A beautiful and refreshingly written Christmas story.
The unusual premise, Jan De Leeuw’s humour and light-hearted narrative style and the playful illustrations by Mattias De Leeuw make this winter fairy tale so much more than just another adaptation of the Christmas story. It is a book about giving and taking, with a touch of magic.
A great stylist, with an eye for detail and a knack for turning brief scenes into little gems
Jadran is five years older than Josh, but his head and his heart are those of a child much younger. When they find an injured young crane one day, Jadran wants to teach it to fly at any cost. The two boys go on a journey that is brave, adventurous and hopeless all at the same time. Poetic and sensitive without ever becoming sentimental.
A master of suspense and of the subtle untangling of painful situations *****
Her mother thinks Bianca is a girl that requires special treatment. Her father thinks she is unmanageable. And Bianca herself? She doesn’t say a word. Until one hot afternoon in August, Billie King, her favourite actress, is sitting in the living room, sipping a cup of tea. With Billie King around, Bianca is brave enough to take a decision. Moeyaert creates an oppressive atmosphere, in which smouldering tensions can erupt any moment.
Calm Leon takes Otto on a journey through the world of colour. This Encyclopaedia Otto-colorista is a feast for the eyes: after the restrained grey, black and white, the pages are a riot of colour and detail and there is always something new to discover. An abundance of colour you can’t stop looking at.
Vereecken captures the harsh reality in poetic sentences. An extraordinarily strong novel ****
Summer 1914. Through the eyes of eleven-year-old Alice we see the increasing alarm among the grownups: war is said to be imminent. Alice’s naivety makes way for a brutal confrontation with reality, but ‘Everything Will Be Fine, Forever’ is first and foremost a celebration of life and hope.
Viktor, a recreational hunter, has long dreamt of shooting a cheetah. When he finally manages to, his happiness does not last long. At night, he dreams of the cheetahs that have lost a friend. He is overcome by an unparalleled feeling of empathy and remorse and thinks of a shrewd plan to make amends.
Emotions distilled in text and image about panic, trust, security and the fear of being abandoned
Bet is tired of her tricyle and wants to start cycling on a proper bike. But nobody is prepared to teach her. She is angry with everything and everyone. This intense and authentic book, with a style that borders on expressionism, earned Gregie De Maeyer the Flemish State Prize for Youth Literature.
Shepherd Yara has only known her grandmother, herbalist Tanne, for a few years. Slowly but surely Yara learns why Tanne’s parents, husband and even her own daughter have turned their backs on her. Meanwhile, Tanne is growing increasingly convinced that the devil is coming for her. A fascinating book that reveals the truth bit by bit and draws the reader into a world of magic.
The illustrations are works of art in their own right
In his unique, varied and nostalgic style, Pieter Gaudesaboos gets Lotta, who lives at the zoo, to take the reader along for a day full of crazy activities. This is not simply a colourful book for reading aloud, but also a look-and-find book to teach children to look more closely at the illustrations.
‘Rivers’ is a Peter Goes mix of stories, facts and icons that bring history to life with a sense of wonder and humour
Julia Marshall, publisher Gecko Press
All aboard for a fascinating voyage of discovery in and around the water! In ‘Rivers’ Peter Goes travels to the most famous seas, lakes and rivers across Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Goes creates playful and extremely detailed double-page spreads in which text and image form a unified whole.
The pleasure of drawing leaps off the pages, which are packed with jokes
Daddy Monkey and his son are on their way home on the banana bike. But it’s so busy, and everyone’s driving so slowly! And Monkey Junior is in the mood for monkeying about. He escapes from his safety seat and goes off to explore the traffic jam. The street is like a playground! This wordless picture book is full of stories and fantastic details in vibrant colours.
An extremely successful experiment with astute metaphor
According to William Golding, if ‘Lord of the Flies’ were written with girls as the leading characters, they would never lower themselves to barbarism. Van den Broeck demonstrates in this powerful homage to Golding’s classic that this isn’t necessarily true.
An animal inside an animal inside an animal. Nothing is as it seems in this wordless look-and-find book. Geert Vervaeke plays masterfully with perspectives, compositions and positive and negative space. This book is one big optical illusion inspired by the Rorschach test and optical illusions.
Her illustrations are delicate, intimate and extremely beautiful.
The Guardian on ‘When David Lost His Voice’
In this stunning visual tour-de-force, much-lauded cartoonist and illustrator Judith Vanistendael reinvents herself. She returns to the essence: armed with scissors, glue, paper and a risograph printer, she creates the purest sequence possible. ‘Round the Block’ is an ode to fantasy and Vanistendael’s more than successful debut for a new target audience.
An unbelievably beautiful book. A unique, authentic voice in Flemish literature.
With a great sense of humour and a lightness of touch Evelien De Vlieger paints the portrait of a girl on the cusp of life, who thinks she wants to forget. ‘Wish You Were Here’ is about facing yourself, about letting go, and about daring to admit that you can’t. A bitter-sweet book full of lust for life.
A dazzling imaginary world full of colours and scents
In ‘Mrs Winter’s Hearth Fire’, a collection of 37 short stories about winter, Carl Norac and Gerda Dendooven give both a voice and a face to the year’s coldest season. They make winter sound and look radiant like never before. ‘Mrs Winter’s Hearth Fire’ celebrates winter in all its facets.
The illustrations are a feast of detail with lots of bright, cheerful colours.
Nellie the Mouse and Cezar the Frog have been inseparable for over twenty years and are best friends to little children. There’s a whole string of books and other publications around these two figures: from picture, text and activity books to a television series and hand puppets. Ingrid Godon and Bette Westera have now joined forces to give the franchise a fresh new overhaul.
In this two-metre-long colourful leporello, teeming with details and humour, we follow a girl and a boy on their voyage of discovery through a skyscraper and meet its remarkable residents. An enchanting wordless book that doubles as a measuring chart and exudes imagination and joyfulness.
All of his books are a feast to read and look at together
Leo Timmers shows off his best side in this cheery story about the scared cat Harry. He gives form to Harry’s quest with beautiful compositions and a relatively subdued colour palette. Timmers paints the fearful cat and his unfamiliar surroundings in his unique style, with precise details. A new highpoint in Timmers’ exceptional oeuvre.
321 Super-smart Things You Have to Know Before You Turn 13
A fantastically-designed book with surprising, funny facts and wonderful illustrations.
Did you know that a giraffe can lick the inside of its ears? That we have been brushing our teeth for thousands of years? That you can weigh your head by putting it in a bucket of water? Or that astronauts pee into a vacuum cleaner?
‘321 Super-smart Things You Have To Know Before You Turn 13’ is a fine pillow book for younger and older Einsteins.
In this philosophical picture book, Elvis Peeters and Sebastiaan Van Doninck explore themes including home, property, and the budding awareness that others may have a very different take on things. ‘My Rock’ is a story about sharing the same space – a story that couldn’t be more topical today.
Discover why the glow-worm glows, how the bombardier beetle got its name and in what way a caterpillar can disguise itself. An exceptional ode to the ultimate boss on earth, who will mesmerize young and old.
Peter Goes created a magnificent search-and-find book of mazes and more. He once said ‘I unwind by delving deeper and deeper into drawings’, and it is clear that he invites his readers to do the same. Lose yourself in his labyrinth, and make sure you don’t skip the endpapers! They too will enchant you.
Following the adaptation and sanitisation of fairy stories by the Brothers Grimm, Disney and others, writers are increasingly restoring these tales to their original, complex and sometimes dark and creepy forms. Marita de Sterck is the unbeatable master.
Aerts has the ability to make emotions glow beneath his words.
Some friends are much more than that. They grow up like twin cherries on the same stalk. Adin and Dina have that kind of friendship. ‘Cherry Heaven’ is a sensitive story about going away and coming back, and about the power of friendship: in spite of Adin’s move to the city, the two children do whatever they can to stay connected.
Impactful. Shows shameful current realities that get deep under the skin.
A girl is hiding in the back of a lorry. She’s sharing the space with a horse, her mum, and Captain Compass, her best friend. They’re on their way to another country, where the walls don’t dance and the houses don’t fall, and where the sky doesn’t rumble like thunder when there’s not a cloud to be seen. A light book about a weighty subject.
In unconnected short texts, Ruth Mellaerts draws the reader into familiar situations, memories, thoughts and feelings. The interaction between words and illustrations lifts the book to a higher level and creates calm and beauty as well as words to ruminate on.
A great creative and imaginative adventure full of surrealistic braveness and subtle humor
Global Illustration Awards Jury
Oskar is a special toy dinosaur. Ever since a little boy received Oskar as a present, the two have been inseparable. So when the boy suddenly loses his buddy, he doesn’t just accept it, but sets off fearlessly in search of the creature. This is the start of a fantastic adventure in which mountains are moved, seas are crossed and the two friends face great dangers.
When a little girl sees a jet-black puppy in her bedroom window in this wordless picture book, it marks the beginning of an exceptional night. The clown on the bedroom wall also comes to life and transports the little girl to the circus. In ‘Circus Night’, De Leeuw plays with reality, imagination, dreams and fantasy.
‘The Book of Children’s Books’ is a kaleidoscopic book for reading, looking at and leafing through, for all readers who know how it feels to be a child, and a source of information and inspiration for publishers, booksellers, librarians, teachers – and for everyone else who is passionate about books.
Suzie Doozie is a headstrong girl with boundless energy and imagination. In a series devoted to her adventures, she more than lives up to her impish name. Benjamin Leroy and Jaap Robben illustrate and write with a lot of empathy and love for this recalcitrant heroine.
The illustrations demonstrate impressive skill and a steady hand.
Walter is always falling asleep. It doesn’t matter where he is: at his birthday party, on the seesaw, in the swimming pool. His parents try everything they can think of to wake him up, but nothing works. Until a little dog walks in by accident and licks Walter’s face. A wonderful universe full of magical details.
True gems of illustrations. An exquisite picture book
Owlet and Twiglet are two little owls who live in a nest on a branch of their beloved Apple Tree. The old tree has looked after them ever since their parents were killed by a hawk. Now it’s time for them to fly the nest, but will they have the courage? Sabien Clement expresses the vulnerability of the little owls in a beautifully sensitive way.
‘I Must’ is a collection of powerful portraits and philosophical texts full of compassion, vulnerable and confrontational at the same time. It exposes a merciless and terrible human tangle of obligations and expectations. Godon and Tellegen inspire thoughts, give a name to feeling and trigger involvement.
The central character in ‘Me and the Bear’ is young Leo, who in his own eyes meets with resistance everywhere. Only a brown bear does not run away from him. That is the beginning of a friendship that gives Leo enough confidence to go on.
We seldom see so much humour, beauty and linguistic creativity.
In this colourful encyclopaedia, children discover the world and learn new words in a playful way. The result is a hefty introductory and comprehensive work, full of dynamic characters and objects, offering a generous sampling of Tom Schamp’s craftsmanship. His illustrations represent a blend of Richard Scarry’s ‘Busy, Busy Town’ and Martin Handford’s ‘Where’s Waldo’.
‘Mammoth' is the story of Theodore Bob Princel the First. Theo’s parents are rich and successful, and they want nothing less for their son. He and Nanny Leg-Hair race through lesson after lesson after lesson. Until Nanny takes a nap, leaving Theo to set off on an adventure.
This adaptation of the ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ classic is one to remember. Little Red Riding Hood remains the familiar protagonist, but this time is a self-aware and determined girl who knows what she wants. And what she wants is red.
Beautiful sentences, funny jokes and original ideas
This is not just any counting book: it is cleverly constructed around an increasingly complex list of presents and characters. De Leeuw uses fine, spontaneous lines to draw and paint characters of flesh and blood within stunning settings full of colour and life. It is a collection of sparkling scenes that completely absorb the reader’s attention.
The Very Tired Man and the Woman who Passionately Loved Bonsai
De Wereld Draait Door
A woman reads a wanted ad in the newspaper one day: “man seeks woman to die for”. When she rings the number, she hears someone sigh. She’s never heard such a beautiful sigh before.
In this picture book for adults, Kaatje Vermeire’s pictures and Peter Verhelst’s words each tell a story of their own. The reader combines the two, creating an artwork on every page.
The atmospheric, bitter-sweet illustrations make the sadness palpable and yet palatable.
'Stella. Star of the Sea' is a tale about loneliness, being different and searching for your place in the world. It is also a story about the boundless nature of parental love and about letting your children go so that they can be themselves. When writing this story, Dendooven was inspired by disturbing photos of refugees and by the horrors experienced by children in war zones.
Rosemary thinks fairies are terribly boring. And the worst of it is that she’s a fairy herself. She would rather be a witch.
To celebrate his twentieth anniversary as an illustrator, Carll Cneut has created new illustrations for this popular picture book.
The first real Dutch-language equivalent of the Treehouse Books
Gibbe wakes up one morning in the park, with no idea how he got there. Then he meets the Monday man (‘I’m the one who takes you safely to Tuesday’). This book is built on irony and absurdity and defies all the rules of children’s books. Completely crazy, it maintains its ironic style throughout.
Michael De Cock’s retellings of Greek myths leave room for the imagination and reconstruct these ancient stories in a contemporary and accessible way. A collection of beautifully illustrated and timeless adaptations of classical tales.
Godon is a master of using minimal media to represent emotional states.
Zilveren Palet jury
Let yourself be moved by this playful, poetic story about a grandson and his grandfather, who is slipping into dementia. With large, colourful and raw illustrations ‘My Grandpa is a Tree’ makes a sensitive subject approachable.
Verster is a master at evoking atmosphere and longing.
Five-year-old Matteo has the best day of his life when he gets a soccer ball and a pig for his birthday. For Vasco the pig, it’s also the best day of his life – it’s not even his birthday and he still gets Matteo. Edward van de Vendel beautifully describes the loving friendship between Vasco and Matteo, while Alain Verster adds another dimension to the story through his illustrations.
When Hummingbird asks Croc to play a game, the crocodile’s reaction is a little condescending: 'No, you’re far too teeny-tiny.' When Croc finally comes round and they play hide-and-seek together, Hummingbird’s size is its strength: it’s not easy for the crocodile to find the little bird in the dense jungle.
Lina and Judocus have a unique take on the world. They talk about the big things and the little things in life and if there’s anything they don’t know they just make it up. Lina and Judocus are only too happy to question all those things adults take for granted. All too often, the siblings know best. And who’s to say they’re wrong?
Simple observations transport the reader into a silent world of universal emotions and wishes.
The narrator unfolds a day in the lives of a handful of characters, uncovering their wishes, memories and doubts. The short, associative, expressive texts create evocative insights into their inner lives. The dreamlike images, filled with humorous touches, are an ode to beauty, nostalgia and the power of the imagination.
The wave of migration in the 1960s and 70s in a child-size format
Grandpa Monji tells his granddaughter and grandson the story of how he, a Tunisian, ended up in Belgium. The young reader learns about another time, a time when people moved thousands of kilometres for work, and a marriage between a Belgian woman and an ‘outsider’ encountered a great deal of suspicion. A plea for mutual understanding, and a sensitive book about respect, with a dash of humour.
‘The Big Book of Trains’ more than lives up to its title: it offers an historical overview of the development of trains, starting with the Industrial Revolution and the steam train. In his familiar, delicate style and from different perspectives, Mattias De Leeuw creates his own universe, executing it in great detail.
A rich, accessible treasure trove of facts and figures
‘Timeline’ is a trip through time, past dinosaurs, Vikings, Aztecs and spaceships. It is an illustrated journey through our world’s culture and events and travels from the Big Bang to the iPod. Peter Goes constructs a continuous line, on which different historical periods make their appearance one by one.
Bron is growing to be too big for his mother’s milk. He can't wait to explore the world around him, and all the interesting things just waiting to be discovered. Bron slips away, and is captured by people. Fortunately, Ma manages to enlist the help of a whole group of other animals, and together they manage to free Bron.
Jack doesn’t want to be a gnome anymore, but dreams of becoming a cowboy. Dimitri Leue packs this funny story about breaking away from conventional patterns with puns and absurd jokes. Tom Schoonooghe’s illustrations in coloured pencil are cheerful, lively and full of details.
Rough-and-tumble versions you have never heard before
In ’Dirty Skin’ anthropologist Marita de Sterck has collected forty Flemish folktales, uncensored and as close as possible to the oral tradition. Sometimes farcical and often grotesque, they are jam-packed with violence, lust, jealousy and the black arts.
The Boy, the Hornbill, the Elephant, the Tiger and the Girl
So beautiful that you often want to read passages twice.
A boy is taken to a secret valley by the men of his village, where he is to be initiated into everything a man needs to know. Fear, courage, loss and death are the themes that emerge from Peter Verhelst’s poetic words. Carll Cneut complements the story with pictures that show the beauty of nature and the insignificance of humans.
Supersaturated hues and maximum automotive whimsy make this one to pore over.
Gus is a happy do-it-yourselfer. No job is too big or too difficult for him. Luckily, he has plenty of useful stuff lying around and he always comes up with creative solutions. Timmers has thoroughly indulged himself designing the most ingenious vehicles, replete with pedals and handles.
An ambitious young adult novel about the things that divide us: money and religion
Babel is an exciting, profound novel, in which Jan De Leeuw again shows that his great strength lies in creating complex, thoroughly credible characters. In this flawlessly constructed story the puzzle is slowly laid out and no one turns out to be what they seem. Apparently effortlessly De Leeuw embeds the human struggle of his characters in a web of religion and superstition, Biblical and jihadi themes.
Norway, a sleepy fishing village at the beginning of the 20th century. Finn tries to contact his father, out at sea. Against the background of a village that is being forced into modernisation and the inhumanity that sometimes accompanies it, a story of sadness and indefinable longing unfolds, which also smoothly incorporates gripping scenes.
‘Horse in Boots’ is Jef Aerts’ third powerful children’s novel in a row. Aerts excels in combining adventure and excitement in poetic language full of subtle metaphors. The moving friendship between a girl, a horse and an elderly woman is rendered in a succinct but richly evocative style.
In this gem of a story, Bart Moeyaert writes with surprising lightness about loneliness and dying. Gerda Dendooven’s robust green-and-black drawings capture the tenderness of death and the strangeness of this imminent demise.
Aline Sax shows how the damage inflicted by the wall carries on beyond its physical destruction.
Three generations of Berliners, one wall. In ‘Crossing the Line’, Aline Sax has written an epic tale of life with the Berlin Wall. This tense sketch of a family’s struggle for survival presents daily life in Berlin in a fascinating and convincing light. The threat of the Stasi gradually permeates, and the feeling that no one can be trusted continues to reverberate throughout.
Roger The Soap Knight is passionate about taking baths, scrubbing up, working in the garden (then taking another bath) and doing the laundry. But he’s also passionate about fighting. Together with Gaston, his clean white horse, he sets out to vanquish a dragon.
Sam is crazy about robots and goes around telling everyone that they live on a distant planet. Nobody believes him. Fed up, he decides to create someone who does understand him. Using parts from a vacuum cleaner, a desk lamp, a radio and a rake he puts together Franky, his very own robot.
Piglet thinks he’s the strongest and even dares to enter into a trial of strength with Elephant. This results in a number of humorously detailed but doomed attempts to lift the ten-ton animal. The combination of dark tones, supplemented by a striking red and bright blue, make for eye-catching pictures.
The king has twelve daughters, whom he keeps close to him. The girls feel trapped in a golden cage. Until one day they discover a secret staircase that takes them to a magic garden. In ‘The Magic Garden’ Dendooven blows a breath of fresh air through ‘The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes’ by the Brothers Grimm, and adds a feminist-tinted ending.
‘Beware of Grandma’ tells the story of a remarkable weekend. The star role goes to a quirky grandmother who travels to a hut in the forest with ten children. The story is packed with adventures and outlandish situations, each magnified by one constant: harmony between text and image.
In this adaptation of ‘Puss in Boots’, illustrator Sebastiaan Van Doninck brings tension and life to the story with his powerful compositions, beautiful watercolour tints and bright colours as needed. This classic tale-with-a-twist is a veritable feast for the eye.
Six characters try to guess what’s inside the crate they’re about to transport. They all imagine it’s some kind of exotic animal. Though they transport the crate with the greatest care, they can’t prevent it from breaking open repeatedly. And each time a smaller crate appears. A veritable feast!
A vivid depiction of what war does to ‘ordinary people’
Mona is sixteen in 1935 when she learns the tricks of the trade as a serveuse: she is expected to use her feminine charms to coax men out of their money and water down their drinks. In the chaos of wartime, she makes a stubborn decision that will turn her friends’ lives upside down. But can she mess with people’s lives the way she messes with their drinks?
‘I Think’takes a close look at thinking from different perspectives. Ingrid Godon does this through a mixture of sketches and stylised, timeless portraits of young and old people, using a soft red to highlight details, while author Toon Tellegen works with gently philosophical reflections.
A tribe is preparing to catch a sabre-toothed tiger. Using a little white rock Olun draws the tiger on a rock, and thus manages to capture the hungry beast in the drawing. Unwittingly, he also lays the foundations for cave drawings. A humorous book full of entertaining details, that invites reading and re-reading.
Valentina, the emperor’s spoilt daughter, collects birds. When she encounters a talking bird in her dreams, a use for the empty ‘golden cage’ is quickly found. Cneut’s prints exceed all the limits of the illustrative powers of expression: this is art with a capital A.
A poetic story about grief which is nevertheless quite funny. The pictures by Sabien Clement complement Anna Vercammen’s words beautifully, and the illustrator’s elegant lines portray the queen’s slow disappearance in an original way.
Jan is nine and he’s perfectly ordinary. He would love to be special, though. Kathleen Vereecken and cartoonist Eva Mouton joined forces to create this story full of humour, in which the illustrations and the text come together to form a happy whole. This book is fresh, funny and heart-warming.
The ‘Job and the Pigeon’ books are a series of first readers about a quick-tempered boy and an assertive pigeon. Any six-year-old will immediately identify with the story, and the book is also packed with original ideas and surprises.
De Vlieger has explored and expanded her horizons with verve.
Klaar finds an old notebook in her grandfather’s handwriting and starts reading about his adventures in Canada, in 1929. She discovers that her grandfather was on the run for something and why he came back. 'Don’t Go to Canada' is an ingeniously-constructed coming-of-age novel.
A proper young adult book has no age limits and can be enjoyed by everybody. 'One is Enough' is just such a book.
Juliette is growing up in a musical family, but life is no picnic; after the death of her father, her mother proves demanding to live with. The latent tragedy develops inexorably. Els Beerten uses deep psychological insight to bring the affairs of Juliette and her family to life.
Nothing but superlatives. The master’s hand can once again be recognised.
While the other animals take life as it comes, the goose and his brother ask themselves questions that are sometimes bigger than themselves. Bart Moeyaert finds the perfect balance between gentle humour and taking their concerns seriously. This lends the stories a timeless and universal character, poetically worded by Moeyaert in his distinctive economical style.
In this book of verse, Edward van de Vendel captures fifty everyday sounds for the smallest of children, in an extremely original way. With no buttons to push, no mimicry or clichés, this beautiful book is full of original rhymes.
Not only stunningly beautiful, it is also very interesting. ****
A boy hears a girl calling him one morning. Is it his sister, the sister in the faded photograph on the wall? This is the beginning of an unforgettable adventure. Jef Aerts and Marit Törnqvisthave created a beautiful book about death. It is emotional without being sentimental, stepping smoothly back and forth between magic and the literalness of childhood.
It starts almost imperceptibly, with something innocuous. Tommy is shy, he blushes easily. A little girl notices it, points to him and winks at Paul, the biggest bully of all. Jan de Kinder offers us a powerful story about strong children on the playground who don’t like bullying.
Rhythm and text propel you forward, leaving you breathless.
The hare, the horse, the boar and the deer run as fast and as far as they can. Their shadows run with them. They run over the plain, through the sand, through the grass.
This picture book allows even the very young to come into contact with poetic language at a high level, without it becoming inaccessible.
An unusual tribute to the consolations of imagination
The Wall Street Journal
In this moving story about the healing powers of the imagination, Anton Van Hertbruggen and Edward van de Vendel broach major themes such as sadness and loneliness. Dreamy, realistic and fascinating enough to want to look at again and again.
When Yannick Agnel, an Olympic champion, wants to train him, Alex can hardly believe his luck. He gives it his all, and his parents, who don’t see his talent, increasingly become an obstacle to his ambitions. Do Van Ranst sketches another dysfunctional family, and does so with panache.
Beautiful adaptation of Stravinsky’s 'The Soldier’s Tale'
‘Someone’s Sweetheart’ is a fairytale in verse form, about a Russian soldier who is given two weeks annual leave from the battlefield in World War I. In the penetrating, moving text, Moeyaert continually plays with foreboding omens. The sinister atmosphere is enhanced by Korneel Detailleur’s impressive grey illustrations.
A small village behind the front, during World War I. While soldiers struggle to fight, life behind the front goes on. At the inn, where soldiers come to catch their breath, lives a blind girl. One day, she finds someone sitting on her bench: a black soldier, with the ‘scent of roasted nuts’.
An extremely strong book, a wartime childhood that can be taken as a reference
Edward van de Vendel
Flanders, 1914. The war is approaching audibly. Young Nelle volunteers as a nurse in a hospital, seeing this war as a chance to become more than just a baker’s daughter, a mother and wife. Her boyfriend Simon doesn’t want to go to war, but he is pushed by his father, who is fascinated by heroism and the art of warfare, and he ends up in the trenches with his best friend Kamiel.
Such layering, such rich atmosphere and magnificent dialogue, this is unprecedented
Matti sets out on the ice road to town on the coldest night of the year to bring his father’s favourite fish to safety. Out on the ice at night, he meets Drika, who is almost blind, and who, like Matti, has a goal to achieve. 'Fish Don’t Melt'is an atmospheric and exciting story about a night full of threat and disaster, but above all a book about love.
Wild, breathless stories in this great collection of small texts
This beautifully illustrated treasure chest holds a collection of Bart Moeyaert short stories and poems for children. No matter how different the stories and poems are, they all show Moeyaert’s craftsmanship. Such variety, such a wealth of imagery and style – it all combines to make this book an exquisite anthology.
A book for sensitive readers, young or otherwise, who enjoy taking time for nuances
Paris, just before the French Revolution. Camille and Louis’ father is a silk merchant, which entails regular journeys to China. Until one day he does not return. Kathleen Vereecken sketches a beautiful and subtle story about loss and how to cope with it against the background of a city where tensions are rising.
Her rich vocabulary and thoughtful wording leave a lasting impression.
‘Birdie’ is a gripping story about growing up and loneliness. Written from the perspective of adults as well as teenagers, this crossover novel will appeal to both demographics. Van den Broeck creates incredibly believable characters with elaborate characterisation and fluid streams of thought.
A fine debut – it looks like the well of promising young Flemish illustrators has not run dry yet.
A man is sitting in his cabin in the forest, all by himself. When he stares out of the window, all he sees are trees. It is a beautiful forest, but the man isn’t happy: he demolishes his little house and with the timber he assembles a pair of tall stilts. With giant steps he can now go and explore the wonders of the world.
This is not your average picture book, but a highly original and gripping story.
Willy’s father is keen to teach his son something new every day. But every time he looks over the boy’s shoulder, something goes wrong. Then one day his father decides to send Willy out into the great, wide world to discover his talents.
‘Somersault Day’ is imaginative from beginning to end.
Zsofi jumps off a star and falls down to earth, little suitcase in hand. This is her Somersault Day. A woman climbs out of Zsofi’s suitcase, picks her up and holds her tight. Somersault Day’ is a gripping story about life, love, death and saying goodbye.
‘Roger is Reading a Book’ is both a tribute to the quiet life (the bliss of peacefully reading a book) and to going out and having fun together when city life beckons. The same hustle and bustle in town returns in 'Roger is Going Fishing' where Roger cycles out of town to go fishing. His neighbour Emily on the back of his bike, with the fishing rod in her hand, catches plenty of things before they’ve even left the town.
A nostalgic journey through time by means of beautiful pictures
With ‘My Favourite Dictionary of Toys’, young children can learn their first words: ‘dog’, ‘boat’ and ‘pear’, but also ‘speed merchant’ and ‘smitten’. With his typical style – a mix of collage, drawings and graphic work – Gaudesaboos creates a colourful book yet without excess, because he limits himself to depicting only a single word per page.
Without a doubt one of the most beautiful books of the year
One cold winter’s night, a man goes out looking for a child because his wife so desperately wants one. But he has doubts about every child he meets in his search. Until he finds a branch that looks like a baby.
Parents’ love for their children, however different it can be from what you might expect, is magnificently rendered in this heart-warming tale.
Well written, beautiful language and original ideas
A rich and varied book worth cherishing. An eight-year-old boy introduces his eleven grandparents through stories, poems, recipes and comic strips. Evelien De Vlieger shatters all the clichés – or nearly all of them – about grandparents. The illustrations are so detailed it’s hard to tear your eyes away from the pages of this beautiful book.
Moonie is staring at a vase one day when thirteen tiny blue deer come trotting out of it. The deer do not turn out to be friends in whom Moonie can confide, and they don’t come when she calls. Van de Vendel presents a convincing picture of the inner world and conversations of children. De Leeuw employs a minimal background and simple lines and makes very effective use of colour.
The early 1960s. Joris is ten and likes nothing more than playing war in the dunes. Inside his dad’s old army trunk, he finds a mysterious photograph of his parents with a young man. Who is he? And what does he have to do with the night of 2 April?
Marita de Sterck gives fairy tales back their primal power.
In ‘Beast in Bed’, tales like Rapunzel and Snow White are restored to their former glory, giving them back their emotional and literary force and their fierce energy. A must-read for anyone who loves pure folk tales.
‘Applesauce’ is a refreshing complement to all the picture books in which dads are always heroes. Here you see a father as he really is: he often realises his role of superdad, but occasionally he can be found lazing on the sofa and sometimes he even changes to scary and grumpy, with thunder in his voice and lightening in his hands.
Thomas is dead, but three people can still see him: his inconsolable mother, his beloved Orphee and his dying grandfather. This complex tangle of various lives and perspectives works perfectly. De Leeuw writes highly sensitive, keen prose with poignant images, and is painfully honest in showing that damaged, lonely people can be unreasonable and unkind, and that love can be an immense burden.
An epic story about life and identity that is hard to put down
Kaspar Hauser has intrigued historians, writers and artists for centuries. Kristien Dieltiens has constructed a masterful novel around his life. 'Cellar Child' begins with an impressive scene that grips the reader and refuses to let go until the breathtaking finale 480 pages later.
A gripping and authentic tale of love, friendship, grief and loss
Eppo is taking a trip. Hitchhiking to France he is picked up by Tabby, who has her own reasons for leaving home. Tabby talks nineteen to the dozen; Eppo is an introvert. Through his eyes we join them on their journey, which has more to do with what lies behind them than with where they are going.
'Little Paradise’ is a tale of longing, of family, of breaking free and wanting to belong and the difficult balance of all those elements. But it is also full of adventure, with storylines that cleverly twist and turn and an action-packed climax.
A warm story you can relate to, skilfully written and illustrated
Bernie and Flora are a bear and a duck who like the same things and have been friends for years. A series of four books describes their adventures together. The books are an ode to friendship and love, and they also show how both characters need to have respect for each other’s individuality.
Like every year, everyone gathers on the top of the hill. Ant is very happy that it is finally her turn to chair the meeting, in which they will discuss a difficult question. Elephant asks how you know that you love someone.
'I wish' presents the reader with 33 portraits that take you back to a bygone age. Toon Tellegen wrote accompanying fragments of thoughts, little reflections with a philosophical character. 'I wish’ is a unique and personal document on ‘la condition humaine’, which reveals great sensibility.
Otto and his dad spot some weird and wonderful sights as they drive through the village into the dazzling heart of the city. In dynamic prints full of detailed pictures, Tom Schamp brings all kinds of animals to life in the most bizarre and remarkable vehicles. This wonderful picture book guarantees to provide hours of viewing pleasure.
A tender story offering a glimmer of hope for all the frightened little outsiders
Telemarcus cannot or dares not dive. One day, when all the young pigeons have to take a gruelling diving test to receive their diploma, he anxiously awaits his turn. With his soft-hued illustrations incorporating old photographs, Alain Verster evokes a nostalgic atmosphere. A highly successful and amazingly illustrated book about the fear of failure.
One big, hilarious pile-up – that’s ‘Bang’, a fabulous picture book story with hardly any words. Animals of all kinds go crashing into each other. They all have their own reasons for not noticing they’re about to smash into the others. But what a happy crash it is! The colourful illustrations make this book a feast for the eye.
Passion, brotherhood and betrayal make this book roar like the sea.
Nelen depicts wonderful and believable characters with her strong sense of atmosphere and observation. In her poetic style, which leaves a lot unsaid, she evokes a dreamlike, misty atmosphere, filled with vague longing, masterfully succeeding in creating an exciting story set against a fascinating historical background.
An intimate story, written with wonderful tautness
‘The Milky Way’ is an intimate story about growing pains, absence and transience. It is also about the thin line between fiction and reality, and inventing stories as a barrier against things that are too big and too scary. About wanting to stay small, but having to grow up.
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. 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.
Adam believes it’s his job to keep everything in the Garden of Eden, where he lives with Eve, in good order – to curb nature, that is. Eve is beginning to sigh more and she’s taking less pleasure in life. Keen to do something about it, Adam yields to Eve’s fatigue and stops his maintenance work. From then on, everything is allowed to grow rampant.
One day a stranger offers to make Mr. Renny’s dreams come true: everything he paints will come to life. Then his friend Rose asks if she can buy one of his paintings. The spell has to be broken – and soon! In this story, with a big nod to Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, Leo Timmers combines a rich imagination with a clear, purified visual language.
Maia and her grandmother have a ball whenever they are together. But then Grandma suddenly falls ill and when she wakes up she has lost her words. Far from the realms of cliché, Tine Mortier and Kaatje Vermeire show how a sharp young girl copes with difficult themes like ageing and death.
Dazzling etchings that intrigue to the very last page
One day, the circus of Dottore Fausto arrives in Tito’s village. An impressive figure enters the ring and everything changes through his presence. Isabelle Vandenabeele’s black and red woodcuts are dazzling, magnificent, rough, simple, expressive and exuberant.
Rosie goes to live in a new flat with her mother and quickly makes friends with the boy on the floor above, Moussa, and with the elderly Mrs Hemelrijk. Together they have a fun adventure on the roof, which has a great view over the city.
A real page-turner with innumerable surprising and thrilling twists
Nita Nomansdaughter is a late 16th century cutpurse. At the age of thirteen, she is sold to a travelling apothecary who swindles market-goers. Nita becomes proficient at her trade, until one day she is caught and sentenced to the gallows.
Little Man and Little Woman are longing for a child. But before they make one, Little Man and Little Woman start to fantasize about what their child should look like. However, when their baby is finally born, he is not at all how his parents imagined him to be. Still, he is just right…
Moving and cheerful at the same time, this story is told with sparkling wit
‘Mister Cookie Writes a Book’ is a series of small read-aloud books in the shape of a petit-beurre biscuit. The text and visual humour are tailor-made for children of four years and up. The most charming aspects of this colourful series lie in the details; of the countless visual jokes, some are no bigger than a square centimetre. Anyone with the patience to look for them all will be kept happy for hours.
Sammy is a little boy with a huge appetite, he feels like eating the biggest, tallest sandwich in the world.
An ode to the creative fantasy of toddlers, who love to convert features of their surroundings into something quite different for a while. This is a look-and-find book full of visual discoveries that will endlessly excite the smallest of children, and indeed their parents.
Grief, caring, love, despair – the whole panorama impresses with its light tone.
Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis jury
As fifteen-year-old Jonas is eradicating all traces of his mother’s restless night, he discovers that she has committed suicide. He barely reacts at all, deciding to concentrate on the events of the day. With great verve, Jan De Leeuw succeeds in creating a sense of alienation, a concept that lies at the root of this cross-over novel. He pairs metafiction with seriousness and slapstick with sadness, all with flair.
An extraordinary novel, told in words and sentences of the finest crystal
In the enlightened 18th century, Leon is abandoned and taken in by an uncaring foster mother. Méline, the daughter of the family, takes pity on the tough little boy and makes his hard life bearable. When she commits suicide, Leon knows there is only one thing he can do: live.
A richly documented novel written in a sensual style
Papinette, a curious servant girl in sixteenth-century Antwerp, has no father but many mothers, because all the other servants boss her around. Kristien Dieltiens interweaves the moving, yet disturbing story of Papinette with the history of Antwerp and the rich artistic tradition that has developed in this Flemish city.
'The Dog Eaters' describes the plight of ordinary citizens during WWI, as seen through the eyes of Victor, the epileptic 17-year-old son of a notary. With its mythical atmosphere and almost unbearable tension, this is an unforgettable novel for readers of all ages.
Literature of wonderment. For children. And for those few adults who are still capable of wonder.
De Groene Amsterdammer
In winter everybody hopes spring will arrive soon. Squirrel is counting down to his final beechnut, Elephant would like to push winter away, while Owl is writing a letter… Nothing seems to help. Until suddenly spring arrives and everybody starts visiting everybody else.
A small boy compiles a mythical portrait of his grandfather: he is the father of the wood, of the village, even the whole country. But sometimes the roles are reversed. On such occasions the little boy waits until it’s his turn to be the comforting ‘little dad’ to his mournful grandpa-without-grandma.
A masterful symbiosis of colour, form and composition
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. 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 Carll Cneut.
Majestic. A book like this is written once a decade at most.
Dagblad van het Noorden
1943. In rich and vivid language, Els Beerten maps out the hopes, dreams and desires of four friends, deftly capturing the blurring of the boundaries between good and evil, black and white. A moving and subtle portrayal of the darkest pages of our history. All of the characters follow their instincts and act in good faith. But what happens when the course you have chosen turns out to be the wrong one?
The young aristocrat beautifully and convincingly portrayed in this book is Marguerite van Male, a girl of flesh and blood, a wayward, boyish, wild and eccentric child, constantly at odds with her authoritarian father. She cannot be forced to do anything and refuses to be corseted – literally and figuratively – by anyone.
'Linus' is a book that demands to be reread, for the story as well as the abundance of unique illustrations.
Het Laatste Nieuws
Linus lives with his mourning mother, who wanders around the house like a ghost. He has nobody to play with. Everywhere he goes, he draws signs pointing to his house, but nobody ever comes to visit. Until he writes a letter to his late brother Boris. One day, he turns up on the doorstep.
You never tire of the generously inviting three-dimensional world of Tom Schamp.
Schamp evokes a colourful and many sided universe, full of fascinating and dazzling details. With his well-chosen, beautifully filled out pictures Schamp presents a surprising, individual take on the creation story.
On Rosie’s tenth birthday, almost a year ago, her sister Pia gave her a notebook containing ten self-written verses and a mysterious task in the form of a riddle. Shortly after this Pia died. To keep Pia’s memory alive, Rosie sketches a series of astonishing portraits of her sister. ‘A Riddle for Rosie’ is one of those rare picture books in which a high quality text is accompanied by illustrations that themselves can be read as works of art.
Hallgerd is born in the frozen North, a land of wolves and snow – and of kings who vie for power. One night, she loses everything she holds dear. After that night Hallgerd has only one thing on her mind: revenge. A brutal and gripping story of revenge, lust and love in the time of the Vikings.
In the middle of the night a million different butterflies fly round the head of Stach, a young elephant. Stach is completely bewildered, but his parents know what he has to do. He must set out in pursuit of the butterflies. On his journey Stach realises that no one sees the butterflies but him.
Masterful. Brilliantly evokes an important historical period
‘We Two Boys’begins in 1910 when the Flemish family De Belder is getting ready for their new future in the promised land, the United States of America. Eventually it is only the young Adrian, however, who makes it all the way to New York. Aline Sax sketches a lively and convincing portrait of New York City.
A little boy is both scared of and fascinated by an old woman he often sees. Until one day she drops her bag, and she suddenly looks a lot smaller. ‘The Woman and the Little Boy’ shows children that prejudices actually make no sense. Because big old women are not usually scary giantesses, but sweet little old ladies.
Dolores grows up as a dwarf, in 15th century Biar in Spain. When she is five she realises she is different to other people. But she refuses to reconcile herself to limitations and glosses over her handicap with a generous dose of humour.
Louise is nostalgic for the time when she was a real creepy girl. And she longs for Rotboy, with whom she used to do scary things. Now she’s all by herself and life is boring. Louise decides to go to the Shivver Woods, the best place for creepy adventures. There she bumps into Rotboy.
Alex is a gluttonous little pig. ‘Don’t eat when we’re not eating’, his mother says. Alex is stopped by a monster who eyes him as a tasty morsel, whom he manages to distract with clever tricks. But every monster has a mother, and all mothers are more or less alike. A veritable feast for keen observers.
In this reworking of a medieval story, the magnificent illustrations by Klaas Verplancke bring Reynard vividly to life. Each iconographic image is a genuine masterpiece, full of quirky details that the reader can explore for hours on end.
Fox and Hare live together in the wood, next door to Owl. They love each other and they tease each other and, as befits an inseparable duo, they’re complete opposites. Vanden Heede succeeds in creating unforgettable characters in a fresh and funny style. The story’s so much fun that the readers barely notice the words and sentences are getting longer and longer.
A book about shock and shame, about the power of the imagination and about the longing for forbidden fruit
Marita de Sterck beautifully depicts the claustrophobic atmosphere of the strict boarding schools of yesteryear and the shame and secrecy surrounding menstruation and budding sexuality. Rhythmic sentences are bursting with sensual suggestion and thrilling secrets about the body, secrets that must not be spoken.
Sensitive language and delicate treatment of emotions
A Creole plantation on the Mississippi, in Louisiana. Planter's daughter Lara and slave girl Rebecca grow up together and become bosom friends. Vereecken describes her characters with great subtlety and nuance. But the division between black and white, between slave and master, cruelly and irrevocably tears them apart. A profound and compelling novel.