All about Rotraut Susanne Berner - Profile & Books

Life and works of Rotraut Susanne Berner

Rotraut Susanne Berner, born in Stuttgart in 1948, knew early on what she wanted to become: Although she studied newspaper sciences in Munich from 1969 to 1971, she then switched to graphic design. In 1975 she graduated as a graphic designer. She took her first steps in professional life in publishing advertising, but only for two years: in 1977 she set up her own business as a graphic designer, book designer and illustrator.

When she drew, she always had Walter Trier's illustrations in her mind, who illustrated Erich Kästner's children's books. The books were part of her reading when she was little - similar to her grandmother's illustrated Bible edition. The pictures in them were often a bit spooky and almost completely incomprehensible, but they remained all the more memorable. The artist took from this the fact that not every picture always has to be smooth and without edges. But she made the pictures in her hidden object books "sweet", as she said, with regard to the very small audience.

First for others, then alone

As an illustrator, Rotraut Susanne Berner quickly became known beyond the German-speaking world: Her pictures for children's books appealed to a small audience and the authors also liked them. Numerous nominations, awards and exhibitions with the illustrator's pictures quickly followed. In the long run, however, this was not enough for the artist: since 1994, she has also been designing her own picture books and writing stories for children herself.

Especially the hidden object pictures turned out to be hard work: if the illustrator could often rely on her imagination, the hidden object books depicted reality. Accordingly, before each drawing was made, research was carried out into what construction machinery, for example, looked like. Children, the artist said, were merciless when they discovered flaws in a picture. Accordingly, she made sure that no one snuck in. What did sneak in, however, were pictures from her own everyday life: her husband Armin, for example, who was a bookseller and publisher, is immortalized in the hidden object books, as are the nuns who ran the daycare center next door.

Decision in favor of authenticity

In 2007, the much-praised hidden object books of the children's author were to be published in the USA - a great success and a welcome new source of income. Could she please make the (sparse) nudity that could disturb the US-American feeling disappear from the books for the editions there? Rotraut Susanne Berner declined with thanks. She did not see the point of changing her work just because a different prudishness prevailed in the target country. Ultimately, it did not hurt her to stand by her work: a year later, her books were published uncensored by an American publisher.

Working as an editor

When Armin Abmeier died, with whom the children's book author was not only married but also worked together, she took over one of his heart's tasks: Since 1991 the bibliophile had been publishing the "Tollen Hefte". These were a series of very different stories and poems, each of which was illustrated especially for the editions. Rotraut Susanne Berner contributed the illustrations for some of the books, and after the death of her husband in 2012 she continued to publish the books herself. The series was only finally discontinued with the publication of the 50th issue in 2018.

Children and hidden object books by Rotraut Susanne Berner

As an illustrator, Rotraut Susanne Berner has provided images for countless stories by other authors. Here you can find the books for which she has also worked as an author of children's books and has received many awards.

The Karlchen series

Karlchen Nickel is a rabbit - to be precise, a little rabbit boy. And many typical things happen to Karlchen that also happen to little people, boys and girls. Accordingly, many children of kindergarten age find themselves in the comprehensible and lovingly illustrated stories.

  • Guten Morgen, Karlchen! (2001)
  • Gute Nacht, Karlchen! (2001)
  • Wo ist Karlchen? (2002)
  • Karlchen geht einkaufen (2003)
  • Karlchen-Geschichten (2003)
  • Karlchen vor, noch ein Tor! (2006)
  • Ein Schwesterchen für Karlchen (2008)
  • Neue Karlchen-Geschichten (2011)
  • Abenteuer mit Karlchen (2012)
  • Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Karlchen! (2014)
  • Karlchen freut sich auf Weihnachten (2014)
  • Karlchen für jeden Tag (2015)
  • Karlchen – Mein Kindergarten-Freundebuch (2016)
  • Gute Reise, Karlchen! (2018)

The very special hidden object books

"The best hidden object books in a long time!" or "Susanne Rotraut Berner has drawn hidden object books - these are Buddenbrooks for infants!" - that's how exuberantly the critics considered the children's book author's hidden object books. And indeed, they are a bit different from the norm: they tell coherent stories across the volumes, which play out in Wimmlings. The children can watch animals throughout the year, they also experience a romance and a woman who is pregnant at first pushes a baby carriage in a later volume. These books alone have sold more than one and a half million copies. There are the following books about Wimmlingen:

  • Winter-Wimmelbuch (2003)
  • Frühlings-Wimmelbuch (2004)
  • Sommer-Wimmelbuch (2005)
  • Herbst-Wimmelbuch (2005)
  • Nacht-Wimmelbuch (2008)
  • Anthology: Wimmlingen bei Tag und Nacht (2020)

The explaining Wimmlinger stories

Some inhabitants of Wimmlingen bring so much history with them that it cannot be told with the pictures in the hidden object books alone. Susanne Rotraut Berner has created her own picture books for them: here, the little readers learn a little more about the various familiar characters from the Wimmel books - this time even with some text in rhyme form. You will find the following Wimmlinger stories:

  • Peter und Struppi (2008)
  • Ina (2008)
  • Oskar (2008)
  • Monika und Mingus (2008)
  • Susanne (2009)
  • Niko (2009)
  • Petra (2009)
  • Armin (2011)
  • Manfred und Elke (2012)

Stories

Not all the stories the children's book author has to tell are set in Karlchen's world or in Wimmlingen. Here are other stories of hers, each of which is self-contained:

  • Der fliegende Hut (2002)
  • Das Abenteuer (2004)
  • Rotraut Susanne Berners Märchencomics (2008)
  • Einfach alles! (2009)
  • Hund und Hase (2009)
  • Die poetische Katze (2010)
  • Der prosaische Hund (2011)
  • Pick pick Picknick (2015)

Conclusion: Continuing with Rotraut Susanne Berner

Even small children like stories in series - this is shown again and again by famous (and for some parents' ears notorious) series. An early series of books you can bring to your little ones is the one about Wimmlingen: Without any words, children can follow what happens to familiar characters over the course of the year. The author and illustrator works carefully and with an eye for detail. This also applies to her other books, by the way: every word is here, every picture fits. The author of children's books justifies her awards!