Posted on 13 January 2010 by joost
You might not know it, but world-famous Miffy was born in Utrecht, Netherlands. We call her Nijntje and she is in fact a fictional character. Nijntje is a rabbit and she appears in children’s books of the same name. Millions of children across the world adore this little rabbit, and many adults do too.
The character is so recognizable that she is a true global brand, much like Hello Kitty. Not bad for Dick Bruna, Nijntje’s father, who invented her for his then one-year old son. Or should I say, invented him? There is some confusion as to whether Nijntje is a boy or a girl. Dick himself stated that Nijntje is a boy in his own biography, but the official website says Nijntje is a girl. In the animated series, her voice is female as well. It doesn’t matter a whole lot anyway. S/he is just Nijntje.
Nijntjes first book was named simply Nijntje, and many more have been published since. Every Nijntje book is the same: 24 pages, a verse on the left-hand pages and an illustration on the right-hand page. Dick Bruna deserves a huge amount of credit for his work. The character has been simplified as much as possible, but not too much. She is always in two colours (black and white) and only a handful other colours are used on the pages. The stories are simple, yet powerful. Babies have no trouble recognizing her from a distance.
Author Dick Bruna has been lucky to retain the copyrights to Nijntje for himself. Everywhere Nijntje appears is officially sanctioned by himself. This ensures the Nijntje brand is globally uniform, and this in turn allows one illustrator to market and sell his character all over the world. It will be no surprise the Japanse adore Nijntje. Over the last decades Nijntje has appeared in booklets, posters, toys, mugs, well practically every child-related item you can think of. Dick Bruna is still alive today and still produces Nijntje books.
By the way, Nijntje has a family name too. Her full name is Nijntje Pluis, which translates to Miffy Fluffy, but I am not sure she has a family name in English.