Children's novel "Ellie and Oleg" by Katja Ludwig: All alone - culture

if children If you want to have a real adventure today, then the first thing you have to do is get rid of your cell phone. Otherwise it would be too easy. Parents don't come home in the evening? If you quickly send a text message, "Where are you???", and shortly afterwards everything is clarified. But Ellie can't find her phone. Not even when her little brother Oleg comes along. It's gone. And the parents aren't coming back from town. Ellie and Oleg are sitting alone in the new house in the Brandenburg Pampa, their neighbor Edeltraut isn't there either, their cat Sissi soon meows because she's hungry. Just like Ellie and Oleg. But at least they can make eggs in the kettle - after a nasty accident, Ellie is banned from cooking and she sticks to that, at least for the time being.

Children who suddenly have to do without adults is a classic starting point for adventures in young adult literature. Katja Ludwig explains them very consistently and very realistically. It not only puts them in a very contemporary pandemic situation - the lockdown is a little harder than it has been experienced in this country, the police cordon off towns and villages, the children can't even cross the bridge to the next town - but also in a whole certain milieu that makes them recognizable from a child's point of view. Ellie and Oleg belong to a blended family from Berlin. Ellie has dark skin, Oleg is so pale his ears glow red when the sun shines behind him. Her parents have had a child together named "Lilac", which really gets on the nerves of both older people. the family wants to move out of the small apartment in the city into the country, into a tiny group of houses called "Ausbau 1-3". At the bus terminal there is an LPG ruin.

Oleg usually acts cool, but now he's whispering again with his teddy bear

In this wasteland, the two siblings from the city, they are twelve and eight years old, have to get by on their own. Katja Ludwig captures wonderfully exactly how the fear always ends in tears (Ellie tries to suppress it) and then disappears again in a short adventure euphoria. Oleg usually acts cool, but now he's whispering to his teddy bear again to be able to fall asleep. And while Ellie knows a lot about the world, the cryptic announcements on the radio about the lockdown and problems at the nearby substation have her head spinning.

Children's book: Katja Ludwig: Ellie and Oleg - nobody is here except us.  Klett children's book, 208 pages, 16 euros.

Katja Ludwig: Ellie and Oleg - nobody is here except us. Klett children's book, 208 pages, 16 euros.

(Photo: Klett children's book)

When food supplies run low (what's "sauce binder" anyway?), the two leave home in search of other people, flee from the only neighbor present and get lost - parents will read this realistic account of how with some concern even today children can suddenly get lost, have to sleep outside on a cold night, covered with nothing more than a pile of sharp-edged reeds. But this book is also a great encouragement for children: Ellie can't bake bread, but she can bake muffins.

If your own fridge is empty, the absent neighbor might have preserved fruit in her closet. And in an emergency, vague knowledge about the course of the sun, about blown fuses and gardening often helpfully rises to the surface of consciousness. In any case, you are not completely lost as a child, Katja Ludwig promises that with this beautiful, exciting book. Even without a cell phone.

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