I will never forget being asked by a German once about which German books I’d read. I was studying in the Crimea at the time, and it was a legitimate question. I’d just said I was a literature major.
“Have you read Goethe?”
I had not. For my “reading degree,” we stuck to the American and British classics, except for forays in the Odyssey and Dante. But German literature?
His comment made me think.
But I think the same phenomenon continues. American books get sold all over the world, but it’s rare to see books from other countries even in translation here.
So, today I’m highlighting a few kidlit books I’ve enjoyed in translation.
An Innocent Soldier by Joseph Holub (He's a Czech author, but the book was originally in German.) A German farmhand is conscripted into Napoleon's Grand Armee to brutally march to Russia in 1811. There's few books in English about this time period, and even fewer for kids.
A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux (France) After the Soviet Union collapses, a young boy, along with Georgia, his guardian, leave Georgia for France. I featured this book in this post. A lovely, thoughtful book.
Ruby Red by Kersten Gier (Germany) A time travel fantasy series about a teen girl who takes a spin through time to 18th century England. This book has everything: time travel, teen angst, romance. A fun read.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke While there are many books about characters from books entering the real world or vice versa, this book is one is a classic and one of the best. The world building alone is amazing.
The Apprentice Pilar Molina Llorente (Spain)--A thirteen year old apprentices to a moody, vengeful painter during the Renaissance. My son enjoyed getting an insider view of the Renaissance.
Jane, the Fox, and Me (French Canadian) I reviewed this more in depth here, but this is a contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre in graphic novel format!
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Have you read any books in translation that you've enjoyed?
To check out more Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.