17th-century Madrid is not a kind place for a dwarf like Bartolomé, and his family has to keep him hidden in a small back room. His dream is to be able to read and write, and when he hears that a dwarf like himself works in the King’s court, he is heartened, knowing that he could have the chance to make something of himself, too.
Then a plan goes awfully wrong, and the king’s little daughter, the Infanta, sees Bartolomé and wants to have him as her ‘human dog’. Life in the royal palace is scary and humiliating – until Bartolomé discovers the artist’s studio …
Colourful, gripping, and written with real warmth, this is an inspiring story of courage and hope. Van Kooij’s beautiful prose brings us into Bartolomé’s life and, through his eyes, writes about how being different ultimately makes an already strong boy even stronger.
Selected for IBBY’s Outstanding Books for Young People With Disabilities catalogue 2013.
PRAISE FOR BARTOLOMĒ: THE INFANTA’S PET
‘The historical detail is exacting, the translation by Siobhan Parkinson, smooth and sinuous and the narrative powerful and enthralling. A poignant story but tinged with a defiant sense of hope, as the proud and intelligent Bartolomé is endlessly rejected and ridiculed, and yet resolutely refuses to allow the cruelty of individuals or society to devalue and destroy his life.’ – Outside In World, Nov 2013
‘… gripping. Each scene is filled with delightful descriptions of life within and outside the palace. … the prose is never heavy but is instead filled with a refreshing honesty that is not that often found in children’s books … adults too will be enthralled by this book that does not force its morals, but allows the reader to discover them while being drawn into the story.’ Inis magazine
‘This novel is wonderful, poignant, dramatic and thought-provoking. It takes us on an amazing adventure written with true warmth, while at the same time giving pause for thought as it reflects many issues which remain with us in the 21st century. I highly recommend it’ – Mary Esther Judy, theBookbag.co.uk
‘This book was simply brilliant! … a great read, I loved [it].’ Books Ireland
‘This is a wonderfully moving story. Young people will warm to the plight of a boy who faces terrible hardship. Van Kooij brilliantly explores the complexities of court life … The translation by Siobhan Parkinson is excellent – so good that the reader is never aware that it is a translation. This is a novel about humanity as much as history, and will be enjoyed by both children and adults.’ The School Librarian
‘I thought this was a brilliant book, a great story … Children and adults alike will enjoy this, it is brilliantly written.’Megan Punzet, aged 11, writing.ie
‘… its characters are teased out in beautiful prose … it has a light touch that makes for easy reading.’ The Sunday Business Post
‘The writing is evocative, the story gripping …’ Celia Keenan, Sunday Independent
‘ … nothing is lost in translation in this special book that is part novel, part history and wholly a work of art.’ Lorraine Courtney, Sunday Independent
‘Velázquez’s Las Meninas comes colourfully to life in an engaging story of a court dwarf’s adventures.’ Robert Dunbar, 30 treats to put around the tree
‘Stays with you long after you’ve finished wishing you could read on.’ Peters eGazette
‘A beautifully written tale, full of hope and optimism.’ Bookfest, Recommended Reads Age 9-11
Rachel van Kooij was born in the Dutch city of Wageningen in 1968. She moved to Austria at the age of 10, and later studied Special Needs Teaching at Vienna University. She now lives in Klosterneuburg near Vienna and works with handicapped people. The last time we talked to her she was up a tree (it was a mobile phone conversation), surrounded by a bunch of kids. She was teaching them tree-climbing (we think).She has written several children\'s books, for both younger kids and older ones. She says of herself: ‘I write about the things I like to read about.’ Her book Battolome is Little Island\'s most international book: written in German by a Dutch Austrian, set in Spain, translated into English and published in Ireland.