When Flanders and the Netherlands were designated guests of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016, artistic director Bart Moeyaert was keen for a book to be compiled that gave an overview of the wealth of literature available to children and young adults in the Low Countries.
In Veerle Vanden Bosch, head of literature with the Flemish paper De Standaard and the Dutch critic and journalist Mirjam Noorduijn, he saw the ideal authors for such an ambitious project. And he was proved right. Starting from fifty innovative Dutch-language children’s and young adults’ books, twenty-five illustrators and the same number of themes again, they show you the rich world of Flemish and Dutch children’s and young adults’ literature, with references to the international and adult book world. With 1001 cross-connections 'The Book of Children’s Books' is an impressive tome that can be leafed through endlessly.
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?
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’.
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.
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!
Lighthouse keeper Tijs spends all day looking out at the sea. He’s waiting for his friend Sailor, who has promised to return so they can travel the world together. It’s all Tijs can think about.
‘Waiting for Sailor’ is a book that will long stay with you and where you can turn to whenever you find yourself missing someone.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There cannot be many writers as tough and sensitive as Bart Moeyaert.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
‘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.
'Falling' exhibits the traits of a classic tale of destiny.
Woutertje Pieterse Prize jury
Lucas is spending the summer with his mother in his grandfather’s house as he does every year. This year, however, everything is different: his grandfather died at Christmas and gradually tongues are beginning to wag about his war years. In a sober style and with atmospheric, detailed descriptions and convincing dialogue, Anne Provoost creates an extraordinarily oppressive feel to her novel.
The illustrations glow, and conjure up the feeling of a safe home.
Nelly builds a gigantic house at a spot with fantastic views. But when her friends Bird, Bear, Duck and Cow come by to visit one by one, she realizes she misses the view of the forest, the mountain, the pond and the meadow. So Nelly begins by knocking down the walls, until all that’s left is the roof over her head.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
'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.
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.
The nameless fifteen-year-old protagonist lives with her parents 'at the end of the world': on a hairpin bend that ends on an unfinished bridge. Drivers are regularly caught unawares by the bend in the road, and crash into the front of the house, where they are nursed back to health.
Jan De Leeuw's book is unusual and surprising in equal measure.
Gouden Uil Young Reader's Prize jury
Fantasy and reality are combined in a mesmerizing fashion. Tension is built up and maintained throughout the book with skill and expertise, the plot remains exciting from the first page to the last, and there are a number of clever surprises built into the narrative. ‘Nightland’ is an exhilarating and layered literary work, which does not reveal all its secrets in a single reading.
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.
Noor is eighteen and is running a marathon. Within the tight framework of the marathon and its slowly passing miles, Els Beerten sends Noor back and forth through time. The more miles she runs, the deeper she descends into herself and the more space she creates for her past. A layered novel that remains with the reader for a long time.
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.
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.
A rabbit family that you instantly adopt as your own
Ricky Rabbit is different from the other rabbits: his right ear droops, while his left ear stands straight up. Whatever he does, the other rabbits make fun of him. In the end, his humour earns him a place in the group as the entertainer.