Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jip en Janneke

I just started reading a book of Dutch children’s stories – in Dutch – called Jip en Janneke. It’s at my reading level with enough pictures to keep the pages turning. Every Dutch child growing up in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s knows this book. They read it the way I read Pippi Longstocking, Frog and Toad, Winnie-the-Pooh, and later the Ramona books.

It’s a chapter book and I’ve only read about five of the stories, but they are so simple and delightful. In one story, Jip and Janneke must carry a basket of apples to opa (grandpa). On the way they argue about which apples taste better, red or green. Of course they must find out, so they sit down and take little bites out of each apple to determine which are best. When they arrive at opa’s they are scared to give him the basket of bitten apples. But opa says they must be tastier with a bite taken out and they all sit down and eat them together.

In another story, Jip goes to meet Janneke’s new baby cousin. He leans over the bassinette and remarks that she looks like a little piglet. Janneke’s aunt asks if Jip would like to have a baby cousin of his own. He says, no, he’d rather have a real piglet. Besides, he already has a cousin who is six and doesn’t look like a piglet. Janneke gets mad and runs off. Jip goes after her and says that her baby cousin is a sweet piglet.

I love these stories! And because I’m reading them like I read my first books in English – not quite knowing all the words or grasping the finer details but wanting to read them over and over again anyway – it takes me back to that time when all stories were new and magical and every book an undiscovered adventure waiting for me.

And the most exciting part is that not only do I get to revisit my own childhood, but I also get to share it all with my son, who is almost two and LOVES books – Dutch, English, modern and classic.

So what books take you back?


Michelle said...

About a year ago I got a few books from my aunt. They had been mine, and passed down to my younger cousins. She thought I'd like them back. One was the Dr. Seuss Cat In The Hat Picture Dictionary and another was called Tiny Bear's New Sled. I hadn't seen them in about 30 years, but got a real flashback moment when I saw them.

Sarah said...

The Chronicles of Narnia. They were the first "real" books I read, the first stories I remember. I was in first grade, so there was that pride of, "Wow, I'm reading a big book!." More than that, though, I fell in love with Narnia. Talking animals and adventures? Sign me up.

I also loved Graham Oakley's Churchmice series.

Michelle said...

There are a couple of adult women who come into the library and are reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time. Add to mine A Hole is to Dig, by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak. That's the first book I remember being able to read all the way through. My fish's name is Maurice for that reason.

Alison said...

For me it is the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton, an English series, sort of Hardy Bros/Nancy Drew set back in England in about the 1930's or 40's, pre-war. I LOVED them as a child! I would be so excited to visit my family in England every 2 years to get another one or find one under the tree for Christmas.

Now when I read them to my own kids, I have to stop and explain why it was so strange for a girl to have short hair and wear shorts, or how it was normal for an 11 year old to be away at boarding school.

And I have suddenly noticed that there is a secret passageway or tunnel in EVERY single one of the books! HOW could I not have noticed that the first time around?