Simon van der Geest
Simon van der Geest was born in Gouda, the Netherlands, in 1978 and completed a degree in Theater at the ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnheim. While at university, he directed and acted in plays, and also discovered just how much fun it was to write for the theater. Today, after completing a drama writing course in Utrecht, he shares his expertise in this art form in courses for children and young adults. He also works as an actor – for the police, among others – and writes stories, poems and theatre pieces mostly for young audiences.
Van der Geest’s debut as a children’s book author, »Geel gras« (2009; tr. Yellow grass), tells the story of Finja, a young girl whose guardians leave her behind on a campground. She befriends a young boy named Jantwan, whose parents, in contrast to hers, are driving him crazy with their constant meddling. Finja decides to no longer rely on adults, but to become famous on her own so that her parents will finally take notice of her. But this spirited endeavor proves to be a difficult task in this dynamic summertime story about friendship and courage. In 2010, van der Geest published a book of poetry, »Dissus«, an adaption of Homer’s »Odyssey« for young readers with illustrations by Jan Jutte. The book received the Golden Stylus for the best children’s book of the year. The jury praised van der Geest for his virtuoso language and exceptional skill in describing feelings. His third children’s book »Spinder« (2013) also received the Golden Stylus the same year it was published. In that book, a young boy named Hidde writes in his diary how he and his brother Jeppe quarrel over who will get to make the basement into his own private realm. While Jeppe wants to set up his drum kit there, Hidde would like to use it to keep his large collection of insects, the creatures he speaks to when no one else is around. As the story unfolds, readers find out that this brotherly struggle for the upper hand has its roots in a dark secret that weighs heavily on the two boys: the death of a third brother in that very same basement. According to the »Süddeutsche Zeitung«, the intimacy that arises from the author’s use of the personal »Du« form in the diaries and his mastery of how children speak in combination with the dramatic family history create a »truly outstanding children’s book«. The »FAZ« newspaper also praised the »author’s keen sense for the […] imagination and emotional world of children«.
In 2015, van der Geest wrote »Per ongelukt!« (tr. Fluke!), the official gift book for the Netherlands’ Week of Children’s Books.