1956, Belgian Congo Illustrates children’s books. Also writes now and again. Loves to ride her motorbike.
She moved from the Congo to Antwerp when she was three. After completing her studies in Publicity, De Bode taught and also worked for advertising agencies. In 1992 she began illustrating children’s books. She immediately received recognition with the series of books (Hartenboeken) for infants, covering emotional subjects such as bullying, death and fear. These have been published in twelve languages, resulting in some 300,000 copies of the books. De Bode’s oeuvre includes everything from counting books to adventure stories, so she appeals to a wide range of young readers from 2 to 16 years old. She has illustrated more than 200 books and won the first prize for the Children and Youth Jury in Flanders several times.
De Bode likes to experiment with modelling clay, oils, collages and digital techniques.
The Girl and the Soldier
Translated by Mirjam Pressler
Jacoby & Stuart, 2016
Original titel: Het meisje en de soldaat (De Eenhoorn, 2013)
A small village behind the front, during World War I. While soldiers struggle to fight, life behind the front goes on. In the inn, where soldiers come to catch their breath, lives a blind girl. One day, she finds someone sitting on her bench: a black soldier, with the ‘scent of roasted nuts’. A friendship slowly develops. He tells her about warm Africa, about the wife and child he has left behind. She tells him about her father, who is also fighting at the front. In the little girl, the soldier does not see the mistrust and fear he sees in other people. He feels good with her, she’s not scared. The girl bakes bread for ‘her soldier’, but that day the bench remains empty. She goes to find him at the front.
The suffering and misery of the war are not avoided. Ann De Bode’s intimate illustrations show fear, sorrow and pain. Sax writes her story in a simple, well-considered style, zooming in alternately on the girl and the soldier.
This is emphasised typographically in the form of white and black pages. The sparkling dialogues are presented identically in both stories, but the reflections of the girl and the soldier give the conversations a different slant.