What’s new in translated YA? The beginning of the year brings us several translated fantasies out of Germany and France, a unique coming-of-age story from Quebec, and a collective feminist biography from France just in time for Women’s History Month, with five starred reviews to boot! Fill your shelves with these exciting books to give your teens a taste of what their peers around the world are reading, and gain some global perspective while they’re at it.
The Forgotten Book; by Mechthild Gläser; translated by Romy Fursland; Feiwel & Friends, 2018 (Germany)
Emma finds an old book at her German boarding school Stolzenburg Castle, and soon discovers that anything she writes in it comes true; however, someone else also knows about the book and will stop at nothing to take it from her. Boarding school life provides a vivid backdrop to this twisty mystery fantasy.
“A clever book with winks at Jane Austen novels, this boarding school story will also delight fantasy fans.” —School Library Journal
The Book of Pearl; by Timothée de Fombelle; translated by Sarah Ardizzone & Sam Gordon; Candlewick, 2018 (France)
Joshua Pearl comes from a world that we no longer believe in — a world of fairy tale. He knows that his great love waits for him there, but he is stuck in an unfamiliar time and place — an old-world marshmallow shop in Paris on the eve of World War II. As his memories begin to fade, Joshua seeks out strange objects: tiny fragments of tales that have already been told, trinkets that might possibly help him prove his own story before his love is lost forever.
“Alternating storylines and narrators challenge and beguile, eventually merging into a masterfully interconnected tale in which compelling themes of revenge, love, and devotion transcend both the fairy world’s fantasy and the realism of wartime Paris. A luminous, haunting, intriguingly intricate modern fairy tale.” —Kirkus, starred review
“French author de Fombelle…has created a hauntingly beautiful story that has the weight and imagination of classic fairy tales by the likes of Grimm and Perrault. Can curses be broken? Can lovers be reunited and return to their home world? Or are they doomed to remain in one where they will always be separated? The answers are slowly and tantalizing revealed in beautifully artful ways, proving that ours, too, can be a world of unforgettable stories.” —Booklist, starred review
“Fans of Inkheart and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will enjoy this fantastical and romantic book, while the sophisticated language, literary devices, and historical background may make this a fine option for a class book study.” —School Library Journal
Ophelia; by Charlotte Gingras; illustrated by Daniel Sylvestre; translated by Christelle Morelli & Susan Ouriou; Groundwood, 2018 (Quebec, Canada)
Two teenaged outsiders establish an uneasy truce in this visually arresting, one-of-a-kind collage-style novel.
“Text and art mesh subtly, the latter ranging from semi-abstract to finely detailed collages, emphatic and powerful. Words scrawled in and over the art are in the original French, their meaning rewarding readers’ investigation but not essential for appreciating their impact. A spare, emotionally evocative coming-of-age journey.” —Kirkus
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World; by Pénélope Bagieu; illustrated by Pénélope Bagieu; translated by Montana Kane; First Second, 2018 (France)
Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit. With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.
“This French graphic novel offers a satisfying collection of minibiographies about bold women—some contemporary, others from centuries ago—who overcame fearsome odds to achieve a variety of goals, becoming the first black woman in space, a rapper in Afghanistan, a pioneering volcanologist, and more….Bagieu delivers a pièce de résistance that succinctly summarizes the obstacles and victories of these daring women. Insightful and clever, at times infuriating and disheartening, this serves as a reminder that the hardships women face today have been shared―and overcome―by many others.” ―Kirkus, starred review
“This dynamic paean to women’s flair for fierce resistance will have readers happily sifting through history―and tackling the future with renewed verve. Rock on, ladies.” ―Booklist, starred review
“Any one of these stories would make a rousing picture book biography; 29 of them in one volume produces a work whose energy and wit will spur readers to get going and change the world.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A strikingly original collective biography for casual readers, students, and those looking for inspiration in their own lives.” ―School Library Journal, starred review
“This is an encouraging, uplifting book to highlight in any library’s women’s history collection. It will be an inspiration to many young adult readers and browsers.” ―VOYA, starred review
— Jenny Zbrizher, currently reading The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Jenny is a librarian at Morris County Library in New Jersey, specializing in YA and World Languages collection development. When she’s not reading, she’s thinking about the next place she’d like to travel while listening to showtunes. Follow her on Twitter @JennywithaZ