2006 Batchelder Award honors Arthur A. Levine Books


Larra Clark/Macey Morales

ALA Media Relations

For Immediate Release

January 23, 2006

2006 Batchelder Award honors Arthur A. Levine Books for “An Innocent Soldier”

(SAN ANTONIO) Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc., is the winner of the 2006 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a foreign language and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States for “An Innocent Soldier.”

Originally published in German in 2002 as “Der Russländer,” the book was written by Josef Holub and translated by Michael Hofmann. The book tells the story of a young farmhand’s experience as a soldier in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia beginning in the winter of 1811. Betrayed by his farmer, he is conscripted into the Grande Armée and joins an ill-fated march to conquer Moscow. He becomes the personal servant of a young aristocrat, a life-transforming experience for both of them.

“Adam’s naïve narration allows readers to understand the horrors of war even as he begins to grapple with its futility and evolves from a passive reporter to a fully engaged survivor,” said Batchelder Chair Karen Breen.

Two Batchelder Honor Books also were selected: “Nicholas,” published by Phaidon Press Limited and “When I Was a Soldier,” published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

“Nicholas,” written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempé, was translated into English by Anthea Bell. It was originally published in French as “Le petit Nicolas.” A favorite among French schoolchildren for nearly half a century, the Nicholas stories introduce American readers to the hilarious escapades of a schoolboy and his classmates in an all-boys school.

“As Nicholas describes the events in his playground and classroom, readers will enjoy the irony of his version of reality,” Breen said.

“When I Was a Soldier,” by Valérie Zenatti, was translated into English by Adriana Hunter. It was originally published in French as “Quand J’étais Soldate.” Zenatti’s memoir tackles the unusual topic of compulsory military service in Israel, revealing the complex fabric of Israeli society. Her account of her first year as a soldier describes an experience totally foreign to American teens.

“Zenatti draws readers in with her portrayal of typical young adult concerns juxtaposed with her deepening understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Breen said.

Members of the 2006 Batchelder Award Committee are: Chair Karen Breen, Kirkus Reviews, New York; Jenny Brown, Publisher’s Weekly, New York; Louise Capizzo, Falmouth Memorial Library, Falmouth, Maine; Elise DeGuiseppi, Pierce County Library System, Tacoma, Wash.; and Jennifer Sommer, Wright Memorial Public Library, Dayton, Ohio.