Stem op de okapi
A unique non-fiction title in which author and illustrator present a colourful, imaginative and poetic tribute to the okapi
Driven by their relentless curiosity and unbridled fantasy, Edward van de Vendel and Martijn van der Linden present the okapi as a “splendid and silent mystery animal”. Remarkable facts about one of the last large mammals to be discovered alternate with small okapi stories and cheerful little okapi poems. Van de Vendel’s words are interspersed with Van der Linden’s striking and original illustrations, which show a remarkable range of styles composition and atmosphere.
What a wonderful idea it was to make the okapi the protagonist of a non-fiction book. Because how much do we actually know about this animal that looks as if it’s been stuck together? “A bit of deer. A bit of horse. A bit of zebra.” It turns out that they don’t bray. They don’t whinny. They don’t bark or trumpet. They hardly make any sounds, at least not sounds that humans can hear. In fact, okapis are so shy and unobtrusive that you could easily make the mistake of walking right past their enclosure at the zoo without noticing them.
Luckily, thanks to Vote for the Okapi, the chances of that happening have been significantly reduced. Van der Linden’s okapi pictures, with their many different styles and colours, perfectly reflect this creature’s mysterious diversity. Together with Van de Vendel’s poetic, vivid descriptions of the okapi, with its “tiptap hoofs”, “sunny bum” and brown “regal pelt”, which is like “earth that’s just been rained upon”, they stir the reader’s imagination and curiosity. What kind of wonderful creature is this?
Then, when you go on to read that okapis exist in the wild only in Congo, that they weren’t discovered until a hundred years ago, that they have no relatives except for the giraffe, and that okapi babies don’t poo for the first nine weeks of their lives, it makes you want to head straight to the zoo. And who knows? You might even get to meet not only the okapis but also one of the okapi keepers who have been interviewed at length in this delightful book by Van de Vendel and Van der Linden.