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Books Reviewed May 2024

 Under 5 Category

Letters in Charcoal – The narrator, a young girl living in the pueblo of Palenque in Colombia, is curious about the envelopes that keep arriving each month addressed to her older sister Gina from a young doctor. The sisters can only guess at the content and driven by an intense curiosity the narrator makes a decision that will change, not only her life but those living in the pueblo forever. A beautiful, gentle story by Colombian author Irene Vasco, translated by Lawrence Schimel, which has woven together many stories based on those she had been told by women across Colombia of how they learnt to read and write and complemented by the atmospheric artwork by Juan Palomino. (Lantana Publishing)

9-11 Category

Charcoal BoysAward-winning Brazilian author and illustrator Roger Mello has created a sophisticated and enigmatic book, beautifully translated by Daniel Hahn. An unusual and multi-layered picture book with a hornet as the narrator.

The text meanders between poetic prose and the jovial conversational style of the hornet. The story is also intertwined with surrealism – the imaginary perspective of the narrator – and realism – the child labour and the environmental consequences of charcoal production. The story can be perplexing at times making it hard to follow what is going on and Mello leaves much open-ended but the visual narrative with the black pages, collage silhouettes and papercuts is extremely powerful. (Elsewhere Editions, USA)

12+ Category

The Queen of Thieves is the second book in the ‘Moonwind Mysteries’ series by award-winning Swedish author Johan Rundberg, translated by A. A. Prime. The merciless winter in 1880 Stockholm is over and life has returned to normal at the orphanage for twelve-year-old Mika, the feisty protagonist, after her last adventure solving the case of the Night Raven. But it is not long before Mika notices that everything is not as it seems and she sets out on a dangerous mission to discover what is going on not realising that she is putting herself in imminent danger.  An atmospheric and gripping fast-paced crime mystery. (Amazon Crossing Kids, USA)

But it is not long before Mika notices that everything is not as it seems and she sets out on a dangerous mission to discover what is going on not realising that she is putting herself in imminent danger.  (Amazon Crossing Kids, USA)

 

Books Reviewed April 2024

 

Under 5 Category

A Better Best Friend - Squirrel has been wanting a best friend for a long time and while out walking in the forest he spies what he thinks is a best friend sitting on a tree trunk. French author and illustrator Olivier Tallec has created a quirky and droll picture book, translated by Antony Shugaar, about the complexities of friendship that children often face. A gorgeous and funny book with illustrations that zing.  (Gecko Press)

What’s Hiding Under There?  is a sparkling interactive lift-the-flap board book from best-selling German author and illustrator Daniela Drescher. An enchanted forest full of fairies, elves and woodland creatures makes this a magical and engaging book for young readers. (Floris Books)

6-8 Category

The Invisible Story - “The world is full of stories” so begins this beautiful and unusual book by Costa Rican writer, musician and journalist Jaime Gamboa. This story, however, has never been read and languishes hidden away in the darkest corner of the library – a braille book that thinks it is a ‘ghost’ and not like all the other books that surround it because its pages are blank. Gamboa’s creation is a truly original moving and powerful story with lilting poetic text, exquisitely translated by Daniel Hahn and artwork by Wen Hsu Chen that combines delicate paper cut-outs of white silhouettes contrasted with watercolour. A book that is both fresh and different. (Lantana Publishing)

This is My Treehouse - A treehouse has been built high up between the branches of a tall tree. A place to dream. French award-winning author Guillaume Guéraud’s charming story, translated by Polly Lawson and illustrated by Alfred, explores the imaginary adventures of childhood, and the importance of having a space to call our own. (Floris Books)

To the Ice by Swedish husband and wife team Thomas and Anna-Clara Tidholm is a beautifully produced chapter book full of thrilling adventure. Three children find themselves adrift on an ice floe moving out to sea. Eventually, their ice flow freezes together with lots of others and becomes a kind of ice floor with a dusting of snow on top. Wherever they turn it looks the same.  They must learn to navigate this new landscape as best they can. Thomas Tidholm’s story, translated by Julia Marshall, deals humorously with the serious elements of the children being lost and alone as it cleverly provides a realism of a polar expedition with the power of a child’s imagination. Enhanced by Anna-Clara Tidholm’s rich and detailed artwork in mixed media or pen and ink outline with watercolour. (Gecko Press)

Who Will Make Snow? is an engaging chapter book with witty text and vibrant artwork by Ukrainian husband and wife team Taras Prokhasko (author) and Marjana Prokhasko (author and illustrator), translated by Boris Dralyuk and Jennifer Croft.  Seven delightfully chatty chapters relay the mole family’s antics as well as some lively discussions.  Aside from the mole adventures, there is a much deeper, philosophical element running through the book dealing with the important question about life and death. Marjana Prokhasko’s gorgeous illustrations have a child-like simplicity in a mixture of coloured pencil, gouache, and ink which provide an exquisite glimpse of mole life. (Elsewhere Editions, USA)

9-11 Category

The Wildcat Behind Glass was written in 1963, appearing in English in 1969. With a lively new translation by Karen Emmerich, and after 55 years, this powerful modern classic by a master storyteller Alki Zei (1923-2020), one of Greece’s most famous authors for children and adults, is back in print. Set in 1936, the story centres on a family living on a Greek Island whose members react in different ways to the changing political climate after the Fascist dictatorship is installed. Despite the intervening years, Zei’s book, with Emmerich’s skilful translation, has a contemporary feel making it as relevant today as it was when it was first written. (Restless Books, USA)

12+ Category

Movies Showing Nowhere - One afternoon Cate  discovers a business card on the piano printed in shocking pink letters on a bright yellow card with the words:

Mrs Kano’s Cinema
Movies showing Nowhere!
Films you won’t find anywhere else!
Films you’ve always wanted to see!

Cate meets the strange Mrs Kano and is introduced to a most unusual kind of movie screen – the kind that lets you step through it into a memory from a photograph – and is drawn into a wonder-filled adventure through time. Through these experiences, Cate learns the true meaning of love, loss and learning to let go. Dutch author Yorick Goldewijk’s stunning novel translated by Laura Watkinson, is original and different from many other time-travel fantasy novels with its unusual concept of a photograph becoming a cinematic reel of memory.  (Pushkin Children’s Books)


Books Reviewed March 2024

 

Under 5

Finding the Way to Faraway Valley – This charming heart-warming story by Swedish author/illustrator Cecilia Heikkilä, translated by Polly Lawson, captures the wonder and joy of Grandpa and the little bear’s adventure as they journey to Faraway Valley. A gentle celebration of the wonders of the natural world and the importance of preserving it for future generations. (Floris Books)

Flying High – Award-winning Chinese author Cao Wenxuan has written a simple yet powerful picture book that encompasses a child’s loneliness and longing to fit in. Emotive text, excellently translated by Jake Hope and Simone-Davina Monnelly, and the striking artwork of Chinese illustrator Yu Rong show an eventual understanding of the child as they learn to become comfortable within themselves.
(UCLan Publishing)

HideawayTwo children’s imagination takes flight in this wonderful and magical escape to a world of make-believe by Italian author Melania Longo, translated into English by Brenda Porster, and accompanied by ethereal-like artwork from one of Italy’s leading contemporary illustrators Alessandro Sanna. (Red Comet Press)

Merlina and the Magical Mishap – Daniela Drescher’s sweet and humorous story brings the charming world of Merlina’s attempts at magic to life with her beautiful and delicate illustrations packed full of vibrant colours. (Floris Books)

6-8 Category

Sounds Good! – German father and son team Ole and Hans Könnecke have combined their skills to produce this fun and entertaining non-fiction book about musical instruments. Ole Könnecke’s conversational text, translated by Melody Shaw, combined with quirky illustrations, and Hans Könnecke’s musical compositions can be listened to through the QR codes on each page, enhancing learning and enjoyment for young readers. (Gecko Press)


9-11 Category

Amazing Octopus: Creature From an Unknown World – Full of humour and vivid descriptions this is a delightfully quirky non-fiction title by Czech-born, Vienna-based author Michael Stavaric, translated from German by Oliver Latsch, and with exquisite fine-lined black and white artwork by German illustrator Michèle Ganser that is packed with fascinating detail of octopuses and their natural habitat.  Exuding fun with its chatty narrative there is a wealth of information, interactive elements, jokes, spot-the-difference puzzles and so much more. (Pushkin Press)

Detective Gordon: A Case with a Bang is another delectable tale in the Detective Gordon series by Swedish author Ulf Nielson (1948-2021), translated by Julia Marshall. Full of warmth, humour and insight together with the lovely expressive and humorous watercolour artwork by Gitte Spee, this is a funny and touching story in this much-loved series.
(Gecko Press)

12+ Category

Winner of the English PEN Award, Djinn’s Apple  is set in Baghdad during the Abbasid caliphate from 786 to 809 CE. Algerian author Djamila Morani’s YA novel has all the ingredients of both historical and crime fiction with a ruthless murder, a mysterious manuscript and a secret herb known only to a few. Morani’s short chapters allow the mystery to slowly begin to unravel demonstrating that there is a lot more packed into this novella than just a historical murder mystery. With lyrical prose, exquisitely translated into English by Sawad Hussain this is an intense, engaging and powerful story.
(Neem Tree Press)

 

 

Books Reviewed February 2024

 

Under 5

Can I Sit in the Middle? - “Come on, let’s read a book!” says the child.  Everyone sits on the sofa in expectation – the zebra, cat, hamster, and lion.  A delightfully zany board book that is a joyous celebration of reading by German author/artist Susanne Strasser, translated by Melody Shaw. (Gecko Press)

Lionel is Just Like Dad is another title in the fun-loving board book series about Lionel an overenthusiastic and impulsive young lion from French author and illustrator Éric Veillé, translated by Daniel Hahn.  (Gecko Press)

My Baby Sister is a Diplodocus – A young boy meets his new baby sister for the first time and finds the whole experience rather daunting. French author Aurore Petit has tackled the age-old problem of an older sibling coming to terms with a new addition to the family in this charming story, translated by Daniel Hahn. (Gecko Press)

Pippa and Pelle and Their Cosy HomeAnother charming tale in the Pippa and Pelle series by German author and illustrator Daniela Drescher with delicate watercolour illustrations full of vibrant colour bring this lovely tale to life. (Floris Books) 

6-8 Category

Hotel for Cats – At the Hotel Charamba the cats are in charge. The first story in the best-selling series from French author Marie Pevlenko and illustrator Marie Voyelle there are plenty of loveable cat characters, a lively narration and ‘cat-word’ puns, excellently translated by  Anna Brooke. (Chicken House)

The Night Walk – In the middle of the night, two children are roused from their sleep by their parents to get ready for an exciting adventure. This evocative and captivating book by French author/illustrator Marie Dorléans has exquisite prose, beautifully translated by Polly Lawson and mesmerising artwork that engages all the senses making it a truly inspirational book. (Floris Books)

The Prickletrims Go Wild – The Prickletrims have a pristine garden. Everything is exact with razor-straight edges, a meticulously measured lawn and an impeccably shaped topiary but once their gardener leaves nature takes over. A quirky and funny picture book by French author/illustrator Marie Dorléans, translated by Polly Lawson. (Floris Books)

9-11 Category

The Scaler of the Peaks and The Victor are the third and final books in the four-part series Song of the Eye Stone. Finnish author Karin Erlandsson has woven fantastical tales combined with the natural world, skilfully translated by Annie Prime. (Young Dedalus)

12+ Category

The Mystery of Raspberry Hill – Stina believes Raspberry Hill Sanatorium, where she has been sent to take part in a special medical trial, is hiding a dark secret.  She becomes determined to solve the mystery but as Stina edges closer to the truth, she finds herself in terrible danger. A terrifically absorbing debut novel for young readers by the award-winning Finnish author of adult crime fiction, Eve Frantz with an excellent translation from Swedish by A. A. Prime. (Pushkin Children’s Books) 

 

 

Books Reviewed January 2024

 

Under 5 Category

The Great Grrrrr is a monster on a mission. He drives his GRRREXPRESS van advertising “quick parcels” and “speedy packages” delivered in minutes.  French author Marie Sabine Roger has created a funny and entertaining book, translated by Angus Yuen-Killick, about the impatience and uncontrolled anger of this short-fused monster as he takes his frustration to ridiculous levels. With simply executed and expressive illustrations by Marjolaine Leray. (Red Comet Press, USA)

Rosie Runs is a whimsical story full of hope about Rosie a racing greyhound. Finnish author/illustrator Marika Maijala has written an acutely observed story, translated by Mia Spangenberg, about the life of racing dogs for a young audience which captures the poignancy of Rosie’s confined life but also denotes her bravery and determination to be free. (Elsewhere Editions, USA)

 

6-8 Category

The Invisible Elephant - From Finland-based Russian author Anna Anisimova comes this heartwarming chapter book, translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, of four stories narrated by a young blind girl who joyfully embraces life using her senses and vivid imagination as she explores her environment and the world outside. Together with gorgeous and inventive illustrations by Yulia Sidneva, this is a beautiful and unusual book that will help readers understand that there are many different ways of seeing the world. (Yonder, Restless Books, USA) 

 

9-11 Category

101 Ways to Read a Book – Award-winning French author Timothée de Fombelle’s insightful observations of the 101 ways in which a book can be read is an absolute delight to pour over and a true celebration of the joys of reading. 

There are many types of readers captured in this whimsical and droll book, translated by Karin Snelson and Angus Yuen-Killick. Every pose has been keenly observed in comic-style artwork by Benjamin Chaud. A perfect book for all those book lovers whatever their age. (Red Comet Press, USA)

Girls  is a set of stories with a difference. Seven famous fairy stories by Perrault and the Brothers Grimm have had a complete makeover and been given a thoroughly modern twist.  These are certainly no faithful adaptations and Dutch author/illustrator Annet Schaap has used these classic stories, seamlessly translated by Laura Watkinson,  and accompanied by woodcut-like black-and-white illustrations, as a base to create her own very original and inventive tales. (Pushkin Children’s Books)

The House of the Lost on the Cape – Set in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan in 2011, three generations of women come together – Yui, who is fleeing her violent husband and Hiyori, an orphan, are befriended by the mysterious elderly Kiwa in a shelter in the small town of Kitsunezaki. Japanese author Sachiko Kashiwaba skilfully weaves modern-day life and the terrible effects of the earthquake with folklore within this powerful story, beautifully translated by Avery Fischer Udagawa and accompanied by bold black-and-white illustrations by Yukiko Sato. A novel with many strands that has something to say to readers of any age. (Restless Books, USA)

 

 

Books Reviewed November 2023

 

Under 5 Category

 

Snail - This charming debut picture book from Korean author and illustrator Minu Kim, translated by Mattho Mandersloot, shows children it’s not necessary to strive to keep up with everyone else and that it’s perfectly okay to go at their own pace. With minimum text, it is the magnificent and intricate black-and-white drawings that make this book stand out. (Pushkin Children’s Books)

The Swing Under the Maple Tree is a lovely, gentle bilingual story by Ukrainian writer Halyna Tkachuk, translated by Oksana Lushcherska and Michael M. Naydan, about learning to put things right. Accompanied by bold and colourful illustrations from Ukrainian artist Oksana Bula. (Pineapple Lane)

Mermaids by Ukrainian writer and translator Oksana Lushchevska and illustrated by Violetta Borigard is a heart-warming bilingual story of friendship and imagination. Borigard’s soft colour palette of expressive illustrations shows the flights of imagination of the two friends and their longing to spend more time together. (Pineapple Lane)

Simon Says Good Night – Israeli author and illustrator Orit Bergman’s quirky picture book, translated from Hebrew by Annette Appel, is an ideal way of transforming a bedtime routine, teaching the classic game ‘Simon Says’ and making it into a fun and imaginative night time adventure. (Amazon Crossing Kids, USA)


9-11 Category


How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend
- The inspiration for this book is based on a true story about Russian author and illustrator Elena Bulay, (Lena in the story), and her rescue dog Jo.  Told through Lena’s own beautiful illustrations this book is packed with fascinating facts and useful tips about caring for a dog of your own. A combination of personal experience and expert advice it is the perfect guide for a keen dog-lover. (Thames & Hudson)

How Our Solar System Began by Spanish author and illustrator Aina Bestard is another clever and exquisitely designed large-format picture book inviting the reader on an incredible Journey into Space to learn about the universe and our solar system. This is definitely a book for any budding astronomer, child or adult, and a copy should be in every school and public library. (Thames & Hudson)

The Secret of Helmersbruk Manor - Finnish author Eva Frantz is a master storyteller cleverly blurring the lines between imagination and reality. With a strong Christmas theme, this gripping page-turner combines a hint of darkness, spooky goings-on and a mystery accompanied by eerie black-and-white drawings by Elin Sandström. Beautifully translated by A. A. Prime from Swedish, this is a book to relish. (Pushkin Children’s Books)

 

 

Books Reviewed October 2023

 

Under 5 Category


Mr Catsky, Mira and the Sea
is one of a series of bilingual books from the new publisher Pineapple Lane.  This is a heart-warming story of friendship and imagination by Ukrainian writer and translator Oksana Lushchevska.  Translated by the author the story is accompanied by expressive watercolour illustrations by Ukrainian artist Violetta Borigard bringing this beautiful story to life. (Pineapple Lane)


6-8 Category


Wind: Discovering Air in MotionExplore this attractively illustrated non-fiction picture book about Wind. Packed with facts this fascinating book by Russian author and illustrator Olga Fadeeva, translated by Lena Traer, answers the many questions the text poses. It successfully blends a chatty narrative with scientific fact. Fadeeva’s watercolour and acrylic illustrations are colourful and descriptive helping to explain the science in an easy-to-understand way. Created with help from a meteorologist, this engaging book is an ideal way to explore the wind’s role in world history and earth science. ((Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, USA)


9-11 Category


AnyBody
German author Katharina von der Gathen, an expert in the area of sex education with children, writes books based directly on questions asked in her classes. Here she has created a clever and humorous comic compendium of important facts and feelings about our bodies. Translated from German by Shelley Tanaka, the text is very accessible with direct and frank answers accompanied by the lively and comic-style illustrations by German artist Anke Kuhl.  (Gecko Press)

Mist – Set in London in 1880, thirteen-year-old Clay is a mud lark living along the banks of the river Thames.  When Clay discovers that a visiting circus boasts of “The Wild Beast of the North - the last surviving wolf in the United Kingdom” he is determined to see for himself. After coming face-to-face with the wolf and witnessing the cruelty of the circus trainers, Clay knows he must rescue the wolf he has named Mist.  Italian author Marta Palazzesi’s first-person narrative, translated by Christopher Turner, is conversational in tone and she manages to keep the suspense and adventure right to the very last page. (Red Comet Press, USA)

 

12+ Category

 

The Night Raven – Full of atmosphere and riddles this is a book that is hard to put down. Set in Stockholm, Sweden in 1880, The Night Raven is the first book in the ‘Moonwind Mysteries’ series by award-winning Swedish author Johan Rundberg and translated by A. A. Prime. This is a gritty and gripping fast-paced murder mystery being investigated by the unlikely duo of twelve-year-old orphan Mika and gruff detective Valdemir Hoff. Realising this recent murder resembles the work of a serial killer known as Night Raven who was caught and executed the previous year, they know it is a race against time to solve the crime. (Amazon Crossing Kids, USA)

14+ Category

 

Never Tell Anyone Your Name by acclaimed writer Federico Ivanier is a worldwide first Young Adult novel from Uruguay ever to be published in English. Ivanier’s hauntingly crafted novella with its clever twists and turns reveals a dark story.

A 16-year-old boy finds himself marooned in the unfamiliar Spanish town of Irún when there is a mix-up over his train ticket.  With eight hours to kill until his next train at midnight, he wanders the streets until he chances on a strange girl who befriends him. The lyrical text, excellently translated by Claire Storey, builds the atmosphere chapter by chapter with the boy’s eerie walk through a deserted town with his mysterious unknown companion as the tension mounts.  The reader is aware that something is about to happen but not prepared for what it is. (HopeRoad Publishing)

 

 

Books Reviewed September 2023

 

Under 5 Category

A Bird Day - After playing a daring game of car chicken, Lena and Bo are told they mustn’t do such a dangerous thing and to find something else to do. This is a delightful, down-to-earth picture book from Swedish author and illustrator Eva Lindström, translated by Julia Marshall, that reflects some familiar human behaviour through this funny bird family as they bicker over flies for lunch and their dad’s mosquitos and worm pie.

A Coin - An appealing bilingual story in Ukrainian and English by Ukrainian author Ania Khromova, translated by Oksana Lushchevska, about what happens when we lose something special and how treasures can be found in everyday life if only you look for them. With vibrant artwork by award-winning Ukrainian illustrator Anna Sarvira. 

Fodo Dodo Goes Fishing - Fodo Dodo and Noodle are going fishing but this is no ordinary fishing trip. French author and illustrator Édouard Manceau has created a hilarious story of make-believe, translated by Daniel Hahn.  Fodo Dodo and Noodle’s extensive imagination of their fishing expedition hooks up an unlikely catch. This lively, funny story will have children giggling at their naughty antics.

George & Tao - Little dog George isn’t sure about Tao the new kitten when he appears in his home. But soon they are playing together and have become the best of friends.  When Tao gets hurt and disappears George is distraught. Will he ever return home? This tiny, delicately illustrated picture book by Belgian author and illustrator Claude K. Dubois, translated by Daniel Hahn, captures the strong emotional bond of friendship between George and Tao.

How Many? is an imaginative and playful counting bilingual story in Ukrainian and English by Ukrainian writer Halyna Kyrpa, translated by Oksana Lushchevska and Michael M. Naydan. The lyrical text with evocative illustrations by Ukrainian illustrator Olha Havrylova encourages children to keep asking questions about the world around them even if there isn’t always an answer.

Memo and the Unexpected Gift - A charming and funny story by Turkish author Funda Özlem Şeran, translated by Amy Marie Spangler, that uses humour to tackle a young child’s loneliness. Memo loves his grandma dearly but he misses having a friend and when he finds a stray kitten he is overjoyed. However, not everything is as it seems! The rich colourful comic-style illustrations from Turkish illustrator Ezgi Keleş capture the nuances beautifully.

 

6-8 Category

 

Morris and the Magic of Stories - This gorgeous picture book by French author Didier Lévy, translated by Jill Phythian, and with exquisitely detailed artwork by Italian illustrator Lorenzo Sangiò, is hilarious. A book-loving cat and his struggle to hunt mice is a joy to read. Lévy’s story is enhanced by the comical pen and ink and watercolour illustrations which are full of lovely detail. There is so much here to look at that young readers are going to want to look at it again and again (and adults too!).

1001 Birds - Following a similar format to 1001 Bees and 1001 Ants, here is another charming, illustrated non-fiction picture by Polish author and illustrator Joanna Rzezak, who this time turns her attention to birds. The text, translated from French, is lively and engaging and packed with fascinating facts and colourful artwork.

 

12+ Category

 

Batu and the Search for the Golden Cup is the debut novel and first in a series of exciting fantasy adventures by Kazakh authors Zira Nauryzbai and Lilya Kalaus, translated from Russian by Shelley Fairweather-Vega, which became a bestseller in Kazakhstan. Batu is just an ordinary boy, worried about the bullies at school and the imminent arrival of his mum’s new baby but when he inadvertently summons Aspara, the Golden Warrior prince, a mythological figure from the ancient Saka people an exciting and dangerous adventure begins.

 

Book of the Month October

 

Balam & Lluvia’s House takes the reader on a wonderful journey in this stunning collection of 16 captivating and engaging poems by acclaimed Guatemalan poet Julio Serrano Echeverría, exquisitely translated by Lawrence Schimel. As they lyrically meander through the house and garden following brother and sister Balam and Lluvia, some poems are reflective while others convey the beauty that is all around us as well as humour too. Echeverría’s authentic voice opens the door to his Guatemalan roots and culture and is a breath of fresh air accompanied by sublime artwork by Spanish illustrator Yolanda Mosquera.

 

Books Reviewed July 2023

 

Under 5 Category


NOOO! Not the Dentist!
- Simon, the feisty and mischievous rabbit is back again. This time he’s refusing to go to the dentist after getting a sore tooth. This is the latest title in the series about Simon by Stephanie Blake, translated by Linda Burgess. All the usual ingredients are here. Blake uses cheeky humour to ease Simon’s fears about visiting the dentist and with the recognisable bold and richly coloured illustrations this latest offering about Simon and his antics is sure to be just as popular as previous titles. (Gecko Press)

 

6-8 Category


Different: A Story of the Spanish Civil War is
an exceptionally powerful and moving book and won a Bachelder Award Honor for 2023 and it’s easy to see why. Spanish author Mónica Montañés’s well-structured story of this dark chapter in Spain’s history, eloquently translated by Lawrence Schimel, captures the perspective of the two siblings as they alternate their first-person narrative. The soft-palette lined and watercolour illustrations by Eva Sánchez Gómez are beautifully executed and full of expression. (Eerdmans, USA)

The Moon is a Ball Ed Franck is one of Belgium’s most important and innovative children’s writers. These thoughtful and playful delectable stories, translated by David Colmer, are sometimes philosophical as close friends Panda and Squirrel ponder life and the meaning of friendship. Franck’s conversational and humorous narrative speaks directly to children and the gorgeous watercolour artwork by Korean award-winning illustrator The Tjong-Khing with its soft colour hues, enchanting landscapes and irresistible protagonists make this a beautiful standout storybook. (Gecko Press)

9 Kilometers - As a young boy sets out on his 9-kilometer – more than a five-mile journey to school – it is still dark and before the sun rises.  He has a long and arduous journey ahead. Chilean author Claudio Aguilera’s sparse poetic text, translated by Lawrence Schimel, makes this a simple, yet effective story carrying an important and powerful message. Chilean artist Gabriela Lyon’s very visual watercolour illustrations use a sombre palette of colours to demonstrate the darkness of the earlier part of the journey but becoming more vibrant as daylight breaks through. (Eerdmans, USA)

The Starling’s Song - This exquisite and unusual picture book marries lilting poetic text with stunning linocut illustrations. As a solitary starling flies over the land everything seems beautiful to him – the clear sky, meadows of grass, the fields of corn, the blossom blowing in the wind and the snow-capped mountains. He wants to sing a song about how lovely it all is and will sing it to anyone who will listen. This is a multi-layered book by Dutch author and illustrator Octavie Wolters with a beautiful lyrical translation by Michele Hutchison. (Pushkin Children’s Books)

When Dad’s Hair Took Off – This is a seriously whacky and off-the-wall story full of fun narrated by a young boy as he tells the strange story of the antics of his Dad’s missing hair that sets off on its own adventure! Created by acclaimed German author and illustrator Jörg Mühle of the bestselling Tickle My Ears series this is a fast-paced and delightfully absurd tale that will raise a lot of giggles. Melody Shaw’s clever translation which has captured the play on words together with the exuberant comical illustrations makes this a laugh-out-loud book that is sure to be enjoyed by young readers (and adults) too. (Gecko Press)


12+ Category


Piece By Piece
– David Aguilar was born missing part of one arm something which he discovers seems to define his life.  His path to acceptance isn’t easy but this heartfelt memoir full of humour and candour doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable or difficulties David has to face. He provides a straight-talking narrative of his thoughts, memories and how he feels about the world and Lawrence Schimel’s excellent translation captures all the nuances, and stream of thought processes which move at a swift pace. Having always had a love of LEGO David was nine years old when he built his first prosthesis from LEGO bricks. His inventiveness culminates in his building of a functional prosthetic arm using LEGO bricks fuelled by a desire to build a better life, and bring about change by helping others and creating a better world – piece by piece. (Amazon Crossing Kids)

 

Books Reviewed June 2023

Under 5 Category

Bear is Never Alone – Dutch author Marc Veerkamp’s charming story, translated by Laura Watkinson with atmospheric mixed-media illustrations by Jeska Verstegen, demonstrates that we all need to have those peaceful and quiet times.  Bear is an accomplished piano player and he regales his forest friends with beautiful music but when he refuses to continue, they pressurise and heckle him resulting in Bear finally reaching breaking point, after all, everyone needs their own space sometimes! (Eerdmans)

What’s That, Jack? - “Hey! What’s That, Jack?” asks George looking up at a round object in the sky. “I don’t know, George. Maybe it’s a boulder”. “BOMPH”. So begins this unusual tale of two curious animals who end up having a remarkable adventure. A funny book by French author Cédric Ramadier, translated by Antony Shugar and brightly coloured artwork by Vincent Bourgeau. (Gecko Press)

Roll, Roll Little Pea – This delightfully quirky story by French author Cécile Bergame, translated by Angus Yuen-Killick and illustrated by Magali Attiogbé, takes a novel approach to explain the life cycle of plants to a younger audience when a little pea rolls away on an adventure avoiding a variety of animals who would love to consume it along the way. (Red Comet Press)

 

6-8 Category

 

The Famous Five: Five on a Treasure IslandThis world-famous adventure story by Enid Blyton is retold for the first time from the graphic novel by French father-and-son team Nataël (author) and Béja (artist), 80 years after its original publication. Translated back into English by Emma Page from the French adaptation of Blyton’s story for the graphic novel edition, it allows a new audience of English-speaking readers to access Nataël and Béja’s wonderful creation. (Hodder Children’s Books)

Hatless is an unusual tale full of imagination.  In a town where everyone is born with hats that cover their heads and hide their faces a little girl decides to buck the trend and finds a way to convince everyone that it is much better to be hatless.  Kuwaiti author Lateefah Boti has created an unusual and inspiring story, translated by Nancy Roberts, and with expressive artwork by Syrian artist Doha Al-Khateeb. (Darf Children’s Books)

Madani’s Best Game – No one plays soccer as Madani does.  There is nothing he can’t do with the ball, and all with his bare feet and he would play even better if only he had a proper pair of cleats. Spanish author Fran Pintadera got the inspiration for this story, translated by Lawrence Schimel, from working with immigrant families, including a boy named Madani. At its core is a lovely heartwarming message with engaging and detailed illustrations by Raquel Catalina. (Eerdmans)

 

9-11 Category

 

The Pebble – Set in 1943 in Vilnius, Lithuania when the Nazi regime forced Jews into ghettos, Lithuanian writer, poet and doctor Marius Maroinkeviĉius’s story, translated by Jūra Avižienis, conveys the horrors of the Holocaust in a sensitive and deeply moving way. By using the Jewish tradition of stones to remember the dead – the ‘pebble’ becomes an allegory for the Holocaust and together with the clever typography and Inga Dagile’s haunting and evocative artwork, it makes Pebble an incredibly powerful story of abiding friendship, strength and hope during one of the darkest times in history. (Thames & Hudson)

Rosa’s Bus – Grandpa takes his grandson Ben to visit the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. Ben thinks Grandpa has lost the plot and can’t understand why they are standing in front of an old bus! But he gradually learns that this is no ordinary bus; it is the one Rosa Parks was travelling on in 1955 when she was ordered to give up her seat to a white passenger.  Italian author Fabrizio Silei has written a powerful, original, thought-provoking picture book, translated by Siân Williams, and with beautiful artwork by Maurizio A. C. Quarello. (Darf Children’s Publishing)

 

Books Reviewed May 2023

 

6 – 8 Category

Too Many Rabbits is a light-hearted and humorous tale and a reminder to be careful of what you wish for. When Owen and Zoey’s Dad comes home with two rabbits – one male, and one female it results in all sorts of mayhem. This is an unusual and hilarious counting book with a difference by Swiss-born Italian author Davide Cali, translated by Angus Yuen-Killick and with gorgeous pen and ink, and crayon illustrations by Emanuele Benetti. (Red Comet Press, USA)

The Gift - A lovely heart-warming story of Leo, a little leopard and the special birthday gift of a pen from his father, who tells him “There are all sorts of beautiful things inside your pen”. Cameroonian author and poet Alain Serge Dzotap’s simple concept of showing what amazing things can flow from this simple implement by using imagination and creativity to write words and draw pictures are accompanied by the captivating artwork of Delphine Renon. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, USA)

The Pack – A book of few words but with a powerful message at its core. “Will you try to be like everyone else? Or will you be brave and leave the pack behind?” Italian author Amanda Cley has written a hauntingly philosophical tale full of hidden meaning enhanced by the dark and moody artwork by Cecilia Ferri. The Pack is quite a sophisticated picture book and might be more suitable for the classroom where it can be used for discussion rather than individual reading. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, USA)


9-11 Category


Na Willa and the House in the Alley
 is another delectable collection of stories about a multicultural girl growing up in Indonesia. Na Willa is a feisty and inquisitive little girl who is always asking lots of questions which her mother, Mak does her best to answer. Based on Indonesian author Reda Gaudiamo’s memories of her childhood in the 1960s and the sequel to The Adventures of Na Willa, 2019), it has been translated by Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul and Kate Wakeling and accompanied by charming comical pen and ink illustrations from Cecillia Hidayat. (The Emma Press)


12+ Category


Bramble Fox – When 12-year-old Portia goes to stay with her mum’s aunts – Bramble and Rose – in Wales, little does she realise what an extraordinary magical and dangerous adventure she will be undertaking that will lead her to journey through other worlds and disturb the slumber of the Grey Knight and his ghostly army. Dangers are lurking everywhere and Portia will need the help of her friend Ben, Aunt Rose, their newfound fairy companions and the shapeshifting fox Robin Goodfellow to open the portal and finally return home. German author Kathrin Tordasi has woven an exciting fantasy, expertly translated by Cathrin Wirtz, which was inspired after a year’s stay in Bangor, Wales. (Pushkin Children’s Books)

14+ Category

Me, In Between – Narrated by fifteen-year-old Madina, this is a deeply moving and observant novel about her life as a refugee living with her family in an overcrowded hostel in Austria while they wait for their request for asylum to be processed.  Russian-born Austrian author, playwright, painter and translator Julyn Rabinowich’s story, eloquently translated by Claire Storey, sharply contrasts the two worlds that Madina inhabits and the conflict it brings her as she finds herself torn between two different cultures but ultimately has to decide her own life and future. (Andersen Press)

 

Books Reviewed April 2023

 

Under 5 Category

The Box – One day Bear, Fox, Rabbit, Squirrel, and Owl discover a mysterious box on the forest floor.  There are two holes in the side and when it begins to move it’s clear there is something inside although they can’t persuade whoever it is to come out. Italian author Isabelle Paglia’s gentle story, translated by Laura Watkinson, has a lovely message showing the importance of allowing others plenty of space to do things in their own time accompanied by gorgeous illustrations by Paolo Proietti. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, USA)

Teddy’s Midnight Adventure – Akiko is playing in the garden when her mother calls her inside.  As she runs up the steps, her Teddy’s button eye pops out and sails through the air.  Akiko searches in the grass but can’t find it anywhere.  This is a captivating story of a moonlit garden that becomes a magical place of adventure for a little girl with a big imagination from Japan by author, painter and illustrator Yoko Mori, translated by Cathy Hirano. (Pushkin Children’s Books)


6-8 Category


A Head Full of Birds
is an unusual story centred around a growing friendship between two children, one of whom is neurodivergent, and the other neurotypical written by French author Alexandra Garibel and translated by Vineet Lal. School can be a very lonely place for a girl with birds fluttering in her head but one day Nanette meets a boy named Noah who gradually begins to appreciate how she interacts with the world. The soft coloured-pencil illustrations by artist Sybylle Delacroix capture the beauty that Nanette sees around her. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, USA)

The Writer – A French bulldog has a very important job to do. His owner is a writer and far too busy to do anything else. Italian author Davide Cali’s warm and witty picture book narrated by an exasperated dog is captured beautifully in the humorous earth-tone palette of the fine pencil-lined artwork by Monica Barengo. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, USA)


9-11 Category


Captain Rosalie
– Award-winning French author Timothée de Fombelle’s heartfelt story, translated from French by Sam Gordon, and first published in the 2014 collection The Great War: Stories Inspired by Objects from the First World War, published by Walker Books. It has now been published in a single volume with new illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault. An innovative and powerful way of dealing with bringing the realities of the First World War to the fore and Arsenault’s expressive artwork has a beautiful simplicity that enhances Fombelle’s text. (Walker Books)

My Especially Weird Week With Tess – Dutch author Anna Woltz has written a heart-warming and life-affirming story with a perfectly nuanced translation by David Colmar accompanied by black and white illustrations from David Dean. Eleven-year-old Sam is on holiday with his family on the island of Texel when he bumps into feisty and independent 12-year-old islander Tess. Soon Sam is embroiled in Tess’s elaborate plan to meet her father, who doesn’t even know she exists and he knows this is a week he will never forget. (Rock the Boat)

Yellow Butterfly is an incredibly evocative wordless picture book by Ukrainian author and illustrator Oleksandr Shatokhin which will indelibly leave its mark on the reader. It offers a child’s-eye view of the war in Ukraine conveyed through emotive and provocative artwork which will linger long after you have put it down. (Red Comet Press, USA)

Read the interview with Oleksandr Shatokhin

 

Books Reviewed March 2023


Under 5 Category


The Happiest Lion Cub
– a little lion cub dreams of becoming a musician but his father is displeased believing the young cub should do real lion things! This charming debut picture book by Ukrainian author/illustrator Oleksandr Shatokhin, translated by Zenia Tompkins, playfully demonstrates that you should never give up on your dreams however difficult.

Kind CrocodileBelgian author/illustrator Leo Timmers’ books are always fun and this playful board book, translated by Bill Nagelkerke, is no exception. A kind crocodile leaves his pond to see the world and along the way, he helps a range of terrified animals who are being chased and manages to have the last laugh.

6-8 Category

Duck’s Backyard –  is a story about difference, courage and friendship as a duck with a limp and a blind chicken set out on an adventurous journey. A witty tale by German author Ulrich Hub, translated by Helena Kirkby, it has a philosophical tone as the pair are faced with astonishing obstacles as well as many differences of opinion! Accompanied by delightfully comical artwork from Jörg Mühle.

João By a ThreadJoão curls up in bed and tucks himself under his blanket. As he begins to drift off to sleep dreams take over and João’s blanket begins to unravel. This is truly a magical book by Brazilian author/illustrator Roger Mello with its whimsical and poetic text, beautifully translated by Daniel Hahn, and the atmospheric shapeshifting line drawings, which are so delicate like fine needlework.

9-11 Category

The Art and Life of Hilma af Klint is a fascinating biography of an overlooked pioneering abstract artist by Swedish author Ylva Hillström, translated by B. J. Epstein and with bright and colourful illustrations by Karin Eklund that pulls the reader into Hilma af Klint’s world. A significant contribution to the history of an artist and spiritualist who was ahead of her time.

Inside the Body is an ingenious illustrated oversized lift-the-flaps book full of meticulous details of the body’s inner workings.  French author and illustrator Joëlle Jolivet has provided an extraordinary layer-by-layer guide, translated by Bethany Wright, to the mysteries of human anatomy with its clever design and annotated lift-up flaps that allow readers to explore the wonders hidden beneath our skin.

Saving Celeste – When Celeste comes into the 14-year-old narrator’s classroom everything changes. After she suddenly disappears, the boy (we never know his name), finds her weak and sick with strange markings on her body. This is a wonderful allegorical tale from French author Timothée de Fombelle, with a pacy translation from Sarah Ardizzone. Celeste is mirroring what is happening to the planet. Definitely a fable for our time.

 

Books Reviewed Jan/Feb2023

 

Under 5 Category

Perfect Presents! – “You’re a very hard person to buy for, but have I got the perfect thing for you!” a delighted gecko tells his hard-to-please friend. “Perfect presents”, says the friend.  “Just to my taste!” This charming little hardback gift comic by German author and illustrator Anke Kuhl, translated by Melody Shaw, has minimal text and delightfully, cheeky artwork. (Gecko Press)

When Little Owl Met Little Rabbit – Little Owl and Little Rabbit live in the same oak tree but have never met.  As they grow up, they become curious about each other. This sweet story by Polish author Przemyslaw Wechterowicz, translated by Polly Lawson, embraces difference and the importance of friendship. Accompanied by engaging and humorous illustrations by Polish illustrator Emilia Dziubak. (Floris Books)

6-8 Category

A Pack of Your Own by award-winning Swedish author and illustrator Maria Nilsson Thore, translated by A. A. Prime, is a clever and hilarious story about friendship in a dog’s world. The artwork beautifully enhances the story as the dachshund struggles to change in order to fit in and be accepted by the other dogs.  (Pushkin Children’s Books)

The Last Rainbow Bird – If Professor Feather is unable to find a mate for the Rainbow bird, the rarest bird of all, its kind will become extinct so Jo and Alex decide to set out by riverboat on a quest to find this rare bird. Norwegian author and illustrator, Nora Brech was inspired by her fascination with birds and a childhood of being taught about animals by her biology-professor father and her vibrant illustrations capture the magnificent kaleidoscopic colours of the Rainbow Bird. (Floris Books)

Life With My Dragon – Following on from the stylish and funny How to Light Your Dragon French author Didier Lévy and illustrator Fred Benaglia don’t disappoint with this second entertaining and hilarious offering. Lévy combines humour with an underlying serious message of the importance of loving unconditionally and together with Benaglia’s illustrations this is a striking and witty book. (Thames & Hudson)

Mina Belongs Here – Mina is worried about starting kindergarten in her new country. Everything feels strange and unfamiliar but gradually by listening to her new friends, stories and songs in this unfamiliar language, she tries out the new sounds and begins to use them more and more until one day, Mina realised that all these new words feel like her own.  An uplifting story by German author Sandra Niebuhr-Siebert, translated by Polly Lawson, and illustrated by Lars Baus, explores how sharing a language can encourage a sense of belonging. (Floris Books)

The Bear and the Wildcat – After eleven years and by popular demand, this stunning picture book by Japanese author Kazumi Yumoto with its exquisite translation by Cathy Hirano and delicate charcoal artwork by Komako Sakai has been reissued. “One morning Bear was crying.  His best friend, a little bird, was dead”.  When Bear’s friend Little Bird dies, he’s inconsolable.  Best known for her young adult fiction, Yumoto has written a moving picture book with such depth and empathy.  It is both astute and sensitive as it deals with bereavement, loss, loneliness, and depression showing shows that there is a way through Bear’s paralysing grief whilst at the same time demonstrating the uplifting story of friendship and new beginnings. (Gecko Press)

9-11 Category

GlowrushesEleven-year-old Madurer is very ill and destined to remain within the walls of his windowless rooms as every trace of sunlight or dust can harm him. His devoted father commissions a renowned landscape painter Sakumat to come and show his son the world by creating murals on the walls of his son’s rooms. This novella is considered to be Italian author Roberto Piumini’s masterpiece, first written in 1987, and now available in English, translated by Leah Janeczko. A modern classic it is a tale that is universal and can be read by anyone of any age. Not only is it a beautiful story of friendship, but it also deals with, love, the fear of loss, mortality, and the wonders of life itself. (Pushkin Press)

 

Books Reviewed Dec22

Under 5 Category

Let’s Play, Little Rabbit is another interactive board book by German author and illustrator Jörg Mühle, translated by Catherine Chidgey, in his bestselling series about the lovable Little Rabbit. Little Rabbit, plays all the games that toddlers love and the simple concept will allow for plenty of interaction.
(Gecko Press)

6- 8 Category

A Swallow in Winter: A Christmas Miracle – Award-winning French author Timothée de Fombelle has written a beautiful atmospheric modern classic story, translated by Sarah Ardizzone and rich haunting illustrations by Thomas Campi. A timeless story that brims with humanity as it tackles modern-day issues such as loneliness, seeking to belong and compassion and kindness. (Walker Books)

Arabic Folktales: The Three Princes of Serendip and Other Stories – Award-winning author Rodaan Al Galidi makes his children’s book debut with this beautiful collection of twenty retold folk tales and fables, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson, which he heard as a child growing up in Iraq. (Walker Books)

My GrandMom is based on Korean author and illustrator Gee-eun Lee’s relationship with her own grandmother when she was growing up. Translated by Sophie Bowman it’s a story infused with warmth and love between Grandma and Gee-eun complimented by colourful child-like artwork.  (Amazon Crossing Kids)

Pop-Up Forest – A magnificent Pop-up book that allows the reader to discover the wonders at the heart of a forest. The text by French author Fleur Daugey, translated by Matthew Clarke, is accompanied by five glorious pop-ups with vibrant illustrations by Tom Vaillant together with the exquisite paper engineering by Bernard Duisit. (Thames & Hudson)

9-11 Category

Around Antarctica - This unusually shaped non-fiction picture book by Russian author Tania Mevedeva with artwork by Maria Vyshinskaya explores the frozen south of Antarctica. The unique design of the book in an arc shape with foldout pages is made very accessible and packed with information based on scientific sources and studies. (Thames & Hudson)

Oskar and the Things – Oskar is spending the summer with his grandma. After discovering he’s left his mobile phone at home, he creates an imaginary one out of a block of wood and this is when his adventure begins. An original and quirky chapter book about the power of a child’s imagination. Written by Estonian author Andrus Kivirähk, expertly translated by Adam Cullen, and with artwork by Anne Pikkov, it is full of humour and inventiveness. (The Emma Press)

12+ Category

William Wenton and The Luridium Thief, William Wenton and the Secret Portal and William Wenton and the Lost City are three titles from a thrilling fantasy series about twelve-year-old genius code-breaker William by Norwegian author Bobbie Peers, translated by Tara Chace. These fast-paced adventures, full of twists and turns will have the reader hooked from the very first page. Cleverly conceived plots that have impossible puzzles to solve, sophisticated technology and a futuristic world full of cybernetic creatures, bloodthirsty robots and challenging evil forces that William must overcome.  (Walker Books)

 

Books Reviewed Nov22


Under 5 Category

Do You Want A Hug? - This is a charming and engaging book by French author Olivia Cosneau with a simple question-and-answer text - Do you want a hug … with a different reply for each of the animals on the opposite page. Accompanied by brightly coloured illustrations by Bernard Duisit and pull tab and pop-up elements show how everyone sometimes needs a cuddle. (Thames & Hudson)

Is It Just Me? - This is a hilarious picture book tackling an embarrassing issue.  Japanese author and illustrator Shinsuke Yoshitake has created a witty and original picture book, translated by Rico Komanoya, which has laugh-out-loud moments. With simple, expressive language and a mix of pen-and-ink and watercolour artwork, it shows how important it is for a child to question what is happening to them and to find the answers. (Thames & Hudson)


6-8 Category

A is for Bee: An Alphabet Book in Translation - What letter does the word bee start with? To English speakers the answer is B but in many other languages, it is something completely different. This is US-based printmaker Ellen Heck’s debut picture book which turns the usual animal alphabet picture book on its head. Heck’s eye-catching artwork introduces an array of different languages to a young audience in a fun and original way. (Pushkin Children’s Books)

See our interview with Ellen Heck this month.


The Moon of Kyiv
- In 1955, beloved Italian author Gianni Rodari wrote this beautiful poem that reminds us all about our shared humanity and is an apt reminder that we all share one world. It is complemented by Beatrice Alemaga’s gorgeous illustrations using a palette of colours mirroring the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag showing solidarity with the people of Ukraine. (Walker Books)

What Feelings Do When No One’s Looking - This very unique and original book by Polish author Tina Oziewicz has an evocative way of capturing different emotions and is beautifully executed. The flowing poetic text is a delight to read, and the few words are powerful and combined with Aleksandra Zając’s stunning pen and ink fine-lined artwork with different shades of grey with the occasional hint of muted colour makes this book a joy to read. (Pushkin Children’s Books and Elsewhere Editions, USA)


12+ Category

You Don’t Know What War Is: The Diary of a Young Girl from Ukraine – On Thursday 24 February 2022 twelve-year-old Yeva Skalietska is woken up by the sound of terrifying explosions.  Though there have been rumours about a war between Russia and Ukraine, few truly believed that it would happen. The next twelve days will change Yeva’s life forever. Throughout it all, Yeva keeps a diary, translated from Russian by Cindy Joseph-Pearson, and it’s a compelling true story of the war in Ukraine seen through her eyes. An intensely powerful and moving book – one that should be read by everyone. (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

 

Books Reviewed Oct22


Under 5 Category

My Hands - French-Tunisian graphic designer and illustrator Néjib takes young readers on a wonderous exploration of the many amazing things we can do with our hands. An ideal book for parents and carers to share with their children as they learn to appreciate how important their hands are. (Red Comet Press)

Shani Chickens - Shani lives in her ramshackle cottage on the beach at Cei Bach with a cockerel and nine hens. She enjoys two visits a day from Mr Morgan and loves to sing songs and tell stories. Based on a real-life story from the 19th century it has been written in Welsh by Morfudd Bevan and translated by Peter Stevenson with evocative illustrations from Valériane Leblond. (Y Lolfa Cyf)

6-8 Category

Albie On His Way - Jutta Bauer is one of Germany’s best-loved authors and illustrators and winner of the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Medal. This beautiful story demonstrates the importance of kindness and being true to oneself. For kind-hearted Albie, the narrator of the story, it’s not the journey that changes his life, but those he meets along the way. (Red Comet Press)

The Ape Star - Lovely, uplifting story from award-winning Swedish author Frida Nilsson who has written an unconventional chapter book, translated by Julia Marshall, about a Gorilla who adopts a child, the narrator Jonna.  Full of gentle humour both in the dialogue and characterisation it explores adoption, friendship, prejudice, injustice and seeing things from a different perspective. (Gecko Press)

Free Kid Good Home by Japanese author and illustrator Hiroshi Ito has been a best-seller in Japan for over thirty years. In this first, carefully crafted English translation by Cathy Hirano, Ito provides an engaging and unusual twist on sibling rivalry taking a child’s impulse to run away from home to a comical extreme.  The story is further enhanced by the expressive comic-style illustrations in simple black and red pen and ink.  A book guaranteed to capture the hearts of a whole new audience of English-speaking readers. (Gecko Press)

Ghoulia: Making New Friends Can Be Scary by Italian author and illustrator Barbara Cantini is the perfect read for Halloween and any other time of the year. A story that brilliantly promotes diversity, this is a book about friendship but also about being scared of not being accepted for who you are. The vivacious illustrations full of humour, colour and detail will endear readers to Ghoulia and her quest to find friendship. (Amulet Books)

Letters to Anyone and Everyone - This charming and extraordinary collection of unusual stories by one of the Netherlands’ most celebrated writers Toon Tellegen, translated by Martin Cleaver and illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg, was first published in English in 2009. In this stylish new edition, the short stories in the form of 23 letters written by a whole host of animals, capture the imagination and transport the reader to the enchanting realms of make-believe. (Boxer Books)

 

Books Reviewed Sept22

 

Under 5 Category

A Perfect Wonderful Day with Friends - German author/illustrator Phillip Waechter’s exquisite pen and ink and watercolour artwork capture a carefree summer’s day with a group of friends. This is a beautiful picture book with its gentle humorous story and dialogue, translated by Melody Shaw, that builds up from each friend needing help from the other to all of them enjoying a spontaneous and delightful day out in each other’s company. (Gecko Press)

Lionel Eats All By Himself and Lionel Poops are part of a fun-loving board book series about an overenthusiastic and impulsive lion called Lionel. French author and illustrator Éric Veillé’s pithy creations for toddlers, translated by Daniel Hahn, with its amusing text and colourful expressive artwork will have young readers (and their parents and carers) enjoying Lionel’s antics as he learns how to eat by himself and to find the right place to poop in. (Gecko Press)

Who’s Hiding? - This bestselling colourful look-and-search puzzle book, created by Japanese artist Satoru Onishi, was first published in 2008. This interactive book with simple cartoon animals has now been reissued in a sturdy board book edition for a whole new audience to enjoy. (Gecko Press)

Wooolf! is the latest title in the worldwide bestselling series by Stephanie Blake, translated by Linda Burgess, about Simon, the cheeky and mischievous little rabbit. Simon only does what he wants and this lovely take on the classic ‘cry wolf’ story is funny and engaging with its surprising twist at the end.
(Gecko Press)



6-8 Category

A Dream of Birds - Sara has inherited her love of birds from her grandfather and from seeing the wonderful show the creatures put on in his yard each day. When Sara discovers a new birdhouse full of parakeets in someone’s yard, she decides to take drastic action. This charming poetic story by Mauritian author Shenaz Patel, translated by Edwige-Renée Dro, is set on the African island of Mauritius with rich artwork provided by French illustrator Emmanuelle Tchoukriel that vividly brings to life the beautiful birds from the island.
(Amazon Kids Crossing)



12+ Category

A superb masterpiece of storytelling, Red Stars is an incredibly powerful and poignant novel by Italian author Davide Morosinotto, with a stunning translation by Denise Muir.

Twelve-year-old twins Viktor and Nadya are hurriedly evacuated from their home in the city of Leningrad when war is declared in 1941. Amid the chaos of the evacuation, they are separated and assigned to different trains which set the scene for Nadya and Viktor to each record their own extraordinary adventures in notebooks given to them by their father. Morosinotto cleverly combines the history of the second world war, in particular, the siege of Leningrad with an insight into the oppressive surveillance of the Soviet Union at the end of the war in 1946. (Pushkin Press)

Sally Jones and the False Rose - Swedish author and illustrator Jakob Wegelius has created another richly detailed mystery novel, excellently translated by Peter Graves, starring the lovable animal heroine, Sally Jones. Wegelius immerses the reader in Glasgow’s murky underworld of danger and intrigue as Sally Jones tries to solve the mystery of a curious rose-shaped necklace found hidden inside the steering wheel of the Hudson Queen. Striking atmospheric black and white illustrations help set the scene and there are plenty of twists and turns with a new set of characters to make up this masterful story full of adventure, treachery and powerful friendships. (Pushkin Children’s)

14+ Category

Sometimes there are little-known stories from history that need to be told and The Edelweiss Pirates by German author Dirk Reinhardt, skilfully translated by Rachel Ward, is certainly one such instance. This novel relates a much-neglected element of teenage resistance to the Nazis in Germany during the second world war.  A gripping story and sometimes difficult to read at times, particularly the brutality that these young people suffered at the hands of the Gestapo, allows their courageousness and bravery to shine through the narrative as they refuse to be indoctrinated and forced to take part in an ideology that they don’t believe in. A forgotten account consigned on the sidelines for too long, Reinhardt has written an intensely insightful and harrowing story that needed to be told. (Pushkin Press)

 

 

Books Reviewed Aug22

 

6-8 Category

Saving the planet can seem like a daunting task. This is why books like I Have the Right to Save My Planet are important as children will be able to understand what the issues at hand are, why it is important to take action, and how to go about actually making a difference. Written by French author Alain Serres, translated by Shelley Tanaka and illustrated by Aurélia Fronty, this book is part of a series: I Have the Right to Be a Child and I Have the Right to Culture. (Groundwood Books)

I Have the Right to Culture, written by French author Alain Serres, translated by Shelley Tanaka and illustrated by Aurélia Fronty, is part of a series: I Have the Right to Be a Child and I Have the Right to Save My Planet.  This particular book emphasises the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child—specifically the parts that speak directly about culture and asks us to consider culture as something that makes our world incredibly special. (Groundwood Books)

In Impossible, by Argentine author Isol and translated by Elisa Amado, two-and-a-half-year-old Toribio is a terror to his parents. So, when they see the advert for Mrs Meridien’s service, they give her a call right away and ask for help. What makes Impossible a fun read is its magical twist that you would never predict at the beginning of the story, sported by eye-catching illustrations of charcoal, ink, and digital collage. (Groundwood Books)

What happens when the big bad wolf enters your house and compromises the safety of the people living there, destroying more than just the foundation of the tangible house itself? The Big Bad Wolf in My House is a paragon of a modern fable, using the big bad wolf as a symbol for a domestic abuser. Created by the Canadian team of author Valérie Fontaine, illustrator Nathalie Dion, and translator Shelley Tanaka, the book transforms the villainous wolf from The Three Little Pigs into another type of monster that is now being talked about more in the 21st century. A must-read for anyone who has experienced domestic violence and knows anyone else who has, or needs to be aware of what it looks like. (Groundwood Books)

Have you ever had to readjust your plans? The very flexible, adaptable ladybug in A Perfect Spot (written in French by Isabelle Simler and translated into English by Vineet Lal) has to readjust her plans when finding a safe spot to lay her eggs. After all, each time she finds a place, she finds other inhabitants in the area! Simler creatively integrates science lessons into the story, teaching about different types of insects—where they live, how they act, and what they eat and her illustrations are full of textures and layers, making the readers feel like they are in nature following along with the ladybug’s journey. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)

Our words are powerful, whether we know it or not. In The Book That Kibo Wrote, Kibo is a typical rhino who has a special affinity for his savanna. It’s no wonder why, in this touching book written by French author and illustrator Mariana Ruiz Johnson, translated by Lawrence Schimel and accompanied by the vivid warm colours in the illustrations allows Kibo’s story to travel all around the world allowing his words to be meaningful in different ways to each reader. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)

The following two titles are already on the website but here are two new reviews for the US editions.

I Have the Rights to Be a Child

AaaHHH

 

Books Reviewed July22

 

9-11 Category

The Clever Little Tailor - When robbers attack coachmen on the road to his town, Shnayderl (which means “little tailor”) volunteers to drive a merchant’s wagon and devises a clever plan to outwit them. Soon he becomes known throughout the land as the ‘Clever Little Tailor’ for his ingenious solutions. Deeply rooted in Eastern European Jewish folk tales, Yiddish author Solomon Simon’s collection of nine stories, written in 1933, are witty, imaginative and timeless, now available in English and translated by his grandson David R. Forman. A bilingual edition in English and Yiddish. (Kinder-Loshn Publications)

Greek Myths and Mazes – is an ingenious book by Polish author and illustrator Jan Bajtlik, translated into English by Zosia Krasodomska-Jones, which has greatly oversized pages, and is riddled with routes and roads that twist and turn while telling the just-as-twining stories of Greek mythology. Readers will transform into explorers, learning stories while simultaneously navigating the mazes. As an educational tool, this book teaches about “gods, heroes, fantastic creatures, and historical events" and transports the pages into “the Olympic games, a Greek theater, and the Athenian Acropolis". (Candlewick Press)

The King of the Copper Mountain - These beautifully poignant sets of stories can be read by any age. Beloved old King Mansolain has reigned for a thousand years and his health is failing. The only way to keep him alive is for the animals of his kingdom to tell him a story each night until a cure can be found. This international bestseller by Dutch author Paul Biegel is a timeless classic, written in 1933, and translated by Gillian Hume and the author himself with accompanying expressive black and white illustrations by Sally J. Collins and an introduction by Leonie, Paul Biegel’s daughter. (Pushkin Children’s Books)

Lena, the Sea, and Me, as the sequel to Adventures With Waffles US edition and Waffle Hearts UK edition, by Norwegian author Maria Parr, translated by Guy Puzey, tells a compelling coming-of-age story which continues to follow best friends Trille and Lena in their beloved coastal town of Mathildewick Cove. While some things stay the same, Parr introduces new characters and there’s lots more amusing and dangerous episodic adventure at the sea—each of them soaked with emotion. (Candlewick Press)

The Secret Life of Cricket Karlsson - This is a delightfully quirky and funny contemporary read.  Swedish author, playwright and artist Kristina Sigunsdotter has written a refreshing and liberating story, translated by Julia Marshall, about growing up and pre-teenage angst.  “I’m 11 years old and my life is a CATASTROPHE,” says Cricket in the first few pages of this diary-style narration. It’s funny but also deceptively profound as the reader follows Cricket as she tries to cope with what life throws at her giving this novel a sense of grittiness. Witty black and white illustrations are provided by artist and cartoonist Eriksson which have a very graphic novel feel. (Gecko Press)

The Story of Babur: Prince, Emperor, Sage - This is a lively retelling of the Baburnama, the first true autobiography in Islamic literature, originally written by the founder of the Mughal Empire king Babur (1485-1530). Written by Nepalese children’s author Anuradha, it has been adapted for younger readers (Key Stage 2). An absorbing and engaging read narrated by Babur as he charts his life, not only his successful conquests but also shows him to be a wise ruler well-versed in statecraft as well as a cultured and erudite man. Accompanied by sumptuous illustrations by award-winning artist Jane Ray. (Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers Ltd)

 

Books Reviewed June22

 

Under 5 Category

Before We Sleep – All that matters to Little Red the fox is being with his best friend Hazel the dormouse.  As the leaves winter approaches Hazel must hibernate and Little Red will be left all alone. A lovely whimsical story by Italian author Giorgio Volpe, translated by Angus Yuen-Killick, with expressive artwork by Paolo Proietti about the importance of friendship and being there for each other. (Red Comet Press, USA)

The Friendship Surprise – In this follow-up story by Italian author Giorgio Volpe, translated by Angus Yuen-Killick and illustrated by Paolo Proietti, spring is fast approaching and Little Red is looking forward to being reunited with his best friend Hazel as she emerges from her hibernation, but he is harbouring a secret.  (Red Comet Press, USA)

Imagine! Rhymes of Hope to Shout Together – From the unique voice of Italy’s beloved children’s poet Bruno Tognolini, skilfully translated by Denise Muir, come twenty-four thought-provoking rhymes of hope for the future with subject matter that veers between fun-loving and serious desires. Giulia Orecchia provides accompanying colourful collage-style artwork.
(Red Comet Press, USA)

Little Owl – While we’re asleep during the night, owls are awake. In this board book story by German author and illustrator Britta Teckentrup, readers follow along with the eponymous Little Owl’s journey with her parents. A perfect book for a toddler to read right before bedtime. (Orca Book Publishers, USA)

Little Squirrel – If you’ve ever spent time in a treehouse before, have you imagined what life could be like in the treetops? In this board book story by German author and illustrator Britta Teckentrup readers can follow Little Squirrel who is something of an expert in treetop life! (Orca Book Publishers, USA)

The Most Important Thing - In this charming picture book, by Italian author/illustrator Antonella Abbatiello, adapted and translated by Angus Yuen-Killick, all the animals have very different ideas of what is the most important thing. With repetitive text and witty artwork, this book conveys a lovely message that celebrates being different. (Red Comet Press, USA)

Olivia from Olivia Wrapped in Vines gets anxious in all sorts of situations and the worst part is the vines that grow around her body. Even worse: it’s only Olivia who can see the vines. Written in French by Canadian author Maude Nepveu-Villeneuve and translated by Charles Simard accompanied by the compelling artwork of Sandra Dumais, this is a story about anxiety manifested in a tangible way. (Orca Book Publishers)


6-8 Category


A Journey of 600 Inches by Chinese author Zhang Xiaoling, translated by Helen Wang, and illustrated by Yan Qing is part of the Cardinal Media Hopeful Picture Book series showing the pandemic through a child’s eyes. Maisie and Paul have been left to fend for themselves while their parents work at the hospital. Confined to stay inside they decide to measure the inside of their home, discovering it is 600 inches. This seems incredibly big to Maisie and Paul especially as they magically shrink to the size of ants! (Cardinal Media, USA)

Pablo Neruda, the late Chilean poet’s Book of Questions, Selections was his last work of poetry completed before his death in 1973. 39 of the 74 poems he wrote are represented in this version, all present in vastness, open-endedness, and immense creativity—nothing like the more mundane questions we think of on a daily basis. Translator Sara Elisabeth Paulson and Chilean illustrator Paloma Valdivia help the words of Neruda come to light bringing his genius to a whole new generation of English-speaking readers. (Enchanted Lion, USA)

Bright in the Night - Swedish author and illustrator Lena Sjöberg takes the reader on an amazing journey through the natural and human world to show that night is not always as dark as we first thought providing an illuminating look at what really is out there in the pitch black. (Thames & Hudson)

The Empty Bowl  is another title in the Cardinal Media’s Hopeful Picture Books series, showing the pandemic through a child’s eyes. Written by Chinese authors Ai Wener and Xi Huo, translated by Helen Wang, and illustrated by Xing Huo, this story is about a dog who lives on the streets and his isolation and hunger as fewer and fewer people pass by because of the onset of the pandemic. (Cardinal Media, USA)

Chinese author Zhao Ling’s Grandpa’s 14 Games, translated by Helen Wang, and with lively illustrations by Huang Lili, tells the story of a little girl playing make-believe for 14 days with her grandpa. Every day, the little girl has something to look forward to, distracting herself from the fear of the new virus. Grandpa’s 14 Games is part of Cardinal Media’s Hopeful Picture Books series, showing the pandemic through a child’s eyes.
(Cardinal Media, USA)

Henry in It’s Me, Henry!  has a gift of knowing everything about plants, including all of their scientific names. Henry’s hyper fixation on plants, while originally rejected by his peers, becomes useful when taking a school trip to The Botanical Garden as they end up learning a lot of new knowledge due to Henry being in his element. Written in French by Canadian author Stéphanie Deslauriers, translated by Geneviève Després and cleverly illustrated by Geneviève Després. (Orca Book Publishers, USA)

it’s so difficult – It’s fairly common to turn to books to escape from the difficulties of everyday life. However, sometimes doing so causes the reader to ignore their true feelings. For those who find life to be difficult, this is the best book to read to feel less alone. Spanish author and illustrator Raúl Nieto Guridi’s story, translated by Lawrence Schimel, spotlights a main character who writes in the first person, talking about how overwhelming and anxiety-provoking daily life can be.
(Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, USA)

My Favorite Memories – If you had to make a list of your favorite things, what would they be? The main character in German author Stepideh Sarihi’s story comes up with a list of favorite things—both big and small—but the twist is that her family is moving, and she tries to come up with ways to bring all of her favorite things to her new house. Translated by Elizabeth Lauffer and illustrated by Julie Völk, this story is all about how memories, tangible things, and change overlap. (Blue Dot Kids Press, USA)

No One Is Angry Today - Acclaimed master storyteller Dutch author Toon Tellegen has created some wry and thought-provoking stories, translated by David Colmer. Following on from The Day No One Was Angry this second title contains ten short stories that each deal with the theme of anger and how the forest animals explore an often-misunderstood emotion. French illustrator Marc Boutavant has created another set of expressive watercolour illustrations to accompany Tellegen’s philosophical tales. (Gecko Press)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice - This classic and much-loved story based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's original poem written in 1791 and inspired by a story told to him by his maid, is re-imagined by Dutch author and illustrator Gerda Muller with warm and lively illustrations full of charm and detail. (Floris Books)


9-11 Category


The Sky - In this large-format fact-filled information book with text by Juliette Einhorn, acclaimed author and illustrator Hélène Druvert’s clever and intricate laser cuts and stunning illustrations will take the reader on a journey up, up and away through the clouds to explore the massive expanse of what we see when we look out and up – the Sky. (Thames & Hudson)

The Trans-Siberian Railway - This large-format non-fiction picture book written by Russian author Alexandra Litvina, translated by Jane Bugaeva, and with meticulous pen and ink and watercolour illustrations by Anna Desnitskaya, takes the reader on a fascinating train journey from Moscow to Vladivostok – the Trans-Siberian Railway – the longest train journey in the world. (Thames & Hudson)

12+ Category

The Pearl Whisperer is the first book in a four-part series Song of the Eye Stone. Narrator Miranda is a skilled pearl fisher and when a once-in-a-generation proclamation by the Queen “Whosoever finds the eye stone shall be paid seven-fold its worth in gold” it’s a challenge she cannot resist. However, she wasn’t anticipating having to take the young talkative Syrsa on her mission. Soon it becomes apparent that Syrsa has a rare talent as a pearl whisperer and they are not the only ones searching for the eye stone. Finnish Swedish-speaking author Karin Erlandsson has woven a fantastical tale, skilfully translated by Annie Prime. (Young Dedalus)

The Bird Master  is the second in the four-part series Song of the Eye Stone by Finnish Swedish-speaking author Karin Erlandsson, translated by Annie Prime. After their failed quest for the eye stone, Miranda and Syrsa have settled in a northern port town in their new woodcutters’ community. However, their quiet life is interrupted when the normally shy Dagpies begin to attack the population. Miranda knows it can only be the work of one person, Iberis who is now in possession of the eye stone.
(Young Dedalus)

 

Books Reviewed May22

 

Under 5 Category

Leilong’s Too Long! – Following on from the bestselling Leilong the Library Bus this charming and amusing story by Taiwanese author Julia Liu, translated from Chinese by Helen Wang, is about a friendly dinosaur who only wants to help but ends up needing a little assistance himself. The crayon and watercolour illustrations from illustrator Bei Lynn have an appealing simple child-like quality. (Gecko Press)

6-8 Category
 
Bibbit Jumps is a delightful chapter book of short stories about a very energetic little frog who loves to jump although he’s not always very brave by Taiwanese author and illustrator Bei Lynn, translated from Chinese by Helen Wang with lovely playful watercolour illustrations. (Gecko Press)

Daniel and Ismail - An unusual multilingual book, first written in Spanish by Chilean author Juan Pablo Iglesias and translated into English by Ilan Stavans, into Hebrew by Eliezer Nowodworski and Frieda Press-Danieli and into Arabic by Randa Sayegh. Daniel and Ismail share the same birthday, they have each been given a precious gift from their families – Daniel a tallit shawl and Ismail, a keffiyeh patterned scarf – and each has a brand-new football. After playing in the park together they each mistakenly take the other’s gift home and struggle to understand the significance of their inadvertent swap. Accompanied by bold Charcoal illustrations by Alex Peris on rich primary colour backgrounds.
(Yonder, Restless Books, USA)


Jacob’s Fantastic Flight - Jacob is no ordinary boy, he can fly! Jacob originally intended to use his flying powers to forgo taking the plane on a family vacation, but he ends up using his powers to help a bird in need. The heart of the story, by German author and illustrator Philip Waechter, translated by Elizabeth Lauffer, is Jacob’s benevolence, saving the missing bird Hubert from a bird-catcher. With magical illustrations in Japanese ink and crayons. (Blue Dot Kids Press, USA)

Lentil Soup - Written in French by Canadian author Carole Tremblay and translated into English by Charles Simard and illustrated by Maurèen Poignonec, Lentil Soup is a silly but informative story about the ingredients in lentil soup—and there is even a recipe for the soup at the back of the book! Readers laugh along with the funny ideas, like carrots being from the claws of fire dragons, celery being from two people in the jungle named Henry and Celine combining their names, and tomatoes being from the noses of clowns that have gotten too big. (Orca Book Publishers, USA)

Raymond the Buffalo—originally written in French by Lou Beauchesne and then translated into English by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli and illustrated by Kate Chappell, is a book-within-a-book story and recounts Gilbert’s special attachment to his own book, also called Raymond the Buffalo, and the eponymous character Raymond’s attachment to his owner, Gilbert. (Orca Book Publishers, USA)

9-11 Category

In the case of reading If My Moon Was Your Sun, listening to the audiobook while following along with the text, is the ultimate experience. Attached in the back of the book is a CD narrated by Brett Barry, telling the story of Max kidnapping his grandfather (who is suffering from the “Great Forgetting”) from his nursing home and going to Blossom Valley, accompanied by the dancing, eccentric, bird-like Miss Schneider. A touching story loaded with pastoral imagery by German author Andreas Steinhöfel and translated into English by Matthew O. Anderson. (Plough Publishing House, USA)


 

Books Reviewed April22


Under 5 Category

Bedtime, Not Playtime! – When it’s time for bed, it can get frustrating if not everyone in your house is just as tired as you. Part of the Rainbow Family Board Books Series by Lawrence Schimel with English and Spanish editions, Bedtime, Not Playtime!  is an early readers’ board book with rhyming text and illustrations by Latvian illustrator Elīna Brasliņa. (Orca Book Publishers, USA)

Boo! – there are some scary-looking sights in this flip-flap Pop-Up book by French author Janik Coat with illustrations by Bernard Duisit.  It’s full of surprises when young readers lift a flap or pull a tab. As it turns out there’s no need to be scared though as the animals are just having fun at a fancy-dress party. (Thames & Hudson)

Early One Morning – Sometimes, the most exciting part of the day is when you just wake up and feel nothing but anticipation for a really great day ahead of you. Part of the Rainbow Family Board Books Series by Lawrence Schimel with English and Spanish editions, Early One Morning is an early readers’ board book with rhyming text and illustrations by Latvian illustrator Elīna Brasliņa. (Orca Book Publishers, USA)

Lisette’s Green Sock – A real feel-good story, full of gentle humour about the importance of friendship and sharing by award-winning Dutch author and illustrator Catharina Valckx, translated from French by Antony Shugaar. The lovely, bright watercolour illustrations are sure to endear Lisette to young readers as they follow her on her quest for a missing sock. (Gecko Press)

6-8 Category

In 1001 Ants readers can discover everything they want to know about ants in this charming, illustrated non-fiction picture book by Polish author and illustrator Joanna Rzezak. The text, translated from French, is lively and engaging and packed with fascinating facts and the colourful detail in the artwork provides plenty to look at too. (Thames & Hudson)

Garden Jungle – Here’s another stunning, intricate masterpiece from French author and designer Hélène Druvert. Tom discovers that his garden has transformed into a dazzling jungle in this beautifully crafted book with intricate laser-cut pages of enchanting illustrations and amusing rhyming text. (Thames & Hudson)

Levin the Cat in the book Levin the Cat (written by Chinese author Tao Jiu and translated into English by Helen Wang), is a playful cat with a mind of his own. Although he likes being home alone, he can get lonely and his life changes when his owner Jane cannot come home for a while because she is working in the isolation unit at the hospital. Part of Cardinal Media’s series called Hopeful Picture Books, showing the pandemic through a child’s eyes with illustrations by Yang Shanshan. (Cardinal Media, USA)

The Mask That Loved to Count, originally written in Chinese by author/illustrator Luo Xi and translated to English by Helen Wang, has many feelings associated with the world-changing pandemic. An unusual story about the effects of the pandemic on the social and emotional well-being of masks themselves! Part of Cardinal Media’s series called Hopeful Picture Books, showing the pandemic through a child’s eyes. (Cardinal Media, USA)

Mom is Hiding – Within Cardinal Media’s series of books that show the pandemic through a child’s eyes called Hopefully Picture Books, Mom is Hiding tells the story of Nina’s mom who isolates herself because of potential COVID exposure at the grocery store. Written by Chinese author Qian Mo and translated into English by Helen Wang and illustrated by Zhou Yi. (Cardinal Media, USA)

Prudence and Her Amazing Adventure – Prudence’s parents are calling her to hurry up as it’s time to go but Prudence would much prefer to have a wild and exciting adventure instead. This superb creation from French author and illustrator Charlotte Gastaut is so apt at capturing the vividness of a child’s imagination. By the clever use of graphics and vibrant artwork, interspersed with cut-outs and semi-transparent pages this picture book is sure to enrapture young readers as they follow Prudence on her fantastical adventure. (Thames & Hudson)

Sato the Rabbit: A Sea of Tea – Even though the title of the third Sato the Rabbit book is called Sato the Rabbit: A Sea of Tea, there are many more adventures within just this one short story, other than just being in a sea of tea. Michael Blaskowsky’s English translation of Japanese author Yuki Ainoya’s words say it best: romanticizing your life in simple day-to-day activities, such as making a cup of tea, can turn anything magical and each of Ainoya’s illustrations perfectly captures the essence of each episode of Sato’s journey. (Enchanted Lion, USA)

The Secret Life of Farts – This is a riotous and hilarious picture book by Finnish author Malin Klingenberg written in Swedish. The rhyming couplets are perfectly captured by A. A. Prime and together with the outrageously comical illustrations by Sanna Mander, it is sure to provide plenty of laughs for children (and adults!) as it sets out to make fun of the unspoken world of flatulence. (Pushkin Children's Books)

Telling Stories Wrong – There are some stories, especially fairy tales and fables, that everybody knows—sometimes, any deviation from the original version of the story can seem like treason to one who knows the story. In Italian author, Gianni Rodari’s Telling Stories Wrong, translated by Antony Shugaar, the story of Little Red Riding Hood is being told all wrong! This story is taken from the classic Telephone Tales, a collection of Italian bedtime stories. Beatrice Alemagna’s illustrations contribute to the light nature of the story, containing lots of fun geometric shapes, like dots, to capture the entirety of a picture. (Enchanted Lion, USA)


Books Reviewed March22


Under 5 Category

Elephant Island is another clever and hilarious creation from Belgian author and illustrator Leo Timmers, with the English text by James Brown. As with all of Timmer’s books Elephant Island has layer upon layer of discovery. The illustrations are intricate and packed with detail so readers will have great fun following a shipwrecked Elephant’s antics as he builds a magnificent island. (Gecko Press)

It’s My Rubber Bandi is a charming picture book by Japanese author and illustrator Shinsuke Yoshitake, translated by Sofiane Kohen. An original story with simple, expressive language and a mix of pen-and-ink and watercolour artwork which shows the importance for a child of having something of their own. (Thames & Hudson)

Never, Not Ever! – Here’s another brilliant creation, translated by Jill Davis, from award-winning author and illustrator Beatrice Alemagna. She has taken the everyday problem for parents of trying to persuade a reluctant child to go to school for the first time and turned it on its head with this hilarious story about five-year-old Pascaline the pink-winged bat who refuses to go. (Thames & Hudson)


6-8 Category

All’s Happy That Ends HappyDani can usually be happy about almost anything.  Sometimes she’s happy just because she isn’t unhappy and even while she is in hospital, she is still working out how to make everyone happy! This is the seventh Chapter book about Dani by Swedish author Rose Lagercrantz, translated by Julia Marshall and illustrated by Eva Eriksson, and it’s still as fresh, humorous and insightful as the very first title. (Gecko Press)  

Bedtime for BoWhen bedtime rolls around, it can be hard to say a quiet goodbye to an exciting day—this is something that the little boy Bo feels right before bedtime. Norwegian author Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold's story, translated by Kari Dickson, has Bo’s Mommy translating his silliness leftover from the day into bedtime adventures, complete with imaginary animals to help him in winding down. Accompanied by gorgeous illustrations by Mari Kanstad Johnsen. (Enchanted Lion)

Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Day – This oversized picture book from French author and illustrator Claude Ponti is a truly scrumptious offering. Translators Alyson Waters and Margot Kerlidou have captured Ponti’s playful wordplay and humour so superbly in this story about the making of a larger-than-life cake. (Elsewhere Editions)

The Day Saida Arrived by Spanish author Susana Gómez Redondo, translated by Lawrence Schimel, tells the story of Saida, a Moroccan girl who moves to a part of the world where Arabic is not spoken as the primary language anymore. A tribute to languages and multilingualism, Sonja Wimmer’s illustrations fill each picture with motion and a certain wind that blows around colourful words of different shapes and sizes, culminating with both the English and Arabic alphabets at the end of the book. (Blue Dot Kids Press)

Every Color of Light, written by Japanese author Hiroshi Osada and translated by David Boyd, is all about the natural beauty of the sky. There is no way that those enjoying this book would not get swept away by illustrator Ryōji Arai’s stunning artwork of realistic yet fantastical that portrays the entity of the sky. (Enchanted Lion)

FeatherThis insightful story by French author and illustrator Rémi Courgeon, translated by Enchanted Lion’s publisher Claudia Zoe Bedrick, turns stereotypical expectations on its head. Her protagonist, Paulina, (or Feather, as everyone calls her), is inspired by powerful women from history – Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Nellie Bly, Anna Lee Fisher and Sally Ride – to help her prove herself as powerful to those who belittle her. (Enchanted Lion)

It’s OK, Slow Lizard – Slow Lizard always manages to find a solution to help his forest friends and this charming book by Korean author Yeorim Yoon, translated by Chi-Young Kim, and illustrated by Jian Kim demonstrates the importance of kindness and friendship and how Slow Lizard develops mindful ways of helping others. (Yonder, Restless Books)

The Mermaid in the Bathtub – A delightfully absurd reimagined contemporary take on the classic Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid.  Israeli author and illustrator duo Nurit Zarchi and Rutu Modan have created an off-beat story, translated from Hebrew by Tal Goldfajn, full of wry humour and surreal artwork. (Yonder, Restless Books)

My Life at the Bottom: The Story of a Lonesome Axolotl – At the bottom of a lake in a busy city, the axolotl narrator lives a happy life. But soon everything begins to change. As the world gets hotter and hotter, the water gets murkier and murkier and his friends start to disappear to live on land. This bittersweet tale, by Nordic author Linda Bondestam, translated by A. A. Prime, shows how climate change is destroying the axolotl’s habitat. (Yonder, Restless Books)

The Tale of the Tiny ManThis much-loved classic Swedish picture book written in 1979 by award-winning author Barbro Lindgren is a celebratory edition, translated by Julia Marshall and with new illustrations by Eva Eriksson. A beautiful story that shows how important friendship is to someone who is lonely and how animals can provide fun and companionship. (Gecko Press)

When Spring Comes to the DMZSometimes when conflict and bad things happen between adults, it can be hard to imagine how the rest of nature (including animals) will be impacted. Korean author and illustrator Uk-Bae Lee translated Chungyon Won and Aileen Won has created a lively picture of the wildlife sanctuary in untouched habitat closed off by razor wire in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. (Plough Publishing House)


9-11 Category

Bruno the BeekeeperIf anyone wants to learn about what it means to be a beekeeper and harvest honey, they should skip the textbook and follow the anthropomorphized Bruno the bear and Grandma, who take care of the bees and the honey-making process through each season by Czech author and illustrator Aneta Františka Holasová and translated by Andrew Lass. (Candlewick Press)

Niños: Poems for the Lost Children of ChileIn Chilean author María José Ferrada’s book translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel, readers learn upfront that 34 children under the age of 14 disappeared and were arrested and executed during the 17 years of dictatorship in Chile that started in 1973. On each page, a child’s name appears with a snippet of their most delightful musings, alongside María Elena Valdez’s softly-coloured illustrations. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)


12+ Category

The Blue Book of Nebo, a multi-award-winning YA novel by Welsh author Manon Steffan Ros, who translated it into English, is a chillingly honest story about a global catastrophe particularly apt for today’s world.  Dylan, who shares the narration with his mother, Rowenna, was only six when ‘The End’ came in 2018. The electricity went off for good, and the 21st-century world as he knew it completely disappeared.  Somehow, he and his mum survived in their isolated hilltop house above the village of Nebo in north-west Wales. This is a story of survival against all the odds and the strong emotional bond between mother and son, their tenacity and determination to survive together with a zest for life. (Firefly Press)

 

Books Reviewed in Feb22

 

Under 5 Category

Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites - Building on the popular concept of opposites Italian author and illustrator Tullio Corda’s delightfully original and fun tale full of visual clues about two unlikely playmates – Cat and Dog – as they romp through the pages in a variety of scenarios. (Red Comet Press)

Evie and the Strawberry Surprise - Evie’s magic wand has mysteriously gone missing and what’s more, her prized delicious strawberries have turned blue. So just what is going on in Berry Woods? Here’s another appealing tale about Evie, the feisty and determined Strawberry Fairy by German author/illustrator Stefanie Dahle, translated by Polly Lawson and with vibrant hand-drawn illustrations. Other titles reviewed on the website are Evie and the Strawberry Patch Rescue (2018) and Evie and the Strawberry Balloon Ride (2019). (Floris Books)

 

6-8 Category

Almost Nothing, Yet Everything: A Book about Water is structured as a poem about water conveying its beauty and magnitude more through the visuals than the words. Written in Japanese by Hiroshi Osada and translated into English by David Boyd, this picture book pays tribute to water, a major part of Japan’s culture. The poem travels through the pages as it muses about this wonderful entity, but what really draws the reader in are Ryōji Arai’s dazzling illustrations. (Enchanted Lion)

How War Changed Rondo – Everything is normal until a whisper arises in the town named Rondo that “war is coming.”  As of early 2022, war has come to Ukraine, and explaining what is going on to children can be very difficult. Luckily, Ukrainian authors/illustrators Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv, with the help of translator Oksana Lushchevska, make the concept of war more palatable by introducing the town of Rondo, where the flowers sing, and the three friends Danko, Fabian, and Zirka in the story. As war comes to Rondo, the residents learn that “war touched everyone” and “war has no heart.” (Enchanted Lion Books)

In the Meadow of Fantasies – Seven white horses appear to be galloping as they dangle from a mobile in mid-air while a young girl, lies on her bed gazing intently up at them. Iranian author Hadi Mohammadi has created a wonderful flight of imagination, translated from Persian by Sara Khalili, that is a mix of part poem and part folk tale. Its dream-like quality with a lyrical and simple repetitive narrative along with the appealing illustrations by Nooshin Safakhoo makes this beautiful story one to savour.  (Elsewhere Editions)

My Grandma’s Photos – Ali’s grandma is very frail; she doesn’t hear or see very well and she gets very confused and often cannot remember things.  Ali spends time with his grandmother going through her old photographs trying to work out who is in the black and white pictures. Turkish author Özge Bahar Sunar’s lovely gentle picture book, translated by Amy Marie Spangler, is about creating memories across the generations – for Ali’s grandma whose memory is fading and for Ali, the narrator of the story, who now has new memories to treasure. (Amazon Crossing Kids)

One Day – For anybody, dealing with loss is a very difficult thing to do; it is a hard concept to grasp. Korean author Lee Juck is a singer-songwriter and lets the line “Grandpa is gone” serve as the chorus, always returning between the lines of the first-person main character trying to grapple with where their grandpa went. Translated by a team of translators (Asuka Minamoto, Lee Juck, and Dianne Chung) and illustrated by Kim Seung-youn, One Day portrays the honest themes of loss that can resonate with anybody who has dealt with this confusing part of life. (Enchanted Lion Books)

Playing With Lanterns – It is Chinese New Year and Zhao Di is looking forward to going out each night to celebrate with her colourful paper lantern. Every night, until the fifteenth day of New Year, Zhao Di will take part in this fun tradition until the final night when it’s time to smash the lanterns! Chinese author Wang Yage’s charming book, translated by Helen Wang and illustrated by Zhu Chengliang is about the Chinese New Year folk tradition from the Shaanxi province in northwest China. (Amazon Crossing Kids)


9-11 Category


Telephone Tales, a classic tale written in 1962 by the renowned Italian author Gianni Rodari, is a collection of 70 of these bedtime stories transmitted through telephone calls by the travelling accountant Signor Bianchi to his daughter. Whether read straight-through or by flipping through to a random page to find a story, children and adult co-readers can share the joy of telling silly bedtime stories, as created by the travelling Italian accountant. Published in a new English translation by Anthony Shugaar in 2020, Telephone Tales has been acclaimed for being the winner of the 2020 Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ English Translation Prize, as well as the winner of the 2021 Mildred L. Batchelder Award. (Enchanted Lion Books)

The Three Water Drop Brothers – teaches a science lesson in the most engaging way. Author Lee Eun-he herself is a scientist, and translator Asuka Minamoto interprets her lesson from Korean into English. From the creation of the earth and its very first features and creatures to the introduction of the three water drop brothers whose adventurous journeys allow them to experience different characteristics associated with water, demonstrated by the use of paper collage and printmaking in the illustrations by Yoon Mi-sook.


12+ Category

Dragonfly Eyes by Chinese author Cao Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang is a novel of such depth and richness that is beautifully captured in the English translation. Spanning 50 years this lyrical story is set in France and China and follows Du Meixi, a Chinese man from Shanghai, his French wife Océane (known as Nainai) and their family. Although it doesn’t focus specifically on historical events these are an important backdrop to a very powerful and emotive story that has at its centre, the strong bond between Ah Mei and her feisty grandmother Nainai. (Walker Books)

 

 

The 2022 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for children's books in translation

 


Winner of the 2022 Batchelder Award

Temple Alley Summer is an imaginative and multi-layered story from Japanese author Sachiko Kashiwaba, translated by Avery Fischer Udagawa, combining eerie suspense that will have the reader hooked from the very first page as it explores the power of friendship in a world where the dead come back to life. With expressive black and white illustrations from award-winning Japanese illustrator Miho Satake. (Restless Books)


2022 Batchelder Honor Books

In the Meadow of Fantasies by Iranian author and illustrator Hadi Mohammadi and Nooshin Safakhoo, and translated from Persian by Sara Khalili. (Elsewhere Editions)

The Most Beautiful Story - The complexity of bereavement should not be a reason for children to avoid reading and talking about the concept of death and Norwegian author Brynjulf Jung Tjønn, translated by Kari Dickson, takes a different approach showing that storytelling is a valid and key method of keeping memories alive. Together with the simple black and white doodles to the dream-like pops of colour artwork by Øyvind Torseter which carries readers along with abstract ideas. (Enchanted Lion)

Coffee Rabbit Snowdrop Lost – In Danish author Betina Birkjær’s story translated by Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov and illustrations by Anna Margrethe Kjærgaard, readers follow Stump through navigating his grandfather Kaj’s onset of dementia. Stump’s handling of Kaj’s dementia—as his box of his grandpa’s lost words reminds him of how Kaj “used to be” —can serve as inspiration to any child struggling with a similar difficult situation. (Enchanted Lion)

Sato the Rabbit – “One day, Haneru Sato became a rabbit. He’s been a rabbit ever since.” In the first of three ‘Sato the Rabbit’ stories, Michael Blaskowsky translates Japanese author Yuki Ainoya’s magical landscape powered by imagination. Young readers will relish in the dreamy images of endless possibilities. (Enchanted Lion Books)

The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas by Mexican author and illustrator María García Esperón and Amanda Mijangos, and translated from Spanish by David Bowles. (Levine Querido)

Read the blog from worldkidlit

 

Books Reviewed Dec21/Jan22

 

6-8 Category


Cherry Blossoms and Paper Planes – Dina and Adin, two friends are separated when Adin’s mother gets a job in the city, so he has to move from the fruit farm where he was neighbours with Dina. In Polly Lawson’s English translation of Belgian author Jef Aerts’s picture book, we not only read about separated friends but about perseverance and continued friendship during that separation. Sanne te Loo’s hand-drawn illustrations from gouache and pen bring readers right into the fruit farm and city settings throughout different seasons.
(Enchanted Lion)


Coffee Rabbit Snowdrop Lost – In Danish author Betina Birkjær’s story translated by Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov and illustrations by Anna Margrethe Kjærgaard, readers follow Stump through navigating his grandfather Kaj’s onset of dementia. Stump’s handling of Kaj’s dementia—as his box of his grandpa’s lost words reminds him of how Kaj “used to be” —can serve as inspiration to any child struggling with a similar difficult situation.
(Floris Books)


Inside the Suitcase - This cleverly conceived novelty book by French writer and artist Clotilde Perrin, translated by Daniel Hahn, is full of mystery and puzzles. An enchanting and sophisticated book, it has 35 lift-the-flaps that will take the reader on a magical journey full of twists and turns where the protagonist faces obstacles and decisions to make that will lead to new adventures and finally help him to return home. (Gecko Press)

 

Mister Fairy – In the forest, there are all kinds of fairies who have their own special talents except for Mister Fairy, who cannot do anything remotely magical despite his best efforts. This quirky picture book written by French author Morgane de Cadier, adapted and translated by Angus Yuen- Killick and illustrated by French illustrator Florian Pigé is a lovely, gentle tale with striking illustrations and an important message about finding a place in the world. (Red Comet Press)

 

The Most Beautiful Story - The complexity of bereavement should not be a reason for children to avoid reading and talking about the concept of death and Norwegian author Brynjulf Jung Tjønn, translated by Kari Dickson, takes a different approach showing that storytelling is a valid and key method of keeping memories alive. Together with the simple black and white doodles to the dream-like pops of colour artwork by Øyvind Torseter which carries readers along with abstract ideas. (Enchanted Lion)

The Secret of the Magic Pearl – is a welcome addition to the chapter book genre with its blend of a refreshingly unique story by Italian author Elisa Sabatinelli, making her children’s book debut, translated by Christopher Turner with luscious artwork by Italian artist Iacopo Bruno. Hector, the narrator of the story, dreams of becoming a deep-sea diver like his father and grandfather before him and on taking his first deep-sea dive, he stumbles upon a rare magic pearl and this is just the beginning of his problems! (Red Comet Press)


The Stone Giant is a truly exquisite tale by Swedish author/illustrator Anna Höglund who acknowledges that her inspiration came from a classic tale by renowned author/illustrator Elsa Beskow. Presented as a small gift book, the text, translated by Julia Marshall, is sparse but impactful and the artwork has a beautifully ethereal and eerie quality.
(Gecko Press)

 


9-11 Category


Fossils from Lost Worlds is an attractively designed and illustrated book that tells you everything you want to know about fossils and much, much more. With a clear and concise format French author/illustrators Héléne Rajcak and Damien Laverdunt, translated by Daniel Hahn, provide a fascinating insight into palaeontology told through a mixture of comic-style layouts, colourful illustrations and data. (Gecko Press)

 

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