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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)
Talking to Alaska
by Anna Woltz
Age Range: 9-11
It only takes one day at their new school for Parker and Sven to decide they dislike each other intensely. Parker has had a terrible summer, while Sven is desperate to make an impression otherwise, he will always be known as ‘the boy with epilepsy’ attracting a mixture of pity and fear. Unfortunately for Parker, Sven ridicules her, making her a target of fun amongst their classmates so when she discovers that her beloved dog Alaska, who she had to give up the previous year, is now an assistance dog belonging to Sven, she’s determined to get her back. Which is, of course, easier said than done.
Prize-winning international best-seller Dutch author Anna Woltz’s powerful novel, translated by Laura Watkinson, is a heart-warming story of an unlikely friendship that is brought about by the love of a dog. Both Parker and Sven are struggling outsiders – each of them vulnerable. Parker has her own demons to face ever since a violent robbery at her parents’ shop while Sven is having to learn to live with his epilepsy.
Narrated by both Parker and Sven, Talking to Alaska is a clever and original story that gives a clear voice to each of them as they tell us how they feel. Woltz doesn’t shy away from tackling Sven’s disability and his observations about his epilepsy are particularly heartfelt.
A gritty, warm novel that sensitively deals with big issues.