General introduction to this series of blog posts HERE.
Children’s and young adult literature was an era where German women writers were represented even before there were such things as “children’s”, “middle grade”, and “young adult” genres. In the early 20th century, there were the books of Else Ury, which are still hugely popular today, a century later; after WWII, there were the books by Marie-Louise Fischer (Germany’s answer to Enid Blyton, though she didn’t write children’s / middle grade / YA literature exclusively, therefore she’s included in the main run-down of Post-WWII authors) … and in addition, there are these ladies:
- Ellis Kaut (1920-2015): The longtime director of children’s programs at the main Bavarian broadcast station, Kaut in 1961 invented a four-toed kobold (or rather, Klabautermann) named Pumuckl, who by accident gets stuck inside a Munich carpenter’s shop and thus becomes visible to the shop’s owner. Originally presented as radio dramas, the Pumuckl stories eventually made their way to the printed page and the screen and to huge nationwide popularity. I don’t think any of her works have been translated into English (though apparently there are editions in other languages) — for those who want to sample the German TV incarnation, Youtube currently has the complete first and second seasons.
- Christine Nöstlinger (1936-2018): An extremely prolific and multiple-award-winning Austrian children’s author and graphic artist, who often includes difficult subjects such as war, racism and bullying in her books. Like Astrid Lindgren, she created several long-running series with different child heroes. Many of her works have been translated into English, including her first book (which she also illustrated), Fiery Frederica (Die feuerrote Friederike); as well as the two first books of her Fred (Franz) series, Hello, Fred (Geschichten vom Franz) and Fred Again (Neues vom Franz), and the stand-alone books But Jasper Came Instead (Das Austauschkind), Fly Away Home (Maikäfer, flieg!), Conrad: The Factory-Made Boy (Konrad oder Das Kind aus der Konservenbüchse), The Cucumber King (Wir pfeifen auf den Gurkenkönig), Luke and Angela (Luki-live), Marrying Off Mother (Ein Mann für Mama), Good Dragon, Bad Dragon (Guter Drache und Böser Drache), Mr Bat’s Great Invention (Mr. Bats Meisterstück), Girl Missing (Die Ilse ist weg), Four Days in the life of Lisa (Stundenplan), A Dog’s Life (Der Hund kommt!), and Elf in the Head (Der Zwerg im Kopf).
- Angela Sommer-Bodenburg (* 1948): A former teacher; the author of the bestselling Little Vampire (Der kleine Vampir) franchise about a boy and a 146 year old vampire inhabiting a boy’s body, which inspired both a movie and a syndicated TV series. Sommer-Bodenburg moved to California when the books became successful enough in the U.S. to generate Hollywood interest; she currently lives in New Mexico.
- Christa Ludwig (* 1949): The author of a popular six-book series of middle grade books featuring horses (Hufspuren — “Hoof Tracks”) and other middle grade and young adult books, many of which likewise involve horses and the children and teenagers who love them. In 2018, she published a novel about the Jerusalem years of Else Lasker-Schüler (see post on German women writers from the first half of the 20th century), whose works she had loved since her own youth. — I don’t think her works have been translated; but she’s certainly popular enough in Germany to warrant her inclusion in this post.
- Cornelia Funke (* 1958): No introduction necessary I think; with a total number of sold books in double digit million figures and books translated into almost 40 languages, she’s one of Germany’s biggest literary exports … and she owes it all to a bilingual reader who complained to the English publisher of the Harry Potter books that she couldn’t share her favorite books with her English speaking friends. Many of Funke’s books actively empower girls and encourage them to actively reach out for the life they are dreaming of, and not to let obstacles deter them. I don’t think at this point there is a single book of Funke’s that isn’t instantly translated; her bestselling series are Inkworld (Tintenwelt), Ghosthunters (Geisterjäger), Dragon Riders (Drachenreiter), Reckless, and The Wild Chicks (Die wilden Hühner); her standalone books include Igraine the Brave (Igraine Ohnefurcht), When Santa Fell to Earth (Als der Weihnachtsmann vom Himmel fiel), Pirate Girl, The Princess Knight (Der geheimnisvolle Ritter Namenlos), Saving Mississippi (Hände weg von Mississippi), Princess Pigsty (Prinzessin Isabella), The Thief Lord (Herr der Diebe), and Ghost Knight (Geisterritter).
- Nina Blazon (* 1969): An author of — mainly — fantasy and paranormal novels for young adults, many of which take up fairy tale themes from around the world, including Scandinavia, France, Germany, and Eastern Europe and Russia. Only one of her books has been translated into English, the boarding school mystery The Pact of the Wolves (Der Bund der Wölfe) — which incidentally does not refer to werewolves –; three other books of hers are available in French translation: La femme du vampire (Totenbraut), Jade, fille de l’eau (Faunblut), and La nuit des pantheras (Schattenauge).