Dick Bruna, Nijntje and Friends Posted by noortje on Jul 9, 2010 in Dutch Language
Maybe the name “Nijntje” doesn’t ring an immediate bell to you, but when I say “Miffy” I am sure you know who I am talking about. The creator behind this cute little bunny is Dick Bruna, a Dutch draughtsman, writer and graphic artist.
Bruna was born in Utrecht on the 23rd of August in 1927. His father was a publisher (A.W. Bruna). After the war Bruna started with high school, but didn’t feel much motivation to continue and dropped out. His father stepped into the footsteps of his father, and the same was expected from the little Bruna. He left to London and Paris to prepare himself for the job, but instead he was inspired by different museums and decided to be an artist.
Back at home he started his studies at the “Amsterdamse Kunstacedemie” (the Amsterdam Academy for the arts) but it wasn’t what he wanted either. He decided to work at his father’s company, but as a draughtsman.
In 1953 he married and published his first children’s book, De Appel (the Apple). In 1995 he drew his first story about Nijntje, after being inspired by a stuffed animal, a rabbit.
Nijntje is without doubt Bruna’s most famous creation. This white rabbit has human features and has several other animal friends to accompany her in her adventures. Her most famous friends are Betje Big the pig, the bears Boris and Barbara and the brown dog Snuffie.
Right now Bruna has published thirty books about this little rabbit and enjoy worldwide fame. A lot of countries translated the books, although the name “Miffy” is the most common abroad. Other names that are or were used are Mouffe (France), Ninchen (Germany), Lilla Kanin (Swedish), Usako-chan (Japan) or Coelhinho (Portugal). His books are always square, so easy to use for little kids.
There have been plenty of discussions why those little figures are so popular with children. It is said that the simplicity of the drawings has a lot to do with it. Because of the limited lines and the bright colors, the drawing is easy for the eye but still complete. Another aspect is that Nijntje and her friends always, except when they are lying on their backs, look straight into the eyes of the reader, even if she is on a bike or trying to catch a ball.
In any case, Nijntje is famous and Utrecht is proud. One of the buildings has Nijntje-ears and some of the traffic lights show green, yellow or red Nijntje’s. I don’t know anyone else who has the honor to say that.
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