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«Меч-рыба и тысячу угрей или, Невероятное путешествие двух ворон» (Swordfish and Thausend Eeels)

If you open up a map of the world, what child does not dream of travelling to distant lands? Two crows from northern Europe have not such ambitions and put to sea while trying to rid a school of a swarm of jackdaws. Before they realise it, they are off on a real odyssey. Karl Maar is a learned crow, and his neighbour, Kay Kurz is the classiest bird on the Baltic coast. The first continent which old Captain Anchorson’s ship reaches is Africa.

The crows’ “enforced holiday” in Africa turns into a test of courage: first they are chased by a tiger, which has escaped from the zoo; then the hunted become hunters themselves and chase bloodthirsty pirates. After surviving the fight against the pirates and confiscating their speedboat, the two crows end up in a new and unknown continent – against their will once more. They are in Antarctica with its icebergs, haughty Emperor Penguins and eternal cold. They flee in a “borrowed” amphibious vehicle and arrive in another continent.

America is truly beautiful and the Iguazu waterfalls are spectacular. But they long for the chalk cliffs of home. Kay Kurz comes down with a sore throat; Karl Maar is knowledgeable about medical matters and is able to cure his fellow crow. He also manages, all by himself, to rescue two boys who are trapped at the top of the waterfall. It turns out that they have stolen emeralds from the treasure chamber of the City of the Dead. The crocodile Caiman al Dente is waiting for two boys with his jaws wide open. There is a plague of giant bees, also called killer-bees, which originated in Africa.

Two crows plan to go with the bees back to Africa, where a homebound ship is waiting for them, but instead the bees whisk them away to an island in Oceania. Here one of the crows gets injured and is taken into school for young criminals. Meanwhile, the other crow meets the young Raka-Waka-Da and Riki-Miki-No, who are waging war on rats, an imported species, which arrive on ships and endanger the local flightless birds – kiwis.

Towards the end of their journey full of danger and hardship, the crows land in the world’s largest continent – Asia. In fact, they are delivered by airdrop to the City of the Four and a Half Gates high in the mountains. Here, in the Forbidden Palace of the country’s ruler, Karl Maar takes part in an “Asian Idol” competition.

Six chapters about six continents are filled with adventure, humour and riddles, as well as legends sad and scary. There is a counting-out rhyme for every continent and there are many funny dialogues between the two avian heroes, who are so different in character and intelligence. Two big questions keep the young readers in suspense until the very last page of the book: Do the grey crows from northern Europe manage to get home safely to their chalk cliffs? And will Karl Maar finally call Kay Kurz a friend?

©2011 Marina Loose

These storie had not yet been translated from Russian into English language.