A little while ago, Julia Eccleshare over at the Guardian Children's Books website discussed the best books to help children feel connected with Europe. Her list included such classics as Madeline and some more recent titles like Katherine Rundell's Rooftoppers. It is an interesting starting point, as much for its inclusions as for what it leaves out: the listed books tend to be older titles, written by British writers and a lot of them are set in Paris (a more or less fictional Paris).
What about cracking adventures set in the French capital that don't involve the Eiffel tower? (You may want to try the Golem series by siblings Marie-Aude, Lorris and Elvine Murail - Walker Books, 10+). What about detective stories set in Germany that don'tinvolve World War Two? (Check out The Pasta Detectives by Andreas Steinhöfel, Chicken House, 9+). Or what about lovely books to share with your young reader that give you a taste of Sweden but don't involve either Pippi Longstocking or Nils Holgersson (although we love them, too)? (When Dad Showed Me the Universe by Ulf Stark and Eva Eriksson, published by Gecko Press, 5+, should do the trick)
Some publishers have made it their mission to 'help children feel connected with Europe', if not in so many words. The likes of Pushkin Press, Little Island, Alma Books and Gecko Press have been bringing fantastic and fantastically different books from all over the world (including Europe) to young readers of English for years.
The website Outside In World is a brilliant ressource as it catalogues all the children's books that get translated into English and allows the user to browse by country, artist or age.
What would our readers suggest be added to this list? The brilliantlly wacky Kurt by Norwegian writer and illustrator Erlend Loe (published by Gecko Press) might give you some inspiration...