What do you want, kid?
MWith every question, the child, called “Fips”, becomes more restless. “No,” Fips whispers at first, “No, no” the next time and at a normal volume, then the child “calls,” “screams,” and “roars.” Is it angry, excited, desperate?
Antje Damm’s cardboard picture book leaves that open, as does so much else. The text is brief and consists only of the grandmother’s questions to Fips and the child’s answers. What the child would wish for, if it were allowed to wish for something, asks his grandmother, pointing to this and that, a car, a sibling in a pram or even a seagull – would that be something, being able to fly like that? “No, no, no,” says Fips.
Damm, an award-winning author and illustrator, tells this story primarily in pictures. For this she made and painted wooden backdrops and figures, wonderfully reduced to the surfaces and yet gave the faces an expression that can reflect all changing feelings.
But the child’s wish has long been fulfilled when the grandmother begins to ask. It may be that Fips’ displeasure comes from there.
Antje Damm, “The Desire”; Moritz Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2022, 22 p., br., 12 euros, from 3 years
You have to try everything
Recorder, piano, cello? Anyone who is interested in classical music at all, who takes instrumental lessons and, for example, regularly plays in the orchestra in one of the many music classes in our schools, does not need to be explained to them about these instruments.
But what about kalimba, sitar, theremin? Ole Könnecke, one of the greatest German picture book artists of the present, has collected fifty-two instruments in words and pictures for a children’s non-fiction book, including the four classical human tones, which are also presented. There are drawn animals that show the instrument; the tiger plays the sitar, the eagle the harp, the giraffe the bassoon. The descriptions are concise, informative and full of surprises. There is also a QR code that leads to a YouTube clip where you can listen to the instrument presented.
The result is a hierarchy overthrow and an invitation to try out all the more obscure instruments that may be encountered up close here for the first time.
Ole Könnecke, Hans Könnecke: “Sounds good. 50 instruments and how they sound”; Hanser Verlag, Munich 2022; 112 p., hardcover, 20 euros, from 6 years
A man of three years
When things are going well, the cosmos of a three-year-old is huge, colourful, exciting and, whatever the child throws at it, is shaped by the basic feeling that everything will somehow turn out well.
Dita Zipfel and Finn-Ole Heinrich consistently describe how Bosco Rübe looks like from the child’s perspective in their joint work “Bosco Rübe rast durchs Jahres”, which Tine Schulz illustrated. Kindergarten, breakfast, birthday, visit to the zoo – Zipfel and Heinrich describe the events with the same sense for the spectacular, whether they are taking place for the first time or are part of everyday life.
The result is stories that are meant to be read aloud and present the listener with a child absorbing and responding to the world, noticing what his siblings are like going to school and having no reason why should be different for himself. Only that Bosco transforms the world. Because of him, because of his gaze, she is no longer the same. Showing that is the most beautiful thing about this amazing book.
Dita Zipfel, Finn-Ole Heinrich, “Bosco Rübe races through the year”, with pictures by Tine Schulz; Piggyback in Mairisch Verlag, Hamburg 2022; 80 p., hardcover, 20 euros, from 4 years
Can you steal?
The world is a self-service store, at least for Mister Fox. Every evening he asks his family, the fox wife and the four fox children, what they want for dinner: chickens, ducks, maybe a goose?
Then he goes and fetches what he wants from the surrounding farms. They belong to three unpleasant farmers with the speaking names Mops, Mecker and Mies. And because the three of them are not only stingy and gluttonous or drunk, but also malicious and stubborn, a fight begins between the farmers and the fox, which gradually spreads to the animals of the forest. And by the way, ends with a resounding defeat of the aggressors.