the bunny pair were overjoyed
quite soon the baby came
with ears so long, and fur so white
and miffy was her name
Today, 21 June 2005, is Miffy's fiftieth birthday. You wouldn't know it by looking at her, she still looks as young as she did fifty years ago.
Miffy is a creation of Dutch illustrator Dick Bruna. Her actual, Dutch, name is Nijntje, which is an abbreviation of konijntje, which means little rabbit. Miffy was first drawn when Bruna and his family were on holiday. Bruna's son had a toy rabbit made of cloth, and Bruna drew a picture of it and wrote a story to go with it. From the first, Miffy was a girl, for the simple reason that Bruna preferred drawing a dress. In the first book, Miffy still looked a bit like a cloth rabbit, with clumsy ears. But from 1963 on, Miffy looks much like she does today. Miffy is a white rabbit with rounded ears, drawn with black outlines. She has black dots for eyes and a little cross for a mouth. If you've never seen her: think Hello Kitty (who was based on Miffy) without the whiskers and with bigger ears.
Bruna's drawing style is very recognizable. He believes in 'the art of leaving out', so every detail that is not essential to the drawing is removed, until the essence remains. Bruna also uses a limited amount of colours: red, yellow, blue and green, occasionally orange, grey and brown if it's absolutely necessary. Bruna always uses the same colours, a rather orangey red, darkish blue and green and warm yellow. The minimalistic style of Bruna's drawings make them attractive to both children and adults.
Miffy is a child rabbit and the Miffy books therefore tell simple stories about things kids do: going to school, visiting your grandparents and going to the beach. Each book follows the same layout: there is a page with four lines of text, and a drawing on the opposite side. The texts are simple and they ryme, like the text at the top of this wu.
There are also Miffy books that help explain 'facts of life' to small children. "Miffy in hospital" is one of them. "Dear Grandma Bunny" is about the death of a grandparent, and "The new baby" is about the birth of Miffy's sibling Bun.
So far, 26 Miffy books have appeared. They have been translated into more than forty different languages and are famous all over the world. In some languages Miffy has a different name, she is called "Miffa" in Latin and Kleintjie in Afrikaans. Miffy is especially popular in Japan. New York uses Miffy as a mascot, to promote the city as a child-friendly place.
Dick Bruna has received quite some awards for his work, both for their literary value (Dear Grandma Bunny) and for their drawings. In 1993 he even received a knighthood from Queen Beatrix.
Since a few years, Miffy is also on television in 3-d animation. The threedimensional Miffy also appears in books and as toys, but to the hardcore fans, the twodimensional Miffy is the only true one. There is even a huge range of Miffy merchandise that comprises everything from baby stuff (strollers, toys, plushies) to shampoo and handbags, all of which you can find in Miffy's Shop (De Winkel van Nijntje) in Amsterdam.
For more information than you ever knew existed about Miffy, you can visit http://www.miffy.com