A Whale in Paris

A Whale in Paris is a novel for younger readers by Claire Polders & Daniel Presley 

A hopeful and heroic girl befriends a lost whale during the German occupation of Paris in World War II, and together they embark on a journey to find their families and liberate France.

– Illustrations by Erin McGuire
– Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster)
– 22 May 2018 / Ages: 10+ / 256 pages / ISBN 978153441915

“This fanciful, impossible animal fable often feels just as urgent as the real events. . . Readers may find this. . . story utterly convincing and even sometimes heartbreaking.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Chantal’s optimism against overwhelming odds makes her a hero to creatures above and below the water. Overflowing with charm and hope, this novel is perfect for readers who love a touch of the fantastic and the impossible.” (Booklist Online)

“Franklin, his unlikely appearance in Paris, and his anthropomorphic personality invoke an unexpected but delightful air of magic. Chantal is a compelling and compassionate character. This debut novel set in Nazi-occupied Paris will engage and charm young readers.” (School Library Journal)


Daniel and I are available for author events: school visits, readings, creative writing classes, and more! We have given presentations at libraries and international schools in Brussels, Marrakesh, and Siem Reap. We apply different rates to accommodate all budgets. Please contact me to discuss possibilities and schedule an event.

A Whale in Paris is available in HARDBACK, PAPERBACK, and EBOOK.

Please rate, review, or buy A Whale in Paris at: Goodreads, BookShop, IndieBound,or Amazon.

Or read more information about A Whale in Paris.

Novels in Dutch

For translation and film rights inquiries, please see the contact page.

Deze pagina is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar.

 Eternal Fair

Eeuwige Kermis

Eeuwige Kermis (Eternal Fair), De Geus Publishing

After an odyssey of seven years, documenting the world, Julia Hollander returns to the Dutch low lands of her youth, where she is confronted with a double surprise: Her young father is terminally ill and the safe haven of her childhood has been transformed into a touristic farce.

Julia learns she is responsible for her village’s demise and is determined to set things right. With the help of a junkman rebel and a trio of witty elders, she makes an attempt to scare off the commercial developers and rescue what she holds dear.

Eternal Fair is a high-spirited novel about authenticity in our hasty world and spotlights euthanasia. How do you recognize and choose the right moment to die?

Acclaim for Eternal Fair 

  • “Profound questions are raised, enclosed in beautiful, captivating prose that manages to remain light, even when weighty themes are tackled.” (* * * *)
  • “With credible characters and a clear story line, Polders examines the dangers of romanticizing the past and the power of media. In beautiful, philosophical prose she sketches the mythological struggle between a group of villagers and a greedy developer. For everyone who wants to grasp the Netherlands.” Biblion

Salto Mortale


Salto Mortale, De Geus Publishing

Five women. Five strangers. Five leaps into the unknown.

Salto mortale/ n. / (Italian) Death jump: an acrobat’s daring mid-air leap from one trapeze to another.

On a sizzling day in August five women arrive at a deserted medieval castle looking forward to a stimulating summer of renovation: a stage actress, a disturbed teenager, a dominant entrepreneur, an undercover journalist, and a woman who doesn’t identify as anyone in particular. When the instructor fails to appear, they’re caught in a dilemma. Linger or move on? It’s the castle with its abundance of mirrors, its whispering rooms and idyllic aura of neglect, that lures them to stay.

Soon after, mysterious messages appear on the walls, ceilings, windows, and floors. Paint me, break me, open me, tear me away… As the women follow the instructions they enter into a psychological labyrinth. The place seems to share an intimate knowledge of their blacked out secrets.

Salto Mortale is novel that explores our fear of freedom and the patterns of expectations that constrain us.

Acclaim for Salto Mortale

  • “What an elegantly written novel from a very gifted and precise author.” (* * * *)
  • “A captivating novel that explores female behavior in depth.” De Standaard
  • “Lives are unraveled in this restorative novel.” (* * * *) Opzij

The Disappearance of Eva Zomers


De Verdwijning van Eva Zomers (The Disappearance of Eva Zomers) Balans, 2007

Marga, a young biographer, moves into a painter’s loft in Paris to finish her book on the disappearance of the legendary novelist Eva Zomers. She meets her old neighbor Lucien, a reclusive and troublesome painter. He introduces her into a magical world of art, and an unlikely friendship develops.

When Lucien passes away, Marga inherits his atelier, where she finds hundreds of canvases portraying the life span of just one couple. Who are they and why did Lucien paint them? Clues lead her to a village in Italy and to the very same couple in the paintings. Her journey and the teachings of Lucien, uncover a secret within Marga that solves the mystery of the disappearance and re-appearance of her subject, Eva Zomers.

Acclaim for The Disappearance of Eva Zomers

  • “Polders showcases her knack for storytelling, exceptionally combined with her philosophical wisdom and talent for depicting characters. Go and read this!” ELLE
  • “A mysterious and beautifully constructed coming-of-age novel about writing, friendship, and the imagination.” Brabants Dagblad
  • “A well-composed and complicated plot with different perspectives, eras, and places. Full of tension, quests, and riddles, the story remains easy to follow thanks to Polders’ fluent style.” Biblion

—> Following publication, BLVD (a popular glossy) chose Claire as one of the top 100 most promising women of The Netherlands.



De Onfeilbare (Infallible), Balans Publishing

What is identity in a world where truth has lost its absolute value? Where real life is no longer distinguishable from fiction?

Infallible is the story of Amber, a keen and curious girl from Amsterdam, filled with open-eyed expectations. In Paris, she meets the thrilling persona of Cleo, and a force pulls them together: Cleo the infallible, Amber the ambitious.

Together they set off for New York where Cleo’s charms prevail over every obstacle the city has in store for them. Cleo encourages Amber to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a photographer, but as Amber’s dream is being realized, it is also undermined. Slowly she unmasks her friend and mentor to be a master of deception.

When Amber discovers a shocking secret behind their success, she returns to Amsterdam alone. But she is lost without Cleo’s charms and doesn’t understand why she should condemn Cleo’s lies when it has brought them so many benefits. Amber tries to reunite their lives, but during her absence Cleo’s fate has taken a tragic turn. All along, it was Amber’s unconditional love that made Cleo infallible.

Infallible is the story of two women lost in an intense and mysterious friendship, and what might happen when such a friendship unravels into illusions and lies.

Acclaim for Infallible

  • “Once I picked up Infallible I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one breath. Why was it so enthralling? Two incredible main characters—both mysterious yet with a strange familiarity.” Henk Pröpper, Director of the Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature.
  • Infallible is an admirable achievement. Polders’ first novel is an intriguing, serious and ambitious work… everything a great debut is supposed to be.” Leidsch Dagblad.
  • “Polders knows how to kidnap the reader’s attention!” Biblion

—> Following the success of Infallible, Claire was selected by Annelies Verbeke and Prometheus Publishing as one of the 25 most promising writers under 35 and asked to contribute a short story to their once-in-a-decade anthology.