17 Oct. 2018, this interview about my book was published in the newspaper: Ede-Stad, written by Mathilde van Ravensberg who also made the photo.
“Fabulous debut book by Fenna Smilde
Thirty animal stories that mirror human behaviour.
Fables that make you think. Fenna Smilde from Ede likes this genre very much. For some years, she has written fables herself that she published on her website Femmka.net. Thirty of her insightful animal stories are now collected in her debut book ‘How it all came to be.’
The reader gets acquainted with Continue reading →
Every now and then, the owl liked to ask the animals some questions. He hoped that each time, there would be a few of them that would continue thinking about it. And eventually, he hoped that it would make them feel better. More at ease with themselves and therefore with others.
“What do you want?”, wondered the owl aloud.
There happened to be quite a few animals at the large glade around the magnolia, so he thought it to be a suitable moment. Some of the animals indeed looked up at him, interested.
“You might just do something,” continued the owl therefore, “but you can also want something.”
“Want”, whispered the vole softly after him, trying to get used to the idea that there could be something to want.
“Yes, I want!”, he then called out loud, because wanting something had begun to appeal to him.
“And what is it, that you want?”, asked the owl, who liked to be precise in his wording and liked others to be that too.
“Umm”, said the vole Continue reading →
An * after a word means you can find an explanation under the fable
In the depths of the ocean, the stingray was swimming. He hoped to find something to eat, but nothing was swimming by.
“What’s up these days”, he muttered. “In the old days, there was more.”
He swam a little further away from home but was not very lucky. A little bite here and there but no abundant school.
Could the sea be tired, he thought. He had heard the current sing sometimes, that the sea is so tired, and therefore Continue reading →
On a sunny day in late summer, the hummingbird flew through the animal forest. She was kind of caught up in deep thought and almost collided with the giraffe.
“Oh, sorry,” said the hummingbird, who felt that to be an injustice to her flying skills, “I was busy thinking.”
“No offense”, said the giraffe. “I also like to think, a lot, maybe we can think together for a while?”
“Actually,” said the hummingbird, “that’s the problem. It’s kind of nice, all these encounters with other animals, but it’s tiresome too. That’s just what I was thinking about: that I am tired of having all this contact.”
“Too bad”, said the giraffe. “It would Continue reading →
It was an early spring day in the animal forest. Everybody had kind of recovered from the winter but was not yet back in their stride with spring energy.
“Maybe”, said the cockatoo, “it would be nice to go out for a while, on a little spring trip?”
“That sounds fun”, said the butterfly. “Just flutter about for a bit. Perhaps someone wants to join us?” She looked at the dragonfly who was visiting.
“Oh” and: “Oh, oh, …”, said the dragonfly, “I would but …”
“Let’s leave ‘but’ at home”, said the sheep, who was also visiting. “I’ll come along with you.”
And so it came to be that a little group of animals decided to hit the road, that early spring in the animal forest.
“Let’s make Continue reading →
On a cloudless day in the animal forest, it was about to happen again. Once every few years, the animals made an appointment to come together for a fortnight to play all day long, every day. The dolphin tumbled in the most beautiful ways, the polar bear walked as far as he could through the snow, the swallow flew his most spectacular flights and the willow grouse skated as fast as she could.
“Come,” said the dolphin to the stingray, “it would be fun if you could join us.”
“Hm,” hummed the stingray, “I’m Continue reading →
“Now how does it really work?”, the dragonfly asked the butterfly, one balmy summer evening when they were sitting on a reed stalk, pensively looking out over the water.
“What?”, asked the butterfly. “And why would it not have been real until now?”
“Oh, sorry,” said the dragonfly and gasped for a bit more air, “I mean, do you really not mind that the cockatoo is away so often?”
“So why”, asked the butterfly, “is everybody thinking that I would mind?”
“Well,” said the dragonfly, “you know. They say that when you’re a couple, you do everything together. Or at least go to sleep each night together in your own house.”
“That’s indeed what a lot of couples do,” said the butterfly, “but that does not mean Continue reading →
The ladybug was sitting in front of his house. He hardly ever did, since he was away so often, travelling. Now he was home though, enjoying sitting on his bench in the sun. Suddenly, he heard some buzzing. The mosquito came flying by.
Oh, no, thought the ladybug, I so much dislike that sound. It’ll only end up in something being buzzed around about me that’s only half true or not true at all.
Earlier, he used to be bothered a lot by that, because what’s not right, is not right and should not be spread around the world as truth. However, there’s no way you can straighten it all out, so now he mostly found it weird, because what’s not right, is not right and the animals who did not know him, were likely Continue reading →
On a hot summer day at the woodland pool in the animal forest, the dragonfly was flying.
“It’s so hot”, said the dragonfly to the sheep, who was looking for some coolness near the water’s edge.
“Yes”, said the sheep with a lazy yawn.
The dragonfly skimmed another round closely over the water to cool off as much as possible.
“My, my”, said the dragonfly when she landed near the sheep again, huffing and puffing.
“Can’t breathe; so uptight”, she added.
“I am happy”, said the sheep, “that in the spring, I always Continue reading →
About once a year, the eel came unannounced to the animal forest to reconnect with old acquaintances. He came disguised, like every year, and this time he was dressed up as the cockatoo. The eel did not know that the cockatoo had been there on a holiday a while ago and had frequently come back after that.
“Hi cockatoo”, said the sheep.
“Hi sheep”, cockatooed the eel and immediately slid away. To delay for as long as possible that he would be unmasked, he made sure his chats were as brief as possible.
“How are you doing?”, said the frog, who was always interested in everybody and everything.
“Ah”, said the eel and then kept his mouth shut.
The frog jumped away again. Why stick around where there’s no fun.
“Hello there, cockatoo!”, called Continue reading →
“Look who I ran into”, said the cockatoo to the butterfly. The butter-fly fluttered joyfully towards him and gave the cockatoo a big kiss, glad that the cockatoo was home again.
“Well, well, who do we have here? I am the butterfly”, said the butterfly, greeting the newcomer.
“Porcupine”, said the porcupine, who did not have many words yet because everything was still very new to him.
“Please, do come in,” said the butterfly, “and we’ll drink some of our best velvety vintage juice.”
In the river that runs through the animal forest, the guppy was swimming. The stingray swam by and greeted her.
“Hello,” said the stingray, “I am the stingray. Who are you?”
“I am the guppy”, said the guppy.
“Nice to meet you”, said the stingray, who was starting to learn how to keep a conversation going.
“Okay, then I’ll reveal this”, said the guppy, inspired to do the same. “I am plugged in. In fact, I do not live here.”
“Oh,” said the stingray, “I do not live here either. I live in the depth of the ocean.”
“Then”, said the guppy, “you must have asked yourself the question.”
“Which question?”, asked the stingray.
“Well”, said the guppy. “What the Continue reading →
An * after a word means you can find an explanation under the fable The animal forest was in a tizz, since it was cold. Not just a bit cold. Very cold. The dragonfly gasped for breath because she was stiff from the cold. The sheep was always sensitive to her lack of breath and he was happy that this time it was not caused by emotions, so he could help by offering the dragonfly a little space between the lush, woollen curls of his fur. Winter was also no big deal to him. Just leave your curls a little longer and the cold will not bother you. Sometimes it seemed to him that life would be complicated if you were not a sheep, but then again, he did not quite know what complicated was, so he gave it no further thought.
“Hello”, heard the sheep with the dragonfly in his fur. They looked up.
“Hello”, squeaked the dragonfly a little stifled and uptight but certainly not unfriendly. You ought to Continue reading →
An * after a word means you can find an explanation under the fable The pack donkey plodded through the animal forest. He never was one of the swiftest but right now, he seemed slower than ever. Each year, when the dark days of winter were upon them, the pack donkey disguised himself. He wore a red suit, trimmed with white fur, a buckled black belt and he even put a matching hat on his head. To be really unrecognisable, he also attached a long, white beard.* The young animals always eagerly awaited his arrival, because he was heavily loaded with packages for all tastes. However, legend also had it, that he took naughty animals away with him to a far and barren place. So they were at the same time happy, but also a bit scared.
“What do you want from the gift bearer this year?”, the little lamb asked the piglet. Continue reading →
The swallow was very busy. Sweeping, cleaning, sorting out, putting away, and so on.
“Oh dear,” said the dragonfly, who flew by, “just the sight of you being so busy makes me feel uptight. I do a little bit in my house every day, never all at once.”
“Soon I’ll be up and away though”, said the swallow. “It’s time to go south. Fly a lot and far away, that’s good training” and he did a little flypast.
“Oh, yeah,” said the dragonfly, who realised anew why he was always so good at the aerobatics competitions at the feast of the magnolia, “you are always gone during winter. What do you have against the winter anyway?”
“Well, it’s just that we always leave”, said the swallow. “That’s how we live. And I must say, that one time when I couldn’t get away, well, I experienced a winter here, and then I knew right away why we always leave.”
“What’s so bad about it then?”, asked the dragonfly. Continue reading →
The centipede was all in a knot. His gait wasn’t smooth at all.
“Hey, centipede,” said the dragonfly, watching him stumble along, “you stiff too today?”
“Yes,” sighed the centipede, “I seem to put every foot wrong, these days.”
“I met the ladybug a while ago”, said the dragonfly. “You know, he who knows how to move so beautifully to music.(1) Maybe he can help you with suppleness.”
And that’s how it came to be that the dragonfly and the centipede whispered in the horn: Dear ladybug,
Do you know how Continue reading →
The otter was pottering in the reeds. He had the sensation that he was being watched, but that did not prevent him from blazing his own trail. This time, it was a preset trail that he needed to find, because he was participating in the annual quiz walk in the animal forest. That was challenging enough, because it wasn’t by accident that the fox had won last year. She had been the best in answering the difficult questions, so this year it had been her turn to come up with the difficult questions. The otter had to count the reeds, had to know through which water he was wading and what the red sign meant at the waterside. That, he knew. It meant that no inflatables were permitted (whatever they were) or sometimes a sign said: ‘cable’ and then it was a fibre-optic thing (whatever that was). Yes, the otter knew his way in and around the water. That’s why he never fell for swimming under bridges. No, he would climb the bank, because one never knew what might be hanging over one’s head.
Suddenly, he heard Continue reading →
It was a spring day in the forest and the animals had a cheerful gathering at the large glade around the magnolia. Afterwards, they could not recall how it started, but they came to talk about the organisation of the animal forest and if there was room for improvement.
“It seems best to me”, said the goose, “that we all fly in formation.”
“Are you nuts?”, said the whimbrel. “Leisurely criss-crossing, that’s a lot more fun.”
“One is the boss”, said the wolf. “That’s orderly.”
“Don’t be silly”, said the herring. “When we swim in schools, every-body is equal. You take care not to bump into each other and other-wise you let each other be.”
“Yeah, but”, said the horse, “you keep each other clean and tidy, don’t you?”
“Exactly”, said the parrot and the chimpanzee. “Otherwise all gets very dirty.”
“But”, said the ant, Continue reading →
The ladybug was home again.* His house was just a small one because mostly he was on the road, he travelled a lot. The ladybug, you know, was asked everywhere to show his skills. He was very good at moving to music. When music was heard and the ladybug moved to it, it generated emotions in the spectators, even more so than when they were just listening.
“Hi ladybug”, said the dragonfly.
“Hello there”, said the ladybug and warmly gave the dragonfly two kisses. The dragonfly blushed all over.
“You know,” said the dragonfly, “I never dared to say this, but often I can’t help but Continue reading →
“Hi shrimp”, said the frog.
“Shush,” said the shrimp, “I’m eating.”
“Oh,” said the frog, “am I disturbing you?”
“Yes,” said the shrimp, “I’m drinking.”
“Velvety vintage?”, asked the frog.
“No,” said the shrimp, “just water.”
“Yuck,” said the frog, “tasteless.”
“But”, said the shrimp, “for sure necessary.”
“Necessary”, said the frog. “What now is really necessary?” and he jumped off. The shrimp was no fun.
“You know,” said the shrimp, “just return in a day or five.”
But the frog didn’t react anymore.
“Don’t let it get to you”, said the dragonfly, who came flying by after the frog. “He’s just his jumpy self.”
“Get to me?”, said the shrimp. “I Continue reading →
On a drizzly autumn day, when up above everything was so misty to the extent that drops were formed, the giraffe took a dip in the ocean. She firmly placed her front legs on the beach as far apart as possible and put her head under water.
“Hey,” said the giraffe when she reached the bottom, “hello sting-ray!”
The stingray was startled and did not know how to react. Quickly he scrambled for possibilities, alternatives and streamlining, but all remained frightfully entangled in his head. No pennies were drop-ping and also the search for dimes resulted only in stinging thoughts.
“Whataya want”, said the stingray, when he thought he could no longer remain silent.
“I’m not here to disturb you”, apologised the giraffe. “I’m just looking for some depth.”
“Oh,” said the stingray relieved, “are you seeking the deep end? I can Continue reading →
On a balmy summer day, the butterfly was fluttering from flower to flower and was letting herself be caressed by the afternoon sun. The butterfly was busy not being too busy, when suddenly a shadow glided over her. The butterfly looked up and saw the most beautiful flying creature she had ever seen.
Look, thought the butterfly, the blackbird is simply black, the sparrow grey, but this bird is … exuberant!
Yes, thought the butterfly, who did not exactly know what exuberant was, but still thought: Continue reading →
An * after a word means you can find an explanation under the fable The hare had been away and was now coming home. He whizzed into the animal forest and almost bumped into the dromedary who was taking a long hike while singing a cheerful tune.
“Hi dromedary,” said the hare, “will you come to my party?”
“Ah,” said the dromedary, “you’re back again.”
The hare also invited some other animals by whispering in the horn: I’m back again, will you come to my homecoming party?
“Oh, my goodness,” sighed the dragonfly, who heard it in her horn, “he comes home so often, what on earth am I to bring to the party this time?”
“Yourself,” said the dove, “that’s enough.”
“Ah, yeah,” said the dragonfly, “but I Continue reading →
An * after a word means you can find an explanation under the fable
It was dark in the animal forest. Not ordinary dark, but pitch dark. The monkey was bored because there was no moonlight in which he could dance. The vole could not stop tossing and turning because he could not see if he was lying properly. The otter was pottering in the reeds but did not like it much because he constantly bumped his nose. It was winter dark in the forest and the animals had had enough of it.
“In difficult times,” said the owl, “you have to think of nice things to do.”
“Okay,” said the bat, who wasn’t bothered at all, “I’ll gather every-body.”
Stumbling in the dark, the animals went from their houses to the large glade around the magnolia for the comeback festival.
The eyes of the sheep darted nervously.
“You know,” said the sheep to the magpie, “with a fifth leg, I would Continue reading →
The giraffe couldn’t sleep, that night in the winter forest, when the moon was shining through the trees.
“A beautiful night”, said the giraffe to no one in particular, “to do some exploring.”
She strolled off and saw the river hog grubbing about in the moss, the vole tossing and turning in his den and over the water she heard the dragonfly whimper in her sleep, or perhaps it was because she could not sleep. Then the bat flew right past her head.
“Sorry,” mumbled the bat, “I did not hear you were that big.”
When she came in the vicinity of the house of the monkey, the giraffe heard strange noises. She walked over but suddenly slowed down her pace. In front of the tree where his house was, the monkey was dancing. Or wasn’t it the monkey? It hopped around and played with Continue reading →
The dragonfly whispered in the horn: Sheep, would you come and visit me?
The wind blew the whispers through the animal forest and the sheep heard in her horn what the dragonfly had whispered.
“Ah,” said the sheep and off she went, “the dragonfly is feeling stifled and uptight again, I think.”
“So nice”, said the dragonfly, “that you could come so quickly. Would you like a sip of water? River water, brook water, well water, …”
“Ditchwater”, said the sheep, who knew that the dragonfly always wanted to attend to every detail, although she already knew that the sheep always drank ditchwater.
“Yes, yes,” said the dragonfly, “but you never know. Perhaps Continue reading →
An * after a word means you can find an explanation under the fable On the great, silent moor, the sheep and the giraffe were strolling.* The heather was in bloom and so it came to be that they walked through a purple rolling landscape with little groups of green trees or a yellow sand spot every now and then.
“Sheep,” said the giraffe, “how is it that through the colours I see with my eyes, I get a warm and peaceful feeling inside?”
The sheep looked sheepishly at the giraffe. The giraffe thought that to be appropriate. Suddenly, the giraffe stood still and with some difficulty, she spread her front legs as far apart as possible and bowed her long neck to the ground to study a heather plant.
“How is it”, said the giraffe, “that it looks like Continue reading →
There is a lot of dutch culture in this fable.
An * after a word means that you can find an explanation underneath the fable. There you’ll find just one, the rest is in the book. “Hi vole”, the marmot called out. They jumped into each other’s arms and spun around as only the vole and the marmot could, each spring at the end of April at the feast of the magnolia.
“Hey, hey!”, cried the weasel who they narrowly whirled by.* “Watch out!”
“Don’t be afraid”, said the dove. “Everything’s gonna be alright.”
“Oh”, said the weasel, who tried to believe it. He did not come out of his den that often and mostly only when it was quiet, but during the annual feast of the magnolia, he did want to be part of the joyful gathering of all the animals at the large glade around the magnolia, which then stood there in full bloom.
Just like a queen,** thought the magpie, who on that day brought out her unnecessary furniture (and Continue reading →
In the morning mist of an early spring day, the giraffe enjoyed herself eating from the top of the linden tree. The giraffe could easily do that because she towered over 98% of all the animals. The advantage of being so tall, in her opinion, was that she always had great overview. A disadvantage was of course, that a lot of the animals seemed a bit distant and therefore more difficult to reach. Except for the animals that could fly and among them, especially the little ones. They sometimes came by to spin, for fun, the craziest of thoughts around her head. Flyers are freethinkers, so the giraffe had found out. Living with their heads in the clouds, according to some, but the giraffe thought that did not always do them justice. She herself stood firmly on the ground with her four feet, but she could really appreciate Continue reading →
Times were busy for the firefly. Days were getting shorter. Each evening darkness fell sooner and each morning the sun rose later. A lot of animals asked if she would shine on their doorstep for a while and that’s how it came to be that the firefly was busy going from appointment to appointment.
In the beginning, she was shining a good hour and a half on every doorstep, but nowadays she had reduced it to fifty minutes because more and more animals needed her. It was as if darkness now had gotten gloomier than before. Or maybe it was because Continue reading →