Winner Golden Pencil 2017
White Raven 2017
Highlighted by the Dutch Foundation for Literature
It is wartime, it is winter and food is running out in the big cities. With a large group of other poor, malnourished Dutch children, Jaap, Nel and little Kees travel by canal boat to the countryside in the north where there is still enough food.
Jaap is separated from his sister and brother and lodged with a childless couple, far from home. He must literally fight for his place in his new world, where everything is unfamiliar.
Meanwhile, the war rumbles on, and he wonders when he will see his parents again. Are they still alive? And how are Nel and little Kees getting on?
To the North is based on the evacuation of children during the Dutch famine in the last year of the Second World War. Thousands of children left by ship, bus or lorry for temporary foster homes in Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe. Through the fictional characters of Jaap, Nel and little Kees, Koos Meinderts has given these children a face and a voice.
‘Jaap is the story’s first-person narrator. We learn of the events through him in masterful combinations of observation, commentary, memory and feeling. (…) a wonderful book in which Koos Meinderts gives a penetrating account in plain language of a boy’s development in wartime.’ – Jury of the Golden Pencil 2017
‘The book’s strength lies in those often harrowing details, which evoke a living portrait of an era and make the suffering palpable. After his recently award-winning young adult novel Seeing the Sea, Meinderts once again delivers a wonderful book, which is also tastefully designed and illustrated.’ – Trouw
‘The boy’s despair and panic are captured so convincingly that you will experience stomachache while reading. (…) Koos Meinderts chooses his images with care. They show how war affects a child’s life and how innocence is lost forever.’ – **** Het Parool
‘Koos Meinderts makes accurate observations, in restrained language. The reader can sense the overtones of every sentence (…) With few words, Meinderts manages to say a great deal (…) and so palpably that you sympathise with everything the three children experience.’ – Friesch Dagblad
‘A poignant story, (…) a seemingly simple style with subtle asides.’ – Dagblad van het Noorden
‘Once again [Meinderts] has managed to get inside the mind of a boy and communicate his thoughts and feelings believably in plain, apt language.’ – jaapleest.nl
‘Meinderts does not need many words to give the story feeling; in a short phrase or an image he grabs the reader by the throat.’ – kinderboekenpraatjes.nl