Thuistezien 141 — 07.01.2021

Alphabetum: Lettersoep
Harriët van Reek

Did you ever wonder what it’s like to walk in a castle? Or even better: in a palace of the imagination? The Hague has such a palace, at the Museumkwartier, near the Binnenhof. You can play with a letttercat, for instance. Harriët van Reek wrote all about such a cat in her book ‘Lettersoep’ (Alphabetti spaghetti). You are very welcome in The Hague or maybe you’d rather pick your own ingredients for the lettersoup.

In ‘Lettersoep’ you’ll meet Letterel. Letterel sees letters all around him and he loves writing letters. And what’s more... he lives in a letterhouse. Is a letterhouse some kind of library? A place stacked with books? His lettercat is quite easy to distinguish. The tail of the cat looks like a J and its ears are shaped like two Vs. Which letters are visible in the shape of the lettercat? Its head looks a bit like an O, right? One day, Letterel looks at the lettergarden filled with Ps, Js and Ls, to find ingredients for the lettersoup. Whatever those are. Since, what is the meaning of Ps, Js and Ls? Are you actually reading letters or are you using your imagination? If you just learned to read it is probably hard to conjur up something. What makes it even more complicated: ‘Lettersoep’ is written in Dutch! Fortunately, the book is illustrated and has some lovely pictures. About letters, of course. And when you think you have seen it all, a letterspider pops up. By the way, the legs of the letterspider are shaped like 2 x X and it’s tiny body looks like a couple of O’s.

Older readers and adults may recognize more shapes in ‘Lettersoep’ than the everage youngest primary school students. And that is bit of shame since ‘Lettersoep’ is intended for readers from 6 years. The book has no coherent story but children can dream away at the sight of the lovely illustrations. They even might start using their imagination instantly. Are they at the palace library as we speak? By the power of imagination.

Lettersoep. Harriët van Reek, Querido’s Kinderboeken Uitgeverij, 2015

Text: Marienelle Andringa