Book

Martha Heesen

Hackles

Another original story from one of the best older children’s authors

Thirteen-year old Adam is a singular, quiet boy. Stazie, the eleven-year old girl next door, is the only one to whom he dares let know, now and again, what’s really going on in his mind. He sees the rest of the world, and his parents in particular, as a front that has to be fought against. This he does by systematically refusing to talk. Although he conducts lengthy, but incomprehensible arguments with his cat, Habib, about numbers and inventions, at school his marks for mathematics leave much to be desired. This makes his parents so desperate that they seriously consider sending Adam to boarding school. Stazie feels she must prevent that happening at all costs.

Stazie’s own problems provide a contrast to Adam’s quiet drama. Her mother feels she should spend more time playing with girls of her own age. So it works out well when Iris and Livia, her newly divorced sister’s spoiled children, come to live near them and need somewhere to go after school. It is decided that Stazie can play with them. But Stazie can’t stand the two annoying brats; she finds them almost as horrible as the ‘hideous monsters’ she creates in pottery class. Her mother simply can’t understand it; she always made cute little pigs before! But before is now over and done with. Since the arrival of her cousins, Stazie no longer has any time to read words aloud from the old dictionary with Adam: impermeable, imperceptible, impersonate, impertinence, impervious… And even if they go rowing together again or act out the dialogue from a Tintin book, then it’s just not the same anymore. Adam closes himself up so tightly that even Stazie can no longer get through to him.

One day, an ordinary dressing up game provides a dramatic twist to events. An alternative is found for the cousins and Stazie and her mother breathe a sigh of relief. Everything can finally get back to normal, on the condition that Stazie and Adam lower their hackles once more.

The story line is as intriguing as it is simple. It’s hard to give a free rein to your thoughts and feelings and act accordingly. The relationship between not only the two main characters, but also between the adults and the children is handled with great sensitivity. The style and choice of words are varied and surprising and the way the characters experience situations will be familiar to many readers.

Joke Linders

It is the credibility of the characters that confronts the young readers with themselves.

SDL

Martha Heesen remains one of the best older children’s authors we have. Each year a new book of hers appears, and every time she succeeds in producing an undeniably original story in beautiful, cultured language.

De Morgen

Martha Heesen uses words very carefully. Her language is at once simple, telling and suggestive. (…) Fascinating sentences constantly stop you in your tracks.

SDL

Translations

Martha Heesen

Having won three Zilveren Griffels (De vloek van Cornelia, Mijn zusje is een monster and Stekels) and the Gouden Uil for Toen Faas niet thuis kwam (2003), Martha Heesen (b. 1948) is undeniably one of the best children’s authors in the Netherlands. A strong psychological portrayal and evocative…

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Details

Stekels (2001). Children's books, 82 pages.

Publisher

Querido Kinderboeken

Spui 10
1012 WZ Amsterdam
Nederland
Tel: +31 (0)20 760 72 10

E-mail:
rights@wpgmedia.nl
Website:
http://www.queridokinderenjeu…

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