Saturday, October 28, 2006

German Literature In Translation--For Kids

First, a little backstory.

A number of years ago, I was at one of those local events where you end up rubbing shoulders with the parents of your children's classmates. I found myself talking with this dad about how his son wasn't into reading. He said that young Jordan liked very traditional boy things--Scouts, camping, Indians, were his examples. He also said they had trouble finding books about those sorts of things.

At around this same time, we had a grade schooler living on this street who was seriously into hamsters. He did science papers about hamsters. He took his hamster to the science fair. I believe I might have had to feed the thing a few times while he and his family were on vacation.

Now we come to the point of my post. I just finished reading something called I, Freddy by Dietlof Reiche. Or Dietlof Reiche, if you'd like to read something about him in English. Freddy is a hamster. He's the narrator of his story. He's quite the sophisticated little beast.

I, Freddy is not a learn-to-read kiddy book. Scholastic pegs it as being on a fifth-grade reading level. The vocabulary is definitely mature. Freddy teaches himself to read and write and ends up reading The Forsyte Saga! (I, Freddy is the first in a series known as The Golden Hamster Saga.) He reads poetry. The book brings up a couple of complex ideas, too--Freddy talks with his grandmother about religion and gives an interesting explanation for what happens when we read.

But Freddy isn't a priggy know-it-all. He's funny, and he meets funny and interesting creatures.

I, Freddy is a book for kids with good reading skills and traditional kid interests. It's probably a book for lots of kids, for that matter.


Unknown said...

I'm late working my way around last week's review of books, but I'm so glad I came here. My daughter is an advanced 3rd grade reader, and I saw this book at her school library and thought she might like it. I'm going to convince her to check it out.

I actually thought this might be one of the Freddy (the pig) classics by Walter Brooks. Have you read any of those? Excellent. I will be reviewing one as soon as dd and I finish it.

Gail Gauthier said...

I've heard of Freddy the Pig, but don't believe I've read any of them.

I had never heard of the Golden Hamster Saga until my editor told me about them. I have seen them in bookstores since then. It's really too bad if they aren't well known. I know parents of younger kids with advanced reading skills have problems finding age-appropriate books for their reading level.