Looking for the reader in Joke van Leeuwen’s novels

Just like people, books can’t always be put into one particular box. Especially when it comes to the status of children’s books and the borders surrounding these books, there has been much debate. Crosswriters such as Joke Van Leeuwen are not put off by such borders, and write for an array of ages: children and adults. However, a digital analysis of a large part of her oeuvre shows that there are differences to be found regarding the books marketed for different age groups. With only a few exceptions, the length of words and sentences rises, and the vocabulary varies more greatly the older intended readers get. There are also less child characters in books for older readers. Moreover, these child characters do not often speak in the books. The image presented of old people does stay roughly the same throughout Van Leeuwen’s oeuvre, based on close readings. The computer doesn’t reveal all about readers and reading. It is, however, a useful tool to discover patterns in a large number of books.

Geybels, Lindsey. ‘Over (de) grenzen: op zoek naar de lezer in het oeuvre van Joke van Leeuwen‘.

Spiegel der Letteren 63:1-2 (2021), p. 113-137