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I like well illustrated children's books and have quite a number of "favorite" illustrators. Some of the pictures we find enhancing children's books are true works of art, are extremely complicated, complex and stimulating. These are good and some are at the top of my list; my most loved list.
On the other hand, there is much to be said for simplicity for the younger reader. Hey, you have to crawl and take baby steps before you can walk or run. Simplicity and sameness can often be the most soothing for a young child.
And in the words of the author, Dick Bruna "Miffy is always Miffy." More about this later....
Dick Bruna has written and illustrated well over 200 children's book but the most popular and well known are of this cute loveable little bunny Miffy of which there are at present around 30 books about her and her friends. Bruna presently has over 80 million copies of his books in print around the world and I suspect there are more to come.
This is the first book of the Miffy series and in many ways I think one of the sweetest. Mommy and Daddy want a baby bunny and between their hopes and prayers they get Miffy. Pretty simple concept but it is one children can relate to instantly.
As to the illustrations, to call Bruna a minimalist would be an understatement. By his own admission he has been strongly influenced by Matissse and it certainly shows in his art work. Each frame is done in very bold (and somewhat subdued) primary colors for the most part and he uses very black graphic lines on all of his characters. Miffy is always Miffy as the series continues; always a simple dress, always very near the same expression. You will note that as Bruna introduces new characters to these books such as Boris and his little girl friend, Barbara Bear, Poppy Pig, Grandma, Grandpa Snuffy and the entire gang, they remain the same from then on.
The author uses very simply rhyming quatrains as a text and between the stark (but comforting) illustrations and these warm little rhymes, the child is quite often soothed and it almost always holds their interest. Actually, truth be told, I find the pictures and text rather soothing myself...but then I have a lot of little boy in me still.
This little story of how Miffy got here as well as the next thirty some books all deal with subjects that kids are familiar with, some fun, some silly, some a bit more serious...in a gentle way.
Miffy was first published here (Druna is from the Netherlands, works and lives there) in 1963 but Miffy was first conceived in 1955 when the author noted a rabbit running around the house with his little girl and he started trying to draw the rabbit. Of course Miffy was originally named differently...Nijntje to be precise but had a bit of a name change when she came to this country.
The next two books in this series, Miffy at the Zoo and Miffy at the Seaside are just as delightful. Of course, to be honest, I have not read one of the books in the series that I did not like.