trille and Lena are the best of friends and live next door to each other in a small coastal community in the Norwegian Fjords. A truly enchanting book that combines humour and the carefree innocence and antics of childhood. 


 Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder
Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder: Time-Travel Bath Bomb
Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder: The End of the World. Maybe
Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder: The Great Gold Robbery

Jo Nesbø
Translated from Norwegian by Tara Chace
Simon and Schuster

Writer Jo Nesbø is an international bestseller for his adult thrillers but the 'Doctor Proctor' books, (four titles in all), combine wacky stories reminiscent of Roald Dahl with the mad-cap humour of Monty Python. Doctor Proctor is an inventor who believes he has finally created something to help him become world-famous: a super-strength fartonaut powder.  Together with his neighbours Nilly and Lisa they become involved in all sorts of amazing adventures. There is the obvious hilarity in relation to the inventive fart powder, but there is so much more to these books including parody, satire, and some very witty dialogue. No matter how crazy the plots, each story is clever, inventive and completely different. 


The Head of the Saint
Socorro Acioli

Translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn
Illustrated by Alexis Snell
Hot Key Books 

The Head of the Saint is a completely charming and heart-warming tale by Socorro Acioli.  Samuel must set out on a journey to find his father and grandmother. It takes him sixteen long days and when he finally arrives he is told to go into the forest to find shelter. Little does he realise that the grotto he spends the night in, is in fact, the giant head of a saint – the decapitated head of the statue of St Anthony. Acioli’s novel is vividly portrayed in the elegant, lyrical prose of award-winning translator Daniel Hahn. This is translated fiction at its best.


The Letter for the King
Tonke Dragt
Translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson
Pushkin Children’s Books 

Sixteen-year-old Tiuri is asked to undertake a very important mission; he must deliver a secret letter to the King of Unauwen across the Great Mountains – a letter upon which the fate of an entire kingdom depends.  Tonke Dragt’s novel written in 1962 is set in a fantasy medieval era of chivalry that is reminiscent of an Arthurian legend or a Knights Templar tale. A page-turning novel that will have any child (or adult) hooked from the very first sentence.


Line of Fire: Diary of an Unknown Soldier Illustrated by Barroux Translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone Phoenix Yard Books  

Line of Fire is a poignant diary by an unknown soldier that was discovered by the French illustrator Barroux in the rubbish while out walking in a street in Paris. Although only covering the first two months of the First World War, both the soldier’s experiences and the brutality of war are captured in this exceptional and striking graphic novel.  The distinctive comic-style sepia pen and ink illustrations evoke such emotion and perfectly convey the words that were written over one hundred years ago.


Oksa Pollock: The Forest of Lost Souls
Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf
Translated from French by Sue Rose
Pushkin Children’s Books 

This is the second instalment of the Oksa saga by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf and translated by Sue Rose. Oksa’s best friend Gus has vanished without a trace so together with a band of her fellow Runaways they must go to his rescue in a secret, parallel world.

Speed of Light
Joy Cowley
Gecko Press, (New Zealand)

Jeff has a fascination with numbers; while his family gradually falls apart he buries himself in the safe world of numerology and mathematics because he always knows where he is with numbers.  When a strange old woman known as Maisy, is blown into Jeff’s life after a storm hits Wellington, she challenges everything he believes to be true.  A well-crafted novel from Joy Cowley, one of New Zealand’s best-loved writers for children. 


As Red as Blood
Salla Simukka
Translated from Finnish by Owen F. Witesman
Hot Key Books 

When Lumikki stumbles upon 30,000 euros, in 500 washed out notes hanging up to dry in the school dark room, she is drawn into Finland’s murky criminal underworld, caught up in an increasingly dangerous and tangled web of deception, corruption and murder. This well-crafted novel is the first volume in a stunning thriller trilogy. Simukka’s writing is exceptionally atmospheric; Own F. Witesman’s translation captures all the tension as the story evolves as well as the descriptive prose, particularly of the freezing, relentless Finnish winter.

Vango: Prince Without a Kingdom
Timothée de Fombelle

Translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone
Walker Books

In this sequel to Vango: Between Sky and Earth, master storyteller Timothée de Fombelle weaves an intricate tale as it continues the journey of Vango as he sets out to discover his identity. Vango has been in danger for as long as he can remember. He has spent most of his adult life constantly on the run, fleeing from unknown forces who have been chasing him and abandoning those he loves in order to protect them. Set against the historical backdrop of the Second World War this is another mystery full of intrigue and adventure that you will not be able to put down.


Why We Took the Car
Wolfgang Herrndorf

Translated by Tim Mohr
Andersen Press

Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf, translated by Tim Mohr, is an unusual, highly engaging coming-of-age novel. When Tschick shows up in an old Lada, he has borrowed (without permission), but which he always returns, until now, he persuades Mike to go on the road with him.  Mike is terrified but also excited and together they leave Berlin with no map and only a vague destination in mind.


Activity Books


Findus, Food and Fun
Eva-Lena Larsson & Kennert Danielsson
Illustrated by Sven Nordqvist
Translated from Swedish by Nathan Large
Hawthorn Press

Join Findus, Farmer Pettson and their helpful friends the Muckles, the wonderful creation of Sven Nordqvist, as they explore this craft and nature activity book through the seasons. This month-by-month anthology is compiled of fun things for children to make and do. It covers both indoor and outdoor activities including nature activities, foraging and food growing, recycling, gardening and crafts. 

The GIANT Game of Sculpture
Hervé Tullet

Translated from French

Hervé Tullet's unique concertina board book turns into a large-size sculpture, and once unfolded, reaches more than two metres long. With pop out pieces of card that can be inserted into the ready-made slots and holes, children can build their very own sculpture.

The Little Illustration Factory
Florie Saint-Val
Translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone
Tate Publishing

Children will be inspired to create their own portfolios in this amazing kaleidoscopic picture and activity book by Florie Saint-Val.  Her completely off-beat illustrations burst with colour and the wonderful humorous text, translated by the award-winning translator Sarah Ardizzone, is a treat.


All the links to Amazon from our website have been checked. Where there is no book available we will mark it as out of print, although it may be available from other sellers. 




*this includes books that have been brought out in paperback and reissued in 2014. 

Deborah Hallford is one of the Co-Founders of Outside In World having previously co-edited Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation (2005, Milet) with Edgardo Zaghini.


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