the horror bus

  • author: Paul van Loon
  • illustrator: Reinis Pētersons
  • translator: Inese Paklone

isbn: 978-9984-820-57-6

size: 14,5 x 22,5 cm

quantity: 168 pages

year: 2013

price: 9,96 €

In his series of books about a ‘horror bus’ (‘De Griezelbus’), the author offers a witty combination of humour and horror rooted in the traditional children folklore and modern legends. This approach resonates with a child’s psychological need to play out his fears through scary stories, rituals and traditional images in order to rid of them his consciousness. For the Latvian edition, the translator Inese Paklone chose the first book of the series, published in 1991: a vivid example of the author’s approach and style. The book has also been adapted into a film.

The Book Week events have started, and a writer invites a teacher and his class on a special trip where he reads 10 of his stories stories in front of the children. Through an ironic self-identification with his carnivalesque yet dangerous character who, dressed in a bone-adorned overcoat, grows increasingly hirsute as the trip progresses, Paul van Loon breaks down the boundaries between the possible and impossible and using the children’s imagination, with the help of mundane things, takes them on a trip to a world full of horrors where the bravado deflates and the potential of courage lying hidden under the stillest waters is unexpectedly revealed.

The stories feature both contemporary urban legends and traditional motifs and variations on universally familiar children’s horror stories. While the author lets the reader stay in the role of observer without losing his rational approach and irony, we are still forced to experience some emotional tension, embracing a game the main rule of which is breaking the rules and looking for an irrational solution to the situations.

Like the writer’s concept, artist Reinis Pētersons’ illustrations are also far from the silly gravity of the commercialised horror industry, placing the emphasis on the comic and grotesque aspect of the game.

One of the Netherlands’ most popular children’s writers, Paul van Loon (1955) is awarded the prize of Netherlands’ Children’s Jury on an almost annual basis. While Van Loon originally came to children’s literature as an illustrator, text has eventually taken over as his priority and profession. Paul van Loon made his literary debut in 1983; to date, he has published over a hundred books, the most popular among which are the ‘Horror Bus’ series and ‘Dolfje the Werewolf’ (‘Dolfje Weerwolfje’).