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THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING by Guus Kuijer

THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING

By Guus Kuijer (Author) , John Nieuwenhuizen (Translator)

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: April 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-439-74918-2
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

This austere little example of Dutch magical realism takes readers to Amsterdam in 1951, into the life of nine-year-old Thomas, whose only ambition is to grow up to be happy. No wonder: His family belongs to a strict Calvinist sect; his father beats both Thomas and his mother; his older sister Margot copes by hiding behind nonsense. Although Thomas has given up on God, he has regular conversations with Jesus, who visits his head in times of need. He also has an ally in Mrs. Van Amersfoort, known to schoolchildren as the local witch, who may or may not be involved in the plague of frogs that descends on Thomas’s house. Against the backdrop of a country still reeling from the Nazi Occupation, with its resisters and collaborators, this story of one family’s dance with retributive justice in its many forms is held up as a mirror to its society. It’s a deceptively simple tale—the third-person limited narration so thoroughly focused through Thomas’s own innocent yet warped understanding of reality—that demands sophisticated readers. Those who open themselves up to it will be repaid. (Fiction. 10-14)