Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Good afternoon from very breezy and cool St. Thomas. Lots of sail boats out today due to the sunny and breezy weather. It isn't great beach weather but I am sure the tourists from snow country are not complaining about our 80 degree weather.

A while back Maureen White and I did a couple of articles together on International Children's Literature. Maureen is really the authority in this area, but working with her on the two articles certainly piqued my interest in doing a similar study with YA literature. I suspect the availability of translated international literature for teens in the U.S. is even less than the limited number of titles for children. Doing more research in this area came to mind because I just finished reading Daniel Half Human and the Good Nazi by David Chotjewitz. No wonder this book received acclaim in Germany. Doris Orgel did a wonderful job of translating it. Sometimes translations can be quite choppy, but this one isn't. I am sure that is in part due to the quality of Chotjewitz' writing to begin with.

We often read about how horrible the Nazi were, but we rarely read about a young adult who wants to join Hitler's Youth and is not allowed to do so by his father. Initially Daniel has no idea why his father will not let him join, his best friend Armin's father has let him join. But, the truth about his mother comes out and Daniel's realization that no matter how much he feels German, the Nazis don't consider him German, they consider him half human because his mother is Jewish. At first he is angry with his mother for being a Jew, but his loyalty to the German Reich slow disintegrates as he watches his Aryan father lose everything rather than divorcing his mother. The novel alternates between Daniel as a young adult before the war and Daniel, as a translator for the U.S. Army after the war. It will take me awhile to settle this one in my mind. In some ways I found it more difficult to read then the horrific tales of the concentration camps. Such a loss of innocence.

That's it for today.