Otfried Preussler

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Otfried Preussler 1923–

German novelist for children and young adults, editor, and translator.

The universal appeal of Preussler's books can be attributed to his gift for creating stories in the tradition of the folk tale. Perhaps Preussler's seventeen years of experience as a primary school teacher helped him give his stories their easy, conversational flow; he claims that the move from telling his tales aloud to writing them for publication was a natural one. Children have enjoyed his exaggerated characters and rapidly paced events, such as those of the three Robber Hotzenplotz stories, and although his books may seem simple their carefully chosen details succeed in conveying love and respect for the places and people they describe.

Written in a more somber tone than the rest of his works, the fable The Satanic Mill has been his greatest success to date, especially with young adult readers. Some critics found the outcome of the story, in which a simple-hearted apprentice manages to overcome his diabolically cruel master, to be inadequately supported, but in general critics agreed that the ominous setting is effectively described. All of Preussler's works have achieved considerable popularity in Germany and several have been translated into other languages. The Satanic Mill won the 1972 German Children's Book Prize, and the 1973 European Children's Book Prize; in 1973 it was also named a Notable Children's Book by the American Library Association. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 77-80.)

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Jennifer Bourdillon