From the moment I knew I was having a baby I started buying Miffy books. There’s some traditions which have to be repeated, and Miffy is one of them. My mum and dad went to Holland in the last ten years or so, and my dad bought me something Miffy related – he lost it, but the one thing I’ll remember him saying in relation to it was “you always loved Miffy when you were little” – and he’s right, I did.
The first Miffy book was written back in 1955 by Dick Bruna. Obviously Dick Bruna is now so much more better known and has his own museum in Utrecht (next year’s holiday, maybe…?) but back then who could have predicted that Miffy would be so universally loved, translated and still available for children to read?
There’s so many books to choose from – with only a handful still in print, though a lot can be bought at a reasonable price in second-hand stores or online.
There’s only one Miffy book I find difficult to read. ‘Dear Grandma Bunny’ – which deals with Grandma Bunny’s death (a feature on books about death will happen when I can get through one of the books without crying) – but only because it deals with death and it’s something H will experience at some point. I got this while pregnant and made it to page two before I had to close it in floods of tears – be warned. Though the cover gives you a good enough idea.
Other than that, there’s so many Miffy books to choose from. The Book People had a box set of fifteen or sixteen books you could get at a bargain price, but I just missed out so bought them all individually – then started to collect further Dick Bruna books – so now we have a few Boris and Barbara ones, Poppy Pig and some learning books, as well as some based on the tv series that we’ve picked up at car boot sales.
I recommended ‘Miffy and the New Baby’ to a friend yesterday, as she felt a lot of the baby books out there at the moment start with the elder child resentful of the new addition – which in Miffy world just does not happen. Almost every book has a positive slant (there’s always exceptions); in this book Miffy is shouting hurrah, drawing the new baby a picture and looking forward to meeting it, then showering it with cuddles, and it’s all very nice and positive.
The latest addition to the Miffy library hasn’t yet received an English translation – Nijntje is Stout (Miffy is Naughty) – she steals a sweet! Then feels huge guilt at her terrible deed and confesses all, so even when Miffy is bad she’s quite good really. Kind of…
There’s also the very cute small Miffy’s Birthday Book which has a simple story/rhyme about a birthday, which we’ve given as a gift a few times to H’s friends – it’s small and cute and you can even write the name of the recipient in the front. It’s also a lot smaller than the regular Miffy books and it’s a different story to ‘Miffy’s Birthday’ too.
There are also some different books – Miffy The Artist was released in conjunction with the Tate in 2008 and is a story about Miffy discovering art. You can usually pick this one up quite cheaply on Amazon and Ebay.
There’s a Miffy at the Zoo pop-up book which was another I bought before H was born. It was actually for her cousin, but he already had it, so we kept it.
The thing which stands out the most for me with all these books is Dick Bruna’s wonderful pictures, and use of simple colours and fonts. There’s a shop in York which sells Dick Bruna artwork postcards – every time I go back I pick up a handful, put them in a picture frame (a nice colourful Ikea one) and make a picture for H’s bedroom. I love the simplicity.
Of course, Miffy is more than just books now – we’ve got a tabard, t-shirts, jingly ball toys, a Miffy and a Stuffy the dog toy or two… it’s never-ending – though not as in-your-face as some other toys out there.
We love what Dick Bruna has created, so just wanted to do a little Miffy tribute.
Thank you Dick Bruna, from a mother and her daughter, both growing up with your creations.