Nine Open Arms
"At the end of the world, near the border with Germany, stands a house as long as nine open arms. Half hidden behind trees and shrubs rises a wide brick wall, topped with two attic windows, each no bigger than a dishcloth. The walls have been whitewashed and the wooden floor is bare, as if the house is waiting. Waiting for someone to move in." It is the summer of 1937, and it hasn't rained for seven weeks when eleven-year-old Fing and her family of nine move into Nine Open Arms, along with their handcart of meagre belongings. 'The Dad' is a man who does all kinds of jobs and none of them well, while Oma Mei courageously holds everything together, including the family's history in her Crocodile bag full of pictures and stories. But as the year progresses, the family just gets poorer. Meanwhile, Fing and her two sisters, wild Muulke and fearful Jess, begin to discover strange mysteries...a bed that looks like a tombstone, an unmarked grave in the cemetery...until at last the story of those who came before begins slowly to emerge. In the end, Fing learns that love and stories are her family's wealth. Nine Open Arms is an exceptional imagined historical mystery - the story of a very special home, the eccentric families who have lived within it, and the unexpected ties that emerge between the two...
Winner, Gouden Zoen (Golden Kiss), Holland, 2005
Winner, Thea Beckmanprijs (Thea Beckman Award), best historical juvenile book published in 2003, Holland, 2004
BENNY LINDELAUF is a multi-award-winning Dutch children's book author who has published twelve books in Holland, several of which have appeared in translation. He also teaches creative writing to adults and children. Nine Open Arms has been translated into six languages, including Czech and Korean, and both it and its Dutch sequel, Heivisj's Heaven, have won multiple prestigious prizes in the Netherlands. Benny himself was born in the small town of Sittard, Limburg, south-east of Holland, where these stories are set. As a child, he used to love listening to stories told by his grandmother.