Hello there! Let me introduce the Dutch children’s book Jip and Janneke, by Annie M. G. Schmidt and Fiep Westendorp who are “the uncrowned queens of Dutch children’s literature”.
These two Netherlands‘ preschoolers seem to be the most famous characters from Dutch books for children. I met them last year in The American Book Center in Amsterdam. They eat pancakes, sing in the street, cut pictures out of books (ouch!), send some letters, do some modelling and/or get married. Well, nothing is too demanding for them.
There are 48 short stories in the book, they are simple but not primitive! They are SWEET. My favourite story? It’s called Cutting Out Pictures. Here’s the storyline:
It’s a wet day, and Jip and Janneke have nothing to do. Jip’s mother gave them scissors and magazines to cut pictures out of. “Finished,” says Janneke. “Are there any more picture books?” Guess how it ends…
Jip and Janneke are two little sweet kids who live their lifes spontaneously because that’s how life should be lived, and they know it. One stamp on the letter doesn’t look nice? Well, let’s put on another three! They do what they want, and how they want – in the most beautiful and funny way. And that’s why I love them.
English translation of the book has been released by Dutch publishing house Querido. If you don’t know how to read Dutch names, here’s a clue from the book: The Dutch name Jip is pronounced “Yip”. Janneke is a little more difficult. It might be easiest to think of as “Yannicka”, with the “a” as in “father” and a firm stress on the first syllable.
By the way, if you’re looking for more sweet Dutch books for kids, try to find Pluk van de Petteflet, by the same amazing writer and the same phenomenal illustrator.