Books by Anna Brailovsky

Released: Sept. 1, 2009

In this outwardly simple story, two homeless children, Niner and Cosmos, long to escape the hard city streets and find the sea. Cosmos dreams of selling cold drinks there. Niner has recently fled increasingly savage beatings at the hands of his mother's boyfriend, who may have killed her; his dreams of the sea are shot through with his longing for her and memories of their life together. In return for money to make their dream come true, the boys sell Niner's guardian angel, who may or may not exist, to the Queen of Caracas, a bar owner who once stood where they do. All have second thoughts about the transaction, which threatens to deprive the boys of the little they own. Weaving together the spare symbolism of fable and the magical high stakes of fairy tale, this skillfully written novella by an award-winning German author offers much food for reflection. While the subject matter is difficult, the story is universal; not tied to place or culture, it remains open to broad interpretation. A good choice for discussion. (Fiction. 8-13)Read full book review >
SUMMER OF THE PIKE by Jutta Richter
Released: Nov. 16, 2006

This quiet, literary novel marks the auspicious American debut for Richter, an acclaimed writer for children and adults in her native Germany. Set on the wooded grounds of a castle and seen through the eyes of a young girl, Anna, it is a sensitive depiction of loss, friendship and family. Anna grew up with the estate's tenants, Daniel and Lucas, and the three are as close as any siblings could be. At the same time, she's disgusted by the boys' fascination with catching a magnificent pike in the forbidden moat. This obsession takes on added significance as the boys' mother slowly succumbs to cancer over the summer. Neither exploitative nor sanitized, this is a penetrating portrait of one of life's most difficult and messiest passages. Anna's mother—who is nursing the dying Gisela—drowns her sorrow in drink, cigarettes and tears. In the meantime, Anna must look on as the mother she finds emotionally distant provides the intimacy and comfort to the grieving boys that she longs for herself. While there's some initial confusion about the identity of the characters and their relationships, the spare, continuous text has been smoothly translated. This smart, subtle and sympathetic offering will appeal to sophisticated teen readers, as well as their adult counterparts. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >