A Selection of the Best Books from around the World in 2016
Deborah Hallford selects some of the best books
published in 2016
You can download the list by clicking on the PDF
A Rainbow in My Pocket
Illustrated by Hoda Haddadi
Translated from Persian by Azita Rassi
Tiny Owl Publishing
A Rainbow in My Pocket by Iranian author Ali Seidabadi is an elegant introduction to the beauty of poetic verse in literature giving a fantastic insight into the curiosity of childhood, and the excitement of the new in the everyday. The illustrations by Hoda Haddadi are beautifully simplistic in style, punctuated softly with flashes of primary colour and full of character, they perfectly complement and enhance the moods created within the writing and the sense of childhood innocence and being carefree.
The 5 Misfits
Translated from Italian
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
The 5 Misfits is a delightfully quirky tale from Beatrice Alemagna. Five Misfits live together in a lopsided house; they never feel like doing anything, nor do they amount to much in life. Alemagna has used her unique trade mark collage artwork to capture the individuality of the characters beautifully. As with many of her books, the story has a message about difference, tolerance and identity. She always approaches this theme in a manner that is both simple and funny making the story so accessible for young children.
James Brown (English text)
Gus's workshop is full of paraphernalia; everything is kept and nothing is wasted because Gus knows that there will be a use for them one day. The vibrant artwork of Gus's incredible wacky inventions by award-winning Belgian author and illustrator Leo Timmers, together with the rhyming couplets by acclaimed New Zealand poet James Brown are a perfect marriage in this delectable picture book.
Bicycling to the Moon
Illustrated by Virpi Talvitie
Translated from Finnish by Ruth Urbom
A heart-warming series of 20 short stories from one of Finland's award-winning authors, Timo Parvela, translated by Ruth Urbom. With straightforward prose and wry wit these stories follow the antics of Barker the dog and Purdy the cat and a funny cast of supporting characters. Finnish artist Virpi Talvitie’s comical full-colour illustrations further enhance the richness of these engaging tales.
Fox and Goldfish
Translated from Dutch by Greet Pauwelijn
Fox and Goldfish are the best of friends but Fox knows that Goldfish is very unwell. Before it's too late he wants to show his friend the world and ensure they spend as much time together as possible. Fox takes Goldfish on an amazing journey beyond the fishbowl. Flemish author and illustrator Nils Pieters has created a beautiful and timeless picture book about loss, a celebration of life and having wonderful memories.
Annie M. G. Schmidt
Illustrated by Fiep Westendorp
Translated from Dutch by David Colmer
Pushkin Children’s Books
Pluck drives his little red tow truck all over town as he searches for a place to live. Pluck is certainly a ‘plucky’ little hero as he helps to solve all kinds of problems with a variety of friends both human and animal. An off-beat, timeless classic from the Netherlands by acclaimed Dutch writer Annie M.G. Schmidt, translated by David Colmer, with captivating artwork by Fiep Westendorp.
The Wonderful Adventures of Nils
Retold by Kochka
Illustrated by Olivier Latyk
Words and Pictures
This famous Swedish classic by Selma Lágerlöf has been retold by Lebanese author Kochka, (translated in-house by Words and Pictures), and exquisitely illustrated by Olivier Latyk. Kochka has created a modern and playful narrative that honours the Swedish children's classic whilst at the same time introducing this funny and exciting tale to a whole new audience.
Yours Sincerely, Giraffe
Illustrated by Jun Takabatake
Translated from Japanese by Cathy Hirano
Giraffe is bored; he wishes he had a special friend who he could share things with. Soon he finds a pen-pal – Penguin. He knows nothing about penguins so his letters are full of questions. Japanese author Megumi Iwasa has written a clever and witty tale, translated by award-winning translator Cathy Hirano, which is both absurd and endearing. With the simple pen-and-ink line drawings and handwritten letters by Jun Takabatake, readers will enjoy the hilarious correspondence and Giraffe's enthusiastic interpretation of what a penguin looks like!
Alpha: Abidjan to Gare Du Nord
Illustrated by Barroux
Translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone
The Bucket List
Alpha Coulibaly, a cabinet maker from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, dreams of settling in Europe. His sister-in-law has a hair salon in Paris near the Gard du Nord. Alpha decides to try the long and perilous journey; his wife Patience and son Badian have already set off for Paris. The odds are stacked against him: a lack of money, people traffickers in the desert, the refugee camps and the over-crowded boats. A highly emotive graphic novel written by French author Bessora, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, with evocative artwork from Barroux.
Detective Gordon: A Complicated Case
Illustrated by Gitte Spee
Translated from Swedish by Julia Marshall
There’s something amiss in the Forest. All the animals seem troubled and some are very upset, but no one dares to report the incidents to the police. It’s up to Detective Gordon and his little police assistant Buffy to investigate and discover the culprit who is making all the other animals’ lives a misery. Another engaging book in the Detective Gordon series from Swedish author Ulf Nilsson, translated by Julia Marshall, with enchanting pen and ink watercolour by Gitte Spee.
The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly
Illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura
Translated from Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden Alma Books
A modern-day fable by Chilean author Luis Sepúlveda, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden. Covered in oil, an exhausted Seagull lands on a balcony where Zorba, a big black cat lives. The dying gull manages to lay her final egg while asking Zorba to promise to look after it and to teach the orphaned baby gull to fly. Sepúlveda's novel conveys messages about treating all living things as equals as well as warnings about the damage being done to the environment. Lovely line drawings by Satoshi Kitamura perfectly capture the comedy and melancholy of the story.
Code Name: Butterfly
Translated from Arabic by Nancy Roberts
Neem Tree Press
A powerful short novel by Palestinian author Ahlam Bsharat, translated from Arabic by Nancy Roberts, dealing with life living under Israeli military occupation from a young Palestinian teenager’s perspective. Using beautiful, descriptive prose Bsharat is able to give Butterfly a voice – her name symbolising the flying away to freedom. An incredibly poignant story that not only deals with the conflict but also the everyday issues that affect any young teenager such as friendship, family and unrequited love.
Maresi: The Red Abbey Chronicles
Translated from Swedish by A. A. Prime
Pushkin Children’s Books
On the largely uninhabitable island of Menos stands a strong fortress – the Red Abbey - where few 'outsiders' dare to venture. The only inhabitants are a group of women who worship a female holy trinity with one Mother Goddess. In a world where girls are not allowed to learn, much less think for themselves, a safe haven where they are cherished and educated seems like the stuff that dreams are made of. An unusual and original tale of 'sisterhood' with a real feminist perspective by Finnish author Maria Turtschaninoff, translated by A. A. Prime.
The Secrets of the Wild Wood
Translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson
Pushkin Children’s Books
A gripping and enthralling sequel to The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt, translated by Laura Watkinson. Set in a fantasy medieval era of chivalry that is reminiscent of an Arthurian legend or a Knights Templar tale, Sir Ristridin, one of King Unauwen’s knights has gone missing. Sent off to explore the mysteries of Wild Wood where no one dares venture because rumours abound that it is enchanted, Tiuri, now Sir Tiuri, (after carrying out his last perilous mission), sets out with his best friend and squire Piak to find him.
Translated from Italian by Denise Muir
The Bucket List
When sixteen-year-old Aleksandra meets the uber-confident and mature Megan, who is refreshingly different from her theatre friends, she is introduced to a whole new social circle including the slightly sinister but handsome Ruben. Originally banned, due to its strong content, and withdrawn from sale in its native Italy, Girl Detached is a brave and uncompromising novel by Manuela Salvi, expertly translated by Denise Muir. Salvi is unafraid to tackle the unpalatable realities of Ruben’s seedy underground network and the uncomfortable and often disturbing subject of teenage grooming.
Translated from French by Penny Hueston
Max, by French writer Sarah Cohen-Scali, translated by Penny Hueston, is a powerful, shockingly evocative novel set in Nazi Germany that bravely tackles a subject that has been little written about – the Lebensborn programme to create the perfect Aryan race. Max narrates the story beginning from inside his mother's womb taking the reader on a journey from his conception, birth in 1936, and the different stages of his life. Indoctrinated to be the perfect Nazi it is only when Max meets Lukas, who is not what he seems, that he must fight to untangle the truth from the lie.
Outside: A Guide to discovering Nature
Maria Ana Peixe Dias and Inês Teixeira do Rosário Translated from Portuguese by Lucy Greaves Illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Outside: A Guide to discovering Nature is a stunning comprehensive guide to the natural world around us created by an award-winning team of natural history experts, Maria Ana Peixe Dias and Inês Teixeira do Rosário and translated by Lucy Greaves. The clear scientific explanations, together with the playful illustrations by Bernardo P. Carvalho, in a bold two-colour palette, make this an ideal book to dip into.
Wild Animals of the North
Translated from German by Jen Calleja
Flying Eye Books
Wild Animals of the North is a stupendous encyclopaedic book showcasing some of the most magnificent and endangered creatures inhabiting the Northern Hemisphere. This study of wild animals by German illustrator Dieter Braun will take your breath away with the imaginative artwork which is a mixture of digital media, pencil and watercolour and is defined by clean, simple geometric shapes that create an incredible effect. This is definitely a book to be treasured.
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