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Black humour and hints of Roald Dahl

The Sourballs

Benjamin Leroy & Jaap Robben

Brothers Harry and Huibert, 'so sour even the flowers on their wallpaper are wilting’, appear to be pretty content with their stagnant lives: day after day they soak their dentures in vinegar and breakfast on pickled herring and nettle tea. ‘The Sourballs’ is a caricature of two bitter loners, stuck in a rut and clinging to obsolete habits. That routine is disrupted when they receive a letter that turns their lives upside-down and uncovers a dark secret from their not-so-colourless past.

What a wonderful, cheeky children’s book!
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Jaap Robben paints a hilarious picture of the sourball brothers, yet makes them human at the same time. Short, animated sentences lend the story a certain urgency and give readers enough space for their own interpretation. Leroy’s illustrations, a mix of acrylics, coloured pencil and collage, enrich the text and visualise what is merely hinted at between the lines. At times the illustrations even take over the narrative.

Robben and Leroy have successfully provided an often neglected group of readers with a richly layered book, which boasts stimulating writing and masterful visuals.

Black humour, wonderfully oblique details, tickling full-page drawings and colored collages
Badische Zeitung
Funny and cleverly subtextual
NRC Handelsblad