Award-Winning Books Classics International It's Monday What Are You Reading Literatura Europa Middle Grade Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Chapter Books and YA Novels in Translation: More Titles for Your TBR Pile

Translated Books about Crime, Mystery, Suspense and Others


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Fats here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

I’m quite relieved that I managed to finish reading six books in time for today’s post. I’m sharing four chapter books and two YA novels that have been translated into different languages. If you’re not familiar with any of these, I hope that you find a copy and have as much fun reading them as I did!

mr0814bLetters to Anyone and Everyone

Written by Toon Tellegen
Illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg
Translated from the Dutch by Martin Cleaver
Published in the USA by Boxer Books Ltd (2009)
ISBN-10: 1906250952
ISBN-13: 978-1906250959
Copy provided by the Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library.

From the book jacket: This collection of fantastic, dreamlike tales conjures up a world where the creatures of the earth can send a letter to the sun (and get an answer); where you can actually write a letter to a letter; and where just writing something down can make it true. This extraordinary correspondence between the animals and the world around them will capture the imaginations of adults and children alike.

My thoughts on the book: Letters to Anyone and Everyone is one of the most charming short story collections I’ve read. When I started reading this book, I realized that I was not prepared for the encounter. The letters took me by surprise and made me forget about reality. It allowed my imagination to run wild and accept things as they happen. Toon Tellegen is quite the storyteller and I would be delighted to read the other books in this series.

About the author: Toon Tellegen, author and poet, is one of the Netherlands’ most celebrated writers. His animal stories have been translated into 19 languages and are loved by children and parents all over the world. He won the Youth Literature Prize of the Golden Book-Owl in 2000 for De Genezing van de Krekel (The Healing of the Cricket). He had also been nominated for the Astrid Lindgred Memorial Award. He enjoys reading, telling stories, and eating huge, sweet cakes.

mr0814cAgainst the Odds (Een kleine kans)

Written by Marjolijn Hof
Translated from the Dutch by Johanna H. Prins and Johanna W. Prins
Published in the USA by Groundwood Books (2009)
ISBN-10: 088899950X
ISBN-13: 978-0888999504
Copy provided by Hudson Library & Historical Society.

From the book jacket: Kiki lives with her mother and father and their very old fat dog, Mona. Life is good except that Kiki’s father, a doctor, feels compelled to go off on missions to dangerous and faraway war zones. Kiki cannot convince him to stay home. Kiki’s mother explains to her about odds — how it is very unlikely that her father will die because, after all, how many of her friends’ fathers have died? The odds are very good it won’t happen.

My thoughts on the book: Initially, I thought that this book was going to be about loss and grief. Against the Odds explores how a child copes with the thought of losing her father instead. When Kiki’s mother introduced the idea of odds, Kiki decided that she would do everything to increase the odds that her father would come home. The book is funny at times yet deals with moral issues in a poignant way.

About the author: Marjolijn Hof, formerly a children’s librarian, always dreamed of being a writer. When Against the Odds was published, it was met with high critical acclaim, winning three major Dutch and Flemish children’s book prizes: the Golden Owl Juvenile Literature Prize, the Golden Owl Young Reader’s Prize, and the Golden Slate Pencil. It has been translated into at least nine languages.

mr0814dThe Day My Father Became a Bush (Toen mijn vader een struik werd)

Written with some illustrations by Joke van Leeuwen
Translated from the Dutch by Bill Nagelkerke
Published in the USA by Gecko Press Ltd (2014)
ISBN-10: 1877579483
ISBN-13: 978-1877579486
Copy provided by the Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library.

From the book jacket: Before my father turned into a bush he was a pastry chef. He got up at four o’clock every morning to bake twenty different sorts of pastries and three kinds of cake… One evening he sat me on his lap and told me that people were in no hurry to buy pastries anymore.

My thoughts on the book: The Day My Father Became a Bush is one of the most refreshing chapter books I’ve read about war. Toda’s father stopped baking pastries so he could fight in the war. Fortunately, he could disguise himself as a bush so he could hide from his enemy. The story, however, was focused on Toda’s journey across the border, where she would reunite with her mother until the war is over. “Off-beat” was a good way to describe the book. It’s one of those books you could read in one sitting, yet leave quite an impression in your mind.

About the author: Joke van Leeuwen is one of the most popular author/illustrators in the Netherlands. She has won many prestigious awards, including the Young Golden Owl (Dutch children’s choice award).

mr0814eEmil and the Detectives (Emil und die Detektive)

Written by Erich Kästner
Illustrated by Walter Trier
Translated from the German by W. Martin
With an introduction by Maurice Sendak
Published in the USA by The Overlook Press (2007)
ISBN-10: 1468308297
ISBN-13: 978-1468308297
Copy provided by the Medina County District Library.

From the book jacket: When Emil boards the train for Berlin, his money is safe in his pocket. But when he arrives, the money is gone! Emil knows who stole it. It was the man on the train—the man in the bowler hat. How can he face his grandmother without the money? He must catch the thief.

My thoughts on the book: Emil and the Detectives was first published in 1929, and I’d like to think of it as a classic in children’s literature. Last month, I watched the 2010 remake of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. I thought of the movie when I read Emil and the Detectives, mainly because the crime took place on a train. Along the way, Emil meets a group of boys who promised to help him catch the thief. It reminded me of shows like The Sandlot, The Little Rascals, and even Stranger Things. Emil and the Detectives is not just a whodunit story. It pays tribute to friendship and camaraderie, and portrays how children could accomplish anything by sticking together.

About the author: Erich Kästner is the most famous German children’s author of the twentieth century. He is the author of classic books including The Little Man and the Little Miss, Puss in Boots, and Baron Munchhausen. In 1960 he was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his lifetime contributions to children’s literature.

mr0814fNo and Me (No et moi)

Written by Delphine de Vigan
Translated from the French by George Miller
Published in the USA by Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers (2010)
ISBN-10: 1599904799
ISBN-13: 978-1599904795
Copy provided by the Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library.

From the book jacket: Lou Bertignac doesn’t see things the way other girls do. She has an exceptionally high IQ (160) and she likes to hang out at the train station to watch people saying good-bye (Tuesdays and Fridays only). She’s not popular, and her parents are too wrapped up in their own problems to pay attention to her quirks. But everything changes when a school project brings Lou face-to-face with No, a teenage girl who’s been living in the streets of Paris.

My thoughts on the book: Homelessness is the elephant in the room that no one wants to address, at least in the city where I’m from. In this powerful novel, Delphine de Vigan explores the issue of homelessness, the true meaning of home, and one’s inherent desire to belong. The story is mostly in narrative form, told in the perspective of thirteen-year-old Lou. The pages are filled with paragraphs that represent Lou’s thoughts about the world. The style reminds me of Gabriel García Márquez, and the poetry embedded in each sentence is like the lyrical storytelling of Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

About the author: Delphine de Vigan has written several novels for adults. No and Me, awarded the 2008 Le Prix des Libraires (the Booksellers’ Prize) in the author’s native France, is her first novel for young readers.

mr0814gThe Letter for the King (De brief voor de koning)

Written with some illustrations by Tonke Dragt
Translated from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson
Published in the USA by David Fickling Books (2013)
ISBN-10: 0545819784
ISBN-13: 978-0545819787
Copy provided by the Twinsburg Public Library.

From the book jacket: Sixteen-year-old Tiuri must spend hours locked in a chapel in silent contemplation if he is to be knighted the next day. But as he waits by the light of a flickering candle, he hears a knock at the door and a voice desperately asking for help.

My thoughts on the book: If you like fantasy novels, then you will enjoy reading The Letter for the King. The book cover reminds me of the computer-generated imagery used to tell “The Tale of the Three Brothers” in the movie version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as well as the “three true stories” in the film adaptation of A Monster Calls. I thought about the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Patrick Rothfuss, of course. The Letter for the King, to put it simply, is one of the most “unputdownable” books I’ve read this year. Do not be overwhelmed by the 500+ pages of the book. The story is fast-paced and packed with adventures.

About the author: Tonke Dragt was born in Jakarta in 1930 and spent most of her childhood in Indonesia. Her family moved to the Netherlands after the war, where she studied and became an art teacher. She published her first book in 1961, followed a year later by The Letter for the King. It has won numerous awards and has been translated into 16 languages. Dragt was awarded the Dutch State Prize for Youth Literature in 1976 and was knighted in 2001.

10 comments on “[Monday Reading] Chapter Books and YA Novels in Translation: More Titles for Your TBR Pile

  1. Wow! You’ve done a lot of reading, Fats! Looks like the move has done you well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fats Suela

      It sure has! Less distractions and I’ve got the entire living room to myself, while Daniel does his own thing in the office. Love it! 🙂


  2. Letter to Anyone and Everyone sounds unique and imaginative. I think reading the letters would be interesting, too, since in real life people don’t write letter anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome to the #imwayr community And thanks for sharing these unique books. I look forward to seeing what you’ll post next.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Letters to Anyone and Everyone sounds so charming. Thanks for sharing all of these new-to-me titles!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really don’t know where to begin with all these amazing titles! As usual when I am reading your blog, I have the pages for my local library and goodreads open. I have bookmarked a whole mess of these that I want to read, but I am especially interested in No and Me, Emile and the Detectives, and Letters to Anyone and Everyone. Unfortunately, my library doesn’t have that last one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fats Suela

      A whole mess indeed, but a good one! I hope you get to read the ones you’re most interested in! =)


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