Christine (Christine Noestlinger) Nöstlinger (1936–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1936, in Vienna, Austria; Education: Attended art school in Vienna, Austria.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House, Andersen Press, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Rd., London SW1V 25A, England.
Journalist for a Vienna daily newspaper; writer.
Friedrich-Bödecker prize, 1972, for contribution to children's literature; Buxtehuder Bulle award, 1973, for Fly Away Home; German youth literature prize, 1973, for The Cucumber King; Österreichischer Stätspreis für Kinder-und Jugendliteratur, 1975, for Achtung! Vranek sieht ganz harmlos aus, 1979, for Guardian Ghost, and 1987, for A Dog's Life; The Cucumber King selected for International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) honor list in the translator's category, 1978; Mildred L. Batchelder Award, 1979, for Konrad; Kinder-und Jugendbuchpreis, City of Vienna, 1980, for Dschi Dsche-i Dschunior; Luke and Angela selected an American Library Association notable book, 1981; Hans Christian Andersen Medal, IBBY, 1984, for body of work; Children's Book Award, City of Vienna, 1987, for Der geheime Grossvater; Tolereis des Österreichischen Buchhandels für Toleranz in Denken und Handeln, 1990; first prize, Stiftung Buchkunst 1993; Zurich Youth Literature Prize, 1998; Wildweibchenpreis, 2002; Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for Literature, Swedish government, 2003.
FOR CHILDREN; TRANSLATED FROM GERMAN BY ANTHEA BELL
Die feürrote Friedrike, Jugend & Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1970, published as Fiery Frederica, illustrated by David McKee, Abelard-Schuman (London, England), 1975.
Die Kinder aus dem Kinderkeller: Aufgeschrieben von Pia Maria Tiralla, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1971, published as The Disappearing Cellar: A Tale Told by Pia Maria Tiralla, a Viennese Nanny, illustrated by Heidi Rempen, Abelard-Schuman (London, England), 1975.
Mr. Bats Meisterstück; oder, Die total verjüngte Oma, Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 1971, published as Mr. Bat's Great Invention, illustrated by F. J. Tripp, Andersen Press (London, England), 1978.
Wir pfeifen auf den Gurkenkönig, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1972, published as The Cucumber King: A Story with a Beginning, a Middle, and an End, in Which Wolfgang Hogelmann Tells the Whole Truth, illustrated by Werner Maurer, Abelard-Schuman (London, England), 1975, published as The Cucumber King, Dutton (New York, NY), 1985.
Ein Mann für Mama, Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 1972, published as Marrying off Mother, Andersen Press (London, England), 1978, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1982.
Maik Aefer, flieg! Mein Vater, das Kriegsende, Cohn und Ich, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1973, published as Fly Away Home, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1975.
Der kleine Herr greift ein, illustrated by Rolf Rettich, Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 1973.
Sim Sala Bim, illustrated by Wolfgang Zöhrer, Jugend & Volk (Munich, Germany), 1973.
Achtung! Vranek sieht ganz harmlos aus (title means "Careful! Vranek Seems to Be Totally Harmless"), Jugend & Volk (Munich, Germany), 1974.
(With Hans Arnold) Gugerells Hund, Betz (Munich, Germany), 1974.
Iba de guanz oaman Kinda (poetry), woodcut illustrated by Thomas Bewick, Jugend & Volk (Munich, Germany), 1974.
Das Leben der Tomanis, illustrated by Helme Heine, G. Middelhauve (Hanover, Germany), 1974–76.
Ilse Janda, 14, Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 1974, translated as Girl Missing, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1976.
Stundenplan, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1975, published as Four Days in the Life of Lisa, Abelard-Schuman (London, England), 1977.
Konrad; oder, Das Kind aus der Konservenbüchse, Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 1975 translated as Conrad: The Factory-made Boy, illustrated by Frantz Wittkamp, Andersen Press (London, England), 1976, published as Konrad, illustrated by Carol Nicklaus, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1977, published as Conrad, illustrated by Frantz Wittkamp, Trafalgar Square, 1999.
Der kleine Jo (title means "Little Jo"), illustrated by Bettina Anrich-Wölfel, H. Schrödel (Hanover, Germany), 1976.
Das will Jenny haben, illustrated by Bettina Anrich-Wölfel, H. Schroedel (Hanover, Germany), 1977.
Lollipop, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1977, English translation illustrated by Angelika Kaufmann, Andersen Press (London, England), 1982.
Pit und Anja entdecken das Jahr: Der Frühling kommt (title means "Pit and Anja Discover the Year: Spring Comes"), illustrated by Bernadette Parmentier, H. Schrödel (Hamburg, Germany), 1978.
Die unteren sieben Achtel des Eisbergs, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1978.
Luki-live, Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 1978, published as Luke and Angela, Andersen Press (London, England), 1979, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1981.
Pit und Anja entdecken das Jahr: Im Sommer (title means "Pit and Anja Discover the Year: In the Summer"), illustrated by Bernadette Parmentier, H. Schrödel (Hamburg, Germany), 1978.
Rosa Reidl, Schutzgespenst, Jugend & Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1979, published as Guardian Ghost, Andersen Press (London, England), 1986.
Dschi Dsche-i Dschunior, Jugend & Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1980.
Einer, illustrated by Janosch, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1980.
Pfui Spinne!, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1980.
Zwei Wochen im Mai: Mein Vater, der Rudi, der Hansi und Ich, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1981.
Der Denker greift ein, Jugend & Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1981, published as Brainbox Sorts It Out, Andersen Press (London, England), 1985, published as Brainbox Cracks the Case, Bergh, 1986.
Rosalinde hat Gedanken im Kopf (title means "Rosalinde Has Thoughts in Her Head"), Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 1981.
Gretchen Sackmeier, Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 1981.
Das Austauschkind, 1982, published as But Jasper Came Instead, Andersen Press (London, England), 1983.
Anatol und die Wurschtelfrau, Jugend & Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1983.
Gretchen hat Henschen-Kummer: Eine Familiengeschichte, Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 1983.
Jokel, Jula und Jericho, two volumes, illustrated by Edith Schindler, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1983.
Liebe Susi, lieber Paul, Thienemann Verlag (Stuttgart, Germany), 1984.
Liebe Oma, deine Susi, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 1985.
Der geheime Grossvater (title means "The Secret Grandfather"), illustrated by daughter, Christiana Nöstlinger, Jugend & Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1986.
Susis geheimes Tagebuch, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 1986.
Der Hund kommt!, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1987, translated as A Dog's Life, illustrated by Jutta Bauer, Andersen Press (London, England), 1990.
Wetti und Babs, Jugend & Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1987.
Echt Susi, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 1988.
Die nie geschriebenen Briefe der Emma K., Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 1988.
Mein Tagebuch, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 1989, reprinted, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (Munich, Germany), 2004.
Der Zwerg im Kopf, Beltz & Gelberg, 1989, translated as Elf in the Head, Swords, Co. (Dublin, Ireland), 1992.
Der gefrorene Prinz, Marchenroman, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1990.
Hauhaltsschnecken leben langer, DTV (Munich, Germany), 1991.
Wie ein Ei dem anderen, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 1991.
Leibe Tochter, werter Sohn, Jugend & Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1992.
Am Montag ist alles Ganz Anders, Jugend & Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1992.
Geschichten vom Franz, translated as Hello Fred, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 1992.
Fred Again, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 1992.
Salut für Mama, illustrated by Christina Nöstlinger, Niederösterreichisches Pressehause, 1992.
Mit Zwei Linken Kochloffein: Ein kleiner Kochlehrgang für Kuchenmuffel, Jugend & Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1993.
Was ist nur aus uns Geworden?, illustrations by Christina Nöslinger, Tosa (Vienna, Austria) 1994.
Management by Mama, illustrated by Christina Nöstlinger, Niederösterreichisches Pressehause, 1994.
Mama Mia!, illustrated by Christina Nöstlinger, Niederös-terreichisches Pressehause, 1995.
Iba de Gaunz Oamen Leit: Gedichte, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna Austria), 1996.
Ein Hund Kam in die Küche: Kleines köchelverzeichnis für Männer, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 1996.
Fröhliche Weihnachten, leibes Christkind!, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 1997.
Mini und Mauz, illustrated by Christiana Nöstlinger, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (Munich, Germany), 1998.
Chachi, illustrated by Maria Fe Gonzßlez, Editorial Bruno (Madrid, Spain), 1998.
Vom weissen Elefanten und den roten Luftballons, illustrated by Barbara Waldschutz, Beltz & Gelberg (Hemsbach, Germany), 1998.
Der Denker greift ein, illustrated by Christiana Nöstlinger, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (Munich, Germany), 1998.
Emm an Ops, Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 1998.
Mini muss in die Schule, illustrated by Christiana Nöstlinger, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (Munich, Germany), 1998.
Mini trifft den Weihnachtsmann, illustrated by Christiana Nöstlinger, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (Munich, Germany), 1998.
Manchmal möchte ich ein Single sein, illustrated by Christiana Nöstlinger, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (Munich, Germany), 1999.
Willi und die Angst, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 1999.
ABC für Grossmütter, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 1999.
Mini ist Verliebt, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 1999.
Einen Löffel für den Papa, einen Löffel für die Mama, einen Löffel für die Oma, einen Löffel für den Opa, jeder Löffel für die Katz!, illustrated by Jorg Wollmann, Jugend & Wolk (Vienna, Austria), 2000.
Piruleta, Santillana Publishers, 2000.
Bonsai, Beltz & Gelberg (Weinheim, Germany), 2000.
Mütter wollen Gebraucht Werden, illustrations by Christina Nöstlinger, Tosa (Vienna, Austria), 2001.
Fußballgeschichten vom Franz, Oetinger (Hamburg, Germany), 2002.
Küchen-ABC: von A wie "Arbeit antun" bis Z wie "Zaubern," Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 2003.
Sowieso und Überhaupt, Dachs-Verlag (Vienna, Austria), 2004.
Also contributor of articles, reviews, and columns to periodicals. Author of scripts for television series and films; author of book reviews for radio broadcast.
Author's works have been translated into numerous languages.
Considered one of Austria's most honored authors, Christine Nöstlinger has become beloved to thousands of readers due to the humor and magic she combines in her many books for young readers. Winner of both the Hans Christian Andersen Medal and Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize, Nöstlinger believes children should be dealt with honestly while also being entertained. "She has said that she sees four elements in writing for children," wrote Pat Thomson in Books for Keeps: "Their love of humour, what they like to read, what they ought to read, and what she feels compelled to write." For younger children, Nöstlinger has authored what her long-time translator Anthea Bell described in Junior Bookshelf as "comic fantasy" that some critics have compared to the work of nineteenth-century British au-thor E. Nesbit, while novels for young adults such as Fly Away Home, Marrying off Mother, and Girl Missing also rely on humor to relieve the tension of their more realistic stories. A prolific author, she has also authored television scripts, book reviews, columns, and articles for periodicals, as well as nonfiction works and poetry.
Nöstlinger was born in Vienna, Austria in 1936, and was by her own account a rather headstrong child. "I grew up in a working-class district of Vienna, where I was considered a 'posh' child, because my mother ran a nursery school and my grandfather had a shop," the author recalled in Junior Bookshelf. However, Nöstlinger's comfortable family life was destroyed by the onset of World War II. Allied forces bombed Vienna relentlessly, leaving her once-comfortable family homeless and with-out sufficient food, clothing, and medicine. Memories of this traumatic time would later make their way into her books, such as Fly Away Home.
Nöstlinger's goal after the war was to become a painter, but before completing her studies at a Vienna art school she left to get married and start a family. When she decided to resume her career, she changed her direction; because she recognized that she did not possess the required talent, she turned her back on art and took a job with a daily newspaper. Meanwhile, she also tried her hand at writing and illustrating a picture book, Die feuerrote Friederike. "The text won more approval than the pictures," Nöstlinger later recalled. "As I was very keen on approval at the time, I took to writing."
In her writing career, which began in the early 1970s, Nöstlinger has switched back and forth between juvenile books and young-adult fiction, although much of her most recent work is for young children. Elements of magic and fantasy that are woven into her stories for younger audiences portray children in new and unexpected ways, often through a reversal of roles between adult and child, or by challenging traditional ideas about how children should act. In Mr. Bat's Great Invention, for example, a magic potion turns Robert's grandmother into a six-year-old bratty child. In order to return his grandmother back to normal, Robert has to take charge and use Mr. Bat's time machine. The Cucumber King is a tale of "teenage rebellion," according to Growing Point reviewer Margery Fisher in describing the story in which Wolfgang's father helps the tyrannical Cucumber King in his attempt to regain power over the other vegetables in the cellar. Because his father is on the wrong side of this bizarre vegetable rebellion, Wolfgang is placed in the uncomfortable position of having to fight against his own dad.
Among her more recent books for younger readers, many of which have been translated into English, are two series that are still only available in their original German, one about a boy named Franz, and another about an eight-year-old girl named Mini. An essayist for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award Web site noted of these books that, even in such entertaining picture books "one finds many instances of Nöstlinger's skill in telling riveting stories whilst raising matters that make the reader stop and think." Citing such titles as Mini ist Verliebt and Fußballgeschichten vom Franz, the essayist added that the author's "special tone of voice: humorous, unsentimental, unobtrusive and loving," sets such books apart from the ordinary.
The unique plot twist in Nöstlinger's best-known book, Conrad: The Factory-Made Boy, also marks the author as apart from the ordinary. In this clever tale, Conrad is a made-to-order boy who has perfect manners. When he is accidentally delivered to the wrong person, Mrs. Bartolotti, who does not demand perfection from Conrad, the boy bonds with his new family. When the cold and demanding parents who actually ordered the "perfect child" arrive to regain their lost delivery, Conrad must quickly learn how to be naughty so that he can stay with Mrs. Bartolotti. Commenting on Conrad, as well as on Nöstlinger's entire body of work, Sabine Fuchs noted in an essay for the New Books in German Web site that the author's success in such fantasy stories is due to the fact that her characters are "closely observed" and her plots "linguistically playful and wonderfully imaginative."
Nöstlinger's young-adult books are more grounded in realism than her children's fiction, but they still retain the author's characteristic humor. Despite its somber backdrop, Fly Away Home, which is set during the final days of World War II, contains a great deal of humor. Based on the author's own experiences, the novel focuses on the Nazi withdrawal from Austria and the country's temporary occupation by Russian troops. The tension and suffering in the story is relieved by humorous moments, especially those between Christel, the main character, and Cohn, a Russian cook. Critics have particularly praised Fly Away Home for possessing a "realism devoid of self-pity," as a Booklist contributor stated. Nöstlinger continues the story begun in Fly Away Home in the as-yet-untranslated Zwei Wochen im Mai: Mein Vater, der Rudi, der Hansi und Ich.
Other young-adult books by Nöstlinger are set in the present day and are more directly concerned with the problems of growing up. Marrying off Mother finds sisters Sue and Julia forced to deal with their parents' divorce and the possibility that they will be faced with step parents. Luke and Angela finds a teen returning to Austria after a year at a British private school, where the new ideas he has been exposed to cause a change in his relationship with his former best friend, Angela. And Girl Missing finds fourteen-year-old Ilse fleeing parents whose stress has resulted in the use of physical abuse. The novel follows Erika as she searches for her runaway sister. Comparing Girl Missing to Fly Away Home, Betsy Hearne wrote in Booklist that whereas in Fly Away Home there is "kindness in the middle of strife," in Girl Missing "a time of plenty camouflages bitter struggles among people who hurt each other." Although the family in Girl Missing remains torn apart, characters in books like Luke and Angela and But Jasper Came Instead eventually come to understand each other by novel's end.
As Patricia Crampton explained in Bookbird, throughout her body of work Nöstlinger has placed herself squarely "on the side of the children, first, last and all the way." Thomson observed in Books for Keeps that the author "speaks very directly" to her readers, "involving them in an immediate way. She is antiauthoritarian, writing largely from the child's point of view, but without abdicating adult responsibility. The characters always recognize ultimately that they, too, must contribute to family harmony whatever the parental shortcomings."
Since Nöstlinger began her writing career her beliefs about what authors should try to do with their books has changed considerably. In her acceptance speech for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal—reprinted in Bookbird—she recalled that in the beginning her philosophy "was quite simple: since children live in an environment which offers them no encouragement to develop Utopias for themselves, we have to take them by the arm and show them how beautiful, cheerful, just and humane this world could be. Rightly done, this will make children long for that better world, and their longing will make them willing to think about what must be got rid of and what must be initiated in order to produce the world they long for."
More recently, though, increasing problems of poverty, famine, pollution, and war have made Nöstlinger doubt whether writers can indeed have a positive affect on children's lives. This, along with competition for young audiences from television and videos, has caused the disillusioned author to conclude that "there is now less chance than ever of increasing equality of opportunity through reading" unless "everything in the world changes for the better." Still, as Bell noted in Bookbird, Nöstlinger continues to try to set examples for children in her writing "through the medium of humor."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Children's Literature Review, Volume 11, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1987.
St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Bookbird, June 15, 1984, pp. 5-6; December, 1984, Christine Nöstlinger, "Acceptance Speech for the 1984 Andersen Writer's Medal"; December 15, 1984, Patricia Crampton, "There Is Always a Bridge," pp. 4-8; June 15, 1985, Anthea Bell, "Translating Humour for Children," pp. 8-13.
Booklist, September 1, 1975, p. 44; October 15, 1976, Betsy Hearne, review of Girl Missing, pp. 324-325.
Books and Bookmen, June, 1977, pp. 64-66.
Books for Keeps, January, 1984, p. 8; September, 1984, Pat Thomson, "Christine Nöstlinger," p. 26.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 1986, p. 134.
Economist, December 25, 1976, pp. 90-91.
Growing Point, July, 1975, Margery Fisher, review of The Cucumber King, pp. 2655-2656; January, 1977, p. 3044; September, 1977, p. 3168; July, 1983, pp. 4100-4101; July, 1985, pp. 4463-4464.
Horn Book, January-February, 1989, p. 34.
Junior Bookshelf, August, 1978, p. 192; February, 1984, pp. 35-36; April, 1984, Christine Nöstlinger, "Autobiographical Note"; April, 1984, Anthea Bell, "Christine Nöstlinger," pp. 49-50; October, 1990, pp. 247-248.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1981, pp. 805-806.
Lion and the Unicorn, June, 1988.
School Librarian, June, 1977, p. 159; September, 1982, p. 236.
School Library Journal, December, 1982, p. 73.
Times Educational Supplement, January 18, 1980, p. 39; June 11, 1982, p. 44; June 3, 1983, p. 43; February 14, 1986, p. 14.
Times Literary Supplement, December 10, 1976, p. 1549; March 25, 1977, p. 358; July 7, 1978, p. 764.
Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award Web site, http://www.alma.se (July 11, 2005), "Christine Nöslinger."
New Books in German Web site, http://www.new-books-in-german.com/ (July 11, 2005), Sabine Fuchs, "Christine Nöslinger."
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