Wednesday 28 November 2012

The Book of Everything

I think I may have just read the world's most wonderful book. The Book of Everything  is simply and beautifully written but so rich and deep. It is no wonder that the author Guus Kuijer was awarded the Astrid Lindgren Award for children's literature

Kuijer delves into the world of nine-year-old Dutch boy Thomas. Set in 1951 Netherlands, Thomas lives with a strict God-fearing father, his mother and sister Margot. With so few words, Kuijer builds up the world around Thomas. There is his neighbour Mrs Van Amersfoort; Aunt Pie and Thomas's friend Eliza.

Thomas sees things in the world that others do not. The plagues of Egypt are wrought down upon the streets around him. Jesus and the angels appear to him throughout the story as a friend. He writes all these things down in his diary, The Book of Everything, including what he wants to be when he grows up: happy.

The Book of Everything is a book about heroism and kindness and belief in yourself and others and how this can triumph over hardness and fear. It is sweet and beautiful and quirky in its handling of the bitterness within one family, and of the world. No review can describe or give justice to this book. Read it and I can guarantee you will be uplifted.

The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer, translated by John Nieuwenhuizen (Allen and Unwin)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9781747747513
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton


  1. Hear, hear! Guus Kuijer handles a potential difficult and disturbing story with a warm, light touch seldom if ever found in English language literature for young people. Everyone should read this one!

    His latest work, incidentally, is 'The bible for unbelievers', an inventive, sensitive, witty retelling of stories from Genesis. As yet it's only available in Dutch, but if it ever appears in English, get it and read it!

    (Disclaimer: I had the privilege of adapting The Book of Everything for the stage and now am proud to count Guus Kuijer as a friend.)

  2. Hi Richard,

    I saw the stage show a last year and loved it which prompted me to read the book. I wish I could read Dutch like you as I have not been able to find any other of Guus Kuijer's works translated into English. I have heard that The Book of Everything is the only one that has been translated which, if true, means that all the English speaking children of the world are sorely missing out on great literature.

    Best wishes, Vicki


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