Successful children’s author at the ibsm

Werner Holzwarth visits the ibsm with his son Tim to introduce his new book ‘Mein Jimmy’ (My Jimmy).

The international bilingual school munich in the Lerchenauer Strasse was home to several firsts at once. Not only were the children in Year 1 at the ibsm the first to learn about the book even before its official launch in Munich, but the trio of author Werner Holzwarth, son Tim and illustrator Mehrdad Zaeri also appeared in public for the first time in this form. The event was furthermore the first in a series of readings linked to the 10th anniversary of the Bundesverband Leseförderung [BVL – German Federal Association for the Promotion of Reading] which is celebrated this year. But let’s start at the beginning.

The first children’s book written by Werner Holzwarth 30 years ago now was a huge success; there is hardly a nursery or primary school which doesn’t have it. ‘The Story Of The Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business’ was translated into over 30 languages and sold 3 million copies worldwide. His latest work is making a more humble appearance initially: just 3,000 copies of ‘Mein Jimmy’ will be printed by the Tulipan-Verlag, a small publishing house in Munich. However, sales figures are not the top priority for author Werner Holzwarth, at least. The 72-year-old sees the book as more of a matter of the heart. Just like his best-seller of 30 years ago, this book was developed in collaboration with one of his sons. Back then it was Julian, now 34; today’s collaborator is nine-year-old Tim. 63 years separate father and son, something which often came up at nursery and at primary school, remembers Holzwarth, because lots of children and adults assumed he was young Tim’s grandpa, not his father.

‘I will die sooner than other fathers’

There is another thing which bothers father and son: ‘I am older than other fathers’, says Holzwarth, ‘so I will also die sooner than other fathers’. The author and his son tackle this issue together in his new book ‘Mein Jimmy’. The book tells the story of rhinoceros Jimmy and oxpecker ‘Hacki’ who picks insects off the rhinoceros’ back. A close friendship binds the two, and the book is full of lovely memories, great experiences and even a few jokes, which Tim was allowed to pick out. He also drew two of the illustrations, the rest being by illustrator Mehrdad Zaeri. At the end of the story, Jimmy the rhinoceros grows weary and dies, but Hacki finds new friends and, despite his grief for the friend he has lost, life goes on.

The children in Year 1 at the ibsm listened spellbound to the words of author Werner Holzwarth and Tim, who used a presentation to tell the story of Jimmy and Hacki and also provided some background information on how the book came about. At the end of the presentation, illustrator Mehrdad Zaeri gave the children some tips about getting a drawing onto paper if they can’t think of anything – namely, to use a ‘scribbling’ approach which he demonstrated immediately. The reading was followed by an opportunity for the children to get creative themselves: literature teacher Christine Dietzinger ran a creative workshop for the children, drawing on elements of the book, with the children drawing or writing farewell letters to Jimmy and making friends for Hacki in craft activities.

The Tulipan-Verlag sponsored the reading of ‘Mein Jimmy’ to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bundesverband Leseförderung. The BLV chose the ibsm in Munich for this reading which was simultaneously the opening event for this anniversary year. (KS)

The book ‘Mein Jimmy’ is published by the Tulipan-Verlag and costs € 15.