Skip to main content
A story and illustrations that will give you goose bumps

Maia and What Matters

Kaatje Vermeire & Tine Mortier

In ‘Maia and What Matters’, Maia and her grandmother have a ball whenever they are together. They are both equally greedy, impatient and restless, whether they are eagerly scoffing biscuits or telling each other stories. But then Grandma suddenly falls ill and when she wakes up she has lost her words. The grown-ups give up on her, but Maia ‘reads in Grandma’s eyes what she wants to say’ and ‘plucks the letters from her mouth’. When Grandpa passes away, Maia and Grandma sail away on a sea of tears. They visit Grandpa’s coffin and calmly say their farewells together.

The New Zealand Listener

Tine Mortier tells a sensitive story that makes you smile, but gives you goose bumps too. Far from the realms of cliché, she shows how a sharp young girl copes with difficult themes like ageing and death. The emotions are reinforced by Kaatje Vermeire’s stunning illustrations. In contrast to earlier work, Vermeire uses an abundance of colour, and playfully accompanies this with a good eye for detail and incredible texture.

Vermeire shows her most emotional, atmospheric and versatile side
De Standaard
'Every picture is a unique work of art'
Annabel Lammers, Vermeire’s publisher at Bohem Press (Germany)

'Kaatje Vermeire’s illustrations have an enormous appeal. It is impossible not to look at them. Her illustrations are always characterized by a delicate intensity. Together with the text, they allow readers a great deal of room for interpretation while inviting them into a world that will enchant them until the last page. Kaatje’s sensitive use of symbolism and her distinctive technique combine to ensure a level of perfection that makes every picture a unique work of art.

Every illustration is composed with care. The details are always charming and never banal. On the contrary: they are always connected to characters and events, without having a purely decorative function. The interplay of the detailed drawings, the layered nature of the pictures and the extraordinary nuances – every book with its own colour scheme – mean that the illustrations appeal to all ages. The scenes are never realistic, and yet their strangeness feels so familiar, because both children and adults use their imagination to add what is between the lines. Kaatje Vermeire plays with abstraction and concreteness – in the perfect ratio.'