The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer, translated by John Nieuwenhuizen

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Thomas’s strictly religious father rules the house with his fists and insists the family live according to the Bible. But nine year old Thomas has escapes his daily fears through his imagination – he sees incredible things that no one else notices like tropical fish swimming in the canal, plagues of frogs, angels (who weep when his father beats his mother) and Jesus. He records his observations in a notebook (the Book of Everything) where he also writes down his biggest ambition: to be happy.Then Thomas meets Mrs Van Amersfoort, a neighbour who is reputed to be a witch, widow of a restistance fighter executed by the Nazis during the war and a woman full of rebellious spirit who recognises something similar in her new young friend. With the help of Mrs Van Amersfoort, Thomas, his mother and big sister Margot throw off the tyranny of the father and step closer to realising Thomas’ dream.

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