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van Straaten, Harmen 1961-

van Straaten, Harmen 1961-


Born 1961, in Arnheim, Netherlands. Education: Attended Leiden University.


Office—Uitgeverij Pimento, Postbus, 1001 AK Amsterdam, Netherlands. E-mail—[email protected]


Author and illustrator. Also worked as a lawyer and a teacher.

Awards, Honors

Grand Prix for Best Book, 2002; Golden Apple, Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava, 2003; Sankei Children's Book Award, 2003.



Betoverd door jou, Uitgeverij Pimento (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2005.

Luchtacrobaten, Uitgeverij Pimento (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2006.

Duck's Tale, translated by Marianne Martens, North-South Books (New York, NY), 2007.

For Me?, translated by MaryChris Bradley, North-South Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of numerous works published in the Netherlands, including Fien telt voor tien, De liefste kusjes zijn voor jou, Spuit Elf en de brandweerolifanten, Het verhaal van eend, De wedstrijd van eend, Eend tovert een taart, Eend ziet wat jij niet ziet, Kees en Ko detectivebureau, Kees en Ko en de scooterbende, Tim en de boot naar Timboektoe, Tim en de tsjoek tsjoek tovertrein, Tim en de toet toet toeringbus, Tim en de sneeuwman, Timsalabim, Tim gaat naar Verweggistan, Tim en de berg van goud, Tim is een bink, Tim in Robotland, and Tim en de vliegmachine.


Harmen van Straaten is a prolific Dutch author and illustrator who has produced more than 200 works for young readers. Duck's Tale, the first of van Straaten's book to be translated into English, introduced him to U.S. audiences in 2007. After seeing that his friend, Toad, can read after getting a new pair of glasses, Duck assumes that he should be able to write a story when he discovers a pen. A serious-minded fellow, Duck scribbles on a sheet of paper and proudly hands his composition to Toad, who liberally interprets the "story" during a read-aloud session with Duck, Otter, and Hedgehog. According to School Library Journal contributor Kristen M. Todd, "the warm, softly colored illustrations suit the calm atmosphere of the story." In Duck's Tale, "respect for each other and friendship are key words," van Straaten told an interviewer on the North-South Books Web site. The author continued, "In this story, both Duck and Toad realize that they need each other. Duck can't read the story himself and from Toad, we are not sure if he can read at all. However, they are very respectful towards each other."

In a follow-up, For Me?, Duck, Toad, Otter, and Hedgehog attempt to learn the identity of the anonymous individual who has left a red rose and a drawing of a heart at each of their doorsteps. A Kirkus Reviews critic noted that van Straaten's "illustrations executed in bold lines and primary color washes capture the confusion and eventual camaraderie of these puzzled pals." A contributor in Publishers Weekly described the characters as "vividly imagined and drawn," and Shelley B. Sutherland, writing in School Library Journal, complimented For Me? for its "sweet simplicity."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2007, review of Duck's Tale; July 15, 2007, review of For Me?

Publishers Weekly, January 21, 2008, review of For Me?, p. 169.

School Library Journal, May, 2007, Kristen M. Todd, review of Duck's Tale, p. 110; January, 2008 Shelley B. Sutherland, review of For Me?, p. 100.


Harmen van Straaten Home Page, (April 1, 2008).

North-South Books Web site, (April 1, 2008), interview with van Straaten.

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