‘The Adventures of Shola’ by Bernardo Atxaga (Review)

After the positive reception of Emily’s first review last month, we thought that we’d try looking at another book together, and today’s choice is a further offering from Pushkin Children’s Books.  The writer and translator, once again, are very familiar names – the star of the show, however, is a little hairier than last time around 😉

What’s the name of the book, and who is it by?
The name of the book is The Adventures of Shola, and it’s by Bernardo Atxaga.

What’s it about?
It’s about a dog called Shola and her owner, Señor Grogo.  Shola is no ordinary dog.  She likes going on adventures, maybe she is a ‘rara avis’ (laughs).  She’s a little white dog, and she has lots and lots of adventures, like going on a wild boar hunt and being a lioness!

Did you like it?  Why (not)?
I liked two of the stories, but I didn’t like the other two stories as much.  They were just a little bit boring because there wasn’t much excitement in them.  I liked the other stories better because they have lots of excitement, and Shola is on the run!

What was your favourite story?  Why?
‘Shola and the Aunt from America’, because it was very funny.  In this story, Señor Grogo’s aunt is coming over from America, and Shola thinks she is going to be a rude, nasty cowgirl, but she is a ‘no-leaded dogs person’, so Shola is very surprised about her reaction of being free.  Shola cannot believe that the aunt from America threw away her lead.

I also liked ‘Shola and the Wild Boar’.  It was full of excitement, and Shola was the smallest dog, but she was the bravest of all.  Even though they didn’t even see a real wild boar, it was a terrifying hunt!

Was it difficult to read?
Maybe the words on the TV show ‘Live in the Park’ (in the ‘Shola and the Aunt from America’ story), like ‘rara avis’ and ‘discombobulated’, were a bit tricky.  The rest of the book was easy to read, and I liked the colourful pictures.  My favourite picture was of the American aunt 🙂

Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls?  Why (not)?
It would be a good book for dog-lovers and anyone who likes crazy things!

Emily, thank you very much 🙂

Our second choice from the Pushkin Children’s range is another by a high-profile team.  The writer is Bernardo Atxaga, a Basque author well known for his adult books (e.g. Seven Houses in France) while the translator (from Atxaga’s own Spanish translation) is one of the biggest names in the game, the wonderful Margaret Jull Costa (translator of, among many others, Javier Marías and José Saramago).  There is a third member of the team too, illustrator Mikel Valverde, and his wonderful colourful drawings are an integral part of the stories, allowing us to see the fearless Shola in all her glory.

The four stories were originally released individually, and this collection is a wonderful book, a beautiful hardback edition running to more than two-hundred pages.  Some of the vocabulary might be a little tricky for younger readers (even the intrepid Emily), but there’s always the option of reading the book to your child yourself.  I suspect I might try reading one of the stories to her over a few evenings to see if it works better that way…

So, another great children’s book, and a further insight into what kids overseas are reading (or having read to them).  I wonder what else we can find to entertain Miss Emily with?  Hopefully, it won’t be too long until we get back to you with the next instalment of her adventures in translated fiction 🙂

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