notes on dutch literature

Archive for the ‘Children’s books’ Category

Letters to Anyone and Everyone

In Children's books on November 23, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Letters to Anyone and Everyone - Toon Tellegen

In his philosophical animal tales, Toon Tellegen creates surreal stories and charming characters that will capture the imaginations of readers everywhere. Perfectly complemented by Jessica Ahlberg’s delicate illustrations, the collections of short stories is intelligent, moving and funny. Toon Tellegen has been writing his animal stories since 1984, each about two pages long and unique in their kind: written in a simple, yet sparkling tone, they are hidden gems that, once discovered, exert an irresistible attraction. His stories generated a body of enthusiastic readers of all ages and won all major prizes for children’s literature. They tell of Squirrel, Ant, Elephant and all their fellow creatures, whose lives glide along, apparently without meaning, in an impossible biotope: in Tellegen’s forest of animals all of the creatures have the same size and strength and each is the only one of its kind. Everything and everyone lives together in harmony. Everything is possible and there are no obligations.

Three collections of Animal stories are translated by Martin Cleaver, published by Boxer BooksLetters to Anyone and Everyone (Winner of The Marsh Award 2010 for the best book in translation); The Squirrel’s Birthday and Other Parties and Far Away Across the Sea

“Toon Tellegen’s ‘The Squirrel’s Birthday and Other Parties’ and ‘Letters to Anyone and Everyone’ are, quite simply, two of the loveliest and most charming collections of stories I have EVER had the pleasure of reading.” — Alison Morris, Publishers Weekly

On the publishers website you can also listen to a conversation between Toon Tellegen and Jessica Ahlberg.



In Children's books on November 21, 2012 at 11:08 AM


Celebrated Dutch children’s author, novelist, poet and illustrator Joke van Leeuwen enigmatic recent classic EEP! tells the story of a mysterious bird-girl who, on her quest for freedom, teaches four strangers the true meaning of family. One day Warren sees something strange lying under a bush. He doesn’t know whether it is a bird in the form of a girl, or a girl in the form of a bird. He takes the creature home. His wife Tina wants to keep it and raise it as her own child. But it has wings…

From the review in Storytimebooks: This is another wonderful book from Gecko Press, and their “curiously good books” phrase is particularly apt in this case. De Morgen, a Flemish newspaper, called it “an absolute masterpiece of children’s literature,” and it’s difficult to disagree with that assessment. Written and illustrated by Joke van Leeuwen, translated by Bill Nagelkerke, it’s a novel of around 150 pages which was published in The Netherlands in 1996 and has won several awards in Europe. It’s full of wit, whimsy and wisdom and often challenges the reader’s preconceptions about all sorts of concepts, from story, to family, to birdness. It has another stunningly memorable first page.

Eep! has become a theatre play in different countries, and also a movie, that has been awarded in Montreal, Milano, Vancouver, Copenhagen and Poland. Rights for other movies have been sold.

More information about Joke van Leeuwen can be found on her website.


In Children's books on October 30, 2012 at 7:51 PM

Tow Truck Pluck illustrated by Fiep Westendorp


Tow Truck Pluck (Pluk van de Petteflet), first published in 1971 is still one of the most popular Dutch children’s books, written by the legendary Annie M.G. Schmidt. Dutch publisher Querido published the English translation not too long ago in 2011.

Pluck has a little red tow truck. He drives it all over town looking for a place to live. Then Dolly the pigeon tells him that the tower of the Pill Building is empty. There’s a room free in the Pill Building. Up on top, in the tower. When Pluck finds out, he drives straight there in his red tow truck. Finally he has a home. And right away he makes lots of new friends: Zaza the cockroach and Dolly the pigeon, Mr Penn, the Stampers and Aggie. Pluck’s adventures can begin.

Just like Roald Dahl’s work is instantly associated with Quentin Blake’s illustrations, the iconic illustrations of Fiep Westendorp (1916-2004) made Schmidt’s books even more popular. One evening she literally ran into Annie M.G. Schmidt when she was leaving a pub. They got talking, and from that evening in 1947 onwards they remained friends.

Read an excerpt of Tow Truck Pluck.

A Pond Full of Ink

In Children's books on October 29, 2012 at 3:06 AM

Annie M.G. Schmidt is a household name in the Netherlands, where almost everyone can sing at least one of her songs or recite a couple of lines of her poetry. The jury of the Hans Christian Andersen Award, which she won in 1988, praised her for her ‘ironic tone, witty criticism and a style that is amusing, clear, rebellious and simple to its essence’.

David Colmer has produced sparkling new translations for this collection of her most iconic children’s poems, A Pond Full of Ink. Illustrator Sieb Posthuma presents his own colourful take on Schmidt’s universe, and Irma Boom’s design turns it all into a dazzling whole.

a pond full of ink

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