WIn her grand-grandfather’s story “Rißaus mit Krabbenbrötchen”, Silke Schlichtmann tells a poor and exciting story about imminent dementia, alternative living ideas and the conflicts and wishes of three generations.
The story is set in the northern German provinces between the old country and the Storm city of Husum. There the author first designs a children’s holiday idyll around the cheerful first-person narrator Jonte, her best friend Schippo and grandpa Peter. When Schippo threatens to spoil the afternoon again with his bad mood and constant nagging about the boring life on the Jonte dike, she flees to her grandfather’s garden. There is almost always cake there, in any case a comfortable porch swing and always a lot of great ideas against boredom and a bad mood.
Equipped with all kinds of exciting objects and a carpenter’s workshop, grandfather Peter’s house and garden are vaguely reminiscent of the quirky Pettersson from the Swedish children’s book series by Sven Nordqvist. Some things about him seem quirky – recently he has even been doing yoga in the garden. However, the small oddities soon prove to be a problem and are the starting point of this exciting children’s novel in which Jonte has to use all his might to prevent Peter from going to the retirement home and the idyll between the dike and grandfather’s garden from being destroyed. Because while Jonte is only a little taken aback when she discovers grandpa’s mobile phone in the refrigerator, her mother Gitte has long since seen the first signs of dementia in his behavior.
With detective skills, Jonte and her older siblings develop a sophisticated and secret grandpa rescue plan, which, however, goes terribly wrong and only makes the situation worse. In the end, Jonte has only one way out: she has to flee with Peter and be away for a few days in order to miss the viewing appointment at the retirement home.
A wonderfully described, extended trip to Husum – the destination of the grandparents’ honeymoon fifty years ago – develops into a fast-paced chase and almost ends in catastrophe until Jonte has no way out and finally tells her grandfather the reason for her trip.
Silke Schlichtmann, known among other things for the children’s book series “Pernilla”, knows how to capture everyday family life with all small and large conflicts and to draw a lively, charming and true-to-life family cosmos in just a few sketches.
A few ingredients such as the words flashing in blue letters and the wonderful illustration of the dike described by the Kiel illustrator Jens Rassmus are enough to draw the reader into the atmosphere of the northern German provinces.
Shrimp Roll is told in retrospect and consistently from Jonte’s point of view, who proves to be a skillful, sometimes a little precocious narrator. That’s not a mistake: In this way, the author always manages to stay on the side of her narrator – some adult logic is lovingly undermined as a result. And so the author cleverly shows the different perspectives and points of view of her characters, who are ultimately all a little bit right.
Silke Schlichtmann: “Root with crab rolls”. Novel. With drawings by Jens Rassmus. Hanser Verlag, Munich 2022. 272 p., hardcover, €15. From 10 years