An exciting story about hope, courage and friendship, which presents a realistic picture of the plight of young illegal immigrants
Exciting, funny and amazingly well written: there are few Dutch writers who can combine these elements as well as Tjibbe Veldkamp. In his economical and crystal-clear sentences, he deftly transforms the ordinary life of a highschool student into a thriller.
Ate, who lives in the north of the Netherlands, has no friends at school, but whenever possible he talks to Baptiste, his friend in far-off Brussels. Baptiste is a boy of the same age as Ate, and the two of them met online. Ate doesn’t know much more about Baptiste than the few bits and pieces that he has revealed during their chats. At first that doesn’t matter. His daily conversations with Baptiste make him happy.
So when Baptiste, who has already hinted that he is short of cash, begins to ask him for money, Ate doesn’t hesitate for a moment. And when it looks as if their online friendship is going to come to an end, because Baptiste is completely broke and has to sell his phone, then Ate decides to skip school and catch the train to Brussels, so that he can give Baptiste his old mobile. While the reader suspects something fishy right from the beginning, Ate doesn’t realize that everything is not as it seems until he finds himself being pursued by a gang of criminals. Luckily, he receives some help from a spirited girl who owns a chicken called Beyoncé.
The illustrations, which are modern with a hint of the 1960s, are also remarkable. Not only the cover but also the brilliant mini-illustrations make this one of the best-designed children’s books out there at the moment. The app conversations depicted in the same colour scheme reinforce what Veldkamp does so successfully in the text: modern methods of communication are present in a way that is completely unobtrusive, becoming an essential part of the story, without any desperate need to look up to date.
Catfish turns ordinary life into art, with its compelling plot, effortlessly beautiful sentences and eye-catching design that will captivate readers and leave them breathless.