The Man in the Clouds
Children’s writer Koos Meinderts began his career with cabaret songs and now, for the second time, he has turned one of those songs into a picture book. De man in de wolken (The Man in the Clouds) is a philosophical parable, with melancholy illustrations supplied by Annette Fienieg.
High on a mountain lives the man in the clouds. In his house, there’s a painting of a landscape, “so beautiful, so stunningly empty, that’s how it must have looked when the world began.” The people from the valley love to come and look at the painting and, for just a moment, to forget how sad life can be. But when the man in the clouds hears that his painting is worth a fortune, something changes.
The innocent pleasure is over, his suspicion of the people from the valley grows and he becomes so scared of thieves that he shuts his house up tight. Meinderts tells the tale almost casually, in simple, poetic sentences. The painting itself is nowhere to be seen in Fienieg’s illustrations. She does, however, depict the blissful faces of the people looking at it, so readers can imagine the magnificent work of art for themselves. De man in de wolken is an ode to art, but even more than that it’s a tribute to the power of the imagination.