Children’s book by Flemish author on New York Times top 10

Summary

Judges at The New York Times and the New York Public Library loved Monkey on the Run by Brussels-based author Leo Timmers

‘Exciting and contemplative’

Monkey on the Run by Flemish children’s book author Leo Timmers has won a New York Times’ Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award. Every year the legendary newspaper compiles a top 10 list of best picture books in collaboration with the New York Public Library.

“Warning, Leo Timmers’s Monkey on the Run may encourage bouncing and giggles — and thoughtful study, too,” writes the newspaper. “It is a playground of transportation that will satisfy the vehicle lover as well as the animal lover, as we race along with a little monkey who has jumped from his papa’s banana-shaped motorcycle to travel the parade ahead on the road.”

The judges of the Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award “were drawn to this book because the illustrations are both exciting and contemplative. The silly antics of the little monkey provide forward momentum, but the details in each illustration kept calling us back for a more thorough examination. The moose’s tongue is blue from licking gelato! The chicken has lost his steering wheel!”

The newspaper has been compiling the list since 1952, and its effect on sales cannot be underestimated. It chooses the winners solely on artistic merit, which was good news for Monkey on the Run since it contains no words whatsoever.


The original title Aap op straat was not particularly popular in Flanders, Timmers (pictured) told Het Laatste Nieuws. “Adults have a tough time with this book because there is no text,” he said. “They can’t find their way into it. But kids have much more fantasy and love it.”

Timmers, who lives and works in Brussels, is a long-time author of illustrated books for children. He has won many awards for his fanciful tales and is currently helping to create animated versions of some of his work for Flemish TV.

The author made no efforts to draw The New York Times’ attention to his book. “They review every single children’s picture book that is published in the US, an unbelievably gargantuan task,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws.

The original Aap op straat title can be found in local bookshops, and the English title can be ordered online. But it doesn’t really matter which one you choose; they’re both the same on the inside.

Photo top courtesy Gecko Press, photo above courtesy leotimmers.be