Book reviews – Thoroughly modern Miffy

Miffy activity booksHow do you take a beloved character and her endeavours and update them for a modern audience? In the case of poet and author Tony Mitton’s work on Miffy, it seems the answer is with great respect, grace and subtlety.

Of all the children’s books I’ve encountered, the Miffy books by Dutch artist Dick Bruna have embodied the genre with the greatest restraint – by which I mean that he invented something good, and ran with it.

The Miffy original artwork is key here, with simple shapes, bold colours and sharp outlines – not unlike the later work of Matisse who so inspired Bruna – just take a peek at the legendary ‘Miffy At The Gallery’ to see what I mean!

Miffy at the Gallery

The text is far from secondary, but works in seamless harmony with the images, with clean, straightforward ideas and words telling uncomplicated yet pleasing stories about adventures any child can relate to.

Tony’s work on the new releases from Miffy’s UK publisher Simon and Schuster has ensured a tightness of phrase and clarity of language that modern children will enjoy – with plenty of questions included to ensure that reading these books is an interactive experience.

Two of the releases in particular hold interactivity at their centre – Miffy Draws: a wipe clean book (complete with a special Miffy pen!), and Miffy Outdoors, a sticker scene book with 50 individual stickers using Dick Bruna’s artwork. Both encourage children to get involved creating the scenes Miffy explores, and think about their own favourite pastimes.

Miffy Draws sunny and snowy

I think they’re great fun, and work beautifully with Tony’s prose – “Miffy is sailing on the sea! What can you add to the picture? Maybe you could draw a friendly whale or a quacking duck.”

It’s the perfect balance of informative and open to prompt kids to use their imaginations and thoroughly engage. I have a sense these will become treasured family heirlooms, packed with children’s early artwork – and the sweet stickers, which include a gorgeous one of Miffy in a bright yellow tent, are bound to be collectors’ items in years to come. But only if no one peels a single sticker, and where’s the fun in that?

Miffy stickers

They books are wonderful gifts for children, artists, or anyone with an enduring fondness for the little white rabbit with an inquisitive nature.

Miffy Draws and Miffy Outdoors are both available to buy from Amazon.

Find out how you can win a family trip to Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Win a trip to the home of Miffy

Tony Mitton meets MiffyRemember Miffy? The white rabbit from Utrecht, near Amsterdam, embarked on a mass of adventures in 1955 thanks to illustrator, graphic designer and writer Dick Bruna. And now, prompted by her UK publisher Simon and Schuster, she’s setting out again, ready to enthrall a brand new generation.

How could they resist? I’m not sure I can. From Miffy At The Gallery (pictured below) to Miffy At The Zoo, this is one curious and cultural bunny. With her 60th anniversary on the horizon, award-winning poet Tony Mitton has produced updated text modern readers will enjoy. The new books promise to interest children in a wide range of activities, while pleasing adults too.

Miffy at the Gallery

In case you were wondering, that’s Tony pictured at the top of this post, shaking hands with his new muse – Tony’s the one on the left 🙂

Dick Bruna at work

Dick Bruna at work

To celebrate, Waterstones is running a competition to win a weekend in Amsterdam for a family of four. The prize includes a day trip to Miffy’s home town of Utrecht to find out more about Dick Bruna, the Dutch artist who invented the fluffy adventurer to entertain his young son while on a rainy seaside holiday. He ended up writing and illustrating 32 books about the perky rabbit.

The competition runs throughout August and is open to Waterstones loyalty card members only (you can sign up for a loyalty card in any Waterstones branch or online at www.waterstonescard.com).

The winning entry will receive flights from a UK airport for a family of four, two nights in a hotel in Amsterdam, plus rail tickets to Utrecht and free entry to the Dick Bruna exhibition.

Find the full competition details here. I think it sounds well worth entering – and a great excuse to jump back into the colourful world of Miffy.

Hop by next week to read my review of the latest Miffy titles to hit the shelves.