Never Grow Up!: Film, Literature and Performing Arts

Never Grow Up!

Dutch film, literature and performing arts for young audiences

Throughout 2019 and 2020, Never Grow Up! presents an abundance of Dutch film, literature and performing arts for young audiences in the United States. A wide range of work from the Netherlands will be presented and shared at festivals, conferences and other platforms, all representing a respect for young people and dedication to youth culture as an autonomous art form.

Never Grow Up! is a joint effort of Dutch Performing Arts, the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York, Eye International, Netherlands Film Fund, Cinekid, Dutch Foundation for Literature, and DutchCulture. The program aims to stimulate the dissemination and visibility of Dutch youth arts as well as cultural exchange and partnerships with renowned US-based presenters and organizations.

What’s on?
Throughout 2019 and 2020, Dutch film, literature, (music) theater and dance that caters to young audiences and families is presented at events and venues such as IPAY Showcase, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Kennedy Center, New York International Children’s Film Festival and Brooklyn Book Festival. Presenters and agencies are invited to attend screenings, readings and performances, meet directors, writers and performers, and engage with representatives of Dutch expert organizations to discuss opportunities for collaboration and exchange.

“Robot XS” by NTjong © Bowie Verschuren – Dutch IPAY Showcase

Uniquely Dutch
Research conducted by the World Health Organization and Unicef shows that Dutch children are among the happiest in the world. What sets Dutch kids apart, is that they have a supportive environment at home, with friends and also at school. Dutch parents give a lot of support and have mild control. There is an egalitarian climate at school, teachers are not authoritarian but accept the feelings of pupils, and pupils trust teachers. This respect for young people and their views on the world is also reflected in the themes, genres and wealth of ideas found in Dutch arts for young audiences.

Dutch youth arts are known for their artistry and high production value while often tackling challenging subjects, ranging from the commercial to the chaotic, the playful to provocative and poetic, the silly to the serious, and everything in between. In the Netherlands, filmmakers, writers and performers take children and their personal experiences seriously. Unafraid to take artistic risks, publicly-funded makers in particular like to go off the beaten path of typical children’s stories and address topical issues head-on. At the same time, Dutch youth arts are characterized by their sense of humor, playfulness and light take on things, and are equally enjoyed by grown-ups.

“We don’t present Hollywood pictures that always end well.” – Anja Krans, Program Manager of Never Grow Up!

Read an interview with her here.

New Dutch children’s books in translation and a special webcast hosted by SLJ on October 1st!

Don’t miss an exclusive SLJ webcast featuring new Dutch children’s books, authors and translator Laura Watkinson.

October 1: School Library Journal presents: Never Grow Up! Dutch Children’s Books in Translation

Join award-winning authors Annet Schaap, Edward van de Vendel and Jef Aerts, along with translator Laura Watkinson, for a lively conversation about the joys of working with translators, Dutch cultural differences and similarities, artistic risk-taking, and what they hope young US readers will discover in their newest works. Settle in for a dynamic discussion on culture, poetry, language and imagination, moderated by Carmen Boston, Children’s Librarian, DC Public Library.
The event is open to all, but registration is required. Click here for options.

Presenters (click here for details about the books and authors)

Annet Schaap, Author, Of Salt and Shore

Edward van de Vendel, Author, Little Fox

Jef Aerts, Author, Bigger Than a Dream

Laura Watkinson, Translator


Carmen Boston, Children’s Services Coordinator, DC Public Library

Online resources

Due to the COVID-19 crisis many events have been canceled, however our focus on Dutch arts for young audiences continues and we will share online initiatives, reading and viewing tips below:

Heroism in the Face of Tragedy at the Bay Area Book Festival with Dutch author Jan Terlouw

Children’s book authors Lois Lowry and Jan Terlouw participated in a virtual event with the Bay Area Book Festival to discuss the experience of growing up in wartime and their recent books: Lowry’s On the Horizon, a memoir of growing up in Hawaii and the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Terlouw’s Winter in Wartime, a YA novel based on his childhood in Holland under Nazi occupation. The distinguished authors—Terlouw, as well as being a writer of children’s books, is a respected member of Holland’s parliament, a diplomat, and a physicist; Lowry wrote The Giver—were interviewed by seventh graders Quinn Boyd-Roberts and Tej Wong.  The event aired this past Saturday but can be watched on Bay Area Book Fest’s YouTube channel.

Winter in Wartime

Winter in Wartime is a fast-paced and exciting novel, which has never been out of print in the Netherlands since it was first published, nearly fifty years ago. This year the book has been published for the first time in the United States by the New York Review of Books, in a translation by Laura Watkinson. You can find out where to order the book here:

In 2011, director Martin Koolhoven made a book-to-film adaptation of Winter in Wartime, which has been screened in the United States to positive reviews:

“A rustic blue-gray landscape of woods and snow-covered roads through which armed German soldiers roam in trucks. This handsome film, set in a village in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands and shot in Lithuania, is an adaptation of a semiautobiographical 1972 novel by the Dutch author Jan Terlouw, who lived under German occupation for five years.” (New York Times)

Dutch Culture USA, EYE and N279 Entertainment present: the English subtitled version of Martin Koolhoven’s film WINTER IN WARTIME based on the childrens book by Jan Terlouw: OORLOGSWINTER.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis some originally planned physical film screenings can’t take place, therefore we created an exclusive way for children and their parents, to enjoy the film in a home cinema setting, between May 2nd and May 5th.

Watch the book-to-film adaptation Winter in Wartime from home – click here for more information:

February 21-March 15, 2020

update: The Club of Ugly Children won the audience award!!!

We are happy to continue our partnership with the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF)! This year’s NYICFF presents a slate of new animated, live action, and documentary features. One of these films will be The Club of Ugly Children by Jonathan Elbers, a Dutch film which will have its international premiere at the festival.  The schedule for The Club of Ugly Children:

Saturday, February 29 – 11:30 AM at Cinépolis Chelsea
Sunday, March 1 – 1:00 PM at Cinépolis Chelsea
Saturday, March 7 -3:00 PM at SVA Theatre which will also include a Q&A with director Jonathan Elbers

There are also three Dutch shorts that have been selected for the NYICFF. Orbit by Tess Martin, En Route by Marit Weerheijm, and an animation film for the popular Dutch children’s choir Kinderen voor Kinderen by Job, Joris en Marieke.

March 20, 2020

On March 20, Netflix will premiere its newest Original Series: The Letter for the King. A visual adaptation of a Dutch children’s book by the same name, by Dutch writer Tonke Dragt. The book is well known and beloved under Dutch children and will be released on the 10th of March in an English translation!  We’re very curious about what Netflix will make of it! Watch the trailer below:

April 24-26, 2020, Postponed due to corona.

Dance company De Dansers presents Pokon (4+) at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Three performers storm the stage whirling, twirling, hiccupping, tubbling, and singing. Dutch dance company De Dansers presents this mesmerizing performance full of movement, rhythm, fantasy, and friendship for children and grown-ups who can’t keep still. As the performers give themselves permission to run, climb, and get dirty, anything—from a ladder to a guitar to plants—becomes something to joyfully play on.

More info.

© Thomas Geurts

May 9 – 17, 2020 Canceled due to corona.

Bon bon mornay! What happens when birds of different feathers flock together? And if they don’t sing the same language, will they understand each other? In this sweet story about four birds and one nest, Theatergroep Kwatta uses a mix of languages to share a universal message about belonging. Allonzy tutti to JABBERBABBLE, where every day is wonderfeej!

Theatergroep Kwatta
From Nijmegen, The Netherlands

JABBERBABBLE, Theatergroep Kwatta by Laura Luca


May 13 – 17, 2020 POSTPONED due to corona.

Maas Theater & Dance presents Egg-tion Hero at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. EGG-tion HERO is theater for toddlers about art. With minimal tools and a lot of garden-variety magic two actors make themselves, each other and the egg vanish into thin air.

Imagine: an action movie, but for real. Starring one of the most booorrring action heroes ever. An egg that no one is allowed to touch. No one! Just a boring egg guarded by two ultra-boring attendants (attendants are boring guards who watch over art objects, and art is…uh…we’ll talk about that another time). And just when it gets so boring that it’s hard to stay awake, we suddenly find ourselves in a chase scene.

A: A chase?
B: Yep.
A: With an egg?
B: Uh huh.
A: That no one is allowed to touch?
B: Right.
A: But how…I mean what…I, uh…hhmmm…and, uh, and?
B: Can’t tell you anything more, I am afraid.

Two boring mimes watch over EGG-tion HERO. With minimal tools and a lot of garden-variety magic they make themselves, each other and the egg vanish into thin air. Definitely dangerous, so don’t try this at home.

© Pepijn Lutgerink

 2020 NYICFF Dutch Animation Celebration

NYICFF is crossing the Atlantic to pair up with far-flung Friends & Neighbors this year. Cinekid, the Netherlands’ premiere film festival for children and EYE International come ashore to share their best short films. Featuring a range of different cultures and themes—from Old Amsterdam to New York—and fresh stories that keep history alive. This Friends & Neighbors program is now going on tour through the USA with the Dutch short films. Several theatres in different cities have compiled a programme with the Dutch shorts.

June 11 – 13, 2020  Children’s Art and Literacy Festival in Abilene, Texas

February 28, 2020 SPACE Gallery, Portland, Maine

TBD  The Arts Campus at Willits, The Temporary, Basalt, Colorado

Still from Marlies van der Wel’s Jonas and the Sea (2015). Courtesy NYICFF


2020: New Literature Releases

February 4. 2020 – Winter in Wartime by Jan Terlouw, translated by Laura Watkinson, NYRB Kids (RandomHouse), ISBN 9781681374260

March 10, 2020 – Letter for the King (movie tie-in) by Tonke Dragt, illustrated by Tonke Dragt, translated by Laura Watkinson, Pushkin Children’s Books / RandomHouse, ISBN 9781782692591

March 31, 2020 – I Wish by Toon Tellegen, illustrated by Ingrid Godon, translated by David Colmer, Elsewhere Editions (Steerforth Press), ISBN 9781939810328 Check out this book review for more information!

June 1, 2020 – This is My Daddy by Mies van Hout, illustrated by Mies van Hout, Pajama Press (Ingram Publishers Services), ISBN 9781772781120

June 30, 2020 – The Goldsmith and the Master Thief by Tonke Dragt, translated by Laura Watkinson, Pushkin Press/Steerforth Press, ISBN 9781782692461

August 25, 2020 – Little Fox by Edward van de Vendel (Dutch), illustrated by Marije Tolman (Dutch), translated by David Colmer, Levine Querido ISBN: 978-1-64614-007-7

September 7, 2020 – The Blue Wings by Jef Aerts (Flemish), illustrated by Martijn van der Linden (Dutch), translated by Laura Watkinson, Levine Querido ISBN: 978-1-64614-008-4

October 1, 2019 – It Started with a Big Bang: The Origin of Earth, You and Everything Else by Floor Bal, illustrated by Sebastiaan van Doninck, Kids Can Press (Hachette Book Group), ISBN 9781525302558

November 3, 2020 – Bigger Than a Dream by Jef Aerts (Flemish), illustrated by Marit Törnqvist (Dutch), translated by David Colmer, Levine Querido ISBN: 978-1-64614-020-6

Little Fox

New Publishing House Levine – Querido

Arthur A. Levine, the publisher and editor responsible for introducing Harry Potter to the U.S., has launched a new independent children’s book company, Levine Querido, in partnership with the renowned Dutch publisher, Querido. The new company launches in Fall 2020 and will introduce outstanding authors and artists from around the world to U.S. readers, aiming to keep the legacy of Emanuel Querido alive and flourishing.

Past Events

February 1, 2020 – “Say Cheese: Best of Dutch Shorts” at BAM Kids

During the BAM Kids Film Festival, BAM will feature some of the best Dutch shorts produced in the Netherlands in the last decade. The program will show a diverse selection of 11 Dutch animation and live-action shorts. For more information on the shorts and tickets visit this page.

List of shorts at the BAM Kids Film Festival:

Sabuka (2016)

Dir. Marlies van der Wel


Tides (2018)

Dir. Fleur Sophie de Boer


Things (2005)

Dir. Femke Schaap


Polska Warrior (2017)

Dir. Camiel Schouwenaar


Cinema (2019)

Dir. Bart Maalderink


Now You Know Anyway (2017)

Dir. Bastiaan Schravendeel


Elastic Recurrence (2017)

Dir. Johan Rijpma


Jonas and the Sea (2015)

Dir. Marlies van der Wel



Dir. Arthur van Merwijk


Division (2017)

Dir. Johan Rijpma


George & Paul (2017)

Dirs. Joost van den Bosch and Erik Verkerk

January 23, 2020

Mark January 23 for two delightful productions from the Netherlands at the IPAY Showcase 2020! IPAY is an annual event which mission statement is “[t]o create professional and educational opportunities for key stakeholders in North America (artists, agents, and presenters) to engage around support of meaningful performing arts experiences for young audiences.” The event is a platform for theater companies from all over the world that cater to youth audiences in the US. The 2020 edition will take place at the Caplan Center for the Performing Arts located on 211 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 at booth #2012, Rye’s Row. Reserve your seat here!

Catch the following performances, part of Off-IPAY 2020:

Wonderland Collective – BB
BB is an interactive dance and music experience for babies and toddlers. The dancers and musicians improvise and respond to the movements and sounds the young audience produces in a magical, touching dialogue. Watch the trailer here.

Het Ministeire van Onverrichter Zake – The Last Cookie
A brand-new production premiering in February, ‘The Last Cookie’ is a physical performance about the peculiar ways in which adults sometimes live their lives. About their love for things and their agreement not to talk about cookies!

January 15 – 19, 2019

IPAY Showcase 2019, Philadelphia
The year-long celebration of Dutch artistry kicks off with the presence of eight Dutch theatre and dance companies at international conference IPAY Showcase, that takes place from January 16-19, 2019 in Philadelphia. The eight companies will present their productions for young audiences to 500 US-based theatre professionals, including full-length performances, pitches, and excerpts from Theatergroep Kwatta, Theater Terra, Meneer Monster/NORPA, Het Nationale Theater/NTjong, Simone de Jong Company, Maas Theater & Dance, plan d-/Andreas Denk, and De Dansers. Presenting energetic dance performances with live music to moving visual performances for ages 2-6+.
More info

February 11 – 14, 2019

Kidscreen Summit Miami
During Kidscreen Summit in Miami, Cinekid is the host of a networking moment together with NTR and Ketnet. Cinekid’s general director Floor van Spaendonck will be present to talk with American and international producers, buyers, programmers and agencies about possible partnerships and collaborations. Contact Cinekid here to set up a meeting!

February 22 – March 17, 2019

New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYCIFF)
NYICFF presents its third edition of Friends & Neighbors, a program spotlighting the distinctive artistry of a country of focus and partner festival. Following Canada’s TIFF Kids and Mexico’s Morelia International Film Festival, NYICFF is collaborating with the Netherlands Consulate General in New York, the Netherlands’ premiere children’s film festival Cinekid and EYE International to present a series of shorts by the Netherlands’ most accomplished live action, animation, and documentary filmmakers for young audiences, as well as highlight new Dutch feature filmmaking for youth.
More info

[Schedule continues below]


March 9 – April 5, 2019

Chicago European Union Film Festival
Screening of You Are My Friend, directed by Petra Lataster-Czisch & Peter Lataster

Fri, Mar 15th 4:15pm

more info 

Wed, Mar 20th 6:00pm

more info

March 31, 2019, 2pm

Bam Kids screening of Miffy the Movie (Dutch: Nijntje)
Miffy the Movie is a 2013 Dutch stop motion animated family film (directed by Hans Perk), based on the Miffy character created by Dick Bruna.  Join Miffy—the little rabbit with a big personality—for a fun-filled day at the zoo as she and her friends solve a series of riddles; learn about sound, shape, color, and movement; and discover the value of teamwork. Based on the beloved series of Dutch children’s books, this colorful stop motion delight not only captivates young viewers, it invites them to participate in the action.

Miffy will be present before and after the screening.

More info and tickets.

Read more about Miffy on the Miffy website and follow Miffy on Instagram.

Check out Miffy books on Amazon.

May 3 – 19, 2019

Panorama Europe Film Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image (New York)
Participants to be announced.

May 4 – 5, 2019

San Francisco Bay Book Festival
Children’s book authors Mylo Freeman and Benny Lindelauf will be present at the Bay Area Book Festival.

More info.

May 4 – 12, 2019 

Oorkaan’s Glimpse at BAM Fisher, New York
Dutch music theatre company Oorkaan will perform their award-winning toddler production Glimpse, in a series of 12 concerts for families and schools at BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

4-5 May and 11-12 May at 10:30am and 3:30pm (for families)
More info

7-11 May at 11:00am (for schools)
More info

May 6 – 11, 2019

Dance company Arch8 performs Tetris (6+) at the Miami Theater Center.


May 16 – 18, 2019

Dance company Arch8 performs Murikamification (7+) at the Pittsburgh Children’s Theater Festival.


May 18, 2019

The Museum of the Moving Image in New York will screen Light as Feathers (14+) by Rosanne Pel at Panorama Europe 2019, the eleventh edition of the essential festival of new European cinema, co-presented by Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI)and the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC). Read more about the film here.

September 21

Everyone knows Miffy, and countless children have read the Diary of Anne Frank. The Netherlands has a rich history of children’s book authors and illustrators. During the Brooklyn Book Festival, Dutch author and artist Mylo Freeman participated in Children’s Day. She readd from her Princess Arabella series and demonstrated painting in color.

Find a recap of the event here!

October 26 & 27, 2019

Several Dutch shorts are to be screened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Assembled by the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) with support from Dutch Culture USA, this program presents the very best of Dutch animation—featuring diverse stories, hilarious romps, inventive animation, and more! Approximately 74 minutes.

With trusty scissors in hand, Mr. Paper makes choice cuts to craft his ideal world. Blooming with artful animation and wistful storytelling, Emily was spotlighted as the Netherlands’ entry for Oscar consideration. Then three very different kids, all friends, find out what it truly means to walk a day in each other’s shoes,…and legs, and torsos in the hilarious International Emmy-award winner, Heads Together.

Inventive design, storytelling and themes combine to make this Dutch Animation Celebration a whole lot of fun!

All the short movies movies that will be screened are:

Passing By, by Job, Joris & Marieke
Jonas and the Sea, by Marlies van der Wel
Heads Together, by Job, Joris & Marieke
Emily, by Marlies van der Wel
Mr. Paper Goes Out for a Walk, by Steven de Beul & Ben Tesseur
Polska Warrior, by Camiel Schouwenaar

November 1-10, 2019

The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival will be screening several Dutch movies at its 36th edition. The festival will be screening films from the Netherlands at one or more of our Festival locations, including: Facets (1517 W Fullerton, Chicago) and Davis Theater (4614 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago).

The movies that they have screened were:

#bullyingstory, a documentary short by Eef Hilgers
Fox and Hare: “Birthday”, an animated TV short by Mascha Halberstad
My Extraordinary Summer with Tess, a live-action feature by Steven Wouterlood Won 1st Prize in the category Professional Jury: Best Live-Action Feature
Romy’s Salon, a live-action feature by Mischa Kamp Won 2nd Prize in the category Professional Jury: Best Live-Action Feature
Something About Alex, a live-action short by Reinout Hellenthal Won 1st Prize in the category Youth Jury: Best Live-Action Short
Thibault, a documentary short by Kim Faber
Zara and the Magical Football Boots, a live-action TV short by Barbara Bredero

Still from My Extraordinary Summer with Tess directed by Steven Wouterlood

October 29 – November 2, 2019

Spin into a universe of orbiting chairs and surprises in the show Balancing Bodies (9+) by Dutch dance/theater company WOEST at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Take a seat in a rolling office chair and observe an ordinary space transform into a universe full of surprises and twists. Dutch dance/theater company WOEST brings this interactive show in which the interplay between performer and spectator is the nucleus around which everything orbits. As a world builds from nothing to something, audience members take part in balancing playfulness and organization, young and old, foolishness and seriousness, and more.
Balancing Bodies will be part of 6 schoolshows between October 29 – November 1.

© Amaury Avermaete

October 30 – November 3, 2019

Watch a television show go uproariously wrong in Get ‘Em (3+) by theater company Bonte Hond at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Three television hosts prepare to go live in the studio. The problem? There’s only one microphone! Witness the great lengths these so-called “mature” presenters go to hold the attention. Dutch theater company Bonte Hond presents this imaginative production in the spirit of Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes, featuring silly misunderstandings, a fantastic puppet show, and some hilarious hide-n-seek.

Get ‘Em will also be part of 6 schoolshows between October 30 – November 1.

© Kamerich & Budwilowitz

September – November, 2019

NYICFF is crossing the Atlantic to pair up with far-flung Friends & Neighbors this year. Cinekid, the Netherlands’ premiere film festival for children and EYE International come ashore to share their best short films. Featuring a range of different cultures and themes—from Old Amsterdam to New York—and fresh stories that keep history alive. This Friends & Neighbors program is now going on tour through the USA with the Dutch short films. Several theatres in different cities have compiled a programme with the Dutch shorts.

Cleveland Cinematheque in Cleveland, OH: October 13, 2019
Coral Gables Art Cinema in Coral Gables, FL: November 7-8, 2019
Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta, ME: September 27 – October 5, 2019
Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY: October 20, 2019 (buy tickets with discount code kidflicks20)
Pelham Picture House in Pelham NY: September 6-8, 2019
Gateway Film Center in Columbus, OH: November 30 – December 1, 2019

Jonas and the Sea

January 11-12, 2020

Dutch music theatre company Oorkaan will perform their award-winning toddler production Glimpse at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Get your tickets here.

Watch the interview with Oorkaan at NBC Washington below!

This calendar and the blog will be updated frequently.


Never Grow Up! is a joint effort with: