Guus Kuijer is one of Holland's most celebrated children's book authors, with published work spanning short story collections, novels for children and adults, stage plays and television scripts. In 2005, The Book of Everything won the Flemish Golden Owl Award and the Dutch Golden Pencil Award. Guus received the 2012 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA), the world's largest prize for children's and young adult literature. John Nieuwenhuizen has translated six novels from the Dutch language, including Falling, The Baboon King (winner of the prestigious Mildred L. Batchelder Award for translation) and And What About Anna?. In 2005 John was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Translation Prize. His translation of Ann Provoost's In the Shadow of the Ark is on the long-list for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Gr 4-6-In spite of his hard life, Thomas believes in happiness. He adores Eliza, who has an artificial leg. He sees Jesus and talks to him. He sees tropical fish in the canal. In between his father's beatings, he records all he believes, thinks, adores, and sees in his Book of Everything. His Bible-quoting father justifies his brutality toward his son and wife as, "It is the man's task to lead and instruct his wife and children. And if they refuse to listen to him, he has no choice but to-." Things come to a head when his older sister threatens their bullying father with a carving knife, their mother stands up to him, and neighbors turn against him. In the end, he sees that his lonely father is terrified of life. He is encouraged by an unlikely ally, Mrs. van Amersfoort, who lost her husband to the Nazis, but still believes in happiness. Winner of the Flemish Golden Owl award, this book is enchanting. The translation manages to hold the shaky feel of a postwar Netherlands. Thomas is proof that there is beauty in dirty streets and that innocence cannot be destroyed. A solid, if not first, purchase.-Sadie Mattox, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
'...uplifting. Thomas rises above his bleak world with a big heart and a bigger imagination. This little treasure is a wise, touching, sad, triumphant and unforgettable fable...wonderfully told.'Viewpoint, Winter 2006'...marvellous and fantastically hopeful account of [an] often cruel world...'Dominion Post Weekend, 2 December 2006'...will ultimately send you out into the world determined to see a few tropical fish, a couple of angels, and some happiness achieved, for yourself.'Bulletin, 28 March 2006
This brief post-WWII novel packs an emotional wallop. In 1951, following the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, nine-year-old Thomas lives a fear-filled existence with his mother, sister and abusive father. Though Thomas's father ends every evening meal by reading aloud a Bible passage, he routinely beats both Thomas and his mother. Things change after Thomas befriends the reputed "witch" next door. Indeed, Mrs. Van Amersfoort, whose husband was executed by the Nazis for aiding in the Resistance, takes subtle steps to help Thomas and his family. Her deep magic may also be responsible for the odd occurrences in Thomas's household, which eerily parallel the story of Moses and the pharaoh that Thomas's father is reciting. The young hero records these events, and his encounters with Jesus (funny, at times irreverent conversations) in "The Book of Everything" he writes in each day. The narrative, told from Thomas's perspective, draws heavily on Christian symbolism-Mrs. Van Amersfoort serves Thomas a cordial "as red as blood"-and frequent episodes of magical realism (e.g., the angels in heaven "covered their eyes with their hands and sobbed loudly" when Thomas's father strikes his mother). Readers who enjoyed Frank Boyce's Millions will find the same sophisticated storytelling here (though without the plentiful humor), and a satisfying resolution, as Thomas's father gets his comeuppance, and the young hero sticks by what he wants to be when he grows up: happy. Ages 9-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.