U is for the Upside Down Reader…

by Wilhelm Gruber. A great first chapter book for beginning readers, it’s the story of Tim, who learns to read by looking at his sister’s school books across the table. Of course this means that he can only read if the book is upside down. Because they think he’s too little, his family don’t believe that he can read until Grandma comes to stay. Then he surprises everybody by reading the station signs perfectly, but he has to stand on his head first!

The Upside-Down Reader

The Upside-Down Reader

Published by NorthSouth Books, the illustrations by Marlies Rieper-Bastian show a German family and a German Bahnhof with the S for the S-Bahn, yet the station names have been changed to Bristol, Salem and Hartford. (From my experience of NorthSouth Books, that might have been an editorial decision rather than one taken by the translator.) The translation by J. Alison James is slightly odd in that it refers to “Mother” and “Dad” – presumably so did the German, but personally I’d have changed it. Otherwise though, it’s fine and pitched at just the right level for the target readership.  Sadly, once again the author and illustrator gets biogs at the back but not the translator.Again I had to track down a second-hand copy, but it’s worth looking out for if you get a chance. Fils aîné found it very funny and instantly wanted to turn the book upside down to see if he could read it that way too.

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About forwardtranslations

I'm a freelance literary translator from German and French to English. The title of my blog comes from Mary Schmich's description of reading: it struck home with me, and seems especially apt for translated fiction. Here are some of my musings on what I'm reading, re-reading, reading to my children, and translating.
This entry was posted in A-Z of Children's Fiction in Translation, Books, Children's Books, Translation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to U is for the Upside Down Reader…

  1. Nancy says:

    Sounds like something my grandson might enjoy. It's often harder to get boys to read for pleasure but books like this help.www.writergrannysworld.blogspot.com

  2. Rachel Ward says:

    Oh yes, it is tricky with boys. I hope you can find a copy for him. There are also some great non-fiction books for boys. Maybe I'll write about those one day.

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