Renée Toft Simonsen - 2006 - Renée Toft Simonsen

By Lykke Søby, 16. June 2006
Renée and Lillebror

Renée Toft Simonsen knows how to write children’s books. She believes that books are important for children since they give them freedom to use their imagination more than other media.
Why do you write children’s books?
I honestly don’t know, but I think it was because my universe at that time in life was a lot about children, their thoughts, their lives and their activities. I have always read a lot myself and found much comfort in books when I was a child. And then I just love children’s books and children. Karlas Kabale was just the book that was there at the time when I started writing.
Which role do parents and siblings play in your books?
So far they have played a very large role e.g. in the Karla series. In Lillebror (Lille brother) they are less important. A child is at best always a part of a whole and the whole is what forms the child and what the child acts up against, it is usually parents and siblings who are the closest. With Karla it was important for me to tell a story where children would recognize themselves. They should be able to mirror themselves and get something that tells them something in relation to the everyday and lives they have. Therefore, family became very important in those books. Moreover, family is incredibly important to me personally, and I actually think that I am the type who will always write about things that mean something to myself.
What type is Lillebror?
Lillebror is the kind of boy that lives inside his own mind. He has his own world and lives his own life. A boy with a big imagination and an indomitable energy level. He is the type who wants what he wants and therefore finds all kinds of ways to get it. At the same time he is a good and loving boy and full of mischief. I think he is a really good playmate because he always has new ideas of what to play and is always up to something.
What would you like children to take with them or learn from your stories?
First and foremost to be good people, to behave decently, this is not to say that they cannot be naughty or self-centered. They can be that, but to me there is good and evil. In the adult world things like that can at times be hard to define, but with children you have to be much more direct. With Karla it becomes very obvious whereas it with Lillebror is not about the big existential things. Lillebror can show that you can be a good child even if you e.g. steal a little chocolate. Children are so wonderfully spontaneous and that chocolate is the most important thing in the world is something they can relate to, also without being moralizing about it. In my stories it is also very much about being true to yourself and if you can pass that on, much is achieved. Feeling and acting in accordance with the feelings you have and not in accordance with what everyone else thinks. Also, I don’t think I can control what people get from reading my stories. Everyone will get what they can or need and that is nice.
How can you make parents read more to their children and how can you make children read more themselves?
I don’t know if you can make anyone do anything. What you can do while trying is to inform about how important that part of life is. Fantasy, the free space and the abilities developed with regard to all other aspects in life. To be a good reader rubs off most of the way up through the course of education and culture and it gives a child abilities that are essential in our part of the world.

Very special thanks to Tina for the translation!

17. August 2006
Birger Storm
danish Kig Ind
August 2006
Lotta Lemche
danish SE OG HÖR
August 2006
Kaspar Wenstrup
german rtl2 evening news report about danish designers munthe plus simonsen with Renée in the audience (right) aired 15. August 2006 danish B.T.
13. August 2006
Simon Knudsen
danish BILLED BLADET 17. Aug. 2006 - at munthe plus simonsen fashion-show danish KIG IND Aug. 2006 - at munthe plus simonsen fashion-show danish SE OG HOR Aug. 2006 - at munthe plus simonsen fashion-show munthe plus simonsen show rtl2 Aug. 2006 1 munthe plus simonsen show rtl2 Aug. 2006 3 danish B.T. Sep. 2006 - at munthe plus simonsen fashion-show

Please, check also here for some wonderful photos taken by danish photographer Ole Bo Jensen of Renée in August 2006!

danish Söndag - 2. October 2006 - Britt Lindemann
danish familie magasinet
April 2009 #1
danish Se og Hor 2009
danish Söndag 2. Oct. 2006 cover by Britt Lindemann danish Söndag 2. Oct. 2006 1 - face close-up laughing danish Söndag 2. Oct. 2006 2 - sitting on chair inside danish Söndag 2. Oct. 2006 3 - in the kitchen with meat danish Söndag 2. Oct. 2006 4 - inside - on the table with her Karla books danish familie magasinet 04-09 #1 cover by Britt Lindemann "Angsten..." - danish Se og Hor 2009 by Britt Lindemann

Small summary of the danish Söndag and B.T. October 2006 articles:

Söndag: "Dreams are a giant native power. I do have many dreams. Not all have yet come true. But they are all very important to me", says Renée. One of it, to open a house for old people, has not died yet. Renée used to dream of the perfect family: where all the kids have the same mum and dad. They went to Spain with the wish to get a new life. - "I do fall in love with my husband again and again. Especially when he goes on stage or when he does something great with the kids." Renée and Thomas has been together for 10 years. "My need for symbiosis may be bigger than my husbands". - "Karla is a bestseller and I am proud."

B.T.: Spain gave love a new life. Renée and Thomas cut off one year of the calendar to get away from stress and hurry. The trip to Spain had been a fairytale with witches, trolls and dragons. The word "time" got a new meaning in Spain. The year away from the danish "everyday" got the family closer together, but not always without trouble. Especially the kids had a hard time when they moved to Spain.
Renée has finished her 4. Karla book. She has a big talent to write childrens books. They are a big success - the first 3 books sold over 30.000 copies. Renée got inspiration for her books from children she has met in real life.
THANKS to Susanne for the summary!

danish B.T. - 8. October 2006 - Ernst Van Norde
danish B.T. 8. Oct. 2006 cover-pic - face close-up 1 danish B.T. 8. Oct. 2006 - face close-up 2 danish B.T. 8. Oct. 2006 - outside with the white westie-dog

danish B.T.
23. December 2006
Ernst Van Norde
danish FEMINA
12. April 2007 #15
Ernst Van Norde
danish B.T.
1. February 2009
Ernst Van Norde
danish B.T. 23.1206 - on chair outside white wool-pullover by Ernst Van Norde danish FEMINA 12.04.07- white wool-pullover by Ernst Van Norde danish B.T. 01.02.09 - white wool-pullover by Ernst Van Norde

danish Billed Bladet
November 2006
french Valeurs Actuelles
24. November 2006
Helle Moos danish TV2 "Go Morgen Danmark"
 3. November 2006
danish BILLED BLADET Nov. 2006 - Clarins award Renée was awarded at the 2. Nov. with the CLARINS "The Most Dynamic Women" prize »»». The prize is donated with 150.000 DKR and went directly into a relief project of Plan Denmark for children in Kenya. CLARINS rewards since 1997 courage and mission for needy children. french Valeurs Actuelles 24. Nov. 2006 - Clarins award by Helle Moos More infos
danish TV2 interview 3. Nov. 2006 at Go Morgen Danmark - 1
Special thanks to someone special!

Renée Toft Simonsen and Plan Danmark receive award
The company Clarins A/S has since 1997 given away the award Prix de la Femme Dynamisante/The Most Dynamic Woman Award – an award which is given every year to an exceptional woman who works to give children in need new hope and personal dignity.
Thursday the award was given for the first time to a Danish woman who is known for her former job as a model and present job as an author. The woman is Renée Toft Simonsen, who received the award for her work for the organization Plan Danmark.
Renée Toft Simonsen is a graduate in psychology with specialty in children’s psychology. Privately she is married to Thomas Helming and together they have 4 children.
Renée Toft Simonsen has been a member of Plan Danmarks board for a number of years and has been sponsor for Joaquina in Bolivia for 8 years. Renée visited Joaquina together with Thomas in 1997 and Joaquina has changed the family’s view of everyday life at home.
- Through my sponsorship my own children become aware of the necessity to help other children who are less privileged. I think it is important that they know there are children in other parts of the world who have to walk 10 km to fetch water, Renée has said.
Renée Toft Simonsen has published 4 children’s books in the series about Karla, her first book was published in 2003 by Politikens Forlag (the publisher) and the latest book in the series, “Karla & Jonas”, was published 12 October 2006.
Renée has always been very involved in children and children’s conditions of life and has for many years been active in the fight for bigger understanding and respect for children’s rights across countries and cultures.
In 2004 Renée wrote the epilogue to Henning Mankell’s book about aids ”I die but the memory lives on” which is about the memorial books Africa’s strong women write to their children when they know that they are going to die. In this connection Renée visited Plan’s memorial book project in Uganda.
The Plan project includes thousands of memorial books and Plan has started the project because children often are forgotten when their parents get sick from aids. The children are not told properly about what is really happening and they feel scared and unsafe. When the parents die, the children not only lose the people who care most about them but also their history.
- The memorial books are palpable proof that the children have been fact been loved. And that is important, Renée Toft Simonsen said after her visit to Uganda where the children’s fate made a deep impression on her.
In 2005 she visited one of the poorest areas in India in connection with Plan’s campaign for birth registry. Yearly 48 million children are not registered at birth and without birth registry the children have no way of proving their age, nationality, where they belong or who their parents are.
This makes them exposed and vulnerable to trafficking and child labour and most of all means that they have no rights at all and thus have no access to e.g. school.
- Now I have established that the children who are registered at birth, thus getting proof that they exist, actually also have a better life with more options, Renée Toft Simonsen said after her visit to India.
Clarins is aware of its responsibility towards society. No company can ignore the world of which it is a part, it is said and furthermore: Clarins wishes to be conscious of its humane responsibility and regards it a duty to always keep the eyes open and see also with the heart. From the founder Jacques Courtin to the sons Christian and Olivier a bond of life and love exists which also influences the family company Clarins.
For Clarins it was obvious that the award 2006 should be given to Renée Toft Simonsen. This exceptional, generous woman who with her sense of compassion and humanity once again proves that beauty and heart goes hand in hand.
The award consists of a money donation, a concrete help which makes is possible to finance projects in favour of children in Kenya through Plan Denmark.

Plan Danmark about Plan Danmark
Plan Danmark is part of Plan International – one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations with focus on children. Plan is a cooperation with over 1 million sponsors who sponsor 1.3 million children in Africa, Asia and Latinamerica. Through 70 years Plan has helped more than 50 million children by creating lasting improvements of their living conditions. Contact: Plan Danmark, Gwen Wisti, Rosenørns Allé 18, 2th, 1634 Kbn V, Tlf. 35 300 800, e-mail:, web:

BIG THANKS to Tina for the translation!

danish KARRIEREVEJVISER 2007 book - Ole Bo Jensen
2006 - danish KARRIEREVEJVISER book 2007 by Ole Bo Jensen 2006 - pic 1 danish KARRIEREVEJVISER book 2007 by Ole Bo Jensen 2006 - pic 2 danish KARRIEREVEJVISER book 2007 by Ole Bo Jensen Check here for more pictures of Ole Bo Jensen he took in  August 2006 of Renée

Interview she gave to Karrierevejviser - © Move On Communications
Do not forget the values

She was ”Face of the 80’s”, adorned fashion magazines around the world and lived a popular jet set life. Then she found a completely different career path – and a third. Today Renée Toft Simonsen can therefore also add graduate in psychology and author to her business card. Here the former top model talks about the difficult choices of her career.

”What do I have that makes me capable of advising new graduates of anything?” The humility is clear in Renée Toft Simonsen but not fair at all. Her career has been unusual and offered several radical changes which seen from the outside must have demanded many sleepless nights filled with considerations about the future. Those considerations are interesting! Because they can serve as an inspiration and motivation for those graduates who are about to choose the right career path themselves.
It quickly shows that Renée Toft Simonsen actually has a lot of valuable advice in the bag to the labour market candidates. Without big effort she finds it – well mixed with her own experiences from three completely different career courses. Common for them all is that she has tried to stay true to her values, those which her parents have branded in her and those which she now also impresses on her children.
It is both about feeling in your gut whether the career – and life in particular – feels right. It is about having a duty to take advantage of the possibilities you have and fill your potential. And it is especially about living like a decent person and in common Danish “act decently”. That’s it! Those values have been epoch-making for Renée Toft Simonsen – also career wise.

You need an education

”I grew up with the slogan that you need an education. Therefore I have never doubted that I would get there one day. I saw the years as a model as a unique opportunity to fill up my bank account so that I could study without getting a huge student debt”, Renée Toft Simonsen says and concludes that the mission is accomplished, but that she in no way was a happier person from making a lot of money:
”It was in many ways a superficial time where I invested a very limited part of myself. After 7 years I had enough. I forgot myself and my mission – finally it was not just about Danish kroner and ører. I started caring about which covers I could get”, says Renée Toft Simonsen.
After one year’s time for reflection Renée Toft Simonsen made a clean cut to the business. She ran away from a contract because she felt that she was losing herself and knew it was the last chance not to drown. The trip went to Israel because, as Renée Toft Simonsen says, then you do not get peace to think about what you want as long as you are in the middle of something else. Therefore she exchanged the podium and limelight with a kibbutz stay and plantation work.

Pull yourself together

Down in the orange plantation Renée Toft Simonsen rediscovered her values, and it became the start of more than one decade behind the school desk. First with a high school exam and later psychology studies. The studies were completed brilliantly and Renée Toft Simonsen has no doubt why: “I am sure that when you know what you want and know what it takes to get there, then you pull yourself together. It is probably that way with all things in life, she notes.

Career and family

The psychology studies where completed with three maternity leaves, one divorce and one wedding. But Renée Toft Simonsen reached her goal in 2000 and became a qualified psychologist. She was high on writing her special subject and became deeply absorbed so she was close to accepting a Ph.D. “It was as if I set new goals for myself all the time and forgot the original. I just had to get there and then I would relax and enjoy life. But “there” was pushed all the time, Renée Toft Simonsen says, who despite the study ecstasy chose to decline the Ph.D. and instead commit to her children and the family.
”My children are everything to me. So a full time job did just not fit into my idea of mornings without busyness, angry faces and hurry up and eat your oat meal”, Renée Toft Simonsen smiles.
But a stay at home mom is not synonymous with a woman who only flips cutlets and washes children’s clothes – at least not in Renée Toft Simonsen’s home. Therefore she threw herself into an entirely new role as author and has now several children’s books behind her and new projects underway.
Her education as a psychologist is used every day – both privately and as an author – so it is definitely not wasted: “If I in five years find out that I would like to practice as a psychologist then I will do that. I do not believe in getting too old for a job because everything you do and the experiences that follow in the wake you will always be able to use – provided that that the time is spent wisely and constructively, of course, says Renée Toft Simonsen.


Right now Renée Toft Simonsen is at a place in life where there is congruity between the inside and the outside. “I experience a huge joy by expressing myself in writing and I would like to get even better at writing. I am still a novice in the author circle and am often insecure about whether what I do is good enough. But I have a life where my values and career go hand in hand and that is crucial”, says Renée Toft Simonsen.

Dreams about more

For the former top model a good career is therefore about values and when the boundaries are crossed and you do no longer have that good feeling in your gut then it is about finding something else to do. Renée Toft Simonsen would like to be challenged but she will no longer live up to other people’s expectations – only her own: “I do dream about more career but it has to be with the right values”, she says.
The picture of the former top model is not only a sketch but a crystal clear picture of a woman who despite her just 41 years of age has three whole career courses behind her. From catwalk to qualified psychologist. From maternity leave to authorship. But what does Renée Toft Simonsen really see when she looks in the mirror? Her own answer is a seeking woman who rests in herself while seeking new challenges in her career. Because that it what life is about for her.

Take the chance

Renée Toft Simonsen believes that destiny rules your life. But it is to a great extent about being in the right place at the right time and daring to reach out to the possibilities which offer themselves. There are plenty of choices, and Renée Toft Simonsen is definitely not envious of the young people and understand if they are confused about the supply.
But she urges to feeling in your gut and reaching for what feels right: “Find some good role models who have some values which you can vouch for. It does not necessarily have to be living ones but the values should be in place. Then you are well on your way. And then the unavoidable in life is that for every time you make a choice you also say no to something else. That is the way it is. You cannot have it all”, she concludes.
It may sound trite but there is sense and experience behind the words: ”As a model I have experienced something that only few women experience. But I have also given a lot up. A lot of money in your account is definitely not equal to having a happier life even though it does make some things easier”, Renée Toft Simonsen concludes.
As she sits there with her million dollar smile, however, she does not seem burdened by her life situation. The career path has been long and winding but Renée Toft Simonsen sits today with the longest straw in her career: “I have adapted myself very well. I can do some modelling and then I can manage financially for 3 months where I can spend all my energy on writing”, she explains.
Today only two companies are lucky enough to have a contract with the super model who only does exactly the modelling jobs she wants to and has time for.

Take it easy

It is thus a higher level of calm and overview over her career now than 15 years ago. Renée Toft Simonsen seems serene about life, career and what both things will and must bring in the future: “In 10 years I will hopefully still be writing, but I can also imagine working for an organization like Médecins Sans Frontières. Furthermore we will probably also travel a lot because I want to teach my children to be open and tolerant towards foreign cultures. That is needed in these petty times”, snorts Renée Toft Simonsen.

The hope for Renée Toft Simonsen is thus to pass on her own earthbound values to the next generation of Toft Simonsen. Whether that entails that the children have a just as exciting and challenging career as their mom time will tell: “I do have a hope that my children will also want to educate themselves – not necessarily academically – but at least have an education. Because it is very important in my view”, Renée Toft Simonsen finishes.

She can look back at a mixed career which has paved the way for her around the cities of the world and hurried fashion environments. But she stopped, felt inside and found paradise at the outskirts of Århus.

BIG THANK YOU to Tina for the translation!

danish Berlingske Tidende - 14. October 2006 - Martin Dam Kristensen
cover sitting outside - danish 14.10.06 Berlingkse Tidende by Martin Dam Kristensen cover zoomed sitting outside - danish 14.10.06 Berlingkse Tidende by Martin Dam Kristensen behind the computer - danish 14.10.06 Berlingkse Tidende by Martin Dam Kristensen
Thanks to Armelle for the exchange!

norway Aftenposten - 3. February 2007 - Thomas Petri
12.12.06 on the veranda - norway Aftenposten 3.2.07 by Thomas Petri 12.12.06 talking with hands inside - norway Aftenposten 3.2.07 by Thomas Petri 12.12.06 behind the computer inside - norway Aftenposten 3.2.07 by Thomas Petri
Go to see the original article here!