Out of the Mouths of Babes: Young Readers on ‘Children’s Choice’ German Titles

In News by Porter Anderson

‘My favorite page is the one with the butterflies,’ says Lilli in her video review of ‘Greta Go-Lucky’, one of this year’s kids’ books from Germany—ready for grown-up rights buyers.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘I Liked the Illustrations’
In a lively effort to reach across language lines to promote a selection of German children’s books, the Frankfurt Book Fair New York (the parent company of Publishing Perspectives), has enlisted the help of eight bilingual children.

The kids were tasked with choosing and reading books from this year’s Children’s Books on Tour catalogue—rights listings bought by publishers in this promotion with Frankfurt Book Fair. The youngsters were asked to face the camera and describe what they’d read.

These titles can be found in many parts of the world this year at book fairs and trade shows, wherever you see a German collective stand. And one of the useful elements of this on-cam exercise for English-language editors, agents and international publishers is a chance to find out what the target consumers—those kid readers—are saying about them. In case you can’t read the books’ original German, you’ll still be very clear on just what these test readers think.

In a statement about the project, Frankfurt Book Fair New York’s Riky Stock says, “In my opinion, what children like is often universal: humor, good stories, appealing illustrations. The books that these children in New York selected feature these qualities.”

Here’s the full list of available reader-reaction videos.

Our favorite line comes from Leo, who’s in the fourth grade: “I learned that language is important,” he says. “Bad words hurt people’s feelings.”

Somebody get this kid to Washington, please.

Sebastian, second grade, is our reviewer of ‘Mein bestes Fußballspiel! Also fast…’ (‘My Very Best Soccer Game! Almost…’) by Zapf with illustrations by Heiko Wolz. (Carlsen Verlag)

A Dozen German Children’s Books Reviewed

Each title here links to its video:

Greta Gluekspilz. Du bist meine best Freundin (Greta Go-Lucky: You Are My Best Friend) by Sandra Grimm, illustrated by Elli Bruder, Arena Verlag

Das Wimmelbuch der Weltreligionen (The Seek and Find Book of World Religions) by Anna Wills, illustrated by Nora Tomm, Beltz & Gelberg

Tanz der Tiefseequalle (Dance of the Deep Sea Jellyfish) by Stefanie Höfler, Beltz & Gelberg

Die leise Luise (Quiet Luise) by Renus Berbig, illustrated by Anke Kuhl, Beltz & Gelberg

Mein bestes Fußballspiel! Also fast… (My Very Best Soccer Game! Almost…) by Zapf, illustrated by Heiko Wolz, Carlsen Verlag

Krähe und Bär (Crow and Bear) by Martin Baltscheit, illustrated by Wiebke Rauers, Dressler Verlag

Die Reise nach Amerika (Journey to America) by Robert Gernhardt, illustrated by Philip Waechter, Dressler’s ellermann Verlag

Penelop und der funkenrote Zauber (Penelope and the Sparkling Red Magic) by Valija Zinck, illustrated by Anette von Sperber, Fischer Kinder-und Jugendbuchverlag

Udo braucht Personal (Udo Needs Personnel) by Jana Heinicke, illustrated by Joëlle Tourlonias, HABA

Superhelden im Schlafanzug (Superheroes in Pyjamas) by Andreas Hüging, illustrated by Nikolai Renger, HABA

Die Händlerin der Worte (The Word Vendor) by Thomas Lange and Claude Theil, illustrated by Sanna Wandtke, Ravensburger Buchverlag

Neonazi (Neonazi) by Timo F., Arena Verlag [Editor’s note: This book, a serious entry, was read and is discussed on camera by Elizabeth Berman, a rather big kid who works with us at Frankfurt Book Fair New York. All of us at the office are her age.]


About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.