Nijntje, the little rabbit that could.

Imagine a simple, line-drawn rabbit with two spots for eyes and a cross for a mouth. Now imagine entire nations growing up with this little bunny. With this I welcome you to the wonderful world of Nijntje (pronounced as nein-che).

This children’s cartoon character was created in the Netherlands in 1955. From there she gradually took over the world using various aliases. Which ones? Keep on reading and you’ll find out.

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The birth of a cartoon bunny

Nijntje was created by Dutch graphic artist Dick Bruna and started, not as a cartoon, but as a bedside story which Bruna read to his one year old son. He later began to draw the bunny and it didn’t take long for his first book — simply called “Nijntje” — to be published.

The initial feedback from parents wasn’t good; they didn’t like the simple layout and bright colours he had chosen. Children, however, immediately fell in love with the charismatic bunny, and for that reason alone Bruna stuck to his concept.

What was that about World domination?

After Nijntje became popular in the Netherlands, other countries started to become interested. But with Nijntje often proving too difficult for non Dutch to pronounce, lots of pseudonyms were invented like; Le Petit Lapin, Mouffe, Usako, Kleintjie and Coelhinho. But the most used alias is undoubtedly Miffy.

With the above mentioned pseudonyms, the following figures can be drawn;
– Nijntje has starred in 115 books
– All books have been translated in 40 languages
– A staggering 85 million books have been sold worldwide
– Annually the Nijntje brand is worth €250 million in retail.

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Not bad for a cartoon bunny, don’t you think?

Is Nijntje stil ‘alive’ today?

Unfortunately Dick Bruna has stopped drawing Nijntje in 2011. No successor was appointed and with that the era of Nijntje seems to have passed.

So that’s it then?
Not quite, because 2015 has been declared ‘year of the bunny’. Not in a Chinese-calendar kind of way, but with Nijntje celebrating her 60th birthday.
As we speak, the city of Utrecht, Dick’s hometown, is planning a huge party to be held on June 21. Some of the features will be;
– a big Nijntje statue
– a special Nijntje exhibition at the Central Museum
– Nijntje related traffic lights.

So if you’re a fan, mark your calendar and be there.


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