Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jip and Janneke

At long last, as I promised, I'm doing a Jip and Janneke post.

Jip and Janneke are a pair of Dutch preschoolers invented and chronicled by the late, great Annie M.G. Schmidt. They were illustrated by the similarly brilliant Fiep Westendorp. In the Netherlands the two are everywhere––both as books and as merchandise--and everyone has read the short, funny, extremely Dutch stories about them at some point in childhood. A phrase derived from them has even entered the language-- "Jip-en-Janneketaal", or "Jip and Janneke language", means simple speech.

Despite their ubiquity in Holland, Jip and Janneke have barely made so much as a peep here in the States. At some point in the '60s and '70s a few translations came out in English, with Jip and Janneke appearing as "Mick and Mandy" (ugh) and then "Bob and Jilly" (double ugh. Sorry-- I just have a personal pet peeve about translations that seriously fail to preserve the names of characters). For better or worse, both the M & M and the B & J versions are now out of print.

But! On my last day in Amsterdam back in January, in a children's bookshop with J., I was psyched to discover that the Dutch publisher Querido had taken it upon itself to release a faithful English translation. I bought it and devoured it on the plane ride home. (It kept me calm and giggly on an otherwise terrifyingly turbulent flight.) So far it's not available in the States (not sure about England either). But eventually-- maybe-- I hope--!

Here's the back cover:

The first page of one of my favorite stories:

p.s.-- Wikipedia has a picture of the cover of the Finnish edition. :)

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