11 children’s book characters

Want to be hip and happening with your four-year-old?  Get familiar with these 11 Dutch children’s book characters who will be part of their Dutch vocabulary as soon as they hit the peuterspeelzaal.

By illustrator/graphic designer, Dick Bruna from 1955 – Nijntje, known in English as Miffy, has become an internationally recognized figure.   An impressive 85 million copies of Nijntje books have been sold worldwide. Some books come with only drawings, other have a story in very simple rhyme. Warning: reading these books aloud to you child repeatedly may seriously harm your sanity

Jip and Janneke

Created by Annie M. G. Schmidt in 1952, there are dozens of stories about these two kids busy with everyday adventures – like walking the dog; and having a birthday. Perceptive and funny, the stories continue to be much-loved. The stylised black and white silhouette drawings feature heavily on toys and baby clothing in the department store, HEMA. Translated into many languages.

Pim and Pom
Written by Mies Bouhuys and illustrated by Fiep Westendorp from 1950. These stories feature the adventures of two cats, Pim and Pom.  The stories were also developed as a television series (52 episodes) by Nickelodeon and shown around the world.  A full feature length animation film is due in 2013.

Ciske de Rat
A trilogy by Piet Bakker about an 11 year old street kid nicknamed ‘the rat’ and first published in 1941.  The film made a star of child singer Danny de Munk who later played an adult role in the theatre musical version.

De Olijke Tweeling
A series by Arja Peters which first appeared in 1958.  The main characters are twin sisters Ellis and Thelma – who just happen to have twin brothers.  The series is about their many adventures (and the survival of their mother at a time before Valium).

Ot en Sien

Like Jip and Janneke these stories are based on a boy and girl who live next door to one another.  Written by Jan Ligthart and illustrated by Cornelis Jetses – they first appeared in 1902 and tell the unbelievable tales of their perfect families living in the midst of the then, extremely impoverished area of Drenthe.

Regrettably known in English as Fingerling, these books (1939-1977) by Dick Laan are about a little old man with a large pointy hat. Fingerling helps people but never shows himself to anyone except Meneer Dick Laan, as he calls him, to whom he tells his stories.

Snelle Jelle 

A collection of 20 books written by Ad van Gils between 1984-1998, about Jelle de Boer, a young boy who is crazy about football. Jelle pings, dribbles, passes and scores but also learns that life is about more than football.

Dik Trom
Dating back to 1891, this collection of stories by Cornelis Johannes Kieviet  is based on a mischievous, over-sized Dutch boy. ‘He’s a special boy and that’s the truth’ is the phrase his father uses when confronted with another of his son’s pranks.

DikkIe Dik
Stories about an inquisitive red cat which originated in the Dutch version of the television programme, Sesame Street.  Jet Boeke based the character of Dikke Dik on her own pet.

A collection of stories about a frog, written and illustrated by Max Velthuijs. Kikker, invariably clothed in stripey shorts, is a bit of a philosopher and the books tackle ‘big’ issues, such as friendship and death,  in a child-friendly way.


3 thoughts on “11 children’s book characters

  1. Marion

    I miss:
    – Kruimeltje (by Chris van Abcoude)
    – De Kameleon (series of books about twinboys (Hielke and Sietse) who fix up an old boat with a car-engine and have all kind of adventures, by H. de Roos)
    – Annie MG Schmidt stories, other than the already mentioned Jip en Janneke, such as Wiplala, Pluk van de Petteflet and many others


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