cover image Nine Open Arms

Nine Open Arms

Benny Lindelauf, trans. from the Dutch by John Nieuwenhuizen, illus. by Dasha Tolstikova. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (264p) ISBN 978-1-59270-146-9

Twelve-year-old Fing narrates the adventure of her family’s 1937 move to the house at the end of Sjlammbams Sahara, in a fictitious Dutch town based on Lindelauf’s childhood home. Initiated by yet another business venture (this time, cigar-making) launched by Fing’s ever-optimistic father, whose mottos include “First believe, then see,” and “the opposite of worrying,” the family’s latest move brings Fing’s four older brothers, two younger sisters (dramatic Muulke and timid Jess), dreamy father, and gruff, swivel-eyed, story-telling grandmother, Oma Mei, into a house that “seemed to be bursting with voices, quarrels, footsteps, squeaking doors, creaking windows,” peculiarities, and secrets. Strong female personalities include the long-dead “Nienevee from Outside the Walls,” whose unfortunate son, the button-eating Oompah, still haunts the town fringes and pulls the family’s heartstrings. Lindelauf’s masterful rendering of fraught yet loving sisterly ties, snappy dialogue, graveyard mysteries, and “traces of a tragical tragedy” from generations past combine to humorous and poignant effect in this gripping tale of eclectic families and inveterate wanderers in search of a welcoming home. Ages 9–up. (June)