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Back in April for my birthday my friend Cath in the Netherlands sent me a wonderful book called Letters to Anyone and Everyone by Toon Tellegen. She told me that I will want to rush through these little stories because they are so delightful but that I was to resist, to read only one of two at a time so that I can thoroughly enjoy them. I am glad she warned me because I wanted to gobble them down after the very first story when The Squirrel wrote a letter to The Ant on a winter’s day that went like this:

Dear Ant,
Ant Ant Ant
Ant Ant Ant
Ant Ant Ant.
Dear Ant
Ant Ant Ant
Ant.
Dear Ant.
Dear Ant.
Ant.
The Squirrel

Squirrel dresses the letter up in a hat and coat because it is chilly out, tells the letter where to go, and the letter makes its way to Ant’s house. What happens at Ant’s house? I’m not telling. But I will say it is most enchanting. The whole book is enchanting from the elephant who likes to climb trees to the bear who writes letters asking everyone to make him a cake for their birthdays. And the book is illustrated throughout with the charming art of Jessica Ahlberg.

I had never heard of Toon Tellegen before. He is a much loved writer for children and adults in The Netherlands. He has been translated into 19 languages. Born in 1941, he didn’t write his first children’s book until 1984. He has a long list of awards to his name. Even though he also writes poetry and prose for adults, it appears that only his children’s books have been translated into English. I take that back, a poetry collection, Raptors (Raafvogels) was translated in 2011 though the book was published in Dutch in 2006. Something to get my hands on?

Even if I don’t find a copy of the poetry book, I will definitely be on the lookout for his children’s books. And from now on, whenever I need to give a gift to a child (or an adult who is a child at heart) Tellegen will be at the top of my list of book choices.

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