October 5, 2009

Against the Odds Against the Odds (Een kleine kans) has been published by Canadian publishers Groundwood Books. Editor Patsy Aldana wrote a letter of recommendation which was so embarrassingly flattering that I refrained from putting it on my website. It would look too much like self-adulation. But as it has now been put on the NLPVF-website for anyone to see, I might as well…

Dear Friends,

Every now and then a publisher is lucky enough to come upon an exceptional book.
That is the case with Against the Odds by Marjolijn Hof. Originally published in Holland as Een kleine kans by Querido, on of Holland’s finest publishers, it has gone on to win two major Dutch awards and to publication in nine countries. It was our luck to get North American rights.

This is one of those rare books where the author manages to bring us the pure, unadulterated voice of a child. The book never slips from this voice. We find ourselves believing in Kiki from beginning to end. And Kiki who is a very brave, spunky and often funny child has a lot to endure. The fact that her father insists on going off on dangerous missions as a doctor despite her making it very clear to him that she doesn’t want him to go; the fact that her mother while loving is also somewhat vague and spaced out; the fact that her grandmother is furious with her father which doesn’t make it any easier for her to be furious on her own account; and the fact that the family dog is quite smelly and disgusting all come to a head when her father goes missing.

I’ll leave the rest of the story to you.

But please read this book. It is impeccable, brave, honest, and true with a wonderful heroine. It deals with issues that are absolutely pertinent at this moment in time. And I believe that young readers will recognise Kiki for one of them, the real thing, and will embrace her as she tries to find the right way to live with the difficult cards that have been dealt her.

I’m very proud to have this book on Groundwood’s list.
Patsy Aldana



September 19, 2009


Tote Maus für Papas Leben is now also available as an audio-book.
Tote Maus für Papas Leben – Narrated by Juliane Köhler – Der Audio Verlag, 2009


September 18, 2009


When Nobody Is Looking is a volume in Querido’s Slash-series, in which authors retell the true life-stories of young people who for one reason or another are rather special. Author and youngster join forces, as narrator and skilful writer respectively.
I worked with Iris Kuijpers, who trained to be a ballet dancer. Together we wrote a story about Julia.

Julia starts taking ballet classes at a very early age and right from the start it’s obvious she’s got talent. She is even allowed to audition for the Ballet Academy and they accept her as a student. That’s only a first step, however. The ballet world is merciless and many pupils drop out, in spite of their talent. Julia will have to practice really hard if she is ever to make a living as a dancer.
Julia’s teachers keep telling her she really must try harder. Galina’s lessons are particularly demanding. Galina always seems to be finding fault with Julia and she blames her for her supposed lack of passion. Julia is in doubt. Why does she dance actually? For whom? Is she still a dancer when nobody is looking? It all boils down to one question, which she cannot evade: shall I quit or persevere?


September 17, 2009


The first edition of Mutter Nummer Null (the German translation of Moeder nummer nul / Mother Number Zero) has been published. On October 17 the book will be officially presented at the Theaterhaus in Frankfurt.
Mutter Nummer Null – Berlin: Bloomsbury, 2009. Transl: Meike Blatnik


June 22, 2009


Tote Maus für Papas Leben has been selected for the Kalbacher Klapperschlange (rattlesnake) 2010. Children from the borough of Kalbach (in the city of Frankfurt) and internet-participants from other regions will read the books on the list and choose the 2010 winner.


June 21, 2009

Une petite chance, the French translation of A Small Chance, has won the Prix de jeunes lecteurs de Gironde 2009, a prize awarded by a jury of young readers. Some 1800 children voted in an election held in association with forty public libraries. In each category the winner was chosen from a preselected short-list.


May 18, 2009


Mother Number Zero has been nominated by the Flemish jury for Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature. The selection was made by grown-ups. The books will now be read by 4 to 16-year-olds, who are to choose the prize-winners in May 2010. Mother Number Zero was nominated in the category 10-12 yrs.