I read this children's book about 5 years ago, it was a small, charming little book. It probably was published in the past 10 years. It was in Afrikaans, but I'm fairly certain it was a translation from English (or potentially Dutch).

I got it from a library in South Africa (I've asked the library about it and dug through the kid's section again several times but can't find it!).

Since I read the Afrikaans translation I'm not 100% clear what the English translation was like, but here are the key points:

  • A little girl lives on her own, her parents are collectors (I think?) and are away a lot. She has all kinds of collections of things. She's a human girl and most of the people in the books are people (unless otherwise mentioned).

  • Her guardian is called Mr Knuffels (in the Afrikaans translation. This isn't really a proper Afrikaans word, but a dutch one). It means "cuddles" in English. Mr Knuffels is a weird furball creature from the swamps of Norway.

  • There is a monster in her basement that she's friends (?) with and she sees when she does laundry down there.

  • She has a pet (a dog?) and there have been dog-nappings in town and she tracks down a dog-napper and solves the mystery.

  • The book is small (A5 size, if not smaller), pretty thick and has charming drawings of the layout of her home with her collections, newspaper clippings, and other cute diagrams.

  • Given the use of the dutch word "Knuffel" and the reference to Norway, it's possible this book had origins in europe, and potentially was originally written in Dutch. Knuffel isn't really used in South Africa very commonly.

I would love to find this book again and read it to my daughter, if anyone has any ideas.

  • Welcome to Literature Stack Exchange! Thank you for including so much information in your question. See the identification-request wiki in case anything else jogs your memory.
    – bobble
    Mar 15, 2021 at 18:03
  • Are the little girl and her family and her guardian Mr Knuffels humans, or are they what might be called stuffed animals, plush toys, cuddly toys, etc.?
    – shoover
    Mar 15, 2021 at 18:14
  • The name Knuffels is the capitalised plural form of "knuffel", which means "hug" in Dutch and Afrikaans. So if you say the book might have been in English, does that mean that the author may have been from South Africa? (Or perhaps it was not a translation from English after all?)
    – Tsundoku
    Mar 16, 2021 at 1:19
  • @Tsundoku the word "Knuffel" isn't really that commonly used in afrikaans. "drukkie" is way more common word ("Knuffel" isn't in my Afrikaans Dictionary, and it isn't under the definition of "cuddle" either in English-Afrikaans). It is somewhat known here as a Dutch word that some people use but it's not super common. The English translation would be Mr Cuddles. The use of Knuffel surprises me in a book written by a South African author for the above reasons, which makes me think perhaps the book has origins in the Netherlands or somewhere else in Europe (evidenced by the Norway reference).
    – stan
    Mar 16, 2021 at 10:45
  • 3
    Why is there a close vote for this question with the reason that it's off-topic as asking for a reading recommendation? It's clearly on-topic as an identification request and does not ask for a reading recommendation.
    – verbose
    Mar 16, 2021 at 10:55

1 Answer 1


I found it!

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell

I'm so glad I did, I've been looking for it for ages. The book was published in 2007 in the UK, originally in English.

Wikipedia article hits the points pretty well.

Her parents are away travelling.

Ottoline's parents go on trips to other countries, leaving Mr Munroe to care for her. [...] They have many collections from other countries.

Mr Knuffels is Mr Munroe in English!

Mr Munroe is Ottoline's friend and is from a bog in Norway. He is a little creature with long, straight hair that Ottoline likes to brush.

The monster in the basement is a bear!

The Bear is a bear found by Ottoline, stealing clothes from other people. He lives in the basement which he says is much cosier than his cave.

The dog-napping story was actually a thieving ring run by the Yellow Cat. The dogs weren't kidnapped, they ran away.

The company's dogs usually run away from their owners and back to the Yellow Cat with a map containing information about where the money and jewels were.

  • Don't forget to return in a few days and accept your own answer! This will mark the question as solved. Wonderful job finding your book and writing up a good answer.
    – bobble
    Mar 16, 2021 at 20:33

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