For the 1998 film, see The Flying Liftboy
Abeltje is a children's book by celebrated Dutch author Annie M. G. Schmidt, originally published in 1953 by De Arbeiderspers. It was one of Annie M. G. Schmidt's first children's books, and such an instant success that it was already in its fourth edition when the sequel, De A van Abeltje, came out in 1955. Since 1988, the book is published by Querido with illustrations by Thé Tjong-Khing. Abeltje has been translated from Dutch into Danish, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish.
Abeltje was also broadcast in the Netherlands in the 1950s as a radio play. In 2002, Abeltje and the sequel De A van Abeltje were published together in 2002 under the title Abeltje en de A van Abeltje. In 2008, a four-CD talking book of Abeltje was published, read by Schmidt's zoon Flip van Duyn.
A film of the book, also called Abeltje (English title: The Flying Liftboy), was released in cinemas in late 1998. The film won the Golden Calf for best film in 1999. It was adapted into a seven-part television series that was broadcast in the Netherlands in 2000. The film largely follows the story of the book, although it was modernised in places. For instance, Abeltje has a skateboard and an earring in the film. His neighbour Laura is his girlfriend in the film, and his mother works in a flower shop in the book but owns her own garage in the film. Also, Abeltje accidentally encounters his lookalike Johnny in the book, but in the film he goes sleuthing to find Johnny.
Plot summary (movie version)
Abeltje gets a job as a teenage-liftboy in a department store. His boss tells him not to press the elevator's (top) green button under any circumstances, but eventually he does so after being chased by his ex-girlfriend Laura. Consequently the elevator shoots out of the building and flies off.
Sharing his fate with him are mothball salesman Jozias Tump; vocal coach Miss Klaterhoen, and the aforementioned Laura. They fly across the ocean and eventually arrive in Central Park, New York City. Continuing his liftboy-skills Stateside, Abeltje gets mistaken for the long lost son of a rich couple (Mrs. Cockle-Smith appeared on a talk show to tell how her Johnny was abducted by the natives from a banana-republic called Perugona). They leave New York and fly to Perugona; while Abeltje goes out to rescue Johnny (with whom he swaps clothes to fool Laura), Tump is made president after his moth-balls appeared to be a cure for the No. 1 public disease. But as soon as the mothballs run out he outlaws cider and becomes subjected to a coup just like his countless predecessors. Once again the foursome manage to escape with their elevator.