Every Dutch child grows up with the Jip & Janneke books. These books are written in very simple Dutch, with short sentences and easy words, so kids can already read them when they are still young. The short stories are about two toddlers, the boy Jip and the girl Janneke that experience a lot of things together. Mainly events out of daily life that children can relate to, but many with a bit of an educational undertone. They were also nicely illustrated, and every Dutch kid will immediately recognize the Jip and Janneke drawing style. As a kid I liked the books a lot, and although I have not seen my Jip & Janneke book in probably 25 years, I still know exactly what it looked like.
Today the “Yipu he Yaneke” books were also officially introduced in China, this afternoon the Dutch ambassador presented them in Beijing’s Wangfujing bookstore. They are translated into Chinese, and the book contain both the Chinese characters and the matching pinyin (the romanization of the characters) – of course together with the original illustrations.
I wonder, however, whether Chinese kids can relate to the stories. In contrast to Dutch youngsters, they do not play on the streets or have adventures outside of the house with their friends. From a very young age onwards they need to study to become the best in their class, so they can get further in life (something most Dutch kids would never be able to understand). The concept of learning about life by playing is very foreign to most Chinese parents, and only for that reason already they might not even buy the books. The first edition was printed only 10,000 times, a very low figure for Chinese publishing houses, so it seems they are also not too sure that the books will become a success.
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