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With babies comes bedtime, and with bedtime comes books. My latest love is Rotraut Susanne Berner's detail-packed quartet of volumes tracing the everyday life of a few characters through the seasons. I couldn't resist picking up the Sommer-Wimmelbuch whilst browsing through Katalka the other day, and have resolved to buy the further three volumes as each season comes round. S knows a good thing when she spots it, and I wish you could have seen the speed with which she crawled over to the book (easily half her size still). At the moment, she is up to little more than carefully turning each thick page with intense concentration, but I look forward to bedtime discussions a year or two down the road where we debate precisely why the nun has a penguin-shaped balloon and whether we think Santosh is enjoying the birthday party.

While we're on the subject, really: Wimmelbücher? An entire word for the genre -- for it is a genre, at least in the German-speaking world -- of oversized picture books depicting dozens of mini-narratives? Delightful stuff. And yes, while you could compare it to the Where's Waldo series, I think what's key about, say, Berner's work is that there is no Waldo privileged over the other characters.

Oh, it makes me look forward to the autumn!

Katalka, Raumerstr. 21, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg (map)
Open M noon-7pm, Tu-Fr 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-2pm
Tel. 49 30 4985 3377


Interesting. I'm German but did not know there was a word like "Wimmelbuch". Thanks.

Just the other day I was trying to think of how to found this kind of book. So thanks for solving that problem! They are fantastic!

Beethoven, I was wondering about your nationality. Is it not such a common word, then? And here I imagined little German children clambering onto their mothers laps and requesting a Wimmelbuch at bedtime. Jo, they're so incredible, really. S spent about twenty minutes looking through her volume last night.

It probably depends a bit on the number of Wimmelbuch-aged children in your immediate neighbourhood to know the word... As it is, my niece turns 5 on Saturday... methinks an Amazon overnight delivery is called for! thanks for the hint!

Hurrah! The details are just so marvelous, I'm sure she'll enjoy it.

I got to know Wimmelbuecher by Ali Mitgutsch as a German-Canadian kid growing up in Canada. But it wasn't until this week, visiting Berlin for an extended period with my own two little ones, that I learned the word Wimmelbuch, and discovered that there are several illustrators who make them! They are wonderful for long train rides. And there are ample little boys taking a pee behind a tree in the Ali Mitgutsch books, keeping my son very intrigued....

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