Joukje Akveld (b. 1974) studied Dutch and has worked for various publishing houses. As a journalist, she writes about children’s books and theatre for newspapers and magazines, while also writing her own books.
For her English website see: https://en.joukjeakveld.com
What Ollie Saw
Rights sold to: Germany, Denmark, Taiwan, The United States, Spain
Benny just knows he doesn’t need to wear glasses. His teacher, sister, mom and dad simply don’t agree. Still Benny prefers his zany view of the world to a boring life seen through a pair of spectacles.
‘Posthuma’s ink-and-wash drawings, putting off strong William Steig vibes (…) Posthuma’s subversive drawings are full of snarky mirth: Ollie’s sister’s “grizzling” is all the funnier for being spoken by a pig in a dainty dress and pearls. In a fine translation by Nagelkerke, Akveld champions staying true to oneself, no matter what others indicate those letters on the eye chart are.’
‘A superb, humorous story that celebrates individuality and nonconformity.’
School Library Journal
Get On Your Bike
Rights sold to: The United States, France, Colombia, Denmark
When Bobby the panda and William the dog have an argument, William says to Bobby, ‘Go on! On your bike!’ So Bobby gets onto his bike and goes for a long, breath-taking ride through the town and countryside.
At every stoplight, he heads whichever way is green at that moment and so he ends up further and further away from home. Gradually, though, he forgets about the argument and, as he becomes hungry, he starts to wonder how William is doing. Akveld creates a small and wonderfully familiar tale out of something as ordinary as a quarrel, while Hopman’s illustrations are among his best work, as he turns the bike ride into something large and expansive, cheerfully incorporating references to the work of his favourite artists: David Hockney, Rembrandt, Ed van der Elsken and many others.
‘This charming depiction of dealing with anger via exercise cleverly offers a participatory feature.’
‘A warm story about a breath-taking bike ride.’
‘A delightfully detailed picture book with a story that begins with an argument but all ends well.’
An Ape in the Toilet – a Zoo in Wartime
Rights sold to: China
The amazing wartime story of Blijdorp Zoo
Thanks to Anne Frank and her diary, the story of the occupation of the Netherlands in World War II is known all over the world. Anyone who wants to find out more about the subject can read books by hundreds of authors. However, many of those accounts are missing something essential: how it really feels to find yourself, from one day to the next, living in a world of danger and uncertainty.
An Ape in the Toilet by author and journalist Joukje Akveld, however, succeeds in capturing this aspect – and in a remarkable way. It’s all because of the book’s unusual perspective: we see the bombardment of Rotterdam through the eyes of not humans, but animals. Akveld has delved into archives and carried out interviews to chronicle the amazing wartime history of Blijdorp Zoo and its inhabitants. These animals were very unlucky, as their enclosures were right next door to Rotterdam’s main railway station.
The German bombers were aiming to knock out the railway lines, but ended up killing camels and tigers too. A sad and poignant detail here is that the zoo was already moving to a new location outside the city centre, because of a lack of space. The new zoo was nowhere near ready though, so the apes briefly had to be housed in the toilets of a nearby bar after the bombing.
Akveld does not begin with the war, but lovingly portrays the lives of the animals from beginning to end. We hear so much about the back story of Kali the rhinoceros, Hans and Grietje the bears, and the group of chimpanzees that they almost feel like family and we start to worry about them. When the bombs finally fall, halfway through the book, it hits the reader hard. Fortunately, Blijdorp also had some famous survivors. The last of them, the slender-snouted crocodile Hakuna, died just three weeks before this book went to the printer’s. It’s almost as if it was meant to be.
Whose … Is That?
Rights sold to: China, Chili, Mexico
- Preschool series based on the question: who or what belongs here?
- The drawings for each part are created by a different well-known Ducht illustrator: Thé Tjong-Khing, Annemarie van Haeringen, Philip Hopman, Martijn van der Linden, Charlotte Dematons
Eight seemingly simple brainteasers: but thanks to the clever concept and splendid interplay of images, this series is much more than a collection of learning books. The drawings in each succeeding book are from the hand of a different famous Dutch illustrator, so very young readers are also introduced to a wide array of work.