Books by Anke de Vries

RAF by Anke de Vries
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

A beloved toy is lost and found again—well, not exactly, but close enough—in this charming, lighter-than-air import. Raf is a stuffed giraffe who is clearly the favorite companion of his owner Ben. Raf's portrait on the cover reveals mud stains, straggly hair and a goofy grin while the opening double-page spread shows him flying through the air with one leg clutched in a mittened hand. Then Raf disappears, and his imaginary adventures begin. According to hand-lettered postcards with evocative stamps, Raf is in far-off Africa, traveling by camel caravan, floating past flamingos, frolicking with elephants, swinging through trees with monkeys and visiting his spotted kin. Unusual perspectives and bold use of color keep the illustrations interesting while the contrast between Ben's cold, snowy home in Holland and the sunny African scenes adds appeal. Raf's ingenuous comments prepare Ben (and readers) for the change in his appearance upon his joyous return. Parents might learn a trick or two; kids are likely to accept Raf's transformation at face value. Pure delight. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
GREY MOUSE by Anke de Vries
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2002

First published in the Netherlands, this uncomplicated tale about friendship and the journey to self-acceptance now debuts in the US. "One day, Grey Mouse felt blue. She was bored and lonely. And she was tired of being grey," reads the opening. Min (Peter's Patchwork Dream, not reviewed, etc.) pictures the angular mouse with her head hanging low, tiny paws drawn to her temples. On the next page, she holds a bucket of red paint and a brush. "Maybe Goose will play with me now," she says after painting her nose red to match the goose's bill. Sadly, "goose just giggled." Throughout, Min's mixed-media illustrations set against the plain white page depict Grey Mouse trying on a variety of different colors and patterns. She paints herself green like "Frog," red with polka dots to match the ladybugs, and striped like "Zebra." Each time, the emulated animals appear in the corner mocking Mouse's efforts. The only creatures that don't cringe are the bees. Attracted to the flowers that she has decorated herself with, they chase Grey Mouse all the way to a pool of water into which she dives. Deep blue fills the interior spread as the flowers slip off and the muted mouse glides eyes-closed through the murky depths. When she reemerges she's met with a surprise. " ‘Hi,' said a squeaky little voice." In the final illustration, mice are popping up all over the place (" ‘Hi,' said another. ‘Hello,' said another. And ‘Let's play,' said another." Grey Mouse, unadorned, has finally found friends. An affirming read. (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
BRUISES by Anke de Vries
FICTION
Released: April 1, 1996

A searing novel—sometimes painful to read, impossible to put down—about two troubled young people in Holland. Judith's mother beats her—has always beaten her. Judith lives in terror, watching her mother, anticipating her moods, waiting for her to turn into a monster—``The waiting was often the worst part.'' Even harder, for readers, is that Judith condemns herself for being unable to stop the abuse. Michael's abuse has been of a psychological nature; after his mother's death years before, he withered under the disapproval of his cold and critical father. When Judith meets him, at age 12, Michael has learned to cope with dyslexia and is blossoming under the care of a loving aunt. He befriends Judith at school and offers her a way out of her prison. In terrible, stark detail, de Vries describes Judith's abuse; the writing is taut, immediate, and emotionally charged. Although the story is grim, it exhibits occasional flashes of humor that make it bearable; readers will be glad (and relieved) that it ends on a hopeful note. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >
MY ELEPHANT CAN DO ALMOST ANYTHING by Anke de Vries
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 1996

What a delight—a picture-book collaboration in the best sense of the term from an author and artist from the Netherlands. In a wonderful text, de Vries (Bruises, p. 445) seems to offer Walraven full freedom to express the ideas between the lines. ``My elephant can do almost anything. He can stand on a wobbly stool, and he can balance on a balloon.'' Across from these words appears a flat, scrawled elephant, colored red-orange—a stuffed animal? An imaginary friend? This basic figure, in a variety of colors and painted disguises, balances on that balloon, and later a coffeepot, tries on hats, and, ultimately, rushes to meet the narrator ``when I come home again . . . because there's one thing my elephant can't do . . . he can't do without me!'' The pictures drive the book, while the text provides a narrative thread full of charming ideas and asides. With appeal for very young children, this is a fine example of a book done simply and well. It's hard not to hope for more from de Vries and Walraven. (Picture book. 2-6) Read full book review >