New children’s and youth books: Handy-Henri even takes part

Tales by Anete Melece, Philip Waechter, Anke Kuhl, and Jason Reynolds lead to the sea, to relatives or to the past

Scene from: Philip Waechter:
Scene from: Philip Waechter: "Toni wants to go to the sea" | Illustration: Beltz & Gelberg

The colorful illustrations in the picture book “The Kiosk” are magically attractive. With a powerful brushstroke, Anete Melece tells the fantastic story of a kiosk seller. When you open the book cover, you can see right in the middle of Olga’s cramped salesroom, a happy cosmos of magazines, sweets and other useful things.

The friendly, fat woman has been working in the pink kiosk with the yellow tower on the roof for many years. Olga passes her customers’ newspapers, lottery tickets, lollipops or drinks through the window every day. Big, small, sporty, old – she knows her names and also her wishes.

In the evening, the saleswoman likes to read her magazine range and dreams away from the small kiosk to distant places. One day, when she falls over with the house, she surprisingly finds that she can carry the kiosk. So she starts strolling through the streets like a coat.

Drawn unpretentiously

Anete Melece’s unpretentiously drawn characters are reminiscent of the cheerful staff from the picture book classics by Ali Mitgutsch. But even if there is also a lot to discover on the pages of “The Kiosk”, the new publication by the artist, who was born in Riga in 1983, is not a hidden object.

Scene from: Anete Melece, “The Kiosk”
Illustration: Atlantis Verlag

Rather, Melece, who studied animation in Lucerne and now lives in Zurich, uses her experience as an animator. She skillfully transferred the varied and dynamic image dramaturgy of the animated film into the format of the children’s book.

On a bridge in the park, the kiosk woman meets the man with the yapping dog again. Suddenly she gets tangled in his leash. The kiosk and its owner plunge into the river. Completely different than expected, this is how Olga begins a long-dreamed journey.


Also in Philip Waechter’s new comic “Toni wants to go to the sea”, the young narrator experiences a summer with surprising twists and turns. Toni, who was featured in the volume “Toni. And everything that happened because of Renato Flash “ is a pretty smart boy – football enthusiast, sociable and optimistic from the ground up. He likes to live in the city with his cheerful mother and the cat Miezi – maybe in Frankfurt am Main.

But now the big holidays are starting and that’s why Toni absolutely wants to go to the sea. But suddenly there is no money for the vacation. Toni finds no argument. Imaginative as in the procurement of flashing soccer shoes in “Renato Flash”, the boy is immediately active.

Of course, so much drive is rewarded. In a competition, Toni wins a stay at the elegant Hotel Tannenblick.

Big fun

In nine chapters in contrasting colors, the illustrator, born in 1968, tells of great fun being on vacation on vacation with his unmistakably light-footed style. So the arrival at the stiff luxury hotel for mother and son is just the start of their journey. Because they don’t even want a vacation like this. Thanks to good friends, a borrowed car and a tent, the two move on to the sea.

In his picture book “Finally Camping Again” (2015) Philip Waechter used the campsite as a rich setting for describing paradisiacal conditions from a child’s perspective.

In the latest comic, Toni not only gets to know a dog while camping but soon also Luc, Klara, Jo, Feil, Ali, Karlo, and Richard. The children spend exciting days together and among themselves. Waechter’s tolerant and respectful stance becomes particularly clear in the penultimate chapter “The Rally”.


Anete Melece: “The Kiosk”. Atlantis Verlag, Zurich 2020. Hardcover, 40 pages, 15 euros. From 5 to 12 years old

Philip Waechter: “Toni wants to go to the sea”. Beltz & Gelberg, Weinheim 2020. Hardcover, 67 pages, 14.95 euros. From 6 years old

Anke Kuhl: “Manno! Everything just happened in real life ”. Velcro children’s book, Leipzig 2020. Hardcover, 136 pages, 16 euros. From 7 years old

Jason Reynolds: “Brothers”. From the English by Klaus Fritz. dtv series Hanser, Munich 2020. 384 pages, 14.95 euros. From 12 years old

Ironically, of all people, with cell phone Henri sticking to his smartphone, Toni is to form a team of two in the competition. But despite the unfavorable starting position, the different boys find each other in a completely astonishing way in the competition. In times of non-contact and Corona holidays, “Toni wants to go to the sea” appears as comforting as it is enjoyable.

Really happened

In addition to Philip Waechter, Anke Kuhl is also one of the well-known members of the Frankfurt studio community Labor. Most recently, she succeeded in 2017 with illustrations for the award-winning educational book “Das Liebesleben der Tiere”.

Her autobiographical comic “Manno! Everything happened exactly as it is in real life ” is now available from Klett Kinderbuch Verlag and deals with a childhood in West Germany in the late 1970s.

At the center of the numerous picture, episodes are eight-year-old Anke and her slightly older sister Eva.

“Manno!” Tells of fencing with toilet brushes as well as marital crises, car accidents or Russian captivity

They live together with parents and grandparents in a house with a garden. From the girls’ perspective, Kuhl expressively and humorously draws a multifaceted family panorama with colored pencil, which impressively captures the big and small events of everyday life.

“Manno!” Tells of fencing with toilet brushes, hairspray hairstyles or telephone pranks, as well as marital crises, car accidents, and Russian captivity. In an exciting way, Anke Kuhl’s childhood memories make clear how much it pays to defend the space for independent ideas and experiences early on.

In the countryside

In “Brothers. Courageous as we are, Jason Reynolds’ youngest youth novel, Genie and his fourteen-year-old brother Ernie are sent out to the country during the summer holidays to the grandparents they only knew by phone.

The Brooklyn siblings initially struggle with everyday life in the Province of Virginia. Now they have to get up early, harvest peas and clear the yard of Samantha’s dog poop. But their grandmother’s hearty manner and friendship with Tess, the girl from the neighborhood, make it easier for them to arrive in North Hill.

Nevertheless, the brothers do not fail to notice that the life of the blind grandfather is full of oddities, but also that their father has broken in resentment with his origin.

Weird old man

Nevertheless, a genius in particular, who compulsively notes down questions, but now cannot google their solution without the Internet, is fascinated by the strange old man in sunglasses. Even the tragic accident in the forest doesn’t change that.

Even though the introduction to the novel may seem a bit cumbersome at first, the African-American author succeeds convincingly in developing an ingenious family history from a genius perspective.

He discreetly negotiates topics such as gun ownership, Creole cuisine, alcoholism or the experience of slavery and takes a close look at rural society in the southern United States. Through the grandson’s persistent questions, behind the grandfather’s contradictions, we also recognize the history of the country.


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