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Emil and the Detectives (Red Fox Classics) Paperback – March 31, 2001
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- Item Weight : 5.6 ounces
- Paperback : 218 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0099413124
- ISBN-13 : 978-0099413127
- Publisher : Random House Children's Books (March 31, 2001)
- Dimensions : 5.08 x 0.55 x 7.8 inches
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #146,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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"This is at least the third translation of Emil and the Detectives into English, and the first to be commissioned for a twenty first century American reader. To that end I have attempted to render the story - which is as universal as it is local - into contemporary, colloquial American idiom. It was at times quite challenging, given that the language and details of the original are so tightly woven into the fabric of everyday life in German in the 1920s. So if sometimes the characters do things that seem odd, keep in mind that they were doing them over seventy years ago."
Yuck! I wanted us to learn something about German culture. So much of the value of literature is to help us get out of my own heads and into someone else's. Translations like this don't help at all. They render the book useless to confer that benefit and they change it completely as a work of art. There was no "Herr" So and So. It was Mr. and Mrs. There was even a reference to 30 cents. Did Germans use US currency then?
Very frustrating since the first time when I borrowed this book from the library the translation that I got included all those wonderful German details and that oldest child learned so much.
slang; clumsy constructions. The illustrations are the wonderful ones by Walter Trier, the introduction by Sendak is fine, but which child will care about the introduction? All in all a disappointing way to introduce a child to Emil and his adventures. I found myself paraphrasing sentences as I read aloud to a seven year old, because I found them so awkward and unpleasant. Too bad.
However, I can't recommend this edition, for two reasons, both having to do with the text of the new translation. First, some of the proper names are "translated" into English, e.g., Emil Tischbein becomes Emil Tabletoe, the town of Neustadt becomes New Town, and so on, although most geographical locations and some characters' names remain in German. According to the translator, these lighthearted and absurdist names (Truegut, Groundsnow, Crumbagel) are true to the spirit of Kastner's original text. However, the effect -- particularly when mixed with proper German names -- is jarring. This misstep would have been forgivable, however, were it not for a worse problem: all of the children in the story speak in a jumble of late 20th/early 21st Century slang. The setting of the book, the illustrations, and the storyline all clearly belong to an earlier time, and the rest of the text is clean and straightforward, so having characters regularly spout lines like "Get outa here!", "You dork!", "Berlin parents are so cool!" is gratingly anachronistic. This may pose no problem for children who have grown up on modern animated films, where characters who are ostensibly Vikings may talk like California surfers, but for an adult reader with a sense of history it just doesn't work. The text doesn't benefit from this "modernization" any more than Little Women would be improved by having characters greet one another with "What's hanging, Dude?".
I read this book to my 7-year old grandson, who enjoyed it immensely.
Top reviews from other countries
The story is set in Germany and is of a young boy who gets swept into an adventure whilst on a train journey to visit his Grandmother in Berlin. This book is a must for any child but particularly those with a vivid imagination!