Book

Edward van de Vendel and Martijn van der Linden

What to Do If You Stumble on a Hippopotamus

A ‘self-help collection’ for children, in which every poem is another lesson

‘Poems that will be of some use to you’ is the subtitle of this textually and visually multi-faceted collection of poetry by Edward van de Vendel and Martijn van der Linden.

The poet and the artist have compiled a ‘self-help collection’ for children, in which every poem is another lesson. The titles of the poems include ‘What to do if your train is delayed’ and ‘What to do if someone has died and you didn’t know them very well.’ And, of course, ‘What to do if you stumble on a hippopotamus’. The advice in that case is: say sorry and then shovel in so many sweets that the next hippos you encounter have to get out of your way.

The two poems that advise you what to do when you’re in love subtly mislead the young reader: if you want to woo a boy, play really loud tunes on the recorder, and if you want to win a girl’s heart, build an insect hotel: ‘Everyone knows girls get a kick out of creepy-crawlies, don’t they?’ The irony should be clear, because Van de Vendel’s real lesson here is that it’s wise to keep thinking for yourself. That’s something that really will be of some use.

The texts are as varied in style and emotion as the illustrations by Martijn van der Linden. In addition to the funny, ironic poems, the collection also includes heartfelt, touching poems, like one about a forgetful grandfather and a sad mother (‘When she feels she can lean on you for a moment / a bit of the trouble washes / out of her head’). That makes this book a collection that demonstrates exactly what characterizes Edward van de Vendel’s oeuvre: he takes children seriously, nudging his readers towards happiness, but they have to take those steps themselves:

You want to conquer climbing problems
slowly slowly
so that by and by
you can stand
in the blue
of the sky.

This is parlando poetry bursting with linguistic fun. Van de Vendel plays with words in a light, sparkling way.

De Standaard

Not only the best collection of poetry Van de Vendel has ever made, but also a book that shows exactly where Dutch children’s literature is right now.

NRC Handelsblad

Edward van de Vendel

The multi-talented Van de Vendel (b. 1964) has a cabinet full of awards. Whether he is making picture books or children’s poetry (Superguppie, 2003), or writing a YA novel about gay love (Oliver, 2015), or a happy story about children and dogs (A Dog Like Sam, 2011), he finds the right form and…

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Details

Wat je moet doen als je over een nijlpaard struikelt (2019). Children's books, 72 pages.

Illustrations

Martijn van der Linden

Age: 8+

Sample translation

English (PDF document)

Publisher

Querido Kind

Weteringschans 259
1017 XJ Amsterdam
Nederland
Tel: +31 (0)20 760 72 10

E-mail:
l.van.der.leije@singeluitgeve…
Website:
https://www.singeluitgeverije…

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