Willis - It Doesn’t Matter How

Willis has an active brain and a fertile imagination. He’s the kind of kid who is so ordinary on the outside that other people have no idea how exceptional he is on the inside. Especially his parents. At the moment they are not taking much notice of Willis, because they are grieving over the loss of a premature baby. Willis is jealous of that ‘failed baby brother’ who, ‘by not being there, manages to be the centre of attention’.

Children's books
Daan Remmerts de Vries

The adult emotions which he only half understands, and his parents’ conviction that his brother is now an angel in heaven make him decide to build a spaceship, which he will use to bring back the dead baby from Angel-land. When these plans prove unworkable, Willis decides to try and fly himself. Then there will be no doubt about how special he is!

In simple language and naive drawings, the author sketches a loving and humorous picture of a child who cannot quite grasp the events of the adult world, but suffers from them nonetheless. With the creativity and technological curiosity which some little boys are blessed with, he delves into the principles underlying the phenomenon of flight. He builds a model aeroplane, and carries out a detailed study of a dead pigeon. With endearing dedication and the single-mindedness of an Icarus, he cobbles together a pair of wings which - so much is immediately clear to the reader - would never keep a human body alight.

Willis’ level-headed little friend is worried about the feasibility of the venture, and together with the little girl whom both of the boys fancy, he tries to ground the aspiring flyer. Fortunately, there is also a guardian angel - visible only to Willis - who keeps an eye on things and ultimately takes charge. Thanks to him, parents and child are brought back to reality, and realize how important they are to one another.

Daan Remmerts de Vries
In his books Daan Remmerts de Vries (b. 1962) humorously holds up a mirror to parents and educators, but also to the children themselves.
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