Top 10: Favourite Books from my Childhood (Picture Books)

As promised two weeks ago, here’s my favourite picture books that I got to read as a child. Actually, I got most of them read to me. But I guess that’s quite normal. ;)

Looking back, it’s quite amazing that I actually didn’t read that many picture books. That might be partly due to the fact that my parents had to reread the books we loved quite a lot to us, but surely also partly responsible is my dad, who made up a lot of his own stories (and songs and poems) for us kids and we loved to hear them.

This list is quite Austria/German-centric. On the one hand, picture books rarely get translated (or so it seems) and on the other hand, we have some great Austrian children’s authors and my parents got a lot of books by them.

But you’re welcome to leave your own favourites in the comments.

10. Ali Mitgutsch – Round and Round in my Town

mitgutsch

Round and Round in my Town does without any words. It’s just pictures by German designer/painter Ali Mitgutsch. There’s tons of stuff happening on each page and I could keep myself busy for hours at a time trying to take in all the details on each page. I never succeeded.

9. Vera Ferra-Mikura – Der alte und der junge und der kleine Stanislaus

ferra-mikura

Vera Ferra-Mikura was an Austrian children’s author with a long list of publications. But I loved “Der alte und der junge und der kleine Stanislaus” (translation: The old and the young and the little Stanislaus) most. It’s about three generations of Stanislaus’ [which is a name, in case you didn’t guess]. It’s illustrated by Romanian-born Romulus Candea.

8. Franz Karl Ginzkey – Florians wundersame Reise über die Tapete

ginzkey

Franz Karl Ginzkey is probably better known for Hatschi Bratschis Balloon, but honestly – you really can’t give this book to children anymore and still have a clear conscience. It’s pretty much the most racist book I’ve ever read. Can only be explained by it being more than a hundred years old. Anyways, “Florians wundersame Reise über die Tapete” (transl: Florian’s fantastic journey over the wallpaper) tellls – surprisingly – the story of Florian who gets inspired by his new wallpaper and goes on a journey. It’s illustrated by Rolf Rettich.

7. Richard ScarryBusytown

scarry

First really international entry on this list. I guess everybody read those books… my favourite character was Lowly Worm. What was yours?

6. Wilhelm BuschMax and Moritz

busch

Oh, I guess that Max and Moritz are famous enough that I don’t need to explain them, do I? Well, in case that there are the uninitiated out there: Max and Moritz are two boys who play seven pranks on the people around them. As it is already in the public domain, you can read it here. This is one of the most important artefacts of German literary culture. And it’s delightfully evil and funny.

5. Heinrich HoffmannStruwwelpeter

hoffmann

Black pedagogy at its best! This book is also in the public domain and you can read it here. It’s a book of ten stories warning kids in no uncertain terms about the dangers of misbehaving. You’ve got the boy who sucked his thumb until an evil man comes and cuts them off, you’ve got the girl playing with matches until she burns to death, another boy won’t eat his soup and therefore he starves… It’s no wonder, growing up with this, that I like horror movies…

4. Eric CarleThe Very Hungry Caterpillar

carle

Another one of those books hardly any child can grow up without in the Western world. The caterpillar eats its way through a lot of stuff and then turns into beautiful butterfly. And what an awesome occasion to link again to this.

3. Arlene MoselThe Funny Little Woman

mosel

I have yet to find another person who also read this book as a kid. [Not that I exhausted myself in the search, mind you.] But I really love it. It’s about a woman who loves to laugh and make rice dumplings. One day, one of her dumplings gets away from her and she chases it into a demon world, where she stays to cook for the demons with a magic paddle until she’s had enough. Then she flees. It’s illustrated by Blair Lent.

2. Maurice SendakWhere the Wild Things Are

sendak

I would have thought everybody knows this book but since I had to take deadra to the bookstore a couple of months ago so she could read it for the first tim, here’s the short version: Max gets sent to his room without dinner so he dreams himself to an islands of monsters, where he’s the monster king. Man, I can’t wait for the movie. Here’s the trailer again, just to tide me over.

1. Mira Lobe – Das kleine Ich Bin Ich

lobe

Mira Lobe is an Austrian author and has written a plethora of children’s books, one better than the next. Like the Geggis, like Bimbuli, like Das Städtchen Drumherum. But my favourite is Das kleine Ich Bin Ich (transl: The little I Am Myself). It’s about this animal you see above which tries to find out what it is. It asks various animals whether they aren’t the same kind it is, but though it has something in common with all of them, it never really belongs. It continues like that for a while until it realises that it is just itself and that that’s a good thing. Wonderful story and wonderful illustrations by Susi Weigel, an Austrian illustrator and cartoon designer.

26 comments

  1. … Der Struwelpeter was Cool. Aber Wilhelm Busch war noch cooler. Wie Fips der (fiese, streichespielende) Affe das Baby rettet!
    In 2 Jahren werde ich C. das alles zeigen…

    “Die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt”, “Die wilden Kerle” u “Rundherum in meiner STadt” hat C. jetzt schon :)

    • Ach, es ist toll wenn man diese Dinge wieder mit Kinderaugen entdecken kann, oder?

      Da freu ich mich auch schon auf meine eigenen.

      Heißt das eigentlich, dass C. überhaupt noch kein Mira Lobe Buch hat?

      • Wir haben von der Oma “Die Geggis” (samt Plüschgeggi Gil und Rocco und einer bisher noch nicht gehörten Geggi-CD) bekommen.
        C. ist noch ein wenig zu klein für diese “komplizierten” Geschichten, aber sie sieht gerne die Bilder an.

        Ja. Das ist ein großes benefit des Kinderhabens. Das, und dass man immer ein Alibi hat, um sich selbst mit Rutschen, Lesen, Sand spielen usw zu beschäftigen :P

  2. Possibly because I DIDN’T grow up in the western world, I didn’t have a single one of these read to me when I was a kid :) . Although I do remember that we had some English picture books. And except for “Where the wild things are” and “the very hungry caterpillar”, I’ve never even heard of most of these.

  3. Since my husband grew up in Germany, most of the books on your list are familiar to me. Our bookshelves contain several Ali Mitgutsch titles; our children loved to pour over those detailed (and silly) pages when they were younger. When we were traveling in Austria a couple of years ago, we picked up a Max and Moritz book from a grocery store because of my husband’s find memories of the stories. However, once I looked through the book, I refused to let my young children have it, mostly because of the racism, but also for the antiquated examples of corporal punishment.

    The American titles you list are favorites of mine. I, too, loved Lowly Worm, and I remember my Uncle reading aloud to me from Richard Scarry’s books. I also liked the cat, but can’t remember his name.

    If you ever find yourself in New England, consider paying a visit to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Books Art: http://www.picturebookart.org/Home.

    • Thanks for the hint with the Eric Carle Museum. I plan to go to the US next year, I hope that I’ll make it there!

      I can understand that you wouldn’t want young children today to read Max and Moritz. I don’t think I would give it to my own children too early either. But I do think that they should read it in the end because it’s just a big part of our culture.

  4. I read The Funny Little Woman! I was just trying to explain it to my husband yesterday (he’s obviously never read it – he thought I was crazy). I couldn’t remember what it was called, just that the old woman laughed “tehehehe!” I’m glad to find that, not only are people still reading it, but that the greatness of it was shared by others in their childhood!

  5. Thank god for this list. I have been looking for ‘THe Funny little Woman’ for YEARS! And no one until now remembers it. Thanks!

  6. I also read The Funny Little Woman as a child. I am 21 so if it was made in the 70’s it was definetely before my childhood. It was my favorite book, maybe that explains why i have always enjoyed Asian mythology.

  7. Hello! the Funny Little Woman was my favorite picture book. I checked it out over and over from my school library in 1st and 2nd grade. I’ve been trying to remember the name for yrs– No one knew what I was talking about! I kept thinking it might be called the Runaway Dumpling.

    Anyway, I was preparing a top ten picks of my childhood books today and the Google Gods smiled on me– I found it!! Then found a link to your top ten– so cool to find someone else who loved this book.

    I am definitely going to get a copy for my little boy.

    :o)

  8. That is interesting– somebody should do a study on all the Funny Little Woman lovers– surely we all have unique brainwaves and scintillating personalities! ;o)

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