What has gone wrong since the Brothers Grimm recorded all those funny and violent orally transmitted folk stories? Who exactly decided that you have to be a ‘proper’ writer in order to write such stories? The best tales come about naturally at the bedside and are passed on by mums and dads and grandmas and grandpas, weaving together events of the day and things they’ve heard elsewhere to create nonsense stories that aren’t really nonsensical at all.

Luckily, there are writers who have elevated exactly this free, almost improvisational style to an art form. Janneke Schotveld is such a writer. In this read-aloud story, something incredible happens on just about every page. A statue of a famous writer from the past steps down from his pedestal to see if anyone is still reading his books. He’s not happy with the answer. The baker is so in love that he hides in a tree. He doesn’t feel brave enough to face Abdul, the bike repair man.

The stories are modern and medieval, contemporary and timeless, all mixed up together. The brave Ms Knight has a sword and a mobile phone. She tells the modern-day police officer, when a lion escapes: ‘First talk and then shoot. When will you guys ever learn?’ Then she spits on the ground and disappears on her trusty steed, which is, of course, a bike. And it’s off to the next story.

This book of stories is nicely written and packed with great wordplay and fun allusions. Every sentence sings. And best of all, just like her hero, this author means business. She doesn’t mess about, but has gone ahead and written a whole collection, all at once.

As the title shows, the writer does, of course, have a message. The casual, completely natural way in which she conveys this message ensures that she gets it across to the reader. Her contagious, contemporary humour always has the upper hand. This is Janneke Schotveld, writer of great tales and exciting adventures, at her best.

Site door August van de Ven