22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Wally De Doncker

Portrait Wally De Doncker
© Davidsfonds Uitgevereij

Wally de Doncker was born in 1958 in the Flemish town of Tielt. One of his main aims is to bring children and literature closer together. For this reason he gave up his career as a teacher in 2001 to concentrate on writing. In 1996 he developed a method for reading aloud and learning to read in primary school, »Leesdraak« (t: Reading Dragon), which is now widely used in Flemish-speaking regions. He also writes on topics international children’s literature for national and international magazines and journals.

»Ahum« (2000, tr: Hm-hm) concerns the inhabitants of Toesjepa, who have everything: work, cars, houses, and entertainment. Everything is uniform, orderly, and all inhabitants are equal – in their solitude, as well. With suscpicion they observe the two strangers in their midst, whose togetherness is so radically different from the inhabitants’ lives. The decidedly critical undertone in this story about the courage to be different, and individuality in a uniform society, was remarked upon by the critic Jant van der Weg in the newspaper »Friesch Dagblad«: »What happiness is, this kind of people do not know. Everything is captured in patterns, there is work for everyone and televi – sion games entertain them. The inhabitants of Toesjepa all look the same. Their clothes remind us of Mao-suits in China. A socially critical tone is adopted in a very poetic way through word and collage.«

The existential question of individual meaning also concerns the O in »Het verhaal van O« (2007, tr: The True Story of O). The O is perfectly formed yet does not feel that it belongs either as a letter or as a number, and feels instead an indescribable void which is focused on the quest for its own meaning. In his most recent children’s book »Het begint ergens« (2009, t: It Begins Nowhere) the author discusses the effects of global climate change on life, in this case on the lives of the animals on our planet. Wally de Doncker again and again tackles themes which are scarcely touched upon in contemporary children’s literature. With sensitivity, but directness, in »Een opa met gaatjes « (1996, t: What’s Wrong With Grandpa?), for example, he describes aspects of the mental and physical decay of old people.

His books have received numerous nominations and prizes. In addition, several of his works have been adapted as stage plays and musicals, film animations and dance films. Waly de Doncker lives with his family in Hamme, Belgium.

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