Sonderling Sunday – Momo – Meeting Guido

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at phrases in children’s books and how they’re translated into German.

But today we’ll go the other way! Today I’m looking at one of my favorite children’s books ever, Momo, by Michael Ende, which was originally written in German. So we’ll look at how it was translated into English.

When my family first moved to Germany in 1996, I think it was our second night there when we found a bookstore. I had no idea what to buy — and then I saw a copy of Momo! And realized it was originally written in German and got very excited and purchased it. I also bought a detailed road-and-hiking map of our region that I used over and over and over again, so that was a productive and memorable bookstore visit.

Last time I covered Momo was 2016. We are in Kapitel 4, which in English is just called “Two Special Friends,” but in German is called Ein schweigsamer Alter und ein zungenfertiger Junger (“A silent old man and a tongue-ready young man.”) Now we’re ready to meet Guido, the “tongue-ready” young man. We’re on page 30 in my English edition, Seite 45 in German.

Here’s the first sentence of the next section:
Der andere beste Freund, den Momo hatte, war jung und in jeder Hinsicht das genaue Gegenteil von Beppo Straßenkehrer.
= “Momo’s other special friend was not only young but the exact opposite of Beppo in every respect.”

hübscher Bursche = “handsome fellow”

verträumten Augen = “dreamy eyes”

einen schier unglaublichen Mundwerk
= “an incredible gift of the gab”
(“a sheer unbelievable Mouth-factory”)

Er steckte immer voller Späße und Flausen
= “he was always playing practical jokes”
(“He was always full of jokes and nonsense”)

Interesting. In English his nickname is Guido, but in German it’s Gigi. Probably too feminine-sounding in English.

Fremdenführer = “Guide” (“Stranger-leader”)

Schirmmütze = “peaked cap”

Dichter = “poets”

Reisende = “tourists”

This is fun. There’s a list of Guido’s odd jobs, and some nice long German words are included.

Trauzeuge = “witness at weddings” (Google says “best man”)

Hundespazierenführer = “dog walker”

Liebesbriefträger = “deliverer of love letters”

Beerdigungsteilnehmer = “mourner at funerals”

Andenkenhändler = “souvenir seller”

Katzenfutterverkäufer = “cat’s meat man” (“cat’s-feed-seller”)

Armseligkeit = “poverty”

unermüdlichem Fleiß = “perseverance” (“tireless diligence”)

tadelte = “chided”

Leichtfertigkeit = “irresponsibility”

Gegend = “neighborhood”

tagtäglich = “day by day”

Eroberer = “invaders”

immer zahlreicher = “ever-increasing numbers” (“always number-richer”)

unheimliche Weise = “uncanny knack”

auffielen = “noticed”

die grauen Herren = “the men in gray”

spinnwebfarbenes = “the color of a spider’s web”

auf dem obersten Rand der Ruine aufgetaucht waren
= “peering over the edge of the ruined building”

keine gewöhnliche Kälte = “no ordinary chill”

leise und doch gewaltige Musik = “soft but majestic music”

And the last sentences of the chapter:
Momo machte sich keine Gedanken mehr über die seltsamen Besucher. Auch sie hatte sie vergessen.
= “She thought no more about her weird visitors, and it wasn’t long before she, too, forgot them.”

That finishes out Chapter Four. Lots of phrases here that might be useful on my trip to Germany. I hope I’ll find an Andenkenhändler and get a chance to be auf dem obersten Rand der Ruine aufgetaucht waren.

Until next time! Bis nächste Zeit!

Review of The Bread Pet, by Kate DePalma, illustrated by Nelleke Verhoeff

The Bread Pet

A Sourdough Story

by Kate DePalma
illustrated by Nelleke Verhoeff

Barefoot Books, 2020. 36 pages.
Review written October 2, 2021, from my own copy, purchased via amazon.com
Starred Review

Here’s a fun story about a girl who’s given sourdough starter and told to feed it. They explain that the “bread pet” is alive and gets hungry twice a day. The friend forgot to tell her she could slow down the growth by putting it in the refrigerator.

So the bread pet grows and grows. She has to measure carefully to give it the right amount of flour and water. But soon there are more bread pets all over the kitchen. Time to bake some bread.

When even that doesn’t reduce the bread pet enough, the family thinks of a clever way to let the community center help spread the love.

The interracial family featured in this book has two moms and the illustrations are fun and whimsical with smiling bread pets taking over the kitchen. There’s a recipe for sourdough starter and sourdough bread at the back. There’s lots of math behind the scenes in this story and a graphic illustration of how doubling can quickly get out of hand.

barefootbooks.com

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Review of A Tempest of Tea, by Hafsah Faizal, read by Maya Saroya

A Tempest of Tea

by Hafsah Faizal
read by Maya Saroya

Macmillan Young Listeners, 2024. 11 hours, 2 minutes.
Review written May 8, 2024, from a library eaudiobook.

I put this audiobook on hold because it’s wildly popular with our own public library customers. A Tempest of Tea is a heist novel with vampires.

By day, Arthie Casimir runs an upscale teahouse in the bad part of the capital city. By night, secret panels come open, and it transforms into a bloodhouse serving vampires, so they can sate their thirst with folks willing to be paid for the privilege, or with special coconut-mixed blood drinks. The bloodhouse is illegal, but Arthie has paid informants to warn her before raids so she can put the bloodhouse gear back into hiding.

Arthie’s an immigrant to the kingdom. When she was a child, colonizers killed her parents and took their land. Later on, she teamed up with another young orphan named Jin, and she figured out how to pull a magical pistol from stone and win the respect of the city. (Between her name and pulling the weapon from stone, I expected Arthurian overtones, but didn’t really find any more than that.) Together, she and Jin built up their teahouse and peddle tea and secrets.

But as the story opens, Arthie learns that the future of her teahouse is threatened. A mysterious figure comes and tells her she can save it if she will help him steal some compromising material about the king of the empire — housed in a citadel kept by elite vampires that is opened once a year for an exclusive charity auction.

So that’s the heist novel part. Arthie and Jin assemble a team and lay plans to pull off the heist. Of course things don’t go completely according to plan….

I wasn’t the best audience for this book, because although I do enjoy heist novels, I’m not a big vampire novel fan, and am also not a big fan of blackmailers and others consistently slipping under the law. They gave Arthie strong reasons for her contempt of people in authority, and I was won over to be on her side. My other problem, though, was that the plot was fairly complex and there was a pretty big cast of characters with the perspective switching frequently. I listen to audiobooks while I’m doing other things (makes housework so much more pleasant!), but I think maybe I missed some crucial details and wasn’t following along all that well in the middle. All the same, I wasn’t going to stop listening. And there is an annoying cliffhanger ending, and I think I will be compelled to find out how things turn out. (It’s said to be a duology, so yay, this is the only suspense required.) One of the most delightful things about this audiobook was at the end, they give us a conversation between the author and her husband about the book, which is truly delightful.

If you do like vampire novels or heist novels, and don’t mind a little not-quite-legal dealings from characters who have good reason to be upset with the authorities – then give this book a try!

hafsahfaizal.com

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Review of Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of, by Helaine Becker and Kari Rust

Emmy Noether

The Most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of

by Helaine Becker and Kari Rust

Kids Can Press, 2020. 40 pages.
Review written April 19, 2021, from a library book

I’m always happy to find a picture book biography of a mathematician, and practically over the moon when that mathematician is also a woman!

It’s tricky, though, to write a picture book biography of someone who worked with high-level ideas. Emmy Noether helped Albert Einstein with the equations for his theory of relativity and did her own work that “completely changed our understanding of the universe.”

But the book also explains why most people haven’t heard of Emmy Noether, even though the work she did was ground-breaking and revolutionary.

A big part of that was that she was working in a field that didn’t welcome women at the time, and in order to get to do the work, she had to work behind the scenes – and wasn’t always given credit.

Another part was that she had to flee Germany at the start of World War II and died shortly after she left.

This book does an admirable job simply explaining high-level concepts. It also does a wonderful job getting across Emmy Noether’s exuberant personality and eagerness to talk about math. Here’s a bit after she had finally gotten her degree but wasn’t allowed to be a professor anywhere in Germany:

Emmy loved math so much, she found a way to teach anyway – she did it for free! That let her keep doing the research she loved and come up with new ways to think about and do math.

But just like when she was a student, other mathematicians took credit for her work. Or “forgot” to credit her. They knew they could get away with it; if Emmy spoke up, she could get kicked out of the university, since she wasn’t supposed to be there.

It’s lovely to have a book that shows kids that loving math can be ladylike!

kidscanpress.com

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*Note* To try to catch up on posting reviews, I’m posting the oldest reviews I’ve written on my blog without making a page on my main website. They’re still good books.

Review of Paradise Sands, by Levi Pinfold

Paradise Sands

A Story of Enchantment

by Levi Pinfold

Candlewick Studio, 2022. 40 pages.
Review written January 31, 2023, from a library book
Starred Review

This picture book beautifully continues in the tradition of Chris Van Allsburg, eerie and beautiful and full of magic. It’s not a book for preschoolers, but elementary school students will love the creepy innuendos.

A girl and her three brothers drive off into a desert, singing a nonsense rhyme their mother used to sing for them. Or is it nonsense? The girl notices that they’re doing the things mentioned in the song.

When they find a grand palace, she doesn’t “sip from the chalice” like her brothers do.

And it ends up being up to her to save her brothers.

The art in this book is magnificent and eerie and is perfect for this unsettling adventure.

candlewickstudio.com

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Review of The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James, by Ashley Herring Blake

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James

by Ashley Herring Blake

Little, Brown and Company, 2019. 370 pages.
Review written January 22, 2020, from a library book
Honor Selection of the City of Fairfax Regional Library 2020 Newbery Book Club

I read this book in January 2020 because one of the girls in my Newbery Book Club nominated it as a contender. I was sorry I hadn’t read it sooner.

The book begins as Sunny St. James is ready to have her heart transplant. She has plans for her new life with a new heart: Do awesome amazing things she could never do before; find a new best friend; and find a boy and kiss him.

Well, the first two things are easy enough. Though Kate, her guardian since her mother gave her up when she was four, is very cautious about what she will allow Sunny to do. She’s so used to being worried about Sunny’s heart.

Then Sunny meets Quinn, a girl on the beach who’s visiting for the summer. She will make a wonderful new best friend. She doesn’t know that Sunny’s old best friend told the whole swim team that Sunny sometimes wondered about what it would be like to kiss a girl. Quinn doesn’t know about that, and Sunny makes it clear she’s looking for a boy to kiss. It doesn’t help that the first time Sunny gets near a boy that summer, she accidentally breaks his nose.

But Sunny’s mother also comes around for the first time in eight years when she learns about Sunny’s heart transplant. She wants to get to know Sunny, and Sunny’s not sure about that. But it turns out that her mother isn’t nearly as cautious about what she’ll allow Sunny to do as Kate is.

In tone this book reminded me very much of the author’s recent book, Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, so I wasn’t at all surprised that Sunny might rethink her plan to kiss a boy. So I didn’t get a surprise, but I did like the way the story was carried out with some realistic ups and downs among fallible people trying to love each other well.

This book is the story of a middle school girl trying to figure out life with a new heart. Like Sunny, the book shines.

lbyr.com

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*Note* To try to catch up on posting reviews, I’m posting the oldest reviews I’ve written on my blog without making a page on my main website. They’re still good books.

Review of Nigeria Jones, by Ibi Zoboi

Nigeria Jones

by Ibi Zoboi
read by Marcella Cox

Balzer + Bray, 2023. 9 hours, 50 minutes.
Review written March 22, 2024, from a library eaudiobook.
2024 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner
Starred Review

I wanted to read this book from the minute the publisher sent me an advance reader copy last year. But I was on the Morris Award Committee, so I wasn’t able to fit in very many books that weren’t debut books. When it won the Coretta Scott King Author Award, I was reminded I’d been meaning to read it and got it in my eaudiobooks queue.

Nigeria Jones is a 16-year-old girl who’s been brought up in her father’s Black Liberation Movement. The book opens on July 4th, her baby brother Freedom’s first birthday, and the movement is having a gratitude celebration marking the one-year anniversary that Freedom Sankofa Jones chose them as his family.

Nigeria loves her baby brother, but she wonders if Mama will come to Freedom’s celebration. She left them a year ago, but Nigeria keeps getting glimpses of her. And the movement and life in the Village House has not been the same since Mama left.

When Nigeria learns that her Mama had made plans and filled out an application for Nigeria to attend a private school, Philadelphia Friends School, she knows her father won’t like it. Her father essentially cut off his own sister when she sent her son Kamal to that school. Her father says that schools and hospitals are all run by white supremacists, and they should have nothing to do with them. Nigeria has been home schooled all her life and has rarely been around white people at all. She knows her people’s history, and she knows about oppression, so why is she so fascinated by the thought of going to this school? But if Mama wanted her to go there….

This book is a fascinating and nuanced look at a girl reclaiming her freedom and exploring what freedom even means. She doesn’t condemn her father or even disagree with everything he says. But what does freedom and revolution mean for her as her own person?

This book surprised me at every turn. No stereotypes here, and plenty of hard truths, but along with Nigeria, the reader gets a chance to look beneath the surface. A powerful story.

ibizoboi.net

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Review of Monument Maker, by Linda Booth Sweeney, illustrated by Shawn Fields

Monument Maker

Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial

written by Linda Booth Sweeney
illustrated by Shawn Fields

Tilbury House Publishers in association with the Concord Museum, 2019. 64 pages.
Starred Review
Review written January 14, 2020, from a library book

You can tell this is a monumental book when you pick it up and browse through it. It’s thicker than most picture books, printed on heavy paper. The pages are large, done with exquisitely detailed artwork, and pictures of two of Daniel Chester French’s statues done extra big by turning the book sideways. Almost all the pictures are in shades of gray, except the frame of the story with modern kids examining his work and shown in color.

The book tells about the whole life of Dan Chester French, the sculptor of the statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial and of the Minuteman statue in Concord and of many more American statues.

He didn’t expect to become a sculptor when he grew up, but he witnessed great events – like the end of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln. And it turned out that he liked making art.

The book tells about the influence of moving to the town of Concord, Massachusetts and the great thinkers who lived there. I liked the detail that he took lessons in art from Louisa May Alcott’s sister (the model for Amy in Little Women).

I never realized that Daniel Chester French, the sculptor, made smaller models of the statue of Abraham Lincoln and other people, stonecutters, were responsible for the final statue made of stone.

I like it when biographies of artists give you the feel for how the artist was inspired as well as what his art is like. This book does those things very well.

Twelve pages of back matter give more information. This is an engaging, informative, and inspiring book. It makes me want to go see more Daniel Chester French sculptures.

lindaboothsweeney.com
shawnfields.com
tilburyhouse.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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*Note* To try to catch up on posting reviews, I’m posting the oldest reviews I’ve written on my blog without making a page on my main website. They’re still good books.

Review of Orris and Timble: The Beginning, by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Carmen Mok

Orris and Timble

The Beginning

by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Carmen Mok

Candlewick, 2024. 80 pages.
Review written May 8, 2024, from a library book
Starred Review

This is the start of a new beginning chapter book series by Kate DiCamillo, and it’s tender and sweet and brilliant.

Orris the rat lives in an old abandoned barn. We see his treasures: A red velvet slipper, a yellow marble, and a sardine can. The sardine can is for “Imperial Sardines” and has the picture of a fish wearing a crown and saying, “Make the good and noble choice!!”

That phrase haunts Orris when he discovers a young owl with his claws caught in a mousetrap nailed to the floor, crying for help. Owls eat rats, so at first Orris leaves the owl struggling and goes back to his own home. But in spite of himself, he wants to make the good and noble choice.

I like the way when Orris decides to save the owl, whose name is Timble, Orris is obviously frustrated with himself and says, “For the love of Pete!”

And this book tells, in simple but evocative language, how Orris rescues Timble, and how this becomes the beginning of their friendship.

This book is lovely – beautifully illustrated and with a warmly relatable story as we see Orris make the good and noble choice despite great fear – and then reap the consequences.

katedicamillo.com
carmenmokstudio.com
candlewick.com

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Review of A Place to Belong, by Cynthia Kadohata

A Place to Belong

by Cynthia Kadohata
read by Jennifer Ikeda

Simon & Schuster Audio, 2019. 9 hours on 7 discs.
Review written January 31, 2020, from a library audiobook

A Place to Belong opens at the end of World War II, with Hanako, her little brother Akira, and her parents on a ship going to Japan. Her family was imprisoned in camps during the war because of their Japanese heritage, and after the war, her parents were pressured to give up their American citizenship. Now they are headed to a village outside of Hiroshima, where Papa’s parents still live. On the way there, Hanako sees people and places devastated beyond her wildest imaginings.

Adjusting to Japan is difficult. And she is torn by the people – even children – begging for food. If she gives them rice, what if there’s not enough to feed her own brother? In school, she’s different from the other girls. Can she ever get them to accept her? Woven throughout the stories are memories from their family’s time in the camps and her resultant mixed feelings about America.

This was a part of the story of Japanese Americans that I hadn’t heard before, so I was fascinated by the details. I have to admit that the book felt long and didn’t have a driving plot – they were simply trying to survive, taking each day as it came. The love coming from Hanako’s grandparents toward the grandchildren they just met was a continuing warm bright spot, and did make me glad I stuck it out and listened to the entire book.

cynthiakadohata.com

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

*Note* To try to catch up on posting reviews, I’m posting the oldest reviews I’ve written on my blog without making a page on my main website. They’re still good books.