Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu

“I am, because you are.”

Ubuntu is more than just a word; it’s a philosophy. It’s an African ideal that speaks to the concept of community as a building block of society; we share a bond as humans that connects us all. Author Refiloe Moahloli and illustrator bring that idea to life in their picture book, I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu.

I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu, by Refiloe Moahloli/Illustrated by Zinelda McDonald,
(Feb. 2021, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542035668
Ages 4-7

Originally published in South Africa in 2020, I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu is filled with inspiring, powerful messages that all come back to an essential element: I am you. I love you, and I love myself. By caring for you, I care for myself; to hurt you is to hurt myself. Refiloe Moahloli tells her story in simple, uncomplicated, evocative verse, repeating this simple and dynamic idea. Zinelda McDonald’s digital illustration shows children of all color interacting with one another; they hug, they ride bikes, they share laughs, warmth, and friendship, illustrating the idea of caring as community. A breathtaking spread shows a tree hosting life above and below ground, and a child hugs it, becoming part of nature’s web: we are connected to each other, and that includes every living thing.

An essential book for readalouds and collections, I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu is a gentle voice encouraging unity in an increasingly divisive time. A gorgeous marriage of verse and illustration that you and your readers will turn to again and again. Read it to babies, read it to children, read it to adults.

I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

★“[Refiloe] Moahloli’s work makes for a stunning picture book for young readers and their grown-ups that focuses on our shared sense of community…. Celebrates our shared humanity and the strength in treating others with love and respect. A recommended first purchase.” School Library Journal (starred review)

“An edifying, unifying picture book that’s much needed in these divisive times.” Kirkus Reviews

 

Refiloe Moahloli is a bestselling South African picture book author. She is passionate about writing stories that bring out the best in the human spirit. She spent the early part of her career in the corporate world, but an eye-opening assignment to Mumbai led her to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time writer. She currently lives and works in Johannesburg. Learn more at refiloemoahloli.com, and follow her on Instagram @RefiloeMoahloli.

Zinelda McDonald is an award-winning South African illustrator who lives in Wellington in the Western Cape of South Africa. She has illustrated numerous children’s books and is also a well-known designer and illustrator of children’s book covers. Awards for her work include the Alba Bouwer Prize and the Exclusive Books IBBY SA Award. Follow her on Instagram @Zinelda.

One lucky winner will receive a copy of I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses).  If you’ve won a Rafflecopter giveaway in the last six months, please don’t enter again: give someone else a chance! Thanks so much! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!
Posted in picture books

Blog Tour and Giveaway: My Grandma’s Photos

The latest children’s book to hit American shores, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids, is the beautiful and poignant My Grandma’s Photos, originally published in Turkey in 2019.

My Grandma’s Photos, by Özge Bahar Sunar/Illustrated by Senta Urgan,
Translated by Amy Marie Spangler
(Jan. 2022, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542031158

Ages 5-8

Seen through a child’s eyes, My Grandma’s Photos is the story of an aging grandmother, a grandchild, and a group of old photos that transports Grandma from her chair back into her robust, joyful life. She takes Ali, her granddaughter, into this beautiful world with her, and Ali sees her grandmother’s life unfold before her eyes: family picnics, climbing trees, becoming a master seamstress, falling in love and marrying Ali’s grandfather. It’s beautiful and moving; at moments, it brings on the tears, but they’re cleansing, renewing. Grandma lives her life once again and Ali finally sees her grandmother’s vibrant, full life as she’s never done before.

 

Senta Urgan’s artwork captures the essential moments, using pastels and collage to create living photos that exist outside the borders to reach out and draw both Grandma and Ali into their world. The artwork is the heartbeat to this fantastic story; Urgan uses real photos and illustrates a world around them, blending them together with photos and sketches, to create a dreamlike landscape where readers can play along with the characters. An essential story to have on hand to give to readers who may have aging family members.

 

 

“A gentle book about remembering, as well as grieving, a life well lived.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“This depiction of a tender, loving relationship is touched with magic, and Ali’s participation in his grandmother’s experiences brings them both much joy.” ―Booklist

“[A] beautiful, heartfelt story about loss and love.” ―School Library Journal

One lucky winner will receive a copy of My Grandma’s Photos, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

Özge Bahar Sunar is a former teacher turned children’s author. She has written multiple picture books, including the bestselling The Hedgehog and the Exhibit, illustrated by Ceyhun Şen, which was translated into seven languages. Sunar lives with her two children in Antalya, Turkey, where she loves to think up new stories while hiking in the wild. Find her on Instagram @ozgebaharsnr.

Senta Urgan is a graduate of Mimar Sinan University, where she studied sculpture. Since 2010 she has been illustrating books for children, including picture books and novels, and also works as a graphic designer. She is the founder of the brand Mala Hermana Handmade, where she exhibits her illustrations and ceramic art. Find her on Instagram @toporulkesindekikes.

Amy Marie Spangler is a cofounder of Istanbul-based AnatoliaLit Agency, and a commercial and literary translator with numerous books and short stories to her credit. Find her on Twitter @Amy_Spangler.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Welcoming the New Year with a blog tour: Playing with Lanterns

Hi, all! I hope you all had a happy and healthy holiday season and are ready for a hopeful New Year. I’ve been sick (not THAT one, just an awful cold) for the last few days, so my triumphant return to blogging has been waylaid a bit, but I’m back, medicated, and rested.

My first post of the New Year is also about a New Year: Lunar New Year! Playing with Lanterns is a new book from Amazon Crossing Kids, translated from Chinese, about a group of children and their special New Year lanterns.


Playing with Lanterns, by Wang Yage/Illustrated by Zhu Chengliang,
Translated by Helen Wang, (Jan. 2022, Amazon Crossing Kids),
$17.99, ISBN: 9781542029841
Ages 4-7

Zhao Di and her friends are so excited to celebrate Lunar New Year! They run, dance, and play together, waving their colorful lanterns each night until the last night – the 15th day of the New Year – when they smash their lanterns! But Zhao Di doesn’t want to smash her lantern just yet. That would mean the New Year celebrations are over, after all; or what if it’s not the right time yet? That would bring bad luck!

Originally published in China, Playing with Lanterns is such a wonderful winter story about childhood and tradition. Back matter includes an author’s note about the tradition of smashing lanterns, and the story reads at times like verse, at times like a folk tale, creating a wonderful atmosphere for readers and making this a great readaloud choice. Colorful artwork decorates the text and sets warm atmosphere in the middle of winter, with colorful lanterns, clothing, warm fires, and cheery homes. For a colorful lantern craft that can easily transition into a grab-and-go, visit First Palette.

 

“A colorful wintry tale ushers in Chinese New Year over two weeks…A charming illustration of childhood memories during the holiday season.” Kirkus Reviews

“Quiet, elegant passages stud the text…Tenderly detailed gouache paintings by Zhu render the children as small, patterned bundles frolicking against expanses of snow…A quiet celebration of a Northwestern Chinese tradition.” Publishers Weekly

Wang Yage was born in Shaanxi, a central and historical province of China, where the custom of playing with lanterns was once a popular Chinese New Year tradition. A doctor of classical Chinese literature, she teaches at the University of Tibet. Playing with Lanterns is her first picture book. First published in China, the book made the prestigious White Ravens international book list.

Zhu Chengliang is an award-winning Chinese illustrator. Born in Shanghai and raised in Suzhou, he studied at the Department of Fine Art, Nanjing University, and has worked as an author, illustrator, editor, and designer. He was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2016, which is the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books. His books have been named one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books by the New York Times and to the IBBY Honor List.

Helen Wang is a writer and translator from the UK. In 2017 she was given a Special Contributor of the Year honor as part of the Chen Bochui International Children’s Literature Awards for her work in bringing Chinese children’s literature to English-speaking audiences. Wang has translated novels, picture books, and graphic novels, including Cao Wenxuan’s Bronze and Sunflower, which won the Marsh Christian Award for Children’s Literature in Translation.

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Playing with Lanterns, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

 

Posted in picture books

A Sari for Ammi: Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Amazon Crossing Kids is doing such a wonderful job of bringing global children’s stories to U.S. shelves. I have loved every single book I’ve been lucky enough to read so far and am in love with the newest picture book, A Sari for Ammi by Mamta Nainy and illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat.

A Sari for Ammi, by Mamta Nainy/Illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat,
(Nov. 2021, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542035071
Ages 5-8

A young girl sees her mother weaving beautiful saris, and wants desperately to see her mother wear one of her beautiful creations, so sets to planning with her sister on making money to buy Ammi – mom – a gift: one of her own saris. Set in India’s Kota district, in the town of Kaithoon, sari weaving is a family affair: Abba, or dad, dyes the threads; Amma weaves, and the girl and her sister, Sadaf, help weave. The saris are beautiful, but Ammi, dependent on the income that selling the saris brings, won’t wear any for herself. The two enterprising sisters find ways to earn enough money to buy Ammi their loving gift. Beautifully vibrant, with cartoon illustrations and rich patterns and texture, A Sari for Ammi is a visual feast. The story is wonderful, with bold purple words standing out to introduce readers to new vocabulary, colors, and excited exclamations. The story itself brilliantly depicts the love and desire to do something for their mother, tallying up how much they earn and what those earnings can by each time, as they work their way up from a dupatta (a scarf or shawl) to a sari.

A Sari for Ammi introduces us to a a part of India rich in history and famous for its saris, and illustrates a Muslim-Indian family is a loving, positive light. Back matter includes a word on the saris of Kaithoon and a glossary.

Kirkus Reviews has named A Sari for Ammi as one of their 16 Best Books to Read in November.

 

 

“This delightful picture book shines a spotlight on a rural, underrepresented Indian Muslim community.” Kirkus Reviews

Mamta Nainy is a children’s writer, editor, and translator based in New Delhi, India. She is the author of many children’s books, including A Brush with Indian Art, illustrated by Aniruddha Mukherjee, which won the Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Award in 2019; and Bioscope, illustrated by Shanti Devi, which was named to the IBBY Honor List in 2012. Follow the author on Instagram @mamtanainy.
 
Sandhya Prabhat is an independent animator and illustrator from Chennai, India, who resides in the United States. She has a master’s degree in animation and digital arts from New York University. She has illustrated nearly a dozen picture books, including her recent book I Am Brown, written by Ashok Banker. She animates for TV and movies and creates content for social media websites such as Facebook, Google, and Snapchat. Follow the artist on Instagram @sandhyaprabhat.

 

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of A Sari for Ammi, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, picture books, Preschool Reads

Back to School Giveaway! Win Magic Candies OR Once Upon a Camel!

What better way to get ready for back to school than with a new book! I’ve got one copy of MAGIC CANDIES by Heena Baek and one copy of ONCE UPON A CAMEL by Kathi Appelt – a little something for everyone!

PLEASE NOTE, these are TWO separate raffles. There will be TWO winners; this is not a bundle raffle. You are more than welcome to enter both raffles, but there will be two different winners. Gotta share the book love!

SO! That said, if you want to enter the raffle for Heena Baek’s MAGIC CANDIES, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

 

If you love camels, and want to take a chance on Kathi Appelt’s ONCE UPON A CAMEL, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

 

Good luck to all!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Magic Candies by Heena Baek

I’m sorry I missed a day! We had intermittent Internet outages in my neighborhood, courtesy of Hurricane Ida, but that was the only problem we had. We’re safe and sound, and I hope you all are, too. But now… back to the books!

Today, I’ve got a blog tour for you, and it is a good one. I give you… MAGIC CANDIES!

Magic Candies, by Heena Baek/Translated by Sophie Bowman,
(Sept. 2021, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542029599
Ages 3-7

Originally published in South Korea, Magic Candies is the story of Tong Tong, a shy young boy who plays marbles by himself… until he eats magic candies he buys at a candy store. Suddenly, Tong Tong hears voices everywhere – his couch, his dog, his overbearing father’s unspoken affection, even his dead grandmother! Hearing these voices leads Tong Tong to a new understanding and a new confidence that allows him to seek out a new friend.

The illustration is just incredible. Molded figures, textured scenery, it all gives the reader a feeling of watching a play, being placed in the story rather than passively watching. Tong Tong’s expressions inspire wells of empathy, from the side-splitting hilarity of the sofa’s revelations, to experiencing the heart-swelling joy of seeing him hug his previously assumed distant father, to the bittersweet emotions as he communicates with his grandmother, who assures him that the hereafter is just fine. The book is just a wonderful journey, transporting the reader, along with Tong Tong, to a magical world within our own day-to-day lives.

Magic Candies has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

“Show-stopping spreads by Baek, similar to art by Red Nose Studio, feature molded, emotive figures in meticulously constructed scenery with miniature furniture, photographed under dramatic lighting—an effect startlingly close to animation. It’s a fully realized world that considers discerning meaning and making friends, while offering artwork that lingers in the memory.” Publishers Weekly (starred)
“The enhanced artwork establishes depth and perspective…depictions of facial expressions are skillful and endearing, and the interplay between text and illustrations will cause readers to linger and ponder. An enigmatic, quirky representation of an active imagination in search of understanding and companionship.” Kirkus Reviews
 
“Deeply touching, funny, and incredibly odd, this is the kind of picture book that gets you excited about picture books all over again…Magic Candies is so remarkable…a book that is both about giving voice to the voiceless and finding your own.” —Betsy Bird, School Library Journal
 
Heena Baek is an acclaimed picture book author and illustrator from South Korea. She won the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a huge international award honoring the body of work of children’s book creators. She studied educational technology at Ewha Womans University and animation at the California Institute of the Arts. Utilizing her diverse animation production experience, Heena creates powerful and interesting picture books, often sculpting characters and building sets. She is the author and illustrator of a number of picture books, many of which have been translated and have received awards from South Korea and internationally. Follow her on Twitter @heenastory.
On Instagram: @baekheena
 
Sophie Bowman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, studying Korean literature. She was awarded the ICF Literature Translation Fellowship at Ewha Womans University. In 2015, she won the Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award grand prize for poetry with her translations of Jin Eun-young and co-translated Kim Bo-Young’s I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories. Follow her on Twitter @SophieOrbital.
 
Posted in picture books

The Caiman blog tour and giveaway celebration!

We all know and love our pets: dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles of all sorts… but have you ever heard of having a pet alligator (Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile notwithstanding)? The Caiman is a loving story of a gentle man who opened his heart and his home to an orphaned baby caiman – a river caiman – and received a lifetime of love in return.

The Caiman, by María Eugenia Manrique/Illustrated by Ramón Paris,
Translated by Amy Brill, (July 2021, Amazon Crossing Kids),
$17.99, ISBN: 9781542031585Ages 5-8

 

Set in San Fernando de Apure, a tiny riverside city in Venezuela, the story begins with an orphaned alligator, discovered by a little girl during a game of hide and seek. A jeweler and watchmaker named Faoro offers to take the little alligator – no bigger than the palm of his hand  home, and tells the city’s children they can come visit and play with her whenever they’d like. The alligator, who he names Night for her dark skin, is a star attraction as adults and children alike visit to get a look at the pet alligator, who sleeps in her human’s bed and plays with the children. When Faoro falls in love, he introduces Angela, his intended, to Night, who approves. Years pass in a home filled with love and laughter, but when Faoro falls ill and passes away, Night goes into hiding, grief-stricken, until Angela coaxes her out with song. It’s a beautiful story of the connections we find with nature, often in unexpected moments. Back matter includes photos of the author, who was one of the city children who played with and even rode on Night’s back; bios on the illustrator and José Faoro round out the story.

The artwork is a wonderful mix of black and white and colorful illustration, all contained in the same spreads. Ramón Paris has a vintage feel to his artwork, and infuses the natural world with vibrant color and his human subjects, black and white with colorful clothing, stand out against their backgrounds, making the point that we fit into the world around us, never quite blending in, but living and moving within it.

Amazon Crossing Kids has a gift for finding gems in children’s literature across the globe. Don’t miss this one. The Caiman has a starred review from Booklist.

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Caiman, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

New York Times Globetrotting Pick!

★“The striking illustrations…have a wild and whimsical feel about them, featuring lush foliage and expressive characters, including the eventually enormous caiman. It’s a memorable and unexpected demonstration of the universality of love, grief, and kindness.” —Booklist (starred review)

María Eugenia Manrique is one of the girls portrayed in this story. She rode the caiman when she visited her family in San Fernando de Apure. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. She studied fine art in Mexico City, specializing in xylography and engraving; Eastern painting at Nankín University, China; and sumi-e and calligraphy at the Nihon Shuji Kyoiku Zaidan Foundation in Japan. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. The Caiman is her first children’s book. For more information, visit her website: https://mariaeugeniamanrique.wordpress.com/.

Instagram: @mem.manrique

Ramón París was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and as a child lived in Barinas, a plains state like Apure, where he also heard the story of the caiman. He currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. Hismost recent book for children, Duermevela, was selected for the Bologna Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition. His books have been recognized with honors including Los Mejores del Banco del Libro and  the IBBY Honor List, among others, and they have been translated into numerous languages. Visit him at: ramon.paris.

Instagram: @ramon_paris_ilustrador

Amy Brill’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications including the Washington PostMediumReal Simple, Oprah.com, and One Story. Her first novel, The Movement of Stars, was published by Riverhead Books. A native New Yorker, Amy lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Agnes’s Place

Agnes’s Place, by Marit Larsen/Illustrated by Jenny Løvlie, Translated by Kari Dickson, (March 2021, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542026758

Ages 4-7

Agnes wakes up every day in her familiar home, with her familiar life, but no one said it was always exciting. When you don’t have anyone to play with, and you’re the “only child in a place full of adults who never have time” it can be quite sad. So when a new little girl moves into the building, Agnes is thrilled and sends her a message – it’s really just a drawing of the swings at the park, and the word, “Here!”, but it should get the message across, right? After a few days of waiting, Agnes is disappointed and a little frustrated – not only did the little girl never respond, but now she’s taking over things that Agnes used to do, like play with Amadeus the cat, feed the birds, and fetch Emilia’s newspaper from the mailbox! Will Agnes and the little girl, named Anna, ever meet and get to play together?

Originally published in Norwegian (2019), Agnes’s Place is about so many childhood emotions: the feelings of being sad and ignored by the adults, the excitement and anticipation of making a new friend, and the frustration of feeling rebuffed. But it’s also about how one person can change someone’s life by just showing up: and that’s what Anna does for Agnes. Who knows if Anna understood Agnes’s message? She didn’t sign it or mention where she lived! But when the two finally meet in the building stairwell, all frustration and sadness go out the window, and all it takes is one outstretched hand to bring two children’s lives to a better place. Digital media illustrations are bright and cheerful, showing the two girls living their separate lives in a wash of color, until they meet and enter a fantastic, happy new world where they enter together. A lovely story about the magic of new friends.

A love letter to new friendships and apartment living.” –Kirkus Reviews

Marit Larsen is a Norwegian songwriter and musician. Agnes’s Place, her debut picture book, was first published in Norway and will also be published in Denmark and Italy. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about the author at www.maritlarsen.com.

On Instagram: larsenmarit

Jenny Løvlie is a Norwegian illustrator. Her previous picture book, The Girls, written by Lauren Ace, was the winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. She currently lives in Cardiff, Wales. Learn more about the illustrator at www.lovlieillustration.com.

On Instagram: lovlieillustration

Kari Dickson is a literary translator from Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2020 she won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for best children’s translation for Brown, written by Håkon Øvreås and illustrated by Øyvind Torseter. She holds a BA in Scandinavian studies and an MA in translation.

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

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Posted in picture books

Blog Tour: Some Days

Some Days, by Marís Wernicke, Translated by Lawrence Schimel, (Nov. 2020, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-5420-2251-4

A moving meditation on loss and the need for a safe place, Some Days is a conversation between mother and child. The girl tells her mother about a place in their yard where it’s not cold, where nothing bad can ever happen. As she tells her mother about this place, she reminisces about a man, presumably her father; the two play together and he holds her on his shoulders. Her mother reassures her that the place is always there.
The acrylic illustrations are stunning here. Told in shades of gray, we feel the heaviness, the grief, the two share as they sit at the table. A scarlet sheet represents the daughter’s safe place; her mother’s dress and father’s coat are the same shade of scarlet, showing that they are her safe place. When her mother speaks of a safe place, her color is a murkier green and gold; an emerging grief. The quiet, spare text communicates a feeling of mourning and the promise of a way out, together.
Just a stunning meditation on loss; it doesn’t offer any answers, but understands. Some Days has a starred review from Kirkus.

María Wernicke is an award-winning Argentinian author and illustrator of children’s books. She is a 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee. Her illustrations have been part of multiple international exhibits, including at the Bratislava Biennial exhibition and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, among others. Learn more about the author at www.maria wernicke.blogspot.com.

On Instagram: @wernicke_maria

Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual author and translator, with more than one hundred books to his credit. His children’s books have won a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been selected for lists of outstanding titles by the International Board on Books for Young People. His translated books include Wanda Gàg’s Millions of Cats and George Takei’s graphic novel They Called Us Enemy, among many others. He lives in Madrid, Spain.

★“A gentle model for living while missing a loved one.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This brief, wistful exchange between a mother and her child delivers its emotion between the lines, and Schimel’s translation handles the understatement deftly…Wernicke shows the two twirled up in another set of sheets, looking for the passageway together, in this portrait of a parent who hears and honors her child’s words.” —Publishers Weekly

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Some Days courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction, Intermediate, picture books

Blog Tour- Bear and Fred: A World War II Story

Inspired by the true story of a boy and his teddy bear, this story of survival during the Holocaust is achingly, lovingly translated into English for a new generation of readers.

Bear and Fred: A World War II Story, by Iri Argaman/Illustrated by Avi Ofer/Translated by Annette Appel,
(May 2020, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-542018210
Ages 7-10

Told by Bear, a stuffed toy bear belonging to a young boy named Fred, Bear and Fred tells the story of a young Dutch Jewish boy and his family when they go into hiding as the Netherlands fall under the Nazi shadow. Bear is the only toy Fred takes with him and provides comfort as Fred is shuttled first, to his grandfather, and then to a “nice lady” to stay with when his parents leave and go into hiding elsewhere. When the War ends, Fred and his family reunite, and Bear stays by Fred’s side, until Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, contacts Fred, having heard about his story, and asks to borrow Bear to teach children. In her author’s note, Iris Argaman describes how she discovered Fred Lessing’s story when she saw Bear at Yad Varshem and contacted him, asking to write his story. There’s a photo of the actual Bear.

Originally published in Hebrew in 2016, Bear and Fred tells the story of the Holocaust from a child forced into hiding, without his parents, with only his stuffed bear for company. Having Bear narrate Fred’s story adds a touching depth to the story; it’s the story of a best friend. Moments like having Bear’s paw dry Fred’s tears when he misses his family, or having Bear describe his own feelings of being scared in Fred’s backpack or, the fear of being left behind, provides relatable moments for kids to latch onto and create valuable moments for discussion. Annette Appel’s English translation reads beautifully, with all of the emotion intact. Avi Ofer’s digital illustrations rely on simple colors to tell the story: the characters are grey-blue, washed out figures, with bear’s yellow-brown coloring allowing him to stand out, designating him the narrator, and the family a memory.

A strong book to have in younger historical fiction collections.

 

Iris Argaman is the author of a number of books for children, including Bear and Fred, which was awarded the Yad Vashem Prize in Israel and the Giovanni Arpino Prize for Children’s Literature in Italy. She lives in Israel, where she is a lecturer on children’s literature, holds writing workshops, and writes activity books which promote museum education.

Avi Ofer is an illustrator and animation director born and raised in Israel and now based in Spain. His work has been exhibited in art shows and screened in festivals around the world.

Annette Appel is a translator of books for young readers and truly enjoys the challenge of making stories written in Hebrew accessible to English speakers.

“Translated from Hebrew, it reads seamlessly and beautifully presents a family caught up in war…Without in any manner diminishing the actual horrors of World War II or any current fighting, the author enables a child to grasp in some small manner the impact of conflict on a family. Moving and accessible.” —Kirkus Reviews

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.