Shelf Obsession: Matthies Kersbergen

ABC snoops around Matthies’s bookshelves

matthies-books-004-edit.JPGYou’ve been invited to dinner at someone’s home. Your host is busy in the kitchen and you wait in the living room. What do you do to pass the time? Admit it: you snoop around their bookshelves don’t you? We know you love shelf snooping just as much as we do, and now you can check out all sorts of bookshelves via the ABC blog. (Click on the top left corner of the pictures for a closer look)

Matthies just turned four years old. His mom works at The American Book Center Amsterdam, where she’s the children’s book buyer.

His bookshelves are cheap little ones that came from Lidl, bought when he was still a small baby and his books had already started to take over most of the house.

It was inevitable that he would love books, but he loves books and letters, reading, writing, and words to the exclusion of most other things, except maybe swimming. And visiting ABC Amsterdam, which he thinks is just an extension of his own bookshelves. Mom doesn’t know whether its’s his unusual intelligence or his autism that made him this way, or whether it’s the word nerd genes inherited from both his parents, but she figures that there are worse things your kid could be obsessed with.

Because of his autism, and his age, Matthies finds conversation difficult, and that makes him a tricky interviewee! So we asked him questions over the course of a few months and stitched them together to make one interview.

Wow, Matthies, you have a lot of books! How many do you think you have?

I think about a million.

That’s a lot! You must need a lot of bookcases to keep them all in.

Well, I got two bookcases. Oh, wait! There is also one in my bedroom too. That makes three! And I also gotted some books at Oma and Opa’s house. And at Oma and Opa’s caravan.

Oh? Are you books in Dutch or English?

In Dutch and English. Most of them are English. But at Oma and Opa’s house they are in Dutch because, well, I think old people only speak Dutch, don’t they?

Are your books put on the bookcases in a special way?

Well, these are my Dutch books. And here are books about maths and numbers. These ones are books that do things. These are books where you can learn things.

What kind of things?

Like cooking and about the solar system and the earth, that’s where we live, and about lots of other things.

What are these books here?

These are my English books with stories in.

matthies-books-008-edit.JPGWhere do you like to read?

I like reading in the garden. And in the mornings I read in my room because at seven o’clock it’s time to get up. (He has to stay in his room until 7am — Mom) This morning I wanted to read more about the Land of Dreams (a particularly trippy bit of Enid Blyton — Mom) so I was reading the Magic Faraway Tree. And sometimes I read on your knee and we snuggle. We readed the Magic Finger didn’t we!

You’re a pretty good reader, aren’t you? Which books do you read on your own in the mornings?

Garfield! And Dikkie Dik.

Tell me about some of your other favorite books. What’s your most favorite book?

Garfield! I like Garfield’s Fat Cat Three Packs. I have two.

Garfield is your favorite thing in the whole world right now, huh? What are your other favorite books?

I like Mouse Paint because it’s about mixing colors.

I think Honderd is my favorite book.

The stars and planets book. The little one. (We took this book with us everywhere for about a year! — Mom)

The book with the princess stories in. I like princess stories.

My First Lift the Flap ABC Board Book is my favorite book!

My atlas….. my I Spy books.

My Perfect Punctuation book. It has flaps that you can lift.

I like Charlie and Lola.  But I Do Know All About Chocolate is my favorite and my best.

Which books make you laugh?

Garfield! And Biscuit. And Bad Dog Marley. It has got a baby in it. George Speaks made me laugh. It has a baby too.

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Are there any books you don’t like?

I like all my books. They’re brilliant!

Well, if you had to give a book away, which one would it be?

Not Now Bernard. I don’t like monsters. We gived some books to the babies! Why?

That’s right. Well you had so many book that we ran out of room for them all, and there were lots that you didn’t ever look at. So we gave them to the babies to read.

Don’t be silly. Babies can’t read.

Well you aren’t much more than a baby and you can read!

I’m not a baby. I’m big! Well, actually I’m quite medium sized.

You have three bookcases at home. But where are your mama and papa’s bookcases?

Oh! I don’t know. Well actually, well……. maybe they haven’t got any! There are lots of books in the attic though. I can read those books. I like the one with the words that are the same. And in the bedroom. And the toilet. There are books everywhere!

You’ve got quite little bookcases now. What kind of bookcases do you think you’ll have when you grow up?

Enormous ones! Bizarre ones!

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