Books Set in The Netherlands: So Many Opportunities!!

A while ago Analee wrote a wonderful post about why more books should be set in Canada and came up with great plot bunnies that could be used if a book is set in Canada. This made me think: what kind of plot bunnies could you use if your book is set in The Netherlands? Of course there are books set in The Netherlands, but I’m talking about YA books here, and since I don’t really enjoy reading in Dutch I don’t read any Dutch YA. The only YA book I can think of that’s partially set in The Netherlands is The Fault in Our Stars (you could count Six of Crows since Ketterdam is based on Amsterdam and had a lot of Dutch terms. They talked about eating hutspot?? That was so funny. Hutspot is gross though)

Love confessions with the canals as a setting

At night, by the way, because the canals at night are so magical and romantic. I can definitely picture a dramatic love confession at a bridge, with a canal in the background. Or maybe not a dramatic one, but a planned one (kudos to the character that decides to confess their love at a bridge I mean that takes guts with all the tourists around I’d feel so awkward – no one confess their love to me anywhere in the center of Amsterdam I’ll die of embarrassment and awkwardness and if you love me you clearly don’t want that. I hope??)

Contemporaries about art set in Rotterdam

Rotterdam is such an artsy city guys!! Sure so is Amsterdam, which has a lot of museums and art, but Rotterdam? So much street art, so many museums and art galleries too. Plus it just has this artsy feeling to it. I’m not saying Amsterdam doesn’t, buuuuuut Amsterdam often also feels like a tourist attraction which Rotterdam doesn’t. It’s just a very creative, artsy city and I can definitely see a YA protagonist who’s a budding artist discover themselves through art there.

Oh and they could obviously stop by the Foodhallen, which is this huge indoor food market which is also super pretty (plus food)

Stroopwafels!!

I mean sure you could eat hutspot too, but why would you when stroopwafels exist?? I could live on them. I’m not joking. I could eat so many in a row they’re delicious. You can also eat them warm which is also really good, but if you’re impatient like me you could just eat them cold because they’re delicious that way as well. Wait where was I going with this what was this post about. Food?? Stroopwafels??

Books need food okay. No, I don’t mean you need to feed them (you do need to feed them your love, attention and tears, but no human food they can’t digest that. Don’t poison your books). I mean books become more realistic when your characters eat, because they’re supposedly alive and need to (unless they’re a ghost. I felt so sad for all the ghosts at Nearly Headless Nick’s party), so a book set in The Netherlands obviously needs to feature some Dutch food. Preferably stroopwafels. Because I love stroopwafels

So many fantasy story possibilities!!

Obviously Six of Crows has already done this, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be more fantasy worlds based on The Netherlands. Plus urban fantasies? Or magical realism? So many possibilities!

With the amount of water we easily could have a story about pirates, or about witches and wizards living here having to hide their magic and probably fighting something evil, or superheroes!!! Keeping our cities safe. And so many other fantasy stories that could just be set here, with a Dutch touch to it.

Fort of Sjakoo retelling!!

I found out about Sjakoo when I was a kid and immediately got obsessed. I did read a Dutch book (children? I think it was actually YA since it mentioned sex and lil me was like ‘gross’) back then that was about Sjakoo’s fort (I don’t remember if Sjakoo himself was in it?) but it took place in our time which is fine, but I want a retelling. I want a YA book about Sjakoo, living in 18th century Amsterdam, becoming a criminal, starting a gang and turning numbers 71 to 77 at the Elandsgracht into the Fort of Sjakoo, which had secret passages and the like (I’m not sure how much of this is true, but hey it’s not like this would be non-fiction). Damn now I want to write this *hides from the 21423463458 other ideas I already have and haven’t worked on yet* *I put it in my word document with all my story ideas and stuff help* 

Books set during the Canal Parade!!*

One of the main characters is part of one of the boats, the other isn’t out yet and doesn’t dare to go the Parade but in the end they show up anyway and they share a romantic kiss at the boat surrounded by other people from the LGBTQ+ community cheering and clapping and there’s lots of glitter and it would be really cute damnit I want to write this *adds this one to the list as well while sobbing because I already struggle finding the time, motivation and energy to write and having so many ideas is NOT. HELPING*

* This is the fourth time in a row I’m using ‘!!’ I’m sorry for my lack of originality

There are so many more things I could think of but I’m going to stop before I come up with more things I want to write. Would you like to see more YA books set in The Netherlands? Are you writing one? Let me know in the comments! 

Dutch Children’s Books I Grew Up With

I often see people talk about growing up with for example Roald Dahl and while I did get some Dahl stories read to me as a kid and read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at some point, I usually couldn’t really relate. That’s the case with a lot of children’s books though, and I’m sure there are other bookworms all over the world who grew up with different books as well. Personally I love learning about other countries children’s books (that haven’t been translated into Dutch or English) so I thought I’d share some of the stories I grew up with!

PLUK VAN DE PETTEFLET 

This was my favourite book as a kid and I love that it has been translated into English. I’m going to try and summarise it from memory and then see how right I am:

Pluk, a little kid who drives a thow-truck, for some reason starts to live on his own in the Petteflet (a flat). Here he makes new friends like Sasa the … cockroach I think? And a family that now (as I hadn’t read Harry Potter yet)  gives me Weasley vibes. I also think he befriended a pigeon and a girl? Also at some point there was an exotic bird that they needed to save because some evil museum director wants it for his museum – or was that just in the movie? Anyway they have adventures I think? Also there was a ‘werewolf’ at some point

Okay so I looked up the summary, and I didn’t really get it wrong! Though it’s Zaza and not Sasa. And the pigeon’s called Dollie and she’s the one who told Pluk, who was looking for a place to stay, that there’s a room left at the Petteflet (Dollie why didn’t you send him back to his parents. According to wikipedia he’s 10????) Also there was definitely a bird. They have all kinds of adventures, so I’m not going to tell you all about them in case you’re curious and want to read it. I have really fond memories of this book and even went to see a play or musical based on it.

JIP EN JANNEKE

From the same author: Jip en Janneke. These books have also been translated into English. It’s about two kids, Jip and Janneke, who live next to each other and are best friends. They too have adventures, but as far as I remember it’s a bit more realistic than Pluk. They still live with their parents (who appear in the stories as well) and their adventures don’t involve werewolves but playing like regular kids and pancake eating competitions. Basically it’s every day stuff, but it’s really cute and I loved listening to their stories and eventually reading them myself.

DE MACHT VAN HET ZWAARD 

I read this at an older age then the others mentioned, but it was my absolute favourite series for a while before I read Harry Potter. I actually wrote about rereading it when I was 18 and boy um.. It wasn’t pretty. As a kid I really loved it though. It’s a fantasy series with a female protagonist which was so rare for me back then! She got to wield a sword!! Really, the world was my home and the characters were really important to me, so rereading it and finding so many problems with it was really disappointing.

KRUISTOCHT IN SPIJKERBROEK (CRUSADE IN JEANS)

This book guys. This book. You may know the film adaptation of this one, as it was made in English to reach a bigger audience. I have no idea how well known this film is, nor if it’s a good adaptation since I’ve never seen it. But the book? Loved it. The protagonist uses a time machine to go the Middle Ages for a bit, but things go wrong and he’s stuck. He ends up in the middle of a children’s crusade and decides to join them. Since I was already a history nerd back then I ate it up. And it destroyed me as it was brutal. At least it was brutal for little old me. No idea if it’s really brutal. Or historically accurate? Honestly I don’t remember much besides getting my heart ripped out. Part of me wants to reread it, but part of me wants to keep the fond memories alive haha.


DOLFJE WEERWOLFJE

This series is about a boy who finds out he’s a werewolf. I don’t remember much about it (for some reason I only read the first book), but I remember reading it in one sitting and absolutely loving it. I think this one has also been translated into English, but I’m not sure.


DIKKIE DIK

Dikkie Dik was such an integral and iconic part of Dutch Sesame Street that I had no idea he was only in the Dutch Sesame Street haha. Dikkie Dik’s stories were read in the show, and I think they were animated or at least drawn out while the story was told? He also has his own books and he’s just really famous in The Netherlands I love him.

NIJNTJE

This one you probably know, since Nijntje is incredibly popular all over the world, except it’s called Miffy. I don’t think there were a lot of Nijntje books that were read to me, but I do remember watching the cartoon a lot.


FLOORTJE

Okay I’ve said before that books on this list were my favourite, but this series was one of my favourites as well. In between Pluk van de Petteflet and De Macht van het Zwaard, this was it. I absolutely adored Floortje. The Floortje series is about a girl called Floortje and in each book she tries something new or goes on holiday or something (like Floortje does ballet, Floortje goes to London, Floortje saves a dog etc.) and they were just plain fun. I couldn’t get enough of them. Honestly I really, really want to reread this, but I’m scared they’ll let me down haha.

 

 

 

Which children’s books did you grew up with? What were they about? Let me know in the comments!

Can You Pronounce These Names?

So last month I finally decided to stop writing fiction in Dutch, and start writing in English, which meant translating everything I had already written in Dutch for my wip The Army of Quermo. Now, that isn’t so hard, but I did come upon a problem: the names. A lot of the names are in Dutch, and some of them might not be that easy to pronounce for non-Dutchies. It still takes place in The Netherlands, but I was wondering about some names might need changing. So here’s where I need your help! Can you pronounce the following names?

  • Van Liere
  • Zonneveld
  • Huigswee
  • De Ster
  • Petra Adelen

Well, that’s less than I thought! Most of my first names are pronounceable (most of them aren’t Dutch, as a lot of Dutch names aren’t really used anymore nowadays) and some I’m just certain that non-Dutchies won’t be able to pronounce them so I left them out haha.

Please let me know in the comments if you can pronounce them!

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