The Last Boy Who Listened to His Parents
The story of an ordinary boy who is destined for different things
Wandert wants to be a performer, just like his piano-playing dad. But his dad says no. His mum doesn’t think it’s a good idea either. Not only is it difficult to make money with art, but performers are often dangerous womanisers. No, Wandert is going to have to come up with a different idea.
The post-war 1950s are the setting for this YA novel, which Yvonne Jagtenberg based on her father’s younger years.
Wandert spends a lot of time alone. When his dad isn’t teaching, he’s performing. Wandert’s mum often goes with him – to make sure he’s not looking at other women. She also visits her sisters nearly every day. Wandert uses that time to come up with ways to lead an artist’s life in secret, sneakily smoking his first cigar – in front of the window, where the whole neighbourhood can enjoy the sight – and starting a back-room dance school with his friend Franz and inviting two pretty girls to come and learn to dance. He even gets to perform at a circus.
The title might sound ironic, but Wandert really does faithfully do what his parents expect of him. This sometimes results in comical scenes, but the longer the story goes on, the more a tragic undertone can be heard. On the one hand, Wandert is a very ordinary boy who likes to play football and brag about girls, but on the other hand he was clearly destined for different things.
Wandert would like to learn how to read music, but his father doesn’t want him to be brought into temptation. The question becomes more and more pressing: why won’t they just let him do his own thing?
Luckily, Wandert always finds a way. Wandert has instantly become one of the most distinctive and endearing characters in Dutch children’s literature, which is already so rich in appealing figures.