Faith is joy is love is hope in this novel of exquisite power and everyday miracles, reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver's THE POISONWOOD BIBLE.
Thomas can see things no one else can see. Tropical fish swimming in the canals. The magic of Mrs. Van Amersfoort, the Beethoven-loving witch next door. The fierce beauty of Eliza with her artificial leg. And the Lord Jesus, who tells him, "Just call me Jesus."
Thomas records these visions in his "Book of Everything." They comfort him when his father beats him, when the angels weep for his mother's black eyes. And they give him the strength to finally confront his father and become what he wants to be when he grows up:
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Grade 4-6–In spite of his hard life, Thomas believes in happiness. He adores Eliza, who has an artificial leg. He sees Jesus and talks to him. He sees tropical fish in the canal. In between his father's beatings, he records all he believes, thinks, adores, and sees in his Book of Everything. His Bible-quoting father justifies his brutality toward his son and wife as, It is the man's task to lead and instruct his wife and children. And if they refuse to listen to him, he has no choice but to.... Things come to a head when his older sister threatens their bullying father with a carving knife, their mother stands up to him, and neighbors turn against him. In the end, he sees that his lonely father is terrified of life. He is encouraged by an unlikely ally, Mrs. van Amersfoort, who lost her husband to the Nazis, but still believes in happiness. Winner of the Flemish Golden Owl award, this book is enchanting. The translation manages to hold the shaky feel of a postwar Netherlands. Thomas is proof that there is beauty in dirty streets and that innocence cannot be destroyed. A solid, if not first, purchase.–Sadie Mattox, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA
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Gr. 8-11. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, nine-year-old Thomas responds, "Happy. When I grow up, I'm going to be happy." His rigid, religious father, who hits his wife and children, warns Thomas, "Only good-for-nothings and weaklings are happy." Fortunately, Thomas is aided by a neighbor, who introduces him to Beethoven and poetry; a remarkable older girl with a leather leg; and even the Lord Jesus, who actually communicates with Thomas from time to time: "Hey there, Thomas. Everything under control?" Set in Amsterdam in 1951, this slender Dutch novel is filled with quirky characters, frightening family confrontations, and laugh-out-loud moments. Dark humor and a wry, ironic tone, reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut, give the story a sharp edge. In a faux introduction, the author explains how the elderly Thomas gave him the book and warned him that he should read it first because it "may be too disrespectful." This irreverence may disturb some but delight others, who will cheer on the earnest, good-hearted Thomas. Linda Perkins
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Descripción Macmillan Children's Books, 2006. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M1405054719