William is a Werewolf

William is a young boy whose parents are divorced. He lives with his mother, while big brother Mick lives with their father and his new girlfriend. They spend the weekends together with one of the parents. Divorce is not the main topic, but it does crop up regularly. The book is more a collection of stories than a novel, but the stories are all about the same two brothers, who are forever getting up to mischief.

Children's books
Original title
Willem is een weerwolf
Hermine Landvreugd

They race around in grandma’s wheelchair nicked from the old people’s home (and get stuck in the tram rails), secretly ride motorcycles, and winkle money out of a parking meter. Mick risks his life by taking on the challenge to rotate inside a drier at the launderette. William looks on in ever increasing anxiety, his father’s girlfriend’s pink bra perched on his head like rabbit’s ears.

The writer observes these two big city children, who are often left to fend for themselves, who have time at their disposal and don’t always know how to cope with their situation, with great empathy and eye for detail. This produces unpredictable stories about an aspect of society which children’s writers often avoid. Above all, what is exceptional is Landvreugd’s refusal to judge her characters and their sometimes dubious activities. She accepts them totally for what they are.

The book derives its power from the main character, who the author has depicted with great affection. She gives the reader access to the intimacy of a young boy’s head, full of tortuous thoughts. William tries to ward off unbearable situations by imagining that he is a flying werewolf, ‘big and tough and boss of the whole wide world.’ It is this endearing perspective on life’s complexities – softer than in the author’s tougher stories for adults – enabling the reader to view these rather unusual events with an open mind.

What makes the stories such fun is that everything seems so natural, so relaxed. (…) It’s refreshing to read about children who are just minding themselves and can’t be bothered by grown-ups.

Vrij Nederland

Publishing details
Willem is een weerwolf (2000)
95 pages


Hermine Landvreugd
Hermine Landvreugd (b. 1967) is a literary phenomenon. In the 1990s, she wrote four collections of spicy short stories for adults, including *Kont achteruit: hoerig* (Stick Your Bum Out: Tarty) in which the modern life of young women in a big city is portrayed in a fatalistic, realist manner.
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