Reading “Dackel Franz sucht seinen Schwanz”

S has started protesting less when we speak German to her. Although, occasionally she does tell me to “stop talking that English,” “English” being her word for “language,” because she is an imperialist monster.

I’ve been slipping between translating her German books and simply reading the words on the page. Sometimes I get away with it, especially when I read Die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and Dackel Franz sucht seinen Schwanz (Franz the Dachshund Searches for his Tail).

I bought Dackel Franz when I was pregnant in München and worried that I would never go anywhere ever again. I stuffed every spare pocket in  our suitcase with books. Most of my choices were based on the lovely illustrations and I still have a few that are still a little too hard for S to understand (I’m especially looking forward to Johanna im Zug!) Franz, however, is a winner.


The book, written by Eva Schatz and illustrated by Susanne Straßer, is about an adorable little Dachel (the diminutive of Dachshund more widely used in German. One thing you should know about German – they have many exceedingly long words for very specific things, but they also love their diminutives and abbreviations ) who wakes up one morning to find his tail is missing.


He searches all over town asking at the Metzgerei and the Markthalle, among other places. Finally, he makes his way to the zoo where he makes an interesting discovery.  Along the way, the dog’s tail pops up in a few unexpected places and trying to figure out what its doing and why adds another layer of fun.



baby reads “Berlin Wimmelbuch: Ausbruch aus dem Zoo” by Judith Drews

This adorable Wimmelbuch or look-and-find book was one of S’s Chanukah presents. She loves pointing out all of the animals and one day it will be a fun reminder of our time in Berlin.

There must be some licensing laws that I’m not familiar with, because all of the famous places in the book are mis-spelled. The Hotel Adlon is the Arlon, Konnopke Imbiss is Kannapke, Berlinale becomes Bärenale. Its a little thing, but once I noticed it, I could not stop staring at it. Just one of those things.

I have tons to write about. I just didn’t feel like it for a while, a sort of blogger’s boredom. Now that we’ve gotten through January, though, I feel a bit more like sharing. So, here’s to February and hopefully more writing!

Baby reads “Alle Kinder: Ein ABC der Schadenfreude”

I picked this one up on Oranienstrasse after a very relaxing morning at Bateau Ivre. I wasn’t really thinking about buying my daughter books, more about the tartine I had just eaten and how happy I was that Bateau, at least, had not changed from when we first went there six years ago. Yes, this little bit of Oranianstrasse is still more or less the same if you can block out the desperately hip, American study abroad students. Of course, there were a few more strollers, too.

With this warm-fuzzy for Berlin feeling, I picked up this…

von Anke Kuhl und Martin Schmitz-Kuhl

Its just so German.  How could I pass it up?

The ABCs come from the first names of children who are the object of schadenfreude. So, no, its not really going to help you children learn the alphabet. What you get are  sweetly illustrated, yet dark couplets each telling a little story about a different child. Some of them – the ones I noticed while flipping through the book at the store – are innocent enough. Take the following, for example:

"Alle Kinder spielen im Zauberwald - Außer Dorothee die holt die böse Fee" or "All the children play in the enchanted forest - except for Dorothy who is captured by an evil fairy"

There’s no such thing as enchanted forest! A fairy isn’t going to kidnap you! Ok, next one.

"Alle Kinder sehen den Stier - Außer Elise die rennt über die Wiese" or "All the kids see the steer - except for Elise who's running through field"

Then there are some that are a bit darker like the one above. I suppose there is a chance that Elise escapes the bull. I mean, there are people in Spain who do this every year, right? She could totally escape unharmed! No, we all know that kid is getting gored. Although, maybe there’s a chance she’ll survive. On other pages, children die or are dead (“Alle Kinder freuen sich des Lebens – Außer Torben der ist gestorben”). Once I read through the whole thing, it became obvious that its a book for older children if its for children at all. I even checked the ratings to see what people (ie: real Germans) were saying about it. A few reviewers mentioned that they love it, its humurous and real. One man even reads it with his four year old.

I read it with my 19 month old, because you know what? The rhythm of the text makes her happy and she likes the pictures. For right now, that’s all that matters.

Kleiner Jumbo, Große Mama

Sometime last month I mentioned something about weekly book posts, yes? I must have forgotten that I have a toddler, a toddler who thinks the computer is for watching Elmo and puppy videos on YouTube.

We do manage to read in between the puppy videos.We just don’t always manage to blog about it.

Kleiner Jumbo, Große Mama by Yasushi Muraki was the first book I bought for Shoshana in Berlin. There are two “Ellas” on the cover – how could I pass it up? The story follows a little elephant and his mama through a typical elephantine day eating “saftiges Gras” and shooting water through their trunks, while demonstrating a mother’s love.

my favorite page


The best thing about it – other than the illustrations – is that it is the only book that Shoshana consistently lets me read to her auf Deutsch.

Shoshana’s Storybooks: Der Blaue Autobus

Once a week, I’ll feature a book from my daughter’s growing collection of German children’s storybooks. I’ll try my best to only write about books originally written in German.

reading is better when you do it upside down

Der Blaue Autobus (The Blue Bus) is written by the amazing author/illustrator combo behind our favorite book, Henriette Bimmelbahn (Henriette the Little Train with a Warning Bell*), James Krüss and Lisl Strich. Why then isn’t this post about Henriette “heißt die nette, alte kleine Bimmelbahn?” Because in one of my poorer packing decisions, I left that one at home. We’re going to be in Germany; we don’t need to bring German books! We’ll buy German books! Plus, at the time Shoshana was able to get though an entire day without reading it.

Turns out I’m not.

Still, unable to make myself buy a book we already own (even if it is 10,000 miles away), I turned to another lovable tale of public transportation. In this story, the blue bus must navigate the city streets while a stubborn little poodle named Ottokar does his best to stop it in its tracks. My favorite thing about this book – and others by Krüss and Lisl – is the illustrations, and of course, I love how Der Blaue Autobus, as well as Henriette Bimmelbahn and (another one I almost forgot) Die Ganz Besondere Strassenbahn, teach kids about public transportation. We don’t have a car, although we did have a hybrid in California, and I’m much, much happier that way for all of the obvious health and environmental reasons. Plus, Shosh LOVES smiling and waving at everyone in the Bahn, and we go to the playground more often than we did when we had to drive there.

please don't judge me based on those throw pillows - we rented the apartment furnished

*sounds better in German, no? Far more exact than I expected translation care of my (almost) professor husband.