WALLY DE DONCKER - English - Français

“It is important to Wally de Doncker that his philosophical, contemplative book projects discuss central themes in our world without offering concrete, final answers. In this sense, the author understands his books to be the stimuli and starting points for an ongoing conversation.” (Berlin Literature Festival)

„International IBBY President, Wally De Doncker, reminded the audience of IBBY’s total commitment to improving ‘the mutual understanding between people’ and the obligation to continue advocating for children’s rights, including ensuring they have the chance to learn how to read. As ever, his words were inspiring; his delivery eloquent and passionate.
(Trish Amichi, Newsletter IBBY Australia, August 2017)



“US THREE” (of “Nous Trois”) AWARD WINNER at Queen Palm International Film Festival in Florida!


‘Nian and the boy’ recommended for Japan, Korea and China.

JBBY, KBBY and CBBY want children to know the cultures of the different countries of the world, and especially want them to understand and be friends with the children of their neighbours.
Among these 15 recommended books ’Nian and the boy’.

Nian and the boy (China)


“The "Wally De Doncker Collection" is a masterpiece: six volumes, full of philosophical and inspiring features. A set of enlightenment books on children's philosophy.”

"Wally De Doncker Collection" China

JAPAN 2018

„The lecture was a very valuable opportunity for the Japanese audience to see the potential of children’s books. All participants responded positively on a survey about the lecture, with 100% indicating overall satisfaction.

Examples of feedback from the audience were:
“It made me think about the power of ‘questions’ and ‘thinking’;”
“Simple but deep philosophical questions made me reconsider about myself;”
“Wally de Doncker taught us the value of different children’s books with a fresh point of view.””

RIGA 2018

Riga Janis Baltvilks Award Speech Wally De Doncker  ©Kristians Luhaers
Riga: Speech Wally De Doncker at the Janis Baltvilks Award Ceremony 2018
©Kristians Luhaers)


Wally De Doncker, Belgian Embassy
Lecture at the Belgian Embassy in Japan (May 30, 2018)

Wally De Doncker will be keynote speaker at the International Library in Tokyo, The International Children’s Institute in Osaka, IBBY Japan, Japanese school and The Belgian Embassy in Tokio (An initiative of The Dutch and Belgian Embassies and Arts Flanders in Tokio), etc...

Wally De Doncker, Reading Tour 2018 in JapanTokio Wally De Doncker, Children in Crisis IBBY, JBBYOsaka Wally De Doncker author International Institute for Children's Litertaure

DUBLIN 2018:

Dublin City University: First Annual Lecture IBBY Ireland (2 Feb. 2018)

Dublin City University, First Annual Lecture IBBY Ireland Wally De DonckerAnnual Lecture IBBY Ireland Wally De Doncker, DCU Dublin


(18 November 2017, Shanghai Book Fair)

Wally De Doncker China Today

Dear Mr President LIU Dongjie,
Dear guests, Dear friends,

It is a great privilege to be here today. As an author, I’m not entirely unfamiliar with the Chinese children’s book market. Way back in 2002, my book ‘Ik wou dat ik een pop was’ (I Wish I Were a Doll) was published in Taiwan and received positive attention in Chinese schools. Later, in 2015, my book ‘Billie’s Fabriek’ (Billie’s Factory) came out in Chinese, with illustrations by Xu Kayun, and was well received by the Chinese press and experts on children’s literature.Wally De Doncker, Shangdong Publishing House 2017

Today, though, is a very special day for me indeed. The presentation of the Chinese versions of six of my books, which can perhaps be seen as the classics among my body of work, is a milestone in my life as a writer. If you line up these books alongside one another, you can see that they were all inspired by events in my everyday life. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call them autobiographical.

Grandpa (Wally De Doncker, Shangdong

‘Een opa met gaatjes’ (A Grandpa with Holes), illustrated by Anne Westerduin, is the story of my youngest daughter and her relationship with a grandfather who can feel his life slowly ebbing away. Grandpa moves to a retirement home because he can no longer take care of himself, he keeps forgetting things, and he sometimes acts strangely, which results in some amusing situations. The doll with holes, which symbolises Grandpa’s dementia, was an old, damaged doll that used to sit on my own grandmother’s sofa. This book is still popular and continues to attract attention in Flanders, the Netherlands and Denmark. Children and adults sometimes react very emotionally to the book. In Flanders, ‘Opa met gaatjes’ has been touring as a theatre play for nearly twenty years.
My cousins are wolves (Wally de Doncker, Shandong)

The book ‘Mijn neefjes zijn wolven’ (My Cousins Are Wolves), also illustrated by Anne Westerduin, is about a boy who was once in my class when I was a teacher at a Belgian primary school. Kjelle came to school with bruises on his arms and legs. One day I discovered burns on his hands. So I started asking questions. But Kjelle stayed silent. He was too scared to say exactly what was going on. Then, one day, he began to do drawings of three gigantic trees in the forest. Behind every tree, there was a wolf. The wolves’ eyes were orange-red. It turned out that they were his cousins. The story is a true one, and it’s very moving. Luckily, it ends with hope for Kjelle. This book is still highly recommended in Flemish and Dutch schools.

Shadow (Wally De Doncker, Shangdong)

‘Schim’ (Shadow), illustrated by Kristof De Vos, is the most recent book and is based on the experiences of Lars, my eldest grandson, who often steps on his shadow when he goes for walks with me. But then, one day, his shadow says, ‘Ow!’ Then Shadow, because that’s also the shadow’s name, starts talking. Lars is a curious boy and asks Shadow lots of questions: ‘What do you do when I’m asleep?’ ‘What does a shadow eat?’ When I do book readings, my readers often take things further with questions for their own shadows: ‘Hey, Shadow, do you have a shadow of your own?’ ‘Are you the same age as me or were you someone else’s shadow before I was born?’ In the book, Lars becomes a shadow himself, and Shadow becomes Lars. If you read the book aloud, you’ll find out that the story can make large rooms full of children fall silent and listen. I’m very curious to discover what Chinese children would like to ask their shadows.
Now you might be wondering: But... what do the animal stories have to do with your personal life? Well, what you probably don’t know is that back home I have a tiny little farm with sheep and goats. I bought these animals because I wanted to introduce my children (and now my grandchildren) to the realities of life: birth, sickness and death. The ‘Spot en Muis’ (Spot and Mouse) books are a reflection of my life, and my wife, my children and I all have parts to play in the stories.
In the tales about Spot and Mouse, illustrated by Veerle Derave, I allow my own pets to reflect on what happens in my life. Spot is my dog, a Dalmatian with a surprisingly obedient character. He might even be somewhat too naïve for this world. Muis (Mouse), the cat, is a free spirit. She does whatever she wants to do.

Talking to your tail (Wally De Doncker, Shangdong 2017)

In the Spot and Mouse story ‘Praten met je staart’ (Talking to Your Tail), both animals are searching for a baby goat that has escaped from the meadow. They come across all kinds of animals during their search. The most interesting animal they meet is perhaps the mayfly. Spot asks the mayfly whether it has seen the little goat. The mayfly answers that it has only one day to live and that it has better things to do than spend its time on trivial things such as looking for a goat kid. During my lecture, I ask my readers what they would do if they had only one day to live. Children are often taken aback by this question, but, after a brief moment of reflection, most of them say they would want to enjoy life. They’d go to the park, play a computer game, eat candy... Others would throw a party for their friends and family. Some say that they would do something good and meaningful with the one day they have left. Some say that they’d help the poor. It’s quite revealing about their young character. In the novel, the mayfly says that it doesn’t mind having only one day to live, because it’s already been living under the ground for some time. The mayfly surfaces when it reaches adulthood, but it has been able to remain a child for most of its life. Some obvious questions to ask here are: Who would like to stay a child for the rest of his or her life? Who is looking forward to being an adult?

It Begins Somewhere (Wally De Doncker)

‘Het Begint Ergens’ (It Begins Somewhere), also illustrated by Veerle Derave, is the third book about Spot and Mouse. It’s about two storms that once swept through my garden. Spot and Mouse recognise the signs of global warming because the animals start to behave differently. Only the humans don’t appear to want to see those signs.

Cheep, Says the Fish (Wally De Doncker, Shangdong)

‘Tsjilp, zegt de vis’ (Cheep, Says the Fish), also illustrated by Veerle Derave, is linked to myself as a child. I dreamed of being a bird one day. Being able to fly anywhere without any borders or limitations. I have to confess that, as an adult, I still have that same strong desire for freedom. For me, freedom is still our greatest asset. Perhaps that’s why it’s such an important theme in my animal stories.
These six books are seen as universal stories and have won international White Ravens awards and honours from the Flemish Children’s Jury.
I am very curious to see how Chinese readers will interpret these books. In fact, I can hardly wait.
I’m delighted to be part of this translation project,
. It also gives me great pleasure that Chinese publishers are continuing to invest in making actual, physical books for children. Young
opportunity to thank my Chinese publisher and, of course, my Chinese translators.
and I’d like to take this readers want to look at books, to pick them up, to smell them. This sensory experience is all too often underestimated. In Great Britain, the digital market for children’s books has been on the decline for five years now. The physical book has proved much more of a survivor than we once imagined.
I hope that I will be able to surprise Chinese readers with more titles in the future. That’s certainly my intention. I would like to thank you all very kindly for your faith and confidence in my literary work.
(Translation, Laura Watkinson)

(USBBY Conference, University of Washington, 12 October 2017)

Speech Seattle 2017 Wally De Doncker met heel veel reacties


Public Interview Writer Wally De Doncker National Children's Library Moscow

20 September 2017: Public Interview in National Children’s Library Moscow with interviewer Olga Perechodtseva, and translator Tatiana Lukonina.

BILLIE'S FACTORY (Wally De Doncker/ Xu Kayun, Benchmark, New York)
Billie's Factory, Benchmark, NY, 2016-1


World Libraries journal conducted a conversation with Wally De Doncker, Hasmig Chahinian and Liz Page to learn more about the Call for Action that was launched at the 35th IBBY International Congress in Auckland.

„The one thing that left the biggest impression on me was the final speech given by IBBY President, Wally De Doncker. As I am sure you recall, he spoke about the world in which 5 year olds are being killed in dreadful conflicts while at the same time - others (due to different circumstances) attend beautiful schools.
He said this disparity was totally unacceptable. Of course he is absolutely right and his words were all the more powerful because of the straightforward way in which he delivered them. This speech was both sincere and very touching. It also ended with hope, as the President underlined IBBY's commitment to all children - no matter who they are or where they live. It was a privilege to be at the conference and in the same space as all those people doing good things for kids!”
(Trish Amichi of Sydney)

Speeches IBBY World Congress Auckland 2016
Opening Ceremony: Speech by IBBY President Wally De Doncker
Closing Ceremony: Speech by IBBY President Wally De Doncker

Wally De Doncker, Hans Christian Andersen Award Ceremony, Auckland
Hans Christian Andersen Award Ceremony Auckland 2016, Celebration Speech IBBY President Wally De Doncker

Hans Christian Andersen Award Gala: Celebration Speech by IBBY President Wally De Doncker

****Auckland Andersen Award

Schim cover


Opening address De Doncker German Academy of Children's and Youth Literature Volkach


SABAM, the biggest Belgian organisation of authors, organised a mini-conference in Antwerp (4 Nov. 2015) about the world of international children’s and youth literature in collaboration with author and IBBY President Wally De Doncker. ALMA laureate Kitty Crowther was guest honor at the conference.
ALMA blog.

IBBY President Wally de Doncker Opening Speech USBBY New York City 2015
USBBY: Opening Speech by Wally de Doncker, IBBY President (16.10.2015)
©Junko Yokota

White Raven 2015: SCHIM

Beijing Translators Forum

Beijing: About BIBF and Billie’s Factory


Schim cover Wally De Doncker: Kristof Devos


ALMA Blog: Wally De Doncker on how to battle illiteracy


IBBY International During the 34th General Assembly of the world organization IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) in Mexico City (September 13, 2014) he was elected to serve as President for the period 2014-2016. In his maiden speech he shared his aims for the future of the organization: “one of our objectives is battling illiteracy. He went on to say that, “it is unacceptable that there are countries in this day and age in which girls are banned from reading or even learning to read. It remains unacceptable that children’s libraries are being closed because of financial cutbacks, thus rendering books inaccessible to children from underprivileged families.”


Billy's Factory (Wally De Doncker)Billie's Factory (Wally De Doncker)


Wally de Doncker, a Belgian author, and Xu Kaiyun, a Chinese illustrator, joined hands in creating a picture book Billie’s Factory, which has been launched to the Chinese readers in February 2015. To most people, the old factory appears to be nothing but a long-forgotten, abandoned building. Still, every Saturday, Grandpa and Billie go to spend time there. For young Billie, the factory is a dust-covered wonderland of buttons, levers, and endlessly fascinating machines. For Grandpa, it’s a treasure trove of cherished memories. Sometimes Billie’s dad joins them for a leisurely walk down memory lane. This beautifully illustrated, bittersweet story will engage the imagination of young readers and bring an old factory back to life once again.

Mr. de Doncker commented, “My father owned a small contracting firm. During his free-time he spent a lot of his time in his hangar. If you were looking for him, you were certain to find him there. Many years after he died, the hangar burnt down. I witnessed it. Within the flames, I saw the memories of my childhood. The building was burnt to ashes but the stories of my father live on through this book. The Chinese illustrator Xu Kaiyun illustrates perfectly how the collaboration between artists form different cultures can be enriching. Stories themselves indeed know no boundaries.”

Mr. Xu Kaiyun, a national award-winning artist in China, recalled, “I asked Wally for pictures about old factories and got myself familiar with street scenes in Belgium to create mental images of the setting. I used some exaggeration and a lot of warm colors, to make the artwork child-friendly and illustrate the heart-warming effects of nostalgia.” (CCPPG, Bejing, Feb. 2015)

Opening Jella Lepman Exhibition Mexico City Wally De Doncker 2014
Library of Mexico: Opening ‚Jella Lepman Exhibition’ Mexico City 10 September 2014


Wally De Doncker was born on May 19 1958 in the Flemish town of Tielt in northern Belgium. Today, he lives with his family in Hamme, another small Flemish community where he can be reached by email wally.de.doncker@telenet.be

One of his main aims is to bring children and literature closer together. Wally De Doncker again and again tackles themes which are scarcely touched upon in contemporary children’s literature. His books have received numerous nominations and selections. In addition several of his works have been adapted as stage play and musical, film animation and dance film. (© International Literatur Festival Berlin 2009)

He works together with different famous Belgian composers.

Wally De Doncker began writing full-time in 2001 and since then, his books have been brought to readers in more than twelve countries in Europe and beyond.

Different museums draw attention to his books: In 2009 the Children’s Museum Labryrinth (Berlin) has focused on ‘Ahum’ and the Dutch Children’s Books Museum (The Hague, 2010- 2016) on ‘It Starts Somewhere’.

‘I Miss Myself ‘(Vivre sans moi, je ne peux pas) was focus of attention in France during the exhibitions
‘Moi et les autres’ (Nantes, 2009) and ‘Vivant pour des vrai’ (Centre François Mitterand, Villeneuve d’Asq, 2009-2010).

From 2003 to 2009 he was a member of the editorial board of the critical journal of children's literature,
The Lion and the Unicorn which is published in the United States of America.

Wally de Doncker was elected as President of IBBY for the term 2014-16 during the General Assembly of IBBY in Mexico City, Mexico, September 2014. He served as a member of the IBBY EC from 2008-2012, with the term 2010-12 as Vice President.  He has been the IBBY Liaison with the European Union since 2012. 

In 2011 he has accepted to be the godfather of the
Reading Marathons (MS Federation Flanders)

De Doncker has become a frequent contributor to publications that deal with the international dimension of children’s literature, and is a regular guest in libraries, schools and other settings where children and adults come to enjoy his readings. On these occasions, he particularly appreciates the opportunity to experience first-hand the responses that his work generates among the young people for whom he writes.

Wally De Doncker has served as a special teacher of children’s literature and is the founder of Leesdraak (Reading Dragon, 1996), a pre-reading and reading method for very young children.

Lectures, readings and workshops:

Wally De Doncker lectures on:

• ‘The Mission of IBBY’

• ‘Contemporary Themes in My Books’

• Every child has the right to become a reader

He was a guest speaker at the:
University of Roehampton, 2003
IBBY Conference in Lingen, 2005
American International School of Brussels, 2008
University of Ghent, 2009
Salon du Livre de Jeunesse, Namur, 2009
IBBY World Congress in Copenhagen,2008
International Literature Festival Berlin, 2009
European Encounters Paris 2012
Frankfurter Buchmesse 2012, 2013 and 2014
Opening Jella Lepman Exhibition Mexico City 2014
Maiden speech, IBBY World Congress, Mexico City 2014
Stop Reading Crisis, EU Library, Brussels 2014
Nami Concours, Seoul, 2015
IBBY Regional Conference, Putrajaya, 2015
IBBY UK/ NCRCL, University Roehampton, 2015
Children’s Books Seminar, Beijing, 2015
National Library Beijing, 2015
BIB 50, Opera house Bratislava, 2015
USBBY Conference, New York, 2015
German Academy Volkach, 2015
Bologna Book Fair, 2016
IBBY World Congress, Auckland, 2016
Hans Christian Andersen Award Winners Presentation, Auckland, 2016
Beijing Book Fair Seminar, 2016
Opening Hans Christian Andersen Award Winners Exhibition, Taipei, 2016
Bologna Book Fair, 2017
IBBY Regional, Bangkok 2017
Nami Concours, Seoul, 2017

FRANKFURT BOOKFAIR Hans Christian Andersen Award Panel 2012

Frankfurt Book Fair 2012: from l. to r.: Yunko Yokota, Wally De Doncker, Miriam Möllers, David Almond and Roger Mello


Short List Nominee for Children’s and Youth Literature

IBBY London Wally De Doncker
IBBY World Congress London 2012 General Assembly


Munich: Buchstäblich anders.
International exhibition at the International Youth Library in Munich also focuses on ‘From A to Z’ as a very special ABC book (until July 2013)

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2013: from l to r: Eva Kaliskami, Akoss Ofori-Mensah, Wally De Doncker and Liz Page.



LONDON IBBY World Congress (26 August 2012)

On behalf of the Executive Committee Vice President Wally De Doncker has asked the General Assembly of IBBY (77 countries) to include the principles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child as ratified by the United Nations in 1990 to the current Statutes. The proposal was accepted unanimously.