Emil and the Detectives

Kastner, Erich. Emil and the Detectives. New York: Overlook Press, 2014, 2007.

What a rollicking adventure! This classic novel from Germany – first published in 1929 and now translated into over 50 languages  – tells the story of Emil’s adventures while travelling to Berlin to visit his grandmother. Emil falls asleep on the train and when he wakes up, he discovers all his money has been stolen. Emil is not one to give up. He enlists the help of other boys and catches the thief, much to everyone’s delight. This new translation by W. Martin uses colloquialisms familiar to modern readers and includes an introduction by Maurice Sendak as well as the original line drawings by Walter Trier.

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Escaping…

Cole, Tom Clohosy. Wall. Somerville, Mass.: Templar Books, 2014.
In 1961, families found themselves suddenly separated by the Berlin Wall. East Berlin was under Communist rule and people were not permitted to cross the wall and join their relatives in the West.  In this evocatively illustrated picture book, a young boy is determined to find a way for his family to be reunited. Told from the first person point of view and based on true stories, Wall is recommended for readers 8 years old and up. (Artists interested in seeing how to depict night-time scenes may appreciate analyzing the illustrations which were created digitally but provide ideas for working with pastels.)

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Who will speak up?

Kreller, Susan. You Can’t See Elephants. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015.
Two children are beaten by their parents and no one does anything about it. No one in the neighbourhood says a word. Except 13-year-old Mascha. Sent to live with her grandparents for the summer, she befriends Julia and Max. And courageously tries to rescue them.
This insightful award-winning novel – translated from the German by Elizabeth Gaffney – will appeal to thoughtful readers 11 years old and up. [Brothers and sisters; Child abuse; Germany; Grandparents; Parent and child]

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Lesser, Rika. Hansel and Gretel. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 1999, c1984.
This fairy tale is one the first oral stories collected by the Brothers Grimm in Kassel, Germany. While there are many other versions, this one is closer to the original story from the early 1800s.  Interestingly, there is no stepmother in this story; it is the mother herself who does not want her children. The emotive illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky enhance the dark foreboding storyline as well as the joyous ending.  Highly recommended for ages 6 and up.

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