My First Kaf­ka: Run­aways, Rodents, and Giant Bugs

Matthue Roth; Rohan Daniel Eason, illus.
  • Review
By – February 27, 2013
A children’s Kaf­ka seems somewhat…well… errr…Kafkaesque. But, truth be told, chil­dren do live in a world where the unex­pect­ed is pret­ty much expect­ed; it’s all quite new and not-yet-expe­ri­enced and it must seem some­what ran­dom and strange. Kaf­ka him­self was writ­ing for the pre­ver­bal, not-yet-log­i­cal, com­plete­ly expe­ri­en­tial child in all of us. So maybe this book makes more sense than one might think at first glance. It’s a retelling of some of Kafka’s tales, most notably The Meta­mor­pho­sis, in sim­ple but poet­ic form accom­pa­nied by stark black and white, expres­sive, and very humor­ous illus­tra­tions. Kafka’s eerie, creepy, won­drous but mat­ter-of-fact mood is well con­veyed and the lan­guage is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly sim­ple and sophis­ti­cat­ed. This would make an unusu­al but high­ly effec­tive read-aloud and would pro­voke all kinds of dis­cus­sion with a child about real­i­ty, imag­i­na­tion, night­mares, and per­cep­tion. It’s off­beat, way off the beat­en track and star­tling­ly, refresh­ing­ly, orig­i­nal. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages five and up and for par­ents who love shar­ing the dark­er side of real­i­ty.

Read Matthue Roth’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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