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Against the Odds

Written by Marjolijn Hof

Translated by Johanna H. Prins

Translated by Johanna W. Prins

  • 128 Pages
  • 9781554981625
  • Reading age to 9
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Family / Parents
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Social Situations / Emotions & Feelings



Publication Date October 01, 2009

USBBY Outstanding International Books selection

Kiki lives with her mother and father and their very old fat dog, Mona. Life is good except that Kiki's father, a doctor, feels compelled to go off on missions to dangerous and faraway war zones. No matter how persuasive her arguments, Kiki cannot convince him to stay home.

Kiki's mother explains to her about odds – how it is very unlikely that her father will die because, after all, how many of her friends' fathers have died? The odds are very good it won't happen. When her father actually does go missing, and as her mother and grandmother get more and more upset, Kiki begins to feel that it's up to her to save him.

This award-winning book deals with big moral issues in a serious way, but it is also very funny and deeply human.

Selected for the USBBY Outstanding International 2009


Marjolijn Hof
Marjolijn Hof's first novel, Against the Odds (Een kleine kans), met with high critical acclaim, winning three major Dutch and Flemish children's book prizes. It was also nominated for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (German Youth Literature Award) and has been translated into twelve languages. Marjolijn lives in Krommenie, the Netherlands.

Johanna H. Prins
Johanna H. Prins is a translator who lives in Syracuse, New York, and who has translated many books together with Johanna W. Prins.

Johanna W. Prins
Johanna W. Prins is a translator who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and who has translated many books together with Johanna H. Prins.


"...a sensitive and honest portrayal of a family during a time of great stress." School Library Journal

"...the voice and feelings of its narrator ring absolutely true." Globe and Mail

"...full of character and affection, while also exploring the real, serious anxieties of a child whose father is at risk...An outstanding mixture of respect, wisdom and humour." Toronto Star

"Against the Odds deals with developing morality and the very real feelings of fear, anger and abandonment that come with having a family member in a dangerous environment. Hof sensitively and effectively shows the family tensions..." CM Magazine

"Handling tough moral issues with literary charm and a funny bone, Hof shares the story of a native girl who believes that causing her own misfortune will bring her father back from the war, because it would be Against the Odds to have that much bad luck." Canadian Family

"Hof reaches adeptly into Kiki's mind and scattered emotions, allowing her to tell her own story in simple, childlike language...Her plight will resonate with young readers..." Kirkus

"Unusual in its straightforward treatment of the difficult issues children face, this book packs a powerful punch..." Booklist

"The little girl's desperate reasoning is spot on in terms of developmental level and worldview. Her mother's conflicts-how much information to share, how to maintain a sense of normalcy-are also heartrendingly realistic." Horn Book