Joke van Leeuwen
Full of word-play and visual effects
Kweenie (Dunno) is the name of a strange little creature with a big, yellow, beak-like nose who suddenly tumbles onto the bed of the first-person narrator, a small girl with a mop of hair. Kweenie doesn’t know who he is or where he comes from. All he knows is that he’s fallen out of a story that had just started and that he fears will now continue without him. When the little girl sees how sad he is she decides to help him find his story.
Kweenie is constructed as a framework, and it’s full of surprises. It’s an astonishing journey through the imagination in which two main characters from one tale end up in another – a crocodile story, a deleted story, a comic strip, a story in the dark, a story being erased, a calm story and a stormy one, a story with the same words and a story that no one is supposed to know about.
In each case, the new story is not the one Kweenie is looking for, so the two friends fly off to the next new adventure. The journey finally ends up in the happy reunion of Kweenie and his parents, who are now able to carry on with their own story. The little girl, left behind and abandoned, soon finds herself in her own bedroom.
Unlike Van Leeuwen’s previous works, Kweenie is in colour. The author has experimented extensively with design, typography, drawing and collage techniques, and the word-image relationship. The book is a visual feast and its ever-changing appearance testifies to a great all-round original talent. The discoveries and daft ideas are joyous and plentiful; every page reveals a new surprise that can be enjoyed even by children who may not quite grasp the gist of the story.