Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Miffy And Friends – Miffy Books And Toys

Who is Miffy?

When I was a kid I just loved Miffy! These days Miffy is a very popular character throughout the world and she was first created in 1955 by the Dutch artist and author, Dick Bruna.  Miffy is a very cute little girl bunny, and is drawn with white fur, a round face, long, pointy ears, a cross for a mouth and little black eyes.  The character of Miffy was inspired by the small, white rabbit that used to hop around the garden of the Bruna’s holiday home. Dick Bruna’s oldest son, Sierk, was about a year old at the time, and Bruna wove this white rabbit character into the bedtime stories that he used to tell him. Miffy’s name in Dutch was initially ‘Nijntje’ which was how a very small child would pronounce the word ‘konijntje’ or ‘little rabbit’. But why did Dick Bruna decide to make his Miffy character a little girl bunny? Apparently he created Miffy as a little girl because he preferred to draw a rabbit dressed in frocks, rather than one dressed in trousers. The early depictions of Miffy showed her as a rabbit soft toy, with floppy ears, but by 1963 she had evolved into the familiar Miffy character that we know and love today, although in some of the stories Miffy is drawn as a baby bunny and in some she is shown as a pre-schooler.

Miffy Stuffed Toy in Tulip Festival

Dick Bruna and Miffy

Before the days of Miffy, Dick Bruna used to illustrate the covers of books for his father’s publishing house A.W Bruna and Zoon, and was especially celebrated for his covers of the Black Bear paperback book series.  The very first picture book that Bruna created for children was ‘The Apple’ in 1953 and it showcased Bruna’s love of clean lines and using vivid colours. He works by creating thick black outline drawings and filling them in with bright, primary colours. Bruna is very fussy about what colours he will use in one of his illustrations and generally sticks to red, blue, yellow, black and green. He will very occasionally incorporate orange, brown or grey, but does not like the colour purple. So if purple is your favourite colour, do not look for it in a Miffy picture book! Dick Bruna is now in his eighties, but is still working on his books and illustrations, getting his ideas from watching his grandchildren or the local kids playing. He has written an amazing 120 picture books for children to date, with, hopefully, many more still to come. What may surprise lovers of Hello Kitty is that Dick Bruna is not a fan, as he thinks that the character of Hello Kitty’s friend Cathy the rabbit was copied directly from Miffy, and a ban on selling merchandise with Cathy images in the Netherlands was even imposed by a Dutch court.

Miffy Books

The very first Miffy book was published in 1955 and 30 other Miffy tales have followed. The Miffy stories are very simple tales centred around the ordinary, day-to-day situations that all small children have to deal with such as going to school, visiting the zoo, or having a new baby in the family. Miffy books also always have happy endings! Dick Bruna was determined that the text and illustrations would remain simple, so that they would stimulate the young reader’s imaginations, although, initially, this simplicity was not popular with the adults who looked at the books. However, children everywhere immediately fell in love with Miffy and the books have now sold around 85 million copies worldwide and have been translated into around 50 different languages. Miffy also has a family who feature in the stories, including her parents, Grandpa, Grandma and a new baby, Aunt Alice and Uncle Bob, and friends such as the bunnies Aggie and Melanie, Poppy Pig and Grunty, Snuffy, and Barbara and Boris Bear. The very earliest Miffy picture books were produced in a rectangular format, and from 1959 they became the familiar square format that they still are today. These early rectangular Miffy books are now regarded as collector’s items, so if you own one that is in good condition, it may be worth a fair bit of money. The shape of the books was changed so that children could handle them more easily with their little hands, and the covers are deliberately sturdy so they won’t be damaged too much by being bashed around by boisterous kids. Generally speaking, the illustrations are placed on the right hand pages and the text on the left hand pages, and there are sixteen pages in each book. The text consists of four lines per page, with the last word of the second line rhyming with the last word of the fourth line, making the Miffy stories very easy to read aloud.

Miffy on the Small Screen

With the increasing popularity of Miffy it was almost inevitable that she would become a star of the small screen. In 2003 a TV series was made based on the Miffy character, which was aired on cable channels. The show, named Miffy and Friends, moved to public television and was sponsored by the favourite kids chocolate brand Nestlé’s Milky Bar. The simple, straightforward approach of the Miffy books was adhered to when making the TV series, and there is just one, female narrator telling the stories. Many of the Miffy and Friends adventures have now been released on DVD, so your kids can enjoy watching these great stories at any time, and will keep them entertained on rainy days at home or on those long car journeys that are so boring for little ones. If you are looking for great children’s presents, Miffy DVDs make great gifts for birthdays, or as stocking fillers at Christmas.

Miffy Toys and Miffy Merchandise Online

The Miffy picture books are still hugely popular and have led to the creation of a huge range of Miffy merchandise such as toys, electronics and kids clothing. There are many adorable Miffy stuffed toys available in different sizes and designs. Miffy stuffed toys are very soft and cuddly, and make wonderful gifts for babies and toddlers.  Miffy is also featured on a wide range of kid’s clothes, baby accessories, and I have even seen a really cute Miffy mp3 player and docking station. You will find the biggest range of Miffy books, DVDs and toys online, so have a look on Amazon today and lose yourself in the wonderful world of Miffy today!

Miffy image Alpsdake Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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