Title: Ha/bah naar school
Author: Jacques Vriens
Page count: 115 pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
Goodreads summary (as translated by me):
Stories about the fun and not-so-fun things and days at school. About the battle between catholic school students and public school students, about a strict replacement teacher who’s actually not that bad and about the school exam. But also about children who prank the new principal, find the runaway dog from the teacher, and who go to high school for the first time.
I know, I know. It’s a Dutch book. I have no idea if this is even available in English to begin with. I’m not really sure if I should review this in English or Dutch (might just do both, eventually). But on the topic of diversity, I figured Dutch children’s books might be interesting to some readers out there 🙂 Other cultures! Yay! (I mean, not for me, obviously).
So first of all, let me translate the title: “Yeah/aw no, to school”. Shitty translation, I know, but I’m trying to get a point across. This book is a collection of short stories about children, all roughly age 11/12, and their teachers. It follows them in all kinds of situations at school, both good and not so good.
I probably first (and last) read this when it was released in this specific edition, which was when I was about 10. I only know this because there’s an entire series of children’s books in these editions, that you could buy through your primary school. And since I’ve been a booknerd since before I could, you know, read, of course I convinced my parents to get me the entire set. Technically speaking, I was a tad too young still for these (there were some very dark books in the series that were probably unsuitable for children that young – they’re still my favourites, obviously). But unfortunately, I only remembered about two books of the series – and this one wasn’t included.
This meant everything was a big surprise when I picked it up. And what a good surprise it was! I’m genuinely happy at how good these stories were. Of course, they’re aimed at 12 year olds, so being 26 myself, it didn’t quite have the impact the author was aiming for. Still, the book tackles topics as racism, religion, equality, the importance of being nice, etc. It even has several reminders that your teachers are, in fact, people with feelings and flaws and insecurities! I personally really appreciated all the different stories, simple as they were. I ended up reading the whole book in one go (really not that difficult with just 115 pages of children’s stories with pictures), and I’m definitely keeping it around for my nephew, nieces, and friends’ children when they come to visit.
And also, of course, to revisit it occasionally myself. Because it’s definitely worth revisiting.