I’m Belgian… I grew up speaking Dutch… that means I didn’t grow up reading the books the English-speaking part of the book community was reading (although I’m sure that differs based on country and age).
Harry Potter was the start of my adventure into international writers. (That and the books I had to read for my French and English classes) I started reading Harry Potter when I was twelve. Before (and after), I read a massive amount of books in Dutch.. enough to pick and choose from for this post.
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember but we didn’t buy most of the ones I read. I was a loyal member of our local library and devoured their children’s section. There are some that I still remember vividly and I thought it would be fun to introduce you to five of them. (Or maybe you speak Dutch like me and you’ve read these yourself. If that’s the case, please let me know!!)
Blinker en het BagBag-juweel (Blinker and the BagBag Jewel) – Marc De Bel
One of the few books I actually owned! I read this again and again and again. On the inside flap you had the alphabet in sign language, because one of the characters was deaf, and I spent countless hours trying to learn it by heart. It’s something I’m still interested in, I’d love to learn sign language in the future. Nowadays I only know the sign for “I love you” and it’s this book that taught me how to sign it.
This was actually the sequel, I never read the first book but saw the movie (Blinker en de bakfietsbioscoop = Blinker and the carrier-cycle-cinema or something like it). Thinking back now, I don’t think I realized that her being deaf was ‘different’, not even another character who I think had Down Syndrome made me think twice. I accepted them the way they were. Probably because they were absolutely awesome :).
(I saw this writer at a bookfair a couple of years ago and I didn’t know what to do with myself… I couldn’t even go up to him because he was surrounded by kids and I think that was the first time I felt old 😀 )
Het beest van de Canigou (The beast of the Canigou) – Patrick Lagrou
I remember being so scared when I read this and still I wasn’t able to put it down. I’ve never been good at horror and this (and the Goosebump series, Monster Blood anyone??) could have been the one that started it all.
Two kids become friends during their holiday in France when something starts killing sheep. A monster maybe?
De Vloek van Macbeth (The Curse of Macbeth) – Patrick Bernauw
Want to know how I fell in love with Shakespeare? It was this book. In it, a school performance of Macbeth may have unleashed a curse on the participants. Things start to go wrong left and right. (The book even skips chapter 13, just to be sure…)
It was one of the first times I heard about Shakespeare and I was immediately intrigued. This may not be the best book writing-wise but I remember really enjoying it and wanting to know more about the play. It started a love for these stories that has only grown stronger through the years.
Everything by Dirk Bracke
Okay, so I lied. If you grew up speaking Dutch, you definitely know this author. These books were on every reading list in every school. New ones came out every now and then and I think I read all of them (up to a certain point… most likely near the end of my teenage years). The topics were abuse, autism, rape, child-prostitution and so on… not the happiest but definitely interesting to read about.
De Engel van Mons (The Angel of Mons) – Patrick Bernauw
This is probably where my love for books about the World Wars came from. And yes, it is the same writer as the Macbeth one… This one talks about this myth where angels came down from the skies to help the English soldiers win their fight on the 21th of August 1914. All the odds were against them and still they won.
I remember reading about this fight and it was just magical. Fact and fiction melted together.
Wow… writing this post really took me on a journey, I kept remembering more and more titles. It also made me realize how horrible these covers are… seriously… Then again, maybe they’re just getting old (like me).