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A poetic and enchanting fairy tale

The Secret of the Nightingale’s Throat

Carll Cneut & Peter Verhelst

Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, ‘The Secret of the Nightingale’s Throat’ is a literary retelling that will appeal to readers of all ages. The perspective of the story alternates between that of the Chinese emperor, who longs for the singing of a nightingale in his palace gardens, and that of a little girl, who lives in the trees and helps to make the emperor’s wish come true. We witness the emperor’s search for a sound that is even more perfect than the nightingale’s. His scientists explore the secret of the nightingale’s throat and create a mechanical bird to replace the real one.

A masterful symbiosis of colour, form and composition
Boekenpauw jury

With his vivid language, beautiful imagery and original similes, Peter Verhelst sheds new light on Andersen’s tale and its central reflections on the tension between nature and technology, power and happiness. Carll Cneut’s impressive paintings are more than mere illustrations of Verhelst’s text. They help to tell the story in their own right. In the long line of illustrators who have made pictures to accompany Andersen’s tale, few have managed to catch the emperor’s despair as vividly as Cneut. 

A jewel. An enrichment for children’s literature
De Morgen
Cneut’s paintings have the attractive force of magnets
NRC Handelsblad