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Mr Leon's Paris, The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof and The Raven's Children on Bishop's Stortford College librarian Lizzie Hall's list of top translated children's books



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Bishop's Stortford College Prep School librarian Lizzie Hall writes about the magic of storytelling...

Dear Reader. Some of my favourite children's books are those that have been translated from another language into English.

These books provide a gateway to different lands where we meet different people and learn about different cultures, all told from the perspective of someone native to that country.

Here are some of the best translations around...

Younger readers

The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business by Werner Holwarth

The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business by Werner Holwarth (51532455)
The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business by Werner Holwarth (51532455)

This hilarious picture book tells the tale of a little mole who wakes up one morning only to have one of the other animals 'do its business' on his head.

The little mole then sets out to track down the culprit to exact his revenge in his own little way.

This new anniversary edition is a fantastic way to introduce children to the amazing world of books.

Mr Leon's Paris by Barroux and Sarah Ardizzone

This book contains a new map of Paris, drawn by Barroux and created specially for this English language edition.

Mr Leon, a Parisian taxi driver of many years, spends his days ferrying colourful characters to destinations corresponding to his passengers' personalities and nationalities.

From behind the wheel of his little yellow taxi, Mr Leon travels the world: from the North Pole to the Eiffel Tower to the Congo.

Mr Leon’s Paris by Barroux and Sarah Ardizzone (51532448)
Mr Leon’s Paris by Barroux and Sarah Ardizzone (51532448)

Until, that is, Mr Leon decides it's time to explore the real places after which the streets in Paris are named.

After putting his taxi up for sale, Mr Leon sets sail for Liberty Street and beyond - even the moon if the wind is good.

The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie M G Schmidt and David Colmer

Minou is a young woman who has moved into Tibble's flat. She hates dogs, likes rooftops, loves the fishmonger and happens to have been, until very recently, a cat.

With her feline friends listening out for all the local human news, is Minou the answer to all Tibble's problems or just the beginning of them?

A hilarious, charming story of cats, dogs and learning to dare.

The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie M G Schmidt and David Colmer (51532461)
The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie M G Schmidt and David Colmer (51532461)

The Story of the Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly by Luis Sepulveda and Satoshi Kitamura

A cat, a seagull, an impossible task…

Caught up in an oil spill, a dying seagull scrambles ashore to lay her final egg and lands on a balcony, where she meets Zorba, a big black cat from the port of Hamburg.

The cat promises the seagull to look after the egg, not to eat the chick once it's hatched and - most difficult of all - to teach the baby gull to fly.

Will Zorba and his feline friends honour the promise and give Lucky, the adopted little seagull, the strength to discover her true nature?

The Story of the Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly by Luis Sepulveda and Satoshi Kitamura (51532457)
The Story of the Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly by Luis Sepulveda and Satoshi Kitamura (51532457)

Older readers

The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt

A young messenger. A secret mission. A kingdom in peril.

It is the dead of night. 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.

A secret letter must be delivered to King Unauwen across the Great Mountains - a letter upon which the fate of the entire kingdom depends. Tiuri has a vital role to play, one that might cost him his knighthood.

Tiuri's journey will take him through dark, menacing forests, across treacherous rivers, to sinister castles and strange cities. He will encounter evil enemies who would kill to get the letter, but also the best of friends in the most unexpected places.

He must trust no one. He must keep his true identity secret. Above all, he must never reveal what is in the letter…

The Letter for the King is the thrilling story of one boy's battle against evil, set in an enchanted world of chivalry, courage and true friendship.

The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt (51532451)
The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt (51532451)

The Raven's Children by Yulia Yakovleva and Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Russia in 1938 is a place of great terror. Joseph Stalin is in charge. His Secret Police are everywhere, searching for anyone who might be his enemy. People have no idea who they can trust.

Seven-year-old Shura doesn't know about any of this. He's happy in his little home in Leningrad going to school in the mornings, playing with his best friend in the afternoon, fighting with his big sister, spending time with Mama, Papa and baby brother Bobka.

Until one day everything changes. Mama and Papa and Bobka disappear without a trace.

The whispers of their neighbours are that Mama and Papa were spies, enemies of Stalin, and so they have now been taken by something mysterious called The Raven.

Desperate to reunite his family, Shura decides to hunt down The Raven, finding help in the most unexpected places but facing more danger than he has ever known . . .

The Raven’s Children by Yulia Yakovleva and Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (51532465)
The Raven’s Children by Yulia Yakovleva and Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (51532465)

The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius

Sally Jones is an extraordinary gorilla and a brilliant ship's engineer who sails the high seas on The Hudson Queen with her loyal friend the Chief.

One day, the shipmates are offered a mysterious job that promises to pay big bucks, but then disaster strikes, the job goes wrong and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder.

For Sally Jones this is the start of a grand adventure and a desperate quest to clear her friend's name. By freighter, steam train and bi-plane, the intrepid ape journeys from Lisbon to Bombay and beyond in search of the truth.

But powerful forces are working against her, and they will do anything to protect their own secrets...

The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius (51532467)
The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius (51532467)

Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

Helene is not free to hide from the taunts of her former friends in the corridors at school. She can't be invisible in the playground or in the stairways leading to art class.

Insults are even scribbled on the walls of the toilet cubicles. Helene smells, Helene's fat, Helene has no friends ... now.

When Helene's heart hammers in her chest as Genevieve snickers at the back of the bus, inventing nasty things to say about her, Helene dives into the pages of her book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. And, in the solace she finds there, Helene's own world becomes a little brighter.

But how will the story end? Is there any hope for the wise, strange, plain Jane Eyre? How could Mr Rochester ever love her?

At nature camp, arranged by the school as a treat, Helene finds herself in the tent of other outcasts. Again, her inner and outer worlds become entangled as she reads on, this time putting herself into Jane Eyre's shoes. It would be impossible for Mr Rochester to marry a sausage in a swimsuit, even if he loved her, wouldn't it?

But, while deeply lost in self-doubt, Helene's world is unexpectedly shaken up by a fresh new friendship. Geraldine snorts with laughter at her jokes! They love being together!

Helene begins to worry less about what the cruel girls think and more about how happy she can be (and make others). Perhaps Jane Eyre's story will end well after all, too.

Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault (51532469)
Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault (51532469)


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