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|Created by||Dick Bruna|
Miffy (Dutch: Nijntje, pronounced [ˈnɛi̯ncə]) is a small female rabbit in a series of picture books drawn and written by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. The original Dutch name, Nijntje, is a shortening of the diminutive konijntje, "little rabbit".
The first Miffy book was produced in 1955, and almost 30 others have followed. In total they have sold over 85 million copies, and led to two separate television series as well as items such as clothes and toys featuring the character. A feature-length film, Miffy the Movie, was released in 2012.
Miffy was created in 1955 after Bruna had been telling his one-year-old son Sierk stories about a little rabbit they had seen earlier in the dunes, while on holiday at Egmond aan Zee. Miffy became a female after Bruna decided that he wanted to draw a dress and not trousers on his rabbit. Depending on the story, Miffy can be a baby to 4 years old.
At first Miffy looked like a toy animal, with floppy ears, but by 1963 she looked the way we see Miffy today. Miffy is drawn in a minimalist style, requiring only a few lines and one or two primary colors. There are some colors that are never used, and Bruna can be picky about a certain shade of color, brown and grey for example, and will search for it until he is happy. Even though the things that he draws are not realistic, they are instantly recognisable, and Miffy is obviously a rabbit.
There are now almost 32 titles for Miffy, and many more for the other characters. Bruna has produced a total of 124 picture books for young children.
The Miffy books each contain twelve pages of story. Each page has one illustration and four lines of verse, the last word of the second line rhymes with the last of the fourth. They are written about things that children can understand, and situations they will face such as going to the hospital and going to school, and they always have a happy ending. Some books have no text at all, such as Miffy's Dream.
The books are printed in small format. Bruna considers it important that his audience feels that his books are there for them, not for their parents. Most Miffy books have an advisory reading level of age 4 to 8 years.
Bruna's books have now been translated into more than 50 different languages, and over 85 million copies have been sold all over the world. He has won many awards for his books, such as the Golden Brush in 1990 for Boris Bear and the Silver Brush for Miffy In The Tent in 1996. In 1997 he was awarded the Silver Slate for Dear Grandma Bunny, a book where Miffy's Grandmother was sick and died.
The other characters that appear in the books are her family: Miffy's parents, her Grandma and Grandpa who are her father's parents, her Aunt Alice which is her father's younger sister, and 'Uncle Brian' a family friend, who appears in Miffy Goes Flying. A new brother or sister for Miffy is introduced in Miffy And The New Baby. She also has many friends, Boris and Barbara Bear, who first appeared in 1989 and are boyfriend and girlfriend, Poppy Pig, who appeared in 1977, and her niece Grunty, Snuffy, who appeared in 1969, and other bunnies such as Aggie and Melanie.
Miffy was designed as a children's book character, but the design is now used on many other things like clothes, stationery, toys, glasses, household items etc.
In the early 1990s an image of Miffy holding an adjustable spanner coyly behind her back appeared on flyers produced by people taking direct action against the UK government's road building program. This unauthorised use of the character spread and Miffy became a mascot for groups involved in radical ecological direct action.
Miffy appeared in her first TV show in 1992, called Miffy. Each episode was traditionally animated and ran for approximately five minutes.
From 2003 to 2007, Miffy and Friends aired on children's television channels such as Treehouse in Canada and Noggin in the U.S. It then moved to public television. The show added several new characters, such as Melanie's African family and the family of Boris' and Barbara's common cousin, Umik. The series was produced by Pedri Animation BV, a Dutch stop-motion animation company. It was voiced simply by a feminine storytelling narrator.
Miffy is sometimes assumed to be a Japanese character, because Sanrio's Hello Kitty, introduced in 1974, is rendered using a similar line style. The Miffy brand is popular in Japan, with strong sales of Japanese-made Miffy merchandise. In an interview for the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Bruna expressed his dislike for Hello Kitty. "'That,' he says darkly, 'is a copy [of Miffy], I think. I don't like that at all. I always think, "No, don't do that. Try to make something that you think of yourself".
On August 26, 2010, Mercis BV, representing Bruna, brought suit against Sanrio with the claim that one of Hello Kitty's companion characters, a rabbit named Cathy, infringes on the copyright and trademark of Miffy. On November 2, 2010, a Dutch court ruled against Sanrio and ordered the company to stop marketing Cathy products in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. On June 7, 2011, following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Sanrio and Mercis reached an out-of-court settlement requiring Sanrio to halt production of merchandise that features Cathy. Instead of continuing the court battle, the two companies announced that they would donate the legal fees to help the earthquake victims.
In Bruna's hometown, Utrecht, there is a square named after Nijntje, the Nijntjepleintje (lit: Little Nijntje Square, to retain the rhyme) and in 2006, the Centraal Museum opened a permanent exhibition, the dick bruna huis (Dick Bruna house).
Miffy celebrated her fiftieth birthday in 2005. This was marked in cities across the globe, for example, at the Manchester Art Gallery in England. She also serves a "celebrity character spokesperson" for Unicef.
Miffy's namesakes include a new species of booklouse from Peru. The insect was given the scientific name Trichadenotecnum miffy in 2008 because its epiproct, an appendage on its abdomen, resembles a small rabbit.
In July 2014 Bruna announced his retirement; the rights to the Miffy character will not be sold.
Snuffy - A female dog with three puppies.
Barbara Bear - Boris Bear's girlfriend.
Grunty Pig - Poppy Pig's niece.
Melanie - Miffy's pen friend.
Miffy - main character and protagonist
Dan - A new boy who sits next to Miffy at school.
Uncle Pilot - Not really Miffy's uncle, but a friend of the Bunny Family.
Father Bunny - Miffy's father.
Mother Bunny - Miffy's mother and Father Bunny's wife.
Grandma Bunny - Miffy's grandmother on her father's side.
Grandpa Bunny - Miffy's grandfather on her father's side and Grandma Bunny's husband and perhaps twin brother.
Auntie Alice - Miffy's aunt on her father's side and Father Bunny's sister.
- 1955 Miffy, Miffy at the Zoo (First Version of Miffy)
- 1963 Miffy, Miffy at the Zoo, Miffy in the Snow, Miffy at the Seaside
- 1970 Miffy Goes Flying, Miffy's Birthday
- 1975 Miffy at the Playground, Miffy in Hospital
- 1979 Miffy's Dream
- 1982 Miffy's Bicycle
- 1984 Miffy at School
- 1988 Miffy Goes to Stay, Grandpa and Grandma Bunny
- 1991 Miffy is Crying, Miffy's House
- 1992 Auntie Alice's Party
- 1995 Miffy in the Tent
- 1996 Dear Grandma Bunny
- 1997 Miffy at the Gallery
- 1999 Miffy and Melanie
- 2001 Miffy the Ghost, Miffy the Fairy
- 2002 Miffy Dances
- 2003 Miffy's Letter, The New Baby
- 2004 Miffy's Garden
- 2005 Miffy in Lolly Land, A Flute for Miffy
- 2006 Hangoor (Flopear) In Dutch only
- 2007 Queen Miffy
- 2008 Miffy the Artist
- 2008 Nijntje en de seizoenen (Miffy and the seasons), Nijntje is Stout (Miffy is naughty) In Dutch only
- 2009 Een cadeau voor Opa Pluis (A gift for Grandpa Bunny) In Dutch only
- Allardice, Lisa (15 February 2006). "Bunny love". London: The Guardian.[dead link]
- Harrod, H. (July 31, 2008). "Dick Bruna, creator of the Miffy books, talks about his life and work". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
- "Miffed by Miffy, Earth First! Action Reports".
- Dick Bruna. IMDB.
- "Pedri Animation homepage" (in Dutch). Pedri-animation.com.
- "Announcement of Provisional Disposition Order Against Sanrio" (PDF) (Press release). Sanrio Company, Ltd. November 4, 2010. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- Kollewe, J. (November 4, 2010). "Miffy biffs Cathy in Kitty copycat case". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 16, 2011.
- Dawson, C.; K. Takeuchi (November 4, 2010). "Miffy, Hello Kitty Take Bunny Beef to Court". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
- "Announcement Regarding Legal Dispute Settlement" (PDF) (Press release). Sanrio Company, Ltd. June 7, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- "Japan's Hello Kitty resolves bunny battle with Miffy". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
- dick bruna huis. Centraal Museum, Utrecht.
- "Miffy exhibition comes to Edinburgh". National Library of Scotland. March 16, 2007. Retrieved 20 September 2010.[dead link]
- Yoshizawa, K., et al. (2008). Systematics and biogeography of the New World species of Trichadenotecnum Enderlein (Insecta: Psocodea:"Psocoptera": Psocidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 153(4) 651-723. (pg. 87)
- Zech, Maxime (30 July 2014). "Nijntje creator Dick Bruna retires". NLTimes. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
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