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Else Ury

 

Volume 1 of the Nesthäkchen Series describes Annemarie Braun's early life.

Nesthäkchen and Her Dolls
First English edition of the German children's classic
by Else Ury
Translated and annotated by Steven Lehrer
Nesthäkchen Series, Vol 1
Published March 2016
Kindle
Trade Paper
SF Tafel Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-1530642007
ISBN-10: 1530642000
224 pages

KIRKUS REVIEW
A new translation of the first novel in a children's series from a century ago introduces a sunny German heroine. Lehrer continues his important and approachable annotated translation of the series of beloved German children's classics with this English-language rendition of 1913's Nesthäkchen und ihre Puppen. This is the first installment in Ury's 10-book series starring blonde, blue-eyed Annemarie Braun, the "Nesthäkchen," or little pet daughter, in the family of a successful Berlin doctor and his wife. The series gave its readers--adults and children alike--a warmly sentimentalized picture of an "ideal German girl" from her early childhood to her old age. In this volume, Lehrer presents the very beginning of the series, in which the little Nesthäkchen has just turned 6 years old. Her parents spoil her, the family servants dote on her, her brothers tease her affectionately, and, as Annemarie herself asks one of her dolls, "Isn't it a fine world?" Perhaps inevitably, this is by far the most whimsical and carefree of the Nesthäkchen volumes, with consequently less work for Lehrer the conscientious annotator to do (a footnote about whooping cough is pretty much all the critical apparatus he needs to add this time around). Annemarie spends her time being adored by her parents even when she misbehaves and being cosseted by her nanny even when she's an adorable handful. Ury adds to the whimsy by taking readers inside the thoughts of Annemarie's dolls (hence the book's title), presenting their musings about their caretaker and the other toys in the nursery. It's a bright, smiling look at German childhood in the old empire, untouched by the two horrifying world wars that lie in the future. At one point, the Nesthäkchen visits family members on a farm in Arnsdorf, giving Ury plenty of opportunities for heartwarming scenes evoking a country idyll (the book reprints the German edition's charming illustrations). Lehrer's translation remains clear and inviting throughout, and the volume leaves Annemarie poised to depart her nursery and attend school, where more escapades await. The warm and inviting earliest adventures of a favorite children's book character from another era.


Volume 2 of the Nesthäkchen Series describes Annemarie Braun's first school year.

Nesthäkchen's First School Year
First English edition of the German children's classic
by Else Ury
Translated, introduced, and annotated by Steven Lehrer
Nesthäkchen Series, Vol 2
Published March 2016
Kindle
Trade Paper
SF Tafel Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-1500686208
ISBN-10: 1500686204
243 pages

KIRKUS REVIEW
A children's classic relates a little girl's first experiences at school in Germany. Lehrer's English-language translation of the "Nesthäkchen" novels by Holocaust victim Ury continues with this rendition of 1915's Nesthäkchens Erstes Schuljahr, the second installment in the 10-volume series. The books follow its title character, the "Nesthäkchen," or young family's favorite girl, from infancy to old age. Annemarie Braun is the perky, blonde, youngest daughter of a prosperous Berlin doctor, and in this episode, she's just turned 7 years old and attends school for the first time, taken there by her nanny after saying goodbye to her wistful parents. Her older brothers Hans and Klaus have been students for years, but this is Annemarie's first time away from home for even short periods, and Ury evocatively captures the combination of excitement and dread that can fill a child's mind when encountering a new environment for the first time. The activities of that new place are likewise portrayed with a fine mix of clarity and nostalgia: little Annemarie learns to make friends, to listen occasionally to her teacher, and to participate in various school activities, bubblingly recounting everything to her parents when she returns home. She meets girls named Margot Thielen and Hilde Rabe; she beguiles her teacher; and she learns her letters from a colorful primer. All of this is rendered with a carefully controlled drip of romanticism designed to appeal to both children and their reminiscing parents, and Lehrer's clear, accessible translation is smoothly, appealingly colloquial. The footnotes he provides are minimal and helpful, but this touching section of the Nesthäkchen's life story is simple enough to require very little textual elaboration. Readers should be transported not only to an earlier era's childhood world, but to a glowingly idealized version of that realm, and they will likely be as enchanted by Annemarie as were Ury's original readers. A young family favorite charms her teacher in this affecting novel from a century ago.


Volume 3 of the Nesthäkchen Series describes Annemarie's bout of scarlet fever, her recovery in a North Sea children's sanitorium, and her struggle to get home at the outbreak of World War I.

Nesthäkchen in the Children’s Sanitorium
First English edition of the German children's classic
by Else Ury
Translated and annotated by Steven Lehrer
Nesthäkchen Series, Vol 3
Published July 2014
Kindle
Trade Paper
SF Tafel Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-1500424589
ISBN-10: 1500424587
210 pages

A Nesthäkchen is the youngest child in a family. Else Ury's Nesthäkchen is a Berlin doctor's daughter, Annemarie Braun, a slim, golden blond, quintessential German girl. The ten book series follows Annemarie from infancy (Nesthäkchen and Her Dolls) to old age and grandchildren (Nesthäkchen with White Hair).  This third volume of the series tells the story of ten-year-old Annemarie's bout of scarlet fever, her recovery in a North Sea children's sanitorium, and her struggle to get home at the outbreak of World War I.

Else Ury (1877-1943) was a children's author murdered at Auschwitz. Her books are German literary classics. Steven Lehrer translated volume 4 of the series, Nesthäkchen and the World War, in 2006.

"The context of the surrounding social setting is fascinating—a snapshot of a vanished world presented with charming, black-and-white period illustrations. Ury’s narrative tone is amusingly sardonic at times—affectionate but assessing, as it aims to appeal to both children and their parents. Her portraits of the various adults that Annemarie encounters are refreshingly textured; they’re not the one-dimensional authority figures that were more typical of children’s books of the time. The story also handles Annemarie’s shifting emotions, from feeling forlorn to gradually coming to like many people at Wittdün, in a lively, often charming way. It’s easy to see why this series might have been so popular with German families nearly a century ago." Kirkus Reviews

"A uniquely sentimental look at World War I through the eyes of a preteen German girl...An important glimpse into the spirit of a long-gone age." Kirkus review of Nesthäkchen and the World War, vol 4 of the series.


Volume 4 in the Nesthäkchen series is the tale of a pre-adolescent girl growing up in Berlin at the outbreak of World War I.

Nesthäkchen and the World War
First English edition of the German children's classic
by Else Ury
Translated and annotated by Steven Lehrer
Nesthäkchen Series, Vol 4
Published May 2006
Trade Paper
SF Tafel Publishers
ISBN-10: 0595397298
ISBN-13: 978-0595397297
210 pages

Nesthäkchen and the World War, the fourth volume in the Nesthäkchen series, is the tale of a pre-adolescent girl growing up in Berlin at the outbreak of World War I. It presents a charming, skillful evocation of a long-vanished world, while Steven Lehrer's annotations put the story in historical context.Nesthäkchen and the World War conveys a timeless lesson, for children as well as adults, about the nature of war. Wars often begin with an outpouring of patriotic sentiment. World War I started this way, and Else Ury's description of German war-euphoria in 1914 is chilling. But when the narrative ends, in mid 1916, the war could no longer be mistaken for a noble, patriotic adventure.

"Ury's work has been long overlooked in German history, and Lehrer's annotated translation of this work has made an important contribution."
H-Net Reviews

"A uniquely sentimental look at World War I through the eyes of a preteen German girl. Though still immensely popular in Germany, Ury's Nesthäkchen books are virtually unknown in the United States, an omission Lehrer looks to correct with this fine translation, complete with notes and a brief but highly informative introduction."
Kirkus Reviews


Volume 5 of the Nesthäkchen Series describes Annemarie Braun's teenage years during the period of economic and political upheaval in Germany immediately following the armistice that ended World War I.

Nesthäkchen's Teenage Years
First English edition of the German children's classic
by Else Ury
Translated and annotated by Steven Lehrer
Nesthäkchen Series, Vol 5
Published February 2016
Kindle
Trade Paper
SF Tafel Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-1523476800
ISBN-10: 152347680X
312 pages

KIRKUS REVIEW
A young girl must deal with hardships in Germany after World War I. Lehrer continues his groundbreaking new annotated translation of the beloved Nesthäkchen novels by Ury (1877-1943) with this clear and careful rendition of Nesthäkchens Backfischzeit. This installment finds the series’ plucky 15-year-old heroine, Annemarie Braun, in a Germany that’s just entered the Armistice at the end of World War I. Poor social planning on the part of the country’s war leaders, combined with a series of poor harvests, brings Germany to the brink of famine, with shortages and hardships affecting even the upper middle class of Annemarie’s father, a doctor in Berlin. Annemarie’s story itself takes her to the Silesian town of Sagan, where she lives with the prosperous, kindly Lange family essentially incognito until the clan gradually realizes that she’s a well-born, well-educated gentleman’s daughter. In the course of her various adventures—with the Langes, in town, with a tyrannical teacher at school—Annemarie displays the winning blend of headstrong emotions, fiery temper, playful disposition, and precocious love of literature that made her such a favorite with German readers in the early years of the 20th century. That combination surfaces especially in this volume when Annemarie organizes a student council to redress perceived wrongs—with her in charge, of course. This book was originally published in 1919, when German morale was shattered and the nation’s economy in tatters. The story clearly pitches Annemarie’s ebullience as an antidote to those ills, a psychological dynamism captured without fuss or archness by Lehrer. He smoothly handles the novel’s many social and literary allusions; his annotations remain unobtrusively helpful; and his translation of the text itself effectively conveys Ury’s affectionate, often tongue-in-cheek estimations of her own famous main character. The tale’s simple, hearty optimism reverberates not only in Lehrer’s translation, but also in the half-dozen charming period illustrations he reproduces. A heartwarming, old-fashioned YA classic, set in the early 20th century, that also serves as a snapshot of a Germany in turmoil.


Volume 6 of the Nesthäkchen Series describes Annemarie Braun's college days, courtship and marriage.

Nesthäkchen Flies from the Nest
First English edition of the German children's classic
by Else Ury
Translated, introduced, and annotated by Steven Lehrer
Nesthäkchen Series, Vol 6
Published March 2016
Kindle
Trade Paper
SF Tafel Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-1530084630
ISBN-10: 1530084636
276 pages

KIRKUS REVIEW
A young woman ventures into the adult world in this vintage German novel. Lehrer continues his ongoing annotated translation of Ury’s beloved prewar “Nesthäkchen” books with this English-language rendition of the sixth in that series, Nesthäkchen Fliegt aus dem Nest from 1921. In this latest installment, Annemarie Braun, the spoiled darling “Nesthäkchen” of her doctor father and his wife, turns 18 in a Germany still reeling from its catastrophic loss in World War I, although, as Lehrer rightly points out, the raw facts of history impinge very little on the mostly carefree events of this story. Those events center instead on Annemarie’s birthday celebration and her departure from home to attend college. This exit is naturally accompanied by a degree of worry on the part of Annemarie’s parents (“The ‘child’ will be defenseless alone in the big world,” they think. “What dangers lurked there at every step?”). But only a bubbly optimism prevails among Annemarie and her friends as they embark on what they see as some of their last free-spirited adventures before they’re encumbered with the duties and responsibilities of adulthood—including, for Annemarie, marriage and starting a family. The novel follows her to university and chronicles her various escapades—scheduling classes, making friends, taking the first breaths of independence—against Annemarie’s own high spirits and go-getter attitude. And as with the previous volumes, Lehrer does a steady, first-rate job of catching Ury’s frequent cultural allusions and in-jokes and explaining them in quick, unobtrusive footnotes: for example, “Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann (15 November 1862–6 June 1946) was a German dramatist and novelist. He is counted among the most important promoters of literary naturalism, though he integrated other styles into his work as well.” Lehrer’s translation, smooth-flowing and easily approachable, brings readers into this series of proto-YA fiction set in the long-vanished world of a Germany before the horrors of World War II. The “Nesthäkchen” of these novels is the living embodiment of the purist, nationalistic sentimentality of that Germany. An effective translation of a series that gives eye-opening glimpses into the lives of the comfortable middle-class in Germany between the world wars.