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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)
Wildest Brother (The)
by Cornelia Funke
Age Range: Under_5
Ben is a really, really wild little brother. Sometimes when he wakes up he is a wolf or (thanks to his sister’s make-up) a horrible monster covered in scars. Ben also loves to protect his big sister Anna from all sorts of monsters and horrors, be they ghouls in the bathroom, beasts in the garden or horrible sister eating wardrobes (Anna’s really good at hiding inside and making the noises) Ben will bravely fight them off. But what happens when it gets dark? Is it Ben or Anna who needs defending from something scary?
Cornelia Funke always manages to hit the nail right on the head with her books, no matter who she has in mind as an audience and The Wildest Brother is no exception. Funke has created a brilliantly funny and completely typical brother and sister in Ben and Anna. Recognisable to families everywhere, sisters will sympathise with Anna and roll their eyes at Ben and brothers will admire Ben’s exploits and agree that Anna is just like their own big sisters!
Anna and Ben aren’t the only excellent double act in the book either, as Funke is reunited with illustrator Kerstin Meyer. Meyer’s colourful, fun illustrations are eye-catching and funny and perfectly capture the spirit of Funke’s prose. Oliver Latsch has also translated the story beautifully. His translation reads simply and very naturally in English, with sentences full of wonderful images that have an almost poetic quality to them. Funke especially depicts the older sister/younger brother relationship very well and Latsch loses none of this in the translation.
This book is a must-read for the quality of the prose, the characters and the wonderful illustrations. The story is funny, very moving at the end and the characters are a joy. Ben and Anna are typical children that readers can identify with and have an interest in and the story sets this every-child quality against the wonderful power of children's imaginations. This is seen in Kerstin Meyer’s artwork, which shows Ben inventing fabulous adventures out of very ordinary situations; an inspiration to little brothers everywhere.
Abby Phillips (2012)