Original title: Klub divných dětí
Genre: children´s book
shortlisted for Czech Book Award, Nikola Logosová shorlisted for Czech Grand Design Award 2019 in the Illustrator of the Year category, Host Publishers shortlisted for The Most Beautiful Czech Books Award 2019 in the Children's and Youth Literature Category
Rights sold to:
Italy (Atmosphere Libri), Bulgaria (Perseus)
Mila, Petr, Katka and Franta are weird. Or at least that's what others think.
Ten-year old Mila likes animals — especially insects and most of all spiders. She is also able to "vanish off the face of the earth". When she concentrates on something, she finds everything else ceases to exist.
Petr is in the fourth year, but he looks like a first year. He draws wonderful pictures, but in the night he cannot sleep, as he is afraid of the dark. Well, not so much the dark as what lies hidden in the darkness. And when he falls asleep he has dreadful dreams.
Katka has no friends, and she thinks she is fat and ugly. She's afraid to talk to people, and she's only happy when she's reading.
Franta's legs are in a bad way, so he has to walk on crutches. He's angry about his disability, and he's mean towards people. He enjoys making videos for YouTube, particularly provocative ones.
These four meet up by chance. At first they are not even friends, just weird kids who spend time together, but then they plan to run away from home together and they have an experience that is not to be forgotten.
I'm weird, I know. I've known it a long time, so I've got used to the fact that people sometimes stare at me. Or maybe it's not exactly getting used to it, because I've never really actually cared. It's just that I could always see that people think I'm weird.
Illustrated by Nikola Logosová
Nikola Logosová (born 1992) graduated from the Studio of Illustration and Graphic Design at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. She works with comics, graphics, posters, author's book projects and illustrations. She is the co-author of the comics Spring / Jaro, which won an award in the Most Beautiful Book 2014 competition. Her book Careful, Doctor! / Pozor, doktor (Běžíliška, 2018) accompanied by her illustrations, was awarded the Gold Ribbon in 2019.
"Petra Soukupová has written a book that is healthily critical of a society which compels children from an early age to compete and be the best, while always going along with the crowd and remaining mediocre and under the sway of the stereotypical.
Anyone who gets outside the box is suspect and needs to have their nose rubbed in it. Are you overweight? Then you have a problem! Are you the anxious or daydreaming sort? Then you have a problem! Can't you get up on your feet? Well we are sorry, but you have a problem!
The author wrote her Club with feeling and a deep understanding for the child's world, desires and fears. For this she has chosen her tried-and-tested signature style: brief, clear sentences, learnt from film scriptwriting, creating the characters and situations in direct speech.
And it works a treat: excellently written prose on a subject that is not just going to go away."
Score: 90 %
Radim Kopáč, MF DNES
"Petra Soukupová is one of the most successful women writers in the Czech Republic. Unlike Alena Mornštajnová and Kateřina Tučková, who are well liked both by readers and critics, her stories are not set in the remote past or in very recent times, and from her very first works, K moři /To the Seaside and Zmizet / To Disappear, her protagonists have been solidly anchored in the present. This is not a reproach, as writing about the present day is perhaps even more awkward than setting a fictional narrative in historical reality. (…) Her latest work Klub divných dětí / Weird Kids' Club is primarily for teenagers, but it can also be recommended without hesitation to readers old enough to be parents or indeed grandparents - it can help them to understand the youngsters closest to them and perhaps even to recall the days when they themselves were one of the "weird kids".
(…) As an accomplished screenwriter she is able to write authentic dialogues, while her little loners speak just like teenagers do today. Add to this her strong topics and the resourcefulness that goes into this literary road movie, as well as the author's exceptional ability to gain insight into complex children's souls, and we have a book that is both entertaining and rather sad, topical and timeless - but above all, excellently written."
Milan Šefl, Týdeník Rozhlas
"Petra Soukupová portrays the psychology of her child characters very well. Their conversations and ideas are vivid, and then add to that a plausible, graphically depicted plot, and the book effaces the boundary between children's and adult literature."
Magdalena Čechlovská, Aktuálně.cz
"Last year author Petra Soukupová succeeded in writing a creative masterpiece, when her children's prose work Kdo zabil Snížka? / Who Killed Snowy? shared some of its plot points with an adult novel published at the same time: Nejlepší pro všechny / Best for Everybody. This was also noticed by the Magnesia Litera competition panelists who awarded it several nominations. This year Soukupová offers young adult readers yet another book titled Weird Kids' Club. Better believe it! Four heroes, four mental issues. (…) The book comes together with inspiring illustrations by Nikola Logosová, whose fresh allusiveness and colourful economy highlight the psychological tension of these young heroes' world."
Petr Hanuška, Hospodářské noviny
"Petra Soukupová tells children's stories through the eyes of her heroes. (…) Each of them has his or her topics, joys and fears. From nocturnal darkness and anxious imaginings to news of disasters on television, disappearance from the surrounding world, an inferiority complex due to fatness and fears of speaking out loud. (…) The weird kids who only seem to be weird. Both books (this text is from a review of two books - translator's note) combine the publisher's careful work on the text layout with an artistic element, both of which will undoubtedly find grateful audiences. Thanks to the creators, who have a woman's refined sense for the world of children and the feelings involved."
Jana Podskalská, Dení
"Petra Soukupová has again presented a concert of superbly observed situations and dialogues, which are sparse but chilling in their authenticity."
Veronika Miškovská, Harper’s Bazaar