A fairy tale adventure awaits the discerning reader in Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures translated and adapted by Malve van Hassell. A beloved German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsey, this story was originally written on the eve of World War II. The first edition appeared in 1941. More than 25 editions appeared between 1941 and 2008. With the copyright holder’s permission, von Hassell’s adaptation is based upon the 1965 edition.
Twelve-year-old Dott finds her world turned upside down when she sneaks out to see the bonfire at the edge of her village on the evening of the midsummer night festival and the magical Rennefarre flower falls into her shoe. Now invisible to humans, she can no longer stay with her parents and younger siblings. Eager to find a way out of her predicament, she escapes to the forest. Her quest to return home finds her traveling through the cities and countrysides of 20th century Germany and beyond. Assisted on her journey by the animals she can now talk to and magical gifts along the way, Dott hopes in her heart of hearts that one day she will find a way to release herself from the enchantment of the Renefarre flower and return home.
This is a magical story accompanied by the stunning artwork of Monica Minto. A coming-of-age story that blends fantasy and social commentary, the reader finds herself carried away along with Dott on her fantastic journey to reunite with her family. While young readers will connect with Dott’s desire to return home, and will certainly enjoy the magical and fantasy-filled environment in which this story takes place, I fear its sheer length (298 pages) will deter some readers.
The original story might have been geared toward children, but the social commentary of 20th century Germany would be much more appropriate for tween and young adult readers in today’s modern world. If you read children’s classics from long ago, you’ll discover they handled sensitive topics in a much harsher way than we would now. So, I feel this puts Rennefarre at a disadvantage. How I feel this book would be best read is aloud by a family, which would allow parents to engage their children in conversations over the cultural and ethnic strains as well as the human destruction aspects of the book. It is important to point out, too, that though there are some difficult topics in Rennefarre, Dott’s travels inspire her to consider how she can change her world.
Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Price/Format: $13.99 paperback
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Release: December 11, 2012
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Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph. D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research. Working as an independent scholar, she published several books and journal articles, in particular, The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996). She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell’s memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich – Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer. She has published a children’s picture book, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (Mill City Press, 2012), and completed a manuscript for a historical fiction book set in the 13th century for young adults, Falconello. She is working on a historical fiction novel set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades.
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