Ward and Bernie are best friends, hand in glove. One New Year’s Eve they are walking across the polders with Ward’s dog, Elmer, when they 'accidentally end up at Betjeman’s farmyard, Betjeman 'with his plastic hand'. Ward takes Betjeman’s old pet duck out of its pen and, during a game, he kills it. Whether it was an accident or not, the consequences of his act are serious. Betjeman takes revenge, and nothing will ever be the same again.
There cannot be many writers as tough and sensitive as Bart Moeyaert.NRC Handelsblad
'Bare Hands' describes a few hours in a boy’s life, the final hours of the last days of the year, maybe the final hours of his old life. Because when the new year comes, everything will be different. For Ward, that’s an absolute disaster. But this is not explained in so many words. A master of creating an oppressive atmosphere, Moeyaert succeeds in making his readers sense everything. There’s no air, there’s no escape, just an inevitable chain of events. In haunting and poetic prose, Bart Moeyaert displays his razor-sharp observation of the human psyche and the dangers of prejudice.
This simple tale evolves from a haunting epic brimming over with vague and unexpressed emotions, into a literary pearl.De Morgen
You’ll read the whole thing with a knot in your stomach, because it is so sad, because the writing is so breathtakingly exciting, and because you know that such things really do happen in life.De Groene Amsterdammer
'I first met Bart about twelve years ago, when we were on a panel together in Antwerp, with others such as Philip Pullman and Anne Provoost, and I really liked him right from the start. Afterwards I read 'Bare Hands' and Brothers. When I was artistic director of the Bath Children’s Literature Festival, he was the first international author I invited, because I liked him so much and he is so great with audiences. He is very charismatic and very intelligent, and he’s good fun.
'Bare Hands' shows Bart writing to the full extent of his powers. He is not dodging anything and is not holding back, as some writers for young people feel they have to do. That gives the book a feeling of fearlessness. It is brilliantly written, and to be honest quite scary in parts.
His work appeals both to children and adults, which is explained by the simple fact that he writes so well, and so clearly. Good writing for young people does appeal to everyone. You see it in his book 'Brothers' as well. It’s about family, and it says something about the human drama that everybody can relate to. His work is not just for children; it’s for all of us.'