Category: Children's Books

Klaus Hübner
Barbara Jung (Illustrator)

Anders ist auch schön
[Different is fun too]

Storybook

Review

Different is fun too by Barbara Jung (illustrations) and Klaus Hübner (story) is a picture book in the best sense of the word. With few words and many fabulous illustrations, it shows that variety can make life more colorful, interesting, and extraordinary, and that new, unfamiliar perspectives can often put well-known routines suddenly into a totally new light.

The story: The little king has everything one could wish for, from toys to a palace to an entire kingdom—and still, sometimes he gets terribly bored. In order to change that, one day he withdraws to his “Thinking Room” and has a brilliant idea. He summons all his busily working subjects to an unusual kind of lottery in the royal palace. Everyone draws a lottery ticket telling them what new job they will perform and everything is different for a day: The gardener decorates the chimneys and the chimneysweep bakes the rolls. The barber tends the sheep and the general gives the garden a new look. The results of the role-switching are as amusing as they are surprising. The King enjoys himself royally and they complete the day by celebrating at a huge party.

The authors of their first picture book are able to convey an important message in such a way that no one imagines any pedagogue admonishingly shaking a finger. Entertaining for children and adults alike, the illustrations by Barbara Jung urge viewers to take a closer look. They contain rich colors and fine details such as the Monarch of the Glen motif hanging on the wall in the Thinking Room or an unaware, unassuming rabbit that might be saved from the stew thanks to the King’s announcement, to name just a few examples.

Relative to the illustrations there is very little language, and yet it carries a lot of weight. Although the book is intended also for young children aged four and up, the authors do not fall into the trap of using overly simple vocabulary that would make the story boring. On almost every page there are expressions about showing “great dedication overseeing the royal troops” or treating “the garden with tender loving care!” It is an idiomatic style that harmonizes beautifully with the illustrations. Without expecting too much of the children, they are “respectfully” offered a fun way of dealing with the medium of language.

Even the youngest readers will thus have no difficulty understanding the exchange of jobs and roles and the enjoyable results. And so they too will feel inspired to try looking at the world from a different perspective!
Heike Friesel

By Heike Friesel, 19.04.2004

Translated by Allison Brown