White Ravens: Belgium

75 books      

Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1993 - 100
Brouillard, Anne
Le sourire du loup
(The Wolf’s Smile)
Bruxelles: Dessain / Paris: Epigones, 1992. [26] p.
ISBN 3-2-7366-3605-8
wordless book - wolves
The young artist attracts attention with an extraordinary succession of pictures. There are large-format transformation games which make use of purely pictorial elements. Forms and colors shift dramatically from one double page to the next. The perspective moves in closer and closer, sweeps downward and backs off again. The action starts with a four-pointed white landscape in front of a red heaven with black pine tree tops below. Gradually one can see into the woods more precisely: a black wolf appears between the pale tree stumps, comes closer, his head gets larger and larger, the rocks change to teeth, the heavens to a tongue, they solidify into an explosive flash of lightning, then the teeth change back again into rocks, the old order returns, the wolf goes away. (4+)

Belgium (French) - 1993 - 101
Vincent, Gabrielle (text/illus.)
Ernest et Célestine au jour le jour
(Ernest and Célestine Day By Day)
Paris, Lourain-la-Neuve: Duculot, 1992. [36] p.
(Les albums Duculot)
ISBN 2-8011-0977-0
bears - mice - family life
Much to our own delight and that of many others in numerous countries in which they are now well-known, this pair has not aged in the least. Every year Ernest, the large paternal bear, and Ćelestine, his small adopted mouse daughter, experience new modest everyday adventures. This time the story is about the forbidden gathering of exquisite plums and the sanctioned picking of forest flowers, about birthday parties, invitations and heavy shopping bags - all events bearing witness to their usual satisfying togetherness. - Duculot is one of the few Belgian publishing houses which brings out literature exclusively for children and young people. The program encompasses mostly picture books but also books for young people and art books. (4+)

Belgium - 1993 - 165
Dreesen, Jaak (text)
Aertssen, Kristien (illus.)
Aan de overkant van de rivier
(On the Other Side of the River)
Averbode: Atiora, 1991. 76 p.
ISBN 90-317-0914-X
illness - death - grandmother/grandchild
Mirjam is in a coma. "She is now 14 years old and she may remain unconscious until she is 25. How can one cope with this situation? Mirjam lies as still as though she were carved out of marble". The grandmother stays seated by her granddaughter's bedside the whole time, relating the story of her life, including the problems she overcame. When Mirjam finally awakens, it is time for the grandmother to be buried. A moving story in which both story lines, that of Mirjam's coma and the grandmother's memories of the war - come beautifully together. Grandma and Mirjam need each other. The story provides hope for the future. (14+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 1993 - 166
Moeyaert, Bart (text)
Heymans, Annemie (illus.)
Voor altijd, altijd
(For Always, Always)
Tilburg: Zwijsen, 1992.
ISBN 90-276-2324-4
death - emotion
A red-headed woman sits by the lake. She is very sad. She misses Tasja Mei. Upon seeing the woman, Nanne is curious about the story behind her sadness. She first thinks Tasja Mei is a run-away cat. From Neuling she learns the real identity of Tasja Mei. “Tasja Mei was drowned last summer. She was only 8 years old. She could have been your girlfriend (...) Willa Mei is her mother. She went crazy because of her grief. She is the strangest mother in the village." In a sensitive way the theme of death is discussed, The characters and their feelings are precisely described in pure and well-chosen words. (8+)

Belgium (French) - 1994 - 121
Canta, Lillo (text/layout)
Paris/Louvain-la-Neuve: Duculot, 1993. 32 p.
(Le museé de papier)
ISBN 2-8011-1018-3
Art Appreciation - Rubens, Peter Paul <1573-1640>
That it is not necessary to find elaborate methods to awake in children an interest for art is proven by this volume. The author succeeds giving a clearly organized introduction to the vast oevre of the greatest painter of his time. The text is simply written, the commentary on the individual pictures easy to understand. On the very first page we become acquainted with Rubens' many-sided personality. The titles of each chapter are cleverly chosen, giving some indication of the most important themes of the paintings, Rubens' techniques, his life. The exuberant vitality of the painter comes across very clearly in the numerous reproductions. (9+)

Belgium (French) - 1994 - 122
Chevallier, Eric Dr. (text)
Pef (illus.)
Le préservatif. Trois mille ans d'amour protégé
(The Condom. Three Thousand Years of Safe Love)
[Paris]: Casterman, 1993. 45 p.
(Des objets font l'histoire)
ISBN 2-203-17217-7
Contraception - AIDS - Condom - Sexual Love/Youth

Belgium (French) - 1994 - 123
Grillot, Marie-Françoise (text)
Boll, Dominique (illus.)
La pilule. Trente ans de liberté au féminin
(The Pill. Thirty Years of Female Freedom)
[Paris]: Casterman, 1993. 45 p.
(Des objets font l'histoire)
ISBN 2-203-17216-941
Contraception - Birth Control Pill - Women's Liberation
In each volume of this information book series of cultural history a subject is presented which has played or still plays an important in western civililzation. At a time when youth is confronted with AIDS, it is important to help them and provide comprehensive information. Even for this, the approach is at first cultural - we learn, for instance, that the question of contraception was already a topic in ancient times. The first named volume contains not only exact technical explanations in word and picture. but takes into view the emotional needs of youth. In the second volume, the sexual liberation of women is in the forefront. Two volumes which are genuine guides for living. (13+)

Belgium (Flemish) - 1994 - 198
Daele, Henri van
En appels aan de overkant
(And Apples on the Other Side)
Tielt: Lannoo, 1992. 396 p.
ISBN 90-209-1884-2
Belgium/History 1950s - Childhood Memories
This is latest installment of tales about the author's childhood in which he tells about the important stages in life, such as the first visit to a secondary school, one's first self-earned money, about being in love. Not an easy story, it assumes the reader knows something about the history of Eastern Flanders. The story itself exudes with the safe atmosphere of the late 1950s, a time of big changes. Modern times were beginning, television and jeams became important. This is beautiful and honest report of childhood, filled with hilarity - a boy's life told in small, often surprising and moving details. A plain but sparkling story for a small group of readers who are open to such tales. (14+)

Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1995 - 95
Elzbieta (text/illus.)
Paris: Pastel/L ʹEcole des Loisirs, 1994. [28] p.
ISBN 2 211 018 94
Clown - Toy - Dream - Personal Property
In his dreams a young boy sees a clown dressed in white against an alternately dark yellow and an orange background. On the right side pages the text describes all the things he owns, on the reverse side it tells what he has lost. He had a pink rose ... it was eaten up by a sheep. He had a purple pair of pants ... the dog ran away with it. He had a nice red nose ... a blackbird snatched it off. But when the clown wakes up the next morning he finds all his treasures gathered around him. Vivacious and expressive drawings betray the illustrator's gentle humor. She has succeeded in creating an enchanting book for the very young reader. (2+) ☆

Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1995 - 96
Hellings, Colette (text)
Maes, Dominique (illus.)
L'oeuvre d'âne
(The donkey's opus)
n.p.: Pastel/L'Ecole des loisirs, 1994. [28] p.
ISBN 2-211-019-36-6
Art appreciation - Humor - Donkey - Pegasus - Genius - Painting - Self- discovery
This humorous picture book deals with a confused young donkey in his painting studio, which is empty except for three cans of paint. Yet quite unexpectedly he is able to fulfill his painter's ambitions. In the end our donkey perceives himself to be a bud- ding genius, covering not only the canvas but also himself with colorful splats of paint. On wings of joy the pointer flies through the open window, upwards toward the sun. In a simple manner the author and the illustrator succeed in presenting the creative process with all its ups and down. The reader shares in the artist's joy and learns along the way quite coincidentally something about the theory of colors. (5+) ☼

Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1996 - 110
Stibane (text/illus.)
L'Arbre aux Corbeaux
(The Tree of the Ravens)
Paris: Pastel, 1995. [36] p.
ISBN 2-211-029-63-5
Raven - Enemy - Violence - Civil war - Destruction - Fable
A large swarm of ravens lives peacefully in an old tree until one of them finds a red scrap of material and decides he will become the king. A little later another raven discovers a scrap of yellow material and also wants to become king. That means war! The rival kings and their followers fall upon each other. A merciless war ensues. Finally one group sets fire to the tree to kill off the enemy. When the tree is ablaze, the ravens finally realize what they have done. The fighters unite and put out the fire. Peace returns and as an admonition, the yellow and red scraps are left to hang on the tree. This fable of the raven's civil war is expressively staged. The sparse text outlines the course of the story and lets the illustrations portray the action. The aggression of the explosively escalating forms and color are very effective means for conveying the meaning and message of the story: how violence develops, what destructive forces they encompass, which even when held in check, still exist under the surface. (5+) ☼

Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1996 - 111
Vincent, Gabrielle (text/illus.)
Je voudrais qu'on m'écoute
(Please Listen to Me)
Paris/Louvain-la-Neuve: Duculot, 1995. [28] p.
ISBN 2-203-55163-1
Loneliness - Runaway - Neglect - Parents/Daughter
This picture book illustrates the labile sensitivity of a child. Sitting in front of the mirror in her room, a little girl decides to run away from home because no one will listen to her. The steps and stubborn ideas that must be taken when running away are revealed in each subsequent picture, passing through a long landscape into the deep dark forest. Sparse lines and subdued watercolors skillfully suggest the loneliness of the wilderness in which the child becomes lost and in desparation calls for her mother. When the full moon rises, Papa finds his child and carries her home again. (4+) ☼

Belgium (Flemish) - 1996 - 232
Dreesen, Jaak (text)
Mammie! Mammie!
(Mummy! Mummy!)
Averbode: Altiora, 1995. 47 p.
ISBN 90-317-1148-9
Illness - Death - Mother/Child
»Mummy, mummy,« cries a sick boy. The difficult themes of illness and dying are tackled in this simple, moving story. The narrative style is sober, and because of the many repetitions the text has a poetic rhythm. Feelings of tenderness and powerlessness are central to the story. Although the ending is open and optimistic, thoughts and dreams expressed in the story linger on in the reader's mind. The text is rather condensed and contains many streams of thought keeping the reader continually poised between dream and reality. (10+)

Belgium (French) - 1997 - 114
Brouillard, Anne (text/illus.)
Le pays du rêve
(The land of dreams)
Paris: Duculot, 1996. [44] p.
ISBN 2-203-55358-8
Dream - Reality
At first glance this picture book is quite puzzling. In the illustrations there are two clearly different worlds of experience to be seen. In one, spacious and airy double-paged landscapes and interiors predominate. The genuine reality, on the other hand, is depicted in black-and-white sequences of small pictures. The text mirrors the leap of consciousness from the real to the dream-time world. A child speaks of his dreams in which a song, a ship and a deserted house continually appear. The mystery of this dream is superimposed on the experiences of the real world, with all its familiar, everyday sounds and activities. (8+)

Belgium (French) - 1997 - 115
Place, François (text/illus.)
Du pays des amazones aux îles indigo
(From the land of the Amazonas to the Indigo Islands)
Paris: Casterman/Gallimard, 1996. 144 p.
ISBN 2-203-14244-8
Utopia - Island - Travel
Inspired by myths and legendary reports about sunken cultures, the author-illustrator dreamed up the utopian island of Orbæ and presents its very different regions in a three-volume atlas. The fantastic reports about its imaginary countries are told by storytellers, explorers, and chroniclers. The highly detailed, subtly shaded illustrations alternate between raw landscapes and paradisical pastures, from oriental dream-like cities to icebergs. Documentary tables in the style of old geography books help maintain the fiction of a meticulously researched reality. (11+)

Belgium (French) - 1997 - 116
Rascal (text)
Chatellard, Isabelle (illus.)
Olivia à Paris
(Olivia in Paris)
Paris: Pastel, 1996. [32] p.
ISBN 2-211-03697-X
Paris - Chicken - Tourist
Olivia, a stout country hen, decides to visit the egg-market in Paris. With a roguish, sparkling touch the illustrator shows the beauty and temptations of the legendary metropolis from the ecstatic perspective of the country brooder. Her enthusiasm is reflected in the boisterous momentum of the picture angles and the humorous citation of the many details that form the myth of the tourist attraction Paris. The warm colors and prefe-rence for brilliant patterns underline the merry, festive atmosphere. (3+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 1997 - 233
Boonen, Heide (text)
Dendooven, Gerda (illus.)
Mijn vingers zijn niet lang genoeg
(My fingers aren't long enough)
Averbode: Altiora, 1996. 46 p.
ISBN 90-317-1222-1
Mother/Daughter - Death - Accident
Charlotte dreams about her mother, who was killed in a car crash. »Charlotte loved the night, she hated the day. Particularly that day. The car came from nowhere.« At night, she sees her mother again and again in her dreams. Although all the objects in her room, including her doll Cuddles, sympathize with her, they have their own lives as well. For instance, the wardrobe (Napoleon III) is in love with the wardrobe in the neighbor's house across the road, while Dorien, the spider, is pregnant. When the sun takes the place of the moon, Charlotte wakes up sadly, crying. Essentially this story is about a young girl's process of mourning following her mother's death, but amusing situations counterbalance deep-felt emotions in a harmonious way. The story is written in subdued and plain language, which finds its match in the typography and the illustrations. A very special book which will stimulate much thought. (8+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 1997 - 234
De Maeyer, Gregie (text)
Vanmechelen, Koen (illus.)
(<Proper name>)
Averbode: Altiora, 1996. 29 p.
ISBN 90-317-1196-9
Psychoterror - Bully
This is a daring and challenging story about a boy who wants to escape bullying. He thinks he can save himself by taking away the causes. He shaves his bright red hair, cuts his flap-ears, pinches his squint eyes. Alas, to no avail. A fairy tale of the cruellest sort, with the clearest possible message. A unique project combining a story and pictures of the »unmaking« of a wooden sculpture of Juul, it is ideal for reading and talking about bullying with children in primary schools, and upwards. (6+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 1997 - 235
De Maeyer, Gregie (text/illus.)
Meersman, Karl (illus.)
Leuven: Davidsfonds/Infodok, 1996. 67 p.
ISBN 90-6565-745-2
Bakery - Marzipan
In the bakery, the little rolls, the pies, the monkey cookies and the chocolates are quarreling. Who would be the most tasty one of them all? August, the little marzipan clown, does not join in. He just sits there, looking a little sad. After a while, Marie and Maarten enter the store. They buy a lot of goodies, including August. At home Maarten talks to August while eating him. A very snappy and original story about eating and being eaten to read aloud or to be read by children themselves. The powerful illustrations are always a colorful surprise and go hand in hand with the text. (5+)

Belgium (French) - 1998 - 110
Jamar, Corine (text)
DeKemmeter, Laurence (illus.)
Donne-moi la main, Arthur
(Give me your hand, Arthur)
Bruxelles: Casterman, 1997. [28] p.
(Les albums Duculot)
ISBN 2-203-55364-2
Weakness - Protection - Compensation
Arthur is small for his size and sickly. He compensates for this weakness by always wearing boxing gloves and taking an aggressive posture. With all their indulgence and encouragement his parents still cannot talk him out of it. With a subtle gesture a girl at his school is finally able to find a way past his armour and show him that friends shake hands trustingly, without gloves, in order to get along well. The illustrations convey considerable sympathy for the child's basic need for security. Humorous details prevent Arthur's problem from appearing to be a psychological abnormality. (5+)

Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1998 - 111
Nottet, Pascal (text)
Girel, Stéphane (illus.)
La princesse de neige
(The snow princess)
Paris/Bruxelles: Pastel/L'École des Loisirs, 1997. [30, xi ] p.
ISBN 2-211-041418
River traffic - Tugboat - Winter - Puppet-theater
A sloop is locked in the ice of the Canal du Midi. Abel, the son of the barge-master, performs a puppet theater for Alys, the daughter of the lock-master. When the ice begins to melt, the barge sets off again. Abel's final play deals with a princess and a sailor, ending with a romantic promise of faithfulness. Meticulously composed illustrations, rich in mood, make this wintertime idyll a multilayered picture story with little Abel playing the leading role. An informative appendix with colored drawings describes the fact of shipping life on the canals of Europe. (5+)

Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 1998 - 227
Dreesen, Jaak (text)
Heymans, Annemie (illus.)
Marieke, Marieke
(<Proper name>)
Averbode: Altiora, 1997. 44 p.
ISBN 90-317-1269-8
Death/Child - Grief
In this magnificent poetic picture book the firstperson narrator is waiting, desparately missing Marieke. He has laid out all kinds of things under the apple tree, waiting for her to come and play. The combination of a melodious rhyming text and grey-tone illustrations evokes an atmosphere of increasing tension. Then, with the arrival of Marieke's mother, it becomes clear that the girl will never come again, though this is not stated explicitly. In spite of the tangible sense of emptiness, the open ending provides some comfort - Marieke is gone but will always be present in another way. (6+)

Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 1998 - 228
Driessen, Iny (text)
Westerduin, Anne (illus.)
Bruine ogen, Blauwe ogen
(Brown eyes, blue eyes)
Hasselt: Clavis, 1997. 43 p.
ISBN 90-6822-487-5
Adoption - Cultural identity
Six-year old Benjamin doesn't share the excitement of his parents and three brothers about the coming of two new sisters and it takes some time for him to accept the new situation. Simone and Erlan, the two sisters from Haiti, must take leave of their mother to join their new well-to-do family in Belgium. From Simone's perspective we learn about their sense of grief and difficulties of adjusting to their new lives. The two narratives in this book give an excellent picture of the experiences of adopted children and their families. It is written with warmth and respect while also providing useful background information. (8+)

Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 1998 - 229
Elias, Bettie (text)
Westerduin, Anne (illus.)
Water van zout
(Bitter tears)
Mechelen: Bakermat, 1997. 108 p.
ISBN 90-5461-133-2
Death/Father - Grandfather - Grief
When their father dies in a car accident, eight-year old Dries and his sister have a very difficult time coping with their grief. In simple short sentences recorded in his diary, Dries is able to work through feelings of disbelief, anger, confusion and guilt. His grandfather is a constant presence and full of understanding. Both he and Dries' sister help him to come to terms with his sorrow. The attractive black-and-white pen drawings render the atmosphere of this sensitive story very well. (8+)

Belgium (French) - 1999 - 114
Gelber, Eva et al. (text)
Dehaes, Serge (illus.)
On ira à Mopti
(We are going to Mopti)
Bruxelles: Editions Labor, 1997. 34 p.
ISBN 2-8040-1166-6
Interracial friendship - Solidarity
A young boy from Mali lives in Belgium with his adoptive parents. He tells a schoolmate about his family in Mali, his home country and its catastrophic problems with weather and disease. The two children decide to be friends forever and go to Mali with medi- cal aid teams when they are grown-up. The humanitarian message is dressed up here in funny, richly detailed illustrations, which naively capture the two different worlds. The children's optimistic plan to create a better world is reflected in the final pages, which look as if they had done the painting themselves. (6+) ☆ ☼

Belgium (French) - 1999 - 115
Hassan, Yaël (text)
Girel, Stéphane (illus.)
Manon et Mamina
(<Proper names>)
Bruxelles: Casterman, 1998. 122 p.
(Romans Casterman; 92)
ISBN 2-203-11878-4
Runaway - Old woman - Loneliness - Old/Young - Friendship - Philosophy of life - Optimism
Mamina is a widow, a grandmother, sometimes strongwilled, still young at heart, and has a mind full of crazy ideas. Missing any warmth and understanding from her son and daughter-in-law, she runs away - in the same way as young Manon, who feels quite unappreciated by her parents. And as chance will have it, they meet up with one another. Their mutual curiosity about each other is the begin of many uncomplicated discussions. The difference in their ages becomes unimportant. With her practical life experience Mamina is able to soften Manon's stubborn resolve to never go back home again. And Manon's affection for Mamina helps to overcome the older woman's bitterness. (10+)

Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 1999 - 116
Norac, Carl (text)
Joos, Louis (illus.)
L'espoir Pelican
(Hope Pelican)
Paris/Bruxelles: École des Loisirs, 1998. [36] p.
ISBN 2-211-04675-4
Africa - Illness - Hope - Magic
A city, a village and the jungle of Africa are the settings for this story, and the stations for the rites of passage which the young heroine must go through. An ambulance has taken the dangerously ill mother off to a clinic, the child remains behind, alone. But she is not helpless. »My hope is bigger than I am,« she says, and sets off to find a way to save her mother. The miracle worker gives her a magical bundle that she must carry to the end of the world. Her path is marked by the messengers of death, the vultures and jackals. But as she reaches the final abyss, a pelican appears as the bird of life. And here the story ends. Joos' illustrations are steeped in magic and conjuring spells. The rich contrasts, created through the very different drawing and painting techniques, has the powerful effect of giving even the more abstract pictures an atmosphere of intensity. (6+) ☆

Belgium (Dutch) - 1999 - 226
Van den Heede, Sylvia (text)
Thé, Tjong-Khing (illus.)
Vos en Haas
(Fox and Hare)
Tielt: Lannoo, 1998. 140 p.
ISBN 90-209-3197-0
Tolerance - Friendship
Fox and Hare live together in a hole. Fox especially likes a lot of food (which can be seen by his rather fat belly) and Hare takes care of the household. Owl, their neighbor, takes care of a chick that he hatched himself. The stories around these four figures can be read separately, but also constitute a whole. They are arranged in a chronological order and follow the seasons; in terms of reading proficiency, the texts become increasingly difficult, so the book can grow with the reader. The stories are very well written, have functional repetitions and nice puns. The design invites beginning readers and the many, colored illustrations characterize the animals very nicely, clearly giving the book additional value. (6+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 1999 - 227
Vandewoude, Katrien (text)
Cate, Marijke ten (illus.)
Duizend madeliefjes voor Saar
(Thousand daisies for Saar)
Hasselt: Clavis, 1998. 53 p.
ISBN 90-6822-544-8
Mental handicap - Friendship
Six year-old Linde helps her neighbor, Saar, with endless patience, because Saar cannot do the most essential and simple things like dressing herself, singing, talking and eating properly. One day, Saar has to go to a special education and only comes home at the weekends. However, they remain close friends. Each of the twelve short chapters tells an adventure of Linde and Saar. The relationship between the two friends is described with much insight. Linde can barely accept that Saar will always remain behind mentally and that living in a boarding school for special education is a lot better for her. The pencil illustrations in soft pastel shades, link up very well with the somewhat sad undertone of the story. (6+)

Belgium (French) - 2000 - 111
Guettier, Bénédicte (text/illus.)
Le crocodile qui se prenait pour une fleur ...
(The crocodile who thought it was a flower ...)
Bruxelles: Casterman, 1999. [28] p.
(Courant d'air)
ISBN 2-203-12241-2
A yellow crocodile languishes on its back, stretched across the pages of the picture book. Between its wide open jaws its tongue stands out like the piston of a flower. But its attempt to transform into a flower doesn't work. »Good day, Crocodile, « the other animals greet it. For them a crocodile is a crocodile. Hunger finally puts an end to the longing for a change of identity. A little bird that heads for the apparent flower falls prey to its mistake. The illustrator works with brilliant colors, strong black contours and cut-off figures at the edges of the pictures. Her dynamic intervention in the absurd scenes where the crocodile poses as a flower anticipate the ending - the jaws of a crocodile are meant for eating after all. (5+)

Belgium (French) - 2000 - 112
Ramos, Mario (text/illus.)
Paris/Bruxelles: École des Loisirs, 1999. [28] p.
ISBN 2-211-05209-6
Counting - Overcoming fear
Numbers and fears can be practiced in a merry manner if one follows the little hero of this book as he searches for his mother in all the rooms of the house, as many as the book has pages. The children's room is filled by a large rhinoceros. Two lions are occupying the toilet. In the parents' bedroom there are three giraffes, in the bathroom four crocodiles ensconced, etc. But it is not these wild beasts that cause our hero's face to be contorted with fear. It is the little spider that is crawling on the ceiling of the children's room. This explanation transforms terror into fun and another countdown into a jolly, easy to win test of courage. (2+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2000 - 222
Minne, Brigitte (text)
Cneut, Carll (illus.)
(The wicked fairy)
Wielsbeke: Uitg. de Eenhoorn, 1999. [32] p.
ISBN 90-5838-016-5
Fairy - Witch
Rosemary has a fight with her mum. She slams the door and heads for the witches' wood, where it is all right to be dirty and naughty. There she makes very interesting friends, including witches who turn out not to be as wicked as everybody thinks. The illustrations in this book are sometimes more important than the text. At times the acrylics are broken up with pastel crayon and colored pencil for a playful effect. The psychological accuracy of the illustrations is fascinating, Rosemary is the hero who views her environment fearlessly and critically. In the end Rosemary, the witches and even mum are convinced that fairies are not always nice, and witches are not always wicked. Everybody wants to be a fairy sometimes and a witch other times. (5+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2000 - 223
VanDaele, Henri (text)
Verplancke, Klaas (illus.)
Van de sneeuwman die niet smelten wou
(The snowman who didn't want to melt)
Averbode: Uitg. Altiora, 1999. 43 p.
ISBN 90-317-1424-0
Snowman - Spring
The snowman has been standing in the nice east wind all winter long. A big carrot for a nose, two pieces of coal as eyes, a hat, a red scarf, a pipe in his mouth and a broom in his hand. He is very happy with his existence and hopes things will never change. But one morning spring arrives, and the snowman is so impressed by her appearance that he has to cry and soon only his hat, scarf and broom are left on his place. Luckily for the scarecrow, these are just what he needs! In a very subtle manner Van Daele succeeds in elaborating on an abstract concept like transition using nondaily events and different views on reality. The smooth storytelling and the easy sentences make the book perfect for reading aloud. (6+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2000 - 224
VanGenechten, Guido (text/illus.)
Muis ging eens op wandel
(When Mouse went for a walk)
Hasselt: Clavis, 1999. [28] p.
ISBN 90-6822-645-2
Ten animals take a walk, talking all the time. After a while Horse sees a carriage and decides to stay with it. He says goodbye and then there are only nine. As the rhymed story continues, when Cow sees a lovely meadow with juicy grass and stays behind, Pig jumps into a dirty quagmire, Dog finds a knuckle with some meat still on it, and the sea tempts Crab. In the end only sad little Mouse is left. But then he discovers all kinds of small animals hidden between the blades of grass. Soon a new row of animals sets off for a walk. This counting story is based on a well-known principle that lets children get involved in telling stories and also learn the characteristics of many animals. The colorful full-page illustrations show the animals from different angles. (4+)

Belgium (French) - 2001 - 112
Herbauts, Anne (text/illus.)
La maison bleue
(The blue house)
[Bruxelles] : Casterman, 2000. [28] p.
ISBN 2-203-56501-2
Nomad - Home
A man with a suitcase has reached the end of the world. He wants to build his house and find happiness. But there are three literal mocking birds maliciously commenting his building activity. When he decorates the front with tiles, which have pictures of song-birds on them, the whole house starts flying off. Now he succeeds on the big scale where he had failed on the smaller one: He paints a house into the sky. The illustrator uses a minimalist approach. The house is merely a cube in space. It is big when the man works on it, and small when the mockers laugh at him. Far removed in boundless blue, he is no more than a tiny figure painting the heavenly canvas at the end, unattainable and happy in his dreams. (6+)

Special Mention - Belgium (French) - 2001 - 113
Ramos, Mario (text/illus.)
Nuno, le petit roi
(Nuno, the little king)
Paris; Bruxelles : École des Loisirs, 2000. [36] p.
ISBN 2-211-05709-8
Responsibility - Decision - Advice - Adulthood
Which child wouldn't want to have its say and make decisions like the grown-ups? The little lion prince learns what that really means. A rock has killed his father – only seemingly as it fortunately turns out – and the little one has to wear the crown and carry the responsibility for all the animals, for their problems and conflicts. But the little would-be-king can hardly look out from underneath the much too large crown, let alone advice and arbitrate. He is terribly intimidated by his helplessness and all the more relieved when his father reappears. The generous, coloured gouache illustrations give the story a droll and lighthearted touch. They reflect the restricted perspective of the royal apprentice thereby deflating the discrepancy between childlike impotence and real conflicts of decision. (4+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2001 - 221
Franck, Ed (text)
Schamp, Tom (illus.)
Mijn zus draagt een heuvel op haar rug
(My sister carries a hill on her back)
Averbode : Uitg. Altiora, 2000. [75] p.
ISBN 90-317-1550-6
Disabled person - Suicide
The first-person narrator, a boy between the age of 8 to 10, thinks a lot about his little sister: Why does she suddenly start crying? And why she is so often so desperately furious that she has to disappear for a while? His sister is humpbacked. Even though he doesn't consider the hump an infirmity, he fantasises about it. With boundless naiveté he protects his sister against angry words and against herself. One day, his sister has disappeared – to the only place where she can be happy. The intimate colour illustrations and a sophisticated composition complement the story. This is not an easy, but a very honest book; no attempt is made to simplify the young narrator's very mature thoughts. (10+)

Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 2001 - 222
Sollie, André (text)
Cotteleer, Erika (illus.)
En alles is echt waar
(And everything is real)
Wielsbeke : Uitg. de Eenhoorn, 2000. [32] p.
ISBN 90-5838-022-x
Loneliness - Fear - Life - Children's poetry
What is life like when you are a child? You simply say »I am the gardener« and then you really are one. Sollie's poems in this poetry-picture book are of a moving simplicity. At once comprehensible to everyone and playfully incomprehensible, they pay tribute to the imagination of young children and their associative ways of thinking. The illustrations present little miniatures, in which no brushstroke is too much or too little. The colours are chosen very carefully. Text and illustrations collaborate in a poetic, imaginary play: A teddy bear turns into a man and a doll into his wife. The bed is a dune, the gate a door, the sky a roof. Imagination and reality mingle, but seen through the eyes of a child, everything is real. A very special picture book about loneliness, longing, work, fear, reconciliation, and love. (5+)

Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 2001 - 223
Vandewijer, Ina
Witte pijn
(White pain)
Leuven : Davidsfonds/Infodok, 2000. [106] p.
(Davidsfonds/Infodok jeugdboek)
ISBN 90-6565-971-4
Inuit - Family - Grandfather
Together with his grandfather, Tim is travelling through the land of the Inuit, the Indians from the high North of Canada. Tim has grown up in Montreal, far away from the desolate snowfields. Tim admires his grandfather's talent for survival in the snowstorms and the cold. This novel is an impressive debut, in which the life, the culture, and the habits of the Inuit, like hunting seals, nose rubbing, building igloos, slurping fat and always telling stories, are very well represented. The relationship between Tim and his grandfather is described in a very subtle and carefully sensitive tone. A warm story about the solidarity with family and nature. (13+) ☆
(Knokke-Heist Prize [Youth Book]; 2000)

Belgium (French) - 2002 - 110
Gutman, Claude (text)
Bloch, Serge (illus.)
École occupée
(The occupied school)
[Bruxelles et al.] : Casterman, 2001. 27 p.
(Histoires Casterman ; 181 : Six & plus : Vive la grande école)
ISBN 2-203-12859-3
School – Strike – Solidarity
Marie and her fellow pupils are quite astonished when their teacher Georgette furiously storms into the classroom. In the teachers' room, however, Marius overheard what had happened and informs the children: Georgette's class shall be closed. Parents, teachers, and pupils unite and put up resistance against this plan. They decide to occupy the school building and go on strike. Day after day, Marie describes these events and the reactions following them. The famous author, who has written all the books of this series, again delights readers with this new story. The funny mischievous text is told from the children's point of view whose powerful imagination grotesquely distorts reality. Colourful illustrations in the style of Sempé intensify the humour of this short tale. (7+)

Belgium (French) - 2002 - 111
Rascal (text)
Louis, Joos (illus.)
C'est un papa
(That's a daddy)
Bruxelles; Paris: École des Loisirs, 2001. 28 p.
ISBN 2-211-05720-9
Bears – Parental image – Separation – Father – Child
One year ago, Father Bear left his family. Now he lives apart from his children and has just fallen in love with Anita. Today, just like every Friday, he cleans his house because his children are coming for the weekend. While tidying up, all sorts of toughts spring to his mind: He deeply regrets not being able to spend more time with his children. Moreover, he asks himself how he could explain to them that love doesn't always stay forever, but that he is not a monster. This story is told from the point of view of the adult who has left the family. Reading this book, children will learn that sometimes even parents are not sure about their decisions. Warm pastel-coloured pictures illustrate the everyday life in Father Bear's home and alleviate the painful reality. (5+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2002 - 221
Dreesen, Jaak (text)
Moons, Sofie (illus.)
Een man voor mama
(A husband for mama)
Averbode : Uitg. Altiora, 2001. 48 p.
ISBN 90-317-1704-5
Family relations – Single-parent family
The father of Maus and Vegge has gone to sea with his accordeon and never come back. Their mother Dolorosa has been very sad ever since. As the brothers think that things can't go on like this, they start looking for a new husband for their mother. After some failed attempts they find Felix, who is a reader like their mother. The two get along very well. This is a romantic story of sorrow and desire in an extremely sober style in which there is not one word too many. The melodious names and the number 7 have magic and symbolic power, which the poetic songs accentuate even more. (8+)

Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 2002 - 222
Tock, Annelies (text)
Talsma, Nynke (illus.)
Varen naar de overkant
(Ferry to the other side)
Tielt : Lannoo, 2001. 55 p.
ISBN 90-209-4091-0
Death – Grandfather – Granddaughter – Friendship
The ferryman is old and there won't be any work left for him when the bridge is built. Together with his granddaughter Raja he wants to listen to the singing of the river one last time. When grandfather dies, Raja is left behind, and when her boyfriend threatens to leave her, too, she is fed up with life. But then, suddenly, there is a man who wants to be ferried across and a woman with herbs who wants to get back to bring her medicine to a patient. Raja becomes a ferry-woman and takes over the duty of her grandfather. At the centre of this beautifully and sensitively written story is Raja's desperation after her grandfather's death. She is tormented by self-doubts and only this dramatic moment helps her regain faith in herself and in life. (9+)

Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 2002 - 223
Brouwers, Peter (text)
Cate, Marijke ten (illus.)
(<Proper name>)
Hasselt : Clavis, 2001. [44] p.
ISBN 90-6822-801-3
Love – Marriage – Hare
Hare Freek is different from other hares. He doesn't like carrots and has a cold in winter. One day he goes to live in the forest. There he meets a squirrel and immediately falls in love with her. A year later they get married. In this simple story the illustrations are particularly important. Marijke ten Cate succeeds in giving the animals something human, in a personal way, without overcoating it with too much sugar. This book's characteristic feature is the contrast between the animals and the overwhelmingly huge trees – an effect which is reinforced by contrasting techniques. (5+)

Belgium (French) - 2003 - 110
Crowther, Kitty (text/illus.)
Scritch scratch dip clapote! <onomatopoeic expression>
Paris ; Bruxelles : École des Loisirs, 2002. 32 p.
ISBN 2-211-06447-7
Fear – Noise – Father
Whether big or small – at least once, everyone has been afraid alone in bed at night. And, surely, everyone has heard some scary noise then. In a humorous and affectionate way, the author shows how a frog-family deals with this problem: As soon as the frog-child has crawled into its bed, the room gets crowded with ghosts and monsters. There is nothing left to do but join the parents in their bed. However, when not only little frog is scared by the night-noises, but his father hears the eerie scritch scratch dip clapote, too, both of them manage to comfort each other and become calm again. The simple colour-pencil illustrations and the short text lead young readers into the watery world of the frogs, which is however very close to their own daily life. (4+)

Belgium (French) - 2003 - 111
Jamin, Virginie (text/illus.)
Dans les yeux d’Henriette
(In Henriette’s eyes)
Tournai : Casterman, 2002. [26] p.
(Les albums duculot)
ISBN 2-203-56515-2
Old woman – Storytelling – Boy – Successor
Henriette is ancient, tall as a giant, full of zest for life and of stories she likes to tell. Armand is a small boy, lonely and sad. In the Parisian park Jardin de Luxembourg they meet and become close friends. Henriette tells stories and Armand listens. Day after day, page after page, Henriette grows smaller and Armand, nourished by her tales, grows bigger and bigger – until the old woman disappears completely and the boy starts telling crazy, funny, and lively tales himself. The large-format illustrations with their pastel shades mirror the lightheartedness of the book’s stories. The interaction between large coloured areas and the delicately drawn people, animals, and objects, successfully translate the story’s symbolism of Big and Small. (5+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2003 - 213
De Kockere, Geert (text)
Fossey, Koen (illus.)
(Noah <proper name>)
Wielsbeke : De Eenhoorn, 2002. [40 ] p.
ISBN 90-5838-137-4
Flood – Noah
This book presents in a unique way a story of the Flood and adds a philosophical dimension to the biblical story. Noah calls on several characters to take a place in his boat in order to survive the Flood. He does not want to house animals in his boat but instead the characteristics of human beings, like Gaiety, Fear, and Stubbornness or Doubt. One after the other, the personified characteristics refuse his offer and claim that they will survive the Flood on their own. There is an open end to the book, and we will never know whether they really did. In the full-page colour-illustrations, the artist uses collage-techniques and unusual materials like linen, beetroot, brushes, stone, but also a glove and beater. The story, whose anonymous teller claims to have come to know it via oral tradition, is literary, poetic, and peppered with humour. (10+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2003 - 214
Mans, Roland
Het verdwijnboek
(The disappearing book)
Tielt : Lannoo, 2000. 103 p.
ISBN 90-209-4892-x
Tease – Revenge
Because Mercander is constantly being teased at school and his parents do not listen to him, he walks away. In an old ruin (a dilapidated domain) he finds a mysterious book from the 18century which houses a curse. Whenever he rips out a page from the book (for example the items trees, cattle, or insects), all sorts of things disappear in the real world. That is his way to take revenge on everyone who has teased him. In Bavonië panic breaks out and only Tim, whose father is writing a book about the history of the domain, can bring salvation. This is an exciting book, in which three different story lines (the story of Mercador’s running away, Tom’s adventures, and the history of the domain) fluently intertwine. The story plays in a ficticious land that nevertheless appears very realistic. The set-up of the book is clearly structured and the characters live up to their promise very well. (10+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2003 - 215
Slabbynck, Peter (text)
Verplancke, Klaas (illus.)
Het huis in het midden van de straat
(The house in the middle of the street)
Leuven : Davidsfonds/Infodok, 2002. [32] p.
ISBN 90-5908-014-9
It seems to be another usual morning when the houses in the street are waking up. Until they discover something strange: At night, one of the houses has moved to the middle of the street. The other houses do not like this at all and think of all sorts of ways to chase it away. They even want to set fire to the house, but, in fact, nobody dares to do anything. Finally, it turns out that the house can be driven off. This unique book features photos from collages, in which, among others, pieces from magazines, cardboard, matches and chalk are being incorporated. Text and illustrations form an organic entity on each page. The illustrations are extremely original and sometimes even form a story of their own. (8+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2003 - 216
Vendel, Edward van de (text)
Vervaeke, Geert (illus.)
Pup en kit
(<Proper names>)
Wielsbeke : De Eenhoorn, 2002. 62 p.
ISBN 90-5838-129-3
Dog – Cat – Contact
Pup the dog and Kit the cat arrive at the same time at the house of their new owner. Of course, they have to get used to him, but also, and that is more difficult, to each other. Together, they do all kinds of foolish things, like taking a bath, going on a boat trip, trying to walk on the ice and many more. Although Pup and Kit do not always agree, they become very good friends. A beautiful, simple, sensitive and heart-warming story, in which the cat and dog come across very lifelike. The book is meant for beginning readers. The author, despite the limits regarding reading techniques, has succeeded in writing a loveable story that will captivate the young reader from cover to cover. (6+) ☼

Belgium (French) - 2004 - 103
Nève, François-Xavier (text)
Charly, Isabelle (illus.)
Le gros monsieur de mauvaise humeur
(The bad-tempered fat man)
Bruxelles : Alice Jeunesse, 2003. [28] p.
(Histoires comme ça)
ISBN 2-930182-88-1
Bad mood – Violence – Compassion
Just as the extremely large man leaves his house in a foul mood, a dog pees against the wall. With one furious kick, grumpy fatso sends the dog flying high into the sky. The dog owner lets out a piercing shriek, and since the man hates shrieking, he gives the lady a good kick, too. A policeman observing this blows his whistle, but old grumpy hates whistling... The vicious circle of violence is eventually broken, though not by the military troupes sent by the alarmed king but rather by the dog biting the fat man in his bottom. The humorous illustrations successfully stage this funny little comedy and tell us a story in which violence is not repaid with violence and the loser is not met with revenge but compassion. (4+)

Belgium (French) - 2004 - 104
Norac, Carl (text)
Cneut, Carll (illus.)
Un secret pour grandir : un conte
(The secret for growing)
Paris/Bruxelles : École des Loisirs, 2003. 32 p.
ISBN 2-211-06651-8
Height – Journey
With this picture book, readers embark on a journey to the Orient and meet Salam, a boy who is so small that people predict he will be blown away by the wind one day. Hurt by such comments, Salam decides to go searching for the secret of growth and soon leaves the town for the first time carrying a huge empty sack on his back. A wind rises and carries him across trees, hills, and snowcovered mountains. His sack, in which he collects an odd medley of objects, grows heavier and heavier. In the pictures, the tiny figure of Salam forms a stark contrast to the huge adult figures who are partly dressed in black, partly adorned with clothes in Oriental patterns. By the end of his journey through desert skies, the boy has definitely grown – not physically but mentally. (5+)

Belgium (French) - 2004 - 105
Terral, Anne (text)
Gibert, Bruno (illus.)
Grain de riz
(A grain of rice)
[Tournai] : Casterman, 2003. [26] p.
(Les Albums Duculot)
ISBN 2-203-56519-5
Illness – Sadness – Height
Who hasn’t felt small and pitiable at times of illness? This picture book describes exactly this situation with all the sadness and misery of a sick little girl. Feeling absolutely depressed, the first-person narrator crosses the boundaries of reality and imagines herself to be terribly tiny: Her mother would cry and desperately search for her everywhere while her father would call the police. And what if a hungry hen pecked at her with its beak? Would her mother, once she had rediscovered her minute daughter, be able to hug her at all? The simplicity of the verse text and the lightness of the pastel-coloured illustrations prevent the girl’s fears from becoming too overwhelming and already hint at the relief brought about by the happy ending. (4+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2004 - 212
Gaudesaboos, Pieter (text/illus.)
(Little red rag)
Tielt : Lannoo, 2003. [26] p.
ISBN 90-209-5358-3
Solitude – Fantasy
This graphically outstanding picture book tells the story of the girl Lapje (Little Rag), who always wears red during her journey through life. As she travels around, she is never alone, or is she? The red that Roodlapje (i.e. Little Red Rag) wears attracts bulls that recur in all possible ways in pictures, illustrations, and even in a computer game’s fragment, frightening and reassuring the girl at the same time. The nostalgic-looking pages with the – sometimes rhyming – descriptions of events, alternate with texts written by the main character herself that seem to consist mainly of associations with the colour red. This picture book lends itself particularly well to reading with adults. (6+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2004 - 213
Guldemont, Agnes (text)
Cneut, Carll (illus.)
Mijnheer Ferdinand
(Sir Ferdinand)
Wielsbeke : Uitg. de Eenhoorn, 2003. [28] p.
ISBN 90-5838-173-0
Search – Philosophy
Sir Ferdinand feels as if he had lost something, but he doesn’t know what. He searches his entire house for it – in vain – but the feeling that something is missing stays with him. Therefore, he continues to search in the city. He meets odd people who make him realise that, when you look around carefully, you continuously find special things. The unusual, delicately drawn, slightly surrealistic illustrations, executed in a mixed technique, represent solitude and the loss of reality in a striking way. The poetic language isn’t easy to understand but fits in very well with the illustrations. A brilliant, artistic picture book for connoisseurs. (7+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2004 - 214
Van Daele, Henri (text)
Verplancke, Klaas (illus.)
Glamp! of hoe Paddenwratje Kabouter opkikkerde
(Glamp! Or how Paddenwratje [Little Toad’s Wart] cheers up Gnome)
Leuven : Davidsfonds/Infodok, 2003. 313 p.
ISBN 90-5908-075-0
Gnome – Witch – Quest
»Glamp,« that is how Gnome feels. And even though he himself doesn’t know exactly what that is, one definitely should do something against it. On Owl’s advice he goes to the sea »whom you can tell everything.« During the exciting journey – a price has been put on Gnome’s head, so there are enough pursuers – in a wooden-shoe-boat jointly made by the animals of the Wild Woods, Gnome understands that this rough ride is necessary for him to recover and rediscover himself. The help of the little witch Paddenwratje is imperative to this end. This modern fairy tale, which never becomes overly moralistic, is told with mild humour and a wink at modern society. (13+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2004 - 215
Vranken, Dirk (text)
Bode, Ann de (illus.)
Hasselt; Amsterdam : Uitg. Clavis, 2003. 71 p.
ISBN 90-448-0025-6
Outsider – Bullying
A boy is teased terribly by his classmates for unknown reasons. When he goes to the forest with his class, he even gets sprinkled with the poisonous juice of hogweed. The forester gives him an ointment that makes him feel as strong as a bear and is able to resist the annoying nuisances. However, before midnight, he has to drink from the pool because otherwise he will remain a bear forever. This exciting story presents a mixture of reality and fantasy. The paralysing fear and humiliation of the bullied boy are described in a realistic way. The open ending does not answer the question whether Bruno will succeed in fighting off the bullying for good. (9+)

Belgium (French) - 2005 - 101
Herbauts, Anne (text/illus.)
[Bruxelles et al.] : Casterman, 2004. [36] p.
(Les albums Duculot)
ISBN 2-203-55202-6
Time – Season – Transience
Lundi (Monday) is the name of the bird-creature that has a wonderful time with its friends Théière (Tea Pot) and Deux-Mains (Two Hands). Spring, summer, and autumn pass, but in winter, Lundi vanishes more and more. The topic of time and transience discussed in the text is perfectly complemented by surprising changes in the artistic and technical aspects of the book’s design. It is not only the colours and techniques of illustration that aptly reflect the ever-changing atmosphere of the year’s seasons; even the thickness of the pages is reduced as Lundi slowly disappears behind the snow-flakes embossed onto the pages. The high quality of the text corresponds extremely well with the visual and haptic pleasures the book offers. (5+)

Belgium (French) - 2005 - 102
Merveille, Christian (text)
Mæs, Dominique (illus.)
L’Hoir, Bernhard (music)
Silence Premier : Roi de Brouhaha
(Silence the First : King of Brouhaha)
Bruxelles : Alice Jeunesse [et al.], 2004. [44] p. + 1 CD ; 1 p. in braille
(Histoires comme ça)
ISBN 2-87426-000-2
King – Sound – Noise – Silence – Music
When the old king dies, everybody wonders who will succeed him to the throne. The »Book of Rules« demands that people choose the candidate who is able to produce a sound so loud that it will be heard all over the country. Simple, comic-book-like figures dominate the colourful illustrations of this picture book, which confronts young readers with the topic of »noise and silence.« Still, the sense of hearing is not the only aspect dealt with here. Written in large letters and recorded on CD, this story is also accessible for visually impaired and blind children. To make children who have good vision understand that even blind children can read, a short part of the story was printed on an extra sheet in Braille and enclosed with the book. (5+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2005 - 217
De Kockere, Geert (text)
Musschoot, Griet (illus.)
Wielsbeke : De Eenhoorn, 2004. [42] p.
ISBN 90-5838-233-8
Identity – Philosophy
Man lives in his little house quite happily. Yet, once he starts thinking, he becomes totally obsessed with an agonising thought. To find relief from this torment, he uses the four basic elements: fire, water, earth, and air. At the end of the book, the broken Man lies on the beach, still dealing with his torment. This is an artistically designed picture book about the question of »Who am I?«. The typographic diversity as well as the illustrations in various techniques make this true art. The philosophical idea behind the story is complicated and a lot is left to the interpretation of the (young) reader. This exceptional book for children is ideal for reading together with adults. (9+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2005 - 218
Doncker, Wally de (text)
Derave, Veerle (illus.)
Tsjilp, zegt de vis
(Chirrup, said the fish)
Leuven : Davidsfonds/Infodok, 2004. 90 p.
ISBN 90-5908-095-5
Identity – Change of roles – Philosophy
A sparrow is looking at her reflection in the water and dreams of being somebody else. With the help of magic words she swaps bodies with a fish, while both creatures keep their own minds. Being in somebody else’s body, however, turns out not to be so easy and sometimes even dangerous. In the end, the fish wants his own body back but the sparrow refuses. The story is written in a very poetic style, using only monosyllabic words. The black-and-white illustrations and the design of the book give the story an extra dimension. The philosophical idea of the book, i.e. how to deal with your identity even if you’re not inside your own body, is explained in an easily accessible way for young children. (7+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2005 - 219
Leeuwen, Joke van (text/illus.)
Waarom een buitenboordmotor eenzaam is
(Why an outboard motor is so lonely)
Rekkem : Stichting Ons Erfdeel, 2004. 94 p.
ISBN 90-75862-70-9
This non-fiction book deals with the history, variety and peculiarities of the Dutch language spoken in the Netherlands, Flanders, Surinam, Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, and South Africa. Through text and pictures we learn about words from the Middle Ages that don’t exist anymore, about words with more than one meaning, or why the Dutch alphabet has 26 letters. Even the new forms of language used for e-mailing and text-messaging is included. The combination of text, illustrations, and typography is fascinating, well thought-out, and efficient. The book offers a great deal of information all wrapped up in a very humorous story. Thus, the well-known Dutch children’s book author Joke van Leeuwen succeeds in creating a non-fiction book about the beauty and complexity of the Dutch Language. (12+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2005 - 220
Leue, Dimitri (text)
Clement, Sabien (illus.)
Lodewijk de koningspinguïn
(Lodewijk, the king penguin)
Tielt : Lannoo, 2004. 55 p.
ISBN 90-209-5873-9
Penguin – Dream – Freedom – Differentness
Lodewijk the king penguin is different from the other penguins of his colony. He is always tottering around and could be called a real doubter. He always does things his own way and that sometimes leads to conflicts with the other penguins. Since a penguin is a bird, Lodewijk firmly believes he can fly, but this opinion results in severe arguments with the king and so he is banished. The beautiful, rhythmical story about a quest for freedom and the fulfilment of dreams is divided into several scenes, and every chapter has a clear line of suspense. The dialogues enliven the story and make it suitable for reading aloud. The colours used in the illustrations of this well-designed book perfectly match the environment of the penguins. (8+)

Belgium (French) - 2006 - 103
Pouget, Anne
Les brumes de Montfaucon
(The fogs of Montfaucon)
[Bruxelles] : Casterman, 2005. 188 p.
(Romans Casterman Feeling)
ISBN 2-203-13672-3
Paris/Middle Ages Anti-Semitism
After his father has been hanged although he was innocent, Hanin, a young Jew, flees his home town and travels to his uncle in Paris, where he also suffers bullying and discrimination because of his religion. Eventually, Hanin’s fight for freedom and for his first love almost make him end up on the gallows, too. In this gripping story, the thoroughly researched historical teenage novel paints a convincing and vivid picture of society during the Middle Ages. Footnotes and an appendix with explanations about historical events and persons, as well as about medieval Christian anti- Semitism, make it easier for readers to understand this excursion into history. (13+) ☆

Belgium (French) - 2006 - 104
Tillard, Patrick (text)
Barroux (illus.)
Titus l’éléphant
(Titus the elephant)
Bruxelles : Alice Jeunesse, 2006. [28] p.
(Histoires comme ça)
ISBN 2-87426-029-0
Elephant Sadness – Zoo – Freedom
Zoo elephant Titus is sad. Keeper Célestin, a good-natured old man, tries to cheer him up: On Monday he dresses up as a musician, Tuesday as a clown, Wednesday as a confectioner, Thursday as a scarecrow, and Friday as a magician. Yet even on Saturday Titus remains sad although the keeper lovingly scrubs his back. When on Sunday Célestin puts on his Tarzan-outfit and bends the iron bars of the cage, the elephant walks out into the sunny savannah. Finally, he is happy. Now, the keeper puts on his last costume: It is big and grey, with long ears and white tusks. The two protagonists are captured in roughly coloured, partly sketchy, partly thick black outlines. By exaggerating shapes and sizes, the illustrator adds a funny note to the sad aspects of the text. (4+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2006 - 216
Minne, Brigitte (text)
Olaerts, Wout (illus.)
Van kol, poes, rat, uit en raaf
(About Kol, Puss, Rat, Owl and Raven)
Wielsbeke : De Eenhoorn, 2005. 62 p.
ISBN 90-5838-330-x
Daily life Friendship
Kol, the witch, Puss, Rat, Owl, and Raven live in a five-storey hut in the forest. Each inhabitant has its own peculiarities: Kol is mad about porridge, Rat always wants to sit in front of the television, Puss is expecting kittens, Raven likes to tease the others, and Owl is very wise. Together, they share innumerable daily adventures, but sometimes there are also frictions and misunderstandings between them. This highly imaginative tale about four animals and a little witch describes recognisable emotions for children. The author knows how to tell a funny and engaging story for beginning readers with only one-syllable words. The modern, appealing mixed-media illustrations complete the story. (6+) ☆

Belgium (Dutch) - 2006 - 217
Thé, Tjong-Khing (illus.)
Picknick met taart
(Picnic with cake)
Tielt : Lannoo, 2005. [28] p.
ISBN 90-209-6171-3
Animals Search – Picknick
Mr. and Mrs. Dog are very proud of the cakes they prepared for the animal picnic. Unfortunately, the animals meet all kinds of obstacles that have to be removed on their way to the picnic field and then a little ›accident‹ with the cakes occurs, but in the end everything seems to turn out alright. However, when they arrive at the designated picnic spot, they suddenly realise that the cakes have disappeared after all. Two mice are suspected to be the thieves. This beautiful textless picture book has a lot of different storylines to offer. The story is very well composed, leads to an unexpected climax, and can easily be followed in the illustrations. The detailed watercolour pictures give children endless reading pleasure. (4+)

Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 2006 - 218
Van Rijckeghem, Jean-Claude
Van Beirs, Pat
Jonkvrouw : een roman
(Lady : a novel)
Antwerpen : Facet, 2005. 279 p.
ISBN 90-5016-446-3
Flanders/14th century Marguerite van Male – Gender role – Love – War
Marguerite van Male is born in 1341. Her father, the Count of Flanders, who wages a war against the English that will turn into a disaster for the Flemish army, had been hoping for a son and is deeply disappointed. Marguerite behaves like a boy, is obstinate, learns the art of fencing, and possesses her own sword. Everything seems to be going well until she is married off to Edmund van Langley, a very ugly and malicious Englishman, at the very moment that Filips van Rouvres falls in love with her. This fascinating novel introduces the everyday life of a young girl at the court in Bruges. It vividly describes the religion and superstition, the aristocrats’ way of life, the horrifying events during the war, and the terrible consequences of a deadly disease such as the plague. All of this, plus the admirable characterisation of the main protagonists and the evocative creation of an authentic atmosphere of the 14th century, make this book one of the best historical novels for young people of the last years. (14+)

Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 2006 - 219
Veldkamp, Tjibbe (text)
Boer, Kees de (illus.)
Kleine Aap’s grote plascircus
(Little Monkey’s big pee-circus)
Tielt : Lannoo, 2005. [28] p.
ISBN 90-8568-101-4
Gender-specific aspects Humour
Little Monkey has a little willie and is very talented in piddling therefore he sets up his Little Monkey’s Big Pee-circus, which is a huge success. Apelien, a little female monkey, is not allowed to compete in the circus, of course. However, after the monkey girl has demonstrated that girls actually pee, too, the astonished Little Monkey finally allows her to take part in the circus. This well-composed, humorous picture book tackles a topic that is rarely dealt with in such an original way. The gender-specific aspects of girls and boys presented in words and illustrations will certainly inspire interesting talks with children. The hilarious and literary text is a pleasure to read aloud, while all the details in the pictures lend an extra dimension to the story. (4 +)

Belgium (French) - 2007 - 105
Dieuaide, Sophie (text)
Pagliaro, Alberto (illus.)
Préviens pas la police!
(Don’t tell the police!)
Bruxelles, Paris : Casterman, 2006. 107 p.
(Casterman Cadet) (Les enquêtes de Chloé)
ISBN 2-203-12953-0
Friendship – Dog – Thief – Criminal case
In the first volume of this new series about two hobby detectives, Chloé and her friend Baptiste investigate a series of mysterious incidents because their neighbour, a journalist, is far too busy. Several dogs have disappeared from their neighbourhood. The investigations lead into the scene of beauty contests for dogs. Despite a few red herrings and dead ends, Chloé and Baptiste don’t let the case rest. Apart from the two protagonists, several other characters, who accompany the story in minor plots, are introduced in a detailed and partly caricature-like style. The text is complemented by newspaper clippings, letters, notes, and coded words, so that young readers are drawn straight into the protagonists’ investigations. (8+)

Belgium (French) - 2007 - 106
Hennuy, Martine (text)
Buyse, Sophie (text)
Renardy, Lisbeth (illus.)
Alice au pays du cancer
(Alice in cancer-land)
Bruxelles : Alice Jeunesse, 2006. [36] p.
(Histoires comme ça)
ISBN 2-87426-039-8
Daughter – Mother – Cancer – Fear – Confrontation
Alice lives in a peaceful children’s world with her parents and her dog. One day, however, her father explains that the mother had to leave their home and travel to a mysterious country called Cancerland. To search for this land and learn to understand it, Alice, too, quits her wonderland. Both the text and the illustrations of this picture book introduce readers to the child’s point of view, to her worries, questions, and to her imagination. The girl’s painful experiences in this test of endurance are pictured very carefully but without holding back concrete information about the disease; thus, the taboo status of cancer is removed. Moreover, the book shows how important the continuous contact between mother and daughter is for the girl during the illness. (4+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2007 - 213
Clement, Dorine (text)
Clement, Sabien (illus.)
Het grote verlangen
(The great longing)
Tielt : Lannoo, 2006. [40] p.
ISBN 978-90-209-6483-7
Friendship – Love – Desire
Elise and Cyprian are best friends. One day, the boy tries to tell Elise something important, but it seems that he simply doesn’t know how to express his feelings. Therefore, he decides to go on a journey to discover the right words while Elise remains at home. During his absence, the girl literally longs for him: She gets longer and longer, until the day Cyprian returns carrying a box with two hearts. This poetic story is accompanied by surrealistic illustrations in collage-technique created from old copperplates and new gouache paintings in sober colours. The characters are depicted with oddly proportioned limbs so that their whole body expresses their emotions. The concise text is written in a beautifully rhymed rhythm that strengthens the poetic character of the book. (5+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2007 - 214
Schuurmans, Hilde (text/illus.)
Plotter is jarig
(Plotter’s birthday)
Hasselt [et al.] : Clavis, 2006. [28] p.
ISBN 978-90-448-0606-9
Birthday party – Envy – Friendship – Jealousy
Little dog Plotter will soon be six years old and he looks forward to having a real birthday party. The first guest to arrive is Pollie, the little pig. Soon, she takes over the whole party organisation and it almost seems as if she were the birthday girl whereas Plotter is pushed into the background. After a while, he feels his anger rising. Later, as they sit in the sandpit together, Pollie admits that she was jealous and apologises to Plotter. This entertaining picture book offers plenty of possibilities for identification for little readers. The full-page illustrations, rendered in ink and water-colours, both follow the story faithfully and add new aspects to the text. The book naturally lends itself to discussing the topic of jealousy with young children. (4+)

Belgium (Dutch) - 2007 - 215
Vandermeeren, Hilde (text)
De Vos, Rosemarie (illus.)
Mijn eerste sprookjesgroeiboek : ik lees het zelf!
(My first fairy tale book : I can read it on my own!)
Leuven : Davidsfonds/Infodok [et al.], 2006. 166 p.
ISBN 90-77942-20-3
Fairy tale – Adaptation
This interesting fairy tale collection includes 24 (both well known and lesser known) tales from Perrault, the Grimm Brothers, Andersen, and Madame Le Prince de Beaumont, retold for first readers. At the beginning of the book, there are comicstrip-like retellings with monosyllabic words that can even be read by first graders almost immediately; the tales placed towards the back feature longer texts that budding readers from second or third grade will be able to work out. Even the extremely short versions perfectly manage to keep the essence of the original fairy tales alive. The accompanying illustrations, mostly rendered in dark acrylics, are fresh and vivid. (6+)

Special Mention - Belgium (Dutch) - 2007 - 216
Verrept, Paul (text/illus.)
Wielsbeke : De Eenhoorn, 2006. [28] p.
ISBN 978-90-5838-377-8
Father – Son – Distress
One day, the 16-year-old first-person narrator feels an inexplicable urge to venture outside into the fog. He walks past invisible houses to the playground in a park where he bumps into the slide. Suddenly, he is transported back to the moment when he was seven years old and his father recited a song about leaving. The next day, he disappeared. The boy’s mother never talks about his father’s abrupt departure nor does she answer her son’s questions. In the fog, the son senses his father’s presence and derives some comfort from the idea that he might have come to say that he loves him. Yet, when the fog lifts, the boy is alone again. This impressive, complex picture book combines a poetic text with enchanting illustrations. Despite the dreamy atmosphere, the story also confronts readers with the harsh reality because the question about why the father left remains unanswered. This book should be read by adults together with their children. (10+)