Friday, January 15, 2010

Emil & Karl

I am always fascinated with books for children. One of the best books i've ever read last year is Emil and Karl by Yankev Glatshteyn, translated by Jeffrey Shandler. A highly recommended book set during the World War II which puts two young boys in dilemmas to escape from the harsh world of human violence. Emil- a Jewish boy and Karl, his school friend who experiences trauma of watching the Nazi dragging his mother away. They planned to leave Vienna together but are crowded onto different trains to be transported to a safer country. You can always visit for more information. This is my favourite excerpt from the novel:

Emil felt cold and then warm at the thought that he was leaving Vienna. He wished he were already in the train. Karl wanted to say something but he felt Matilda's sister in law was looking at him from behind the glasses.
"You musnt cry. Those who feel like crying can remain here. In an hour you'll go by bus to the train station.If you have any friend here we advise you to write to each other, it often happens that good friends often sent to different cities, even different countries."
Once more it seemed to Karl that the woman was looking at him and Emil. The supervisors gave out pencils and pieces of paper and many of the children started writing notes.
"But there's no way they'll separate us." said Emil.
"NO way at all."Karl responded firmly. "I'll hold on to your sleeve and i won't let go. We'll stick together."
"Shall we write each other a letter?"
"I suppose so,"said Karl and he picked a pencil. He started writing,
Dear Emil,
We'll never let anyone separate us. We'll be friends forever.
Your dear friend,
He held the letter for a while and turned to give it to Emil but Emil was still bent over his piece of paper. Tears ran down from his eyes - such big tears that the brittle piece of papers was stained in spots.
"I cant write anymore. I cant." he said to Karl, and he gave him the letter, in which he had written only the first few words:
To my only friend Karl,
I -
But the words were spotted with tears, and after the word "I" there were so many stains that the piece of paper was wet. Now Karl didnt feel ready to hand over his letter. He wanted to cover it with tears too but his eyes felt dry and hard. Matilda's sister in-law raised an old blanket that hung over the window and called out, "We're leaving!"
(Glatshteyn, 2007 from Emil and Karl, pp, 153-155)
...And so it seems for the boys. And so it seems with life. This is a touching story that teaches young and adult readers about the importance of love and the impact of discrimination. This is the time when sometimes you have to learn from the children.


Anonymous said... the end...both of them get 2gether or not??

Niezam said...

Good story to share,the Holocaust during Nazi era will be remembered by all of the Jewishs in the world..

SnoW whiTe said...

Nope, they don't. They were separated in the crowd while waiting 4their turns 2leave wit the train.

Anonymous said...

this book resembles "the kite runner" by Khaled Hosseini..

SnoW whiTe said...

Hello anonymous! Is that a recommended book to read? there might be a similar movie called "the boy in a striped pyjamas" which resembles the same issue. a very touching story, in a perspective of a child.

p/s but my students overlooked by thinking i'm gonna play "bananas in pyjamas" for the english class.

Anonymous said...

yup "the kite runner" is quite nice,but more sad than nice i think.ambigous.have a look.a movie has also been made about it.

i watched the boy in striped pyjamas,its sad,but enlightening.

SnoW whiTe said...

Hey anonymous, mayb you can reveal your nickname so it is easier for me to identify you. by the way, i flipped over a few pages of "the kite runner" by khaled hosseini online, the writing style impressed me.

Anonymous said...

thought so,the writing is great isnt it.the movie is also nice,i think the dvd is released already,it won a lot of awards too.

hmm,i also suggest "rainbow for megan" by Jane Corrie.its an entirely different kind of story,but the writing is the best ive its a really old novel,from 197-something.check it out when u hav the time =)

by the way,im nazrin =)

SnoW whiTe said...

Oh, i never thought i was you nazrin. Ok, i'll try to check it out since i love novels that discuss heavy issues, and since you are here.. why not you started your own blog. I believe you are a talented writer,and we could share ideas and build an intimate social network.

By the way, i seriously miss your class :)

nazrin said...

i actually hav a blog already.i created it last month,but the thought of telling ppl about it and updating it seems like a commitment i may not have.the proof is,i just post the post i wrote last u wouldnt be opening an empty blog.haha

but for any reasons,my blog link is

check it out when ur free =)

SnoW whiTe said...

Hi nazrin, i have visited your blog and left you a comment. Yes, it was only a first post but the meaning of "wall" seems interesting, though.

Keep writing!

I'll support u =)