Pluk van de Petteflet

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Tow-Truck Pluck
Hardcover, 1995
AuthorAnnie M.G. Schmidt
Cover artistFiep Westendorp
Publication date
Media typePrint

Tow-Truck Pluck is a children's book by Dutch writer Annie M.G. Schmidt. First published in 1971, it remains in print and is one of the most popular Dutch books for children, and the second most popular book by Schmidt (after Jip and Janneke).[1] A radio drama based on the book was produced in 2002,[1] and a movie in 2004; Tow Truck Pluck ranked No. 10 on the list of most popular Dutch movies between 1996 and 2005[2] and was awarded platinum status early in January 2005.[3] The cover of Pluk (all drawings are by Schmidt's regular illustrator, Fiep Westendorp) is used to illustrate the article about Schmidt on the website of the "Canon of the Netherlands,"[4] and Pluk got his own stamp in 1999.[5]

Publication history[edit]

Schmidt and Westendorp began Pluk as a weekly illustrated feuilleton for Margriet, a ladies' magazine, in 1968 and 1969.[6] They were first printed in book form in 1971, and have remained in print ever since. The 1995 printing was the 18th, and brought the total printed copies to 495,000.[7] Indications of the book's lasting popularity are that 75,000 copies were printed in 1991, twenty years after its first publication;[1] the 1992 printing was the third-bestselling book for children age 6–10 in the month of June,[8] the best-selling book in that category in August,[9] and the second-bestselling book in that category in June 1995.[10]

Eleven unpublished chapters were found in 2001, a kind of prequel to the stories in the book. These were organized with the help of Fiep Westendorp (Schmidt had died already), and were then published as Pluk Redt de Dieren (Pluk Saves the Animals). That book was published in 2004 and sold 150,000 copies, making it the best-selling Dutch children's book of the year.[6]


The book, like Schmidt's other children's novels, has a "realistic, modern setting"[11]—Pluk drives a little truck and has a difficult time finding a place to live—but his world is full of fairy-tale creatures, such as, in this case, talking cockroaches, pigeons, and seagulls; horses of record-length; extinct fantastical birds;[12] and a werewolf who operates a ferry. In its combining reality and magic, Pluk is often mentioned alongside Roald Dahl's The BFG.[13][14]

Pluk, a young red-haired boy, lives alone in a little room on the top floor of the Petteflet, an apartment building. He has no parents, but he does have a little tow truck. He quickly makes friends, such as Zaza, a cockroach, and Mr. Penn, who operates a bookstore. With the help of Dolly, a friendly pigeon, he exchanges notes and candy with the girl below, Aggie, whose mother is überclean and tries to get Pluk evicted, especially when she sees Zaza in his room (her scheme is foiled with the help of a number of seagulls). With the Stamper family (a single father and six unkempt boys) and Aggie, Pluk spends a week at the beach. The book's biggest adventure is the rescue of the park, which is to make room for developments. Pluk has to travel a great distance to get help from a mysterious hermit (who refers to himself as a hermite); the magic berries he brings back have a strange effect: the construction crew and all the other adults (including the mayor) get giddy and forget all about their task—instead, they go and play.[15] As a final adventure, Pluk helps save a strange bird, the "krullevaar," bred from a mysterious egg he and Aggie found on their vacation at the beach.

Educational value and reception[edit]

Annie M.G. Schmidt is often praised (and with her often Guus Kuijer) for bringing a new direction to Dutch children's literature. Breaking with a fairly conservative and realistic tradition of books about heroes with many conventional inner virtues, Schmidt's characters are often rebellious, and Pluk is often cited as one of those kind-hearted but serious rebels. The scene in the park, when the authority figures are all intoxicated after eating the berries Pluk has brought from the hermit, is one example of such antiestablishmentarianism.[15] Hailed as a "modern classic," many educational books advise reading Pluk.[16] Others suggest reading the book since it is said to teach children the value of serving others.[14] The book is referred to in many Dutch books, fiction and non-fiction, in which parents read to their children[17] or adults reflect on their childhood.[18][19]


Pluk was translated to German as Pluck mit dem Kranwagen;[20] it is praised by German critics as a positive reading experience.[21] Pluk has also appeared in Norwegian,[22] in Polish[23] and in Spanish.[1] The Dutch publisher, Querido, published an English version, translated by David Colmer, under the title Tow-Truck Pluck in 2011. The book is so canonical that occasionally it is used in case studies in language research.[24] According to the Annie M.G. Schmidt website, there are also translations of Pluk in Bulgarian, Danish, Estonian, Afrikaans, West Frisian, and Serbo-Croatian.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Lammers, Fred (4 January 1992). "Pluk van de Petteflet als hoorspelseriedoor Fred Lammers". Trouw. Retrieved 25 July 2009.
  2. ^ Bakker, Piet (2007). Communicatiekaart van Nederland: overzicht van media en communicatie. Kluwer. p. 158. ISBN 978-90-13-04658-8.
  3. ^ "'Pluk van de Petteflet' platina". (in Dutch). 10 January 2005. Retrieved 25 July 2009.
  4. ^ "Annie M.G. Schmidt 1911–1995: Tegendraads in een burgerlijk land". The Canon of the Netherlands. Foundation 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
  5. ^ Baks, Evelien (4 September 2008). "De kinderpostzegel is volwassen". Algemeen Dagblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 25 July 2009.
  6. ^ a b Lange, Henny de (8 June 2005). "De verf waaruit Pluk, Otje en Ibbeltje ontstonden, ligt nu in het museum". Trouw (in Dutch). Retrieved 25 July 2009.
  7. ^ Schmidt, Annie M.G. (1995). Pluk van de Petteflet. Fiep Westendorp (ill.). Amsterdam: Emanuel Querido. ISBN 90-214-8098-0.
  8. ^ "Kinderboeken Top Twaalf". Trouw (in Dutch). 2 June 1992. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  9. ^ "Kinderboeken Top Twaalf". Trouw (in Dutch). 5 August 1992. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  10. ^ "Kinderboeken Top Twaalf". Trouw (in Dutch). 7 June 1995. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  11. ^ Hunt, Peter; Sheila G. Bannister Ray (2004). International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Roudledge. p. 704. ISBN 978-0-203-16812-7.
  12. ^ Arendjan Heerma van Voss, the director of VPRO, the public broadcasting cooperation which produced the radio drama, provides the voice for this bird, the Krullevaar; he confessed that he always wanted the Dutch audience to hear him say, "Yes, but I'm an extinct bird!" Quoted in Lammers, Fred (4 January 1992). "Pluk van de Petteflet als hoorspelseriedoor Fred Lammers". Trouw. Retrieved 25 July 2009.
  13. ^ Coillie, Jan van (1999). Leesbeesten en boekenfeesten: hoe werken (met) kinder- en jeugdboeken?. NBD Biblion. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-90-5483-189-1.
  14. ^ a b Waes, Chris Van; Guido Orroi (2002). Relationele vorming in de basisschool. Garant. p. 118. ISBN 978-90-441-1258-0.
  15. ^ a b Bakker, Nelleke; Jan Noordman; Marjoke Rietveld-van Wingerden (2006). Vijf eeuwen opvoeden in Nederland: idee en praktijk: 1500–2000. Van Gorcum. pp. 288–89. ISBN 978-90-232-4162-1.
  16. ^ Cammaert, M.; M. Marissen (2003). Makkelijk lezen mediagids. NBD Biblion. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-90-5483-202-7.
  17. ^ Dorrestein, Renate; Hester Velmans (2002). Without mercy. Doubleday. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-385-60353-9.
  18. ^ Lievegoed, M. (2007). Zusje van mijn zusje. Inmerc. p. 25. ISBN 978-90-6611-765-5.
  19. ^ Meijsing, Doeschka (1990). De beproeving: roman. Querido. ISBN 978-90-214-7507-3.
  20. ^ Uffelen, Herbert van (1993). Bibliographie der niederländischen Kinder- und Jugendliteratur in deutscher Übersetzung 1830–1990. Berlin: LIT Verlag. p. 213. ISBN 978-3-89473-743-6.
  21. ^ Wieler, Petra (1997). Vorlesen in der Familie: Fallstudien zur literarisch-kulturellen Sozialisation von vierjährigen. Juventa. p. 224. ISBN 978-3-7799-1342-9.
  22. ^ Schmidt, Annie M.G. (1994). Totto I Tittuttårnet. Ex Libris. p. 168. ISBN 82-7384-337-8.
  23. ^ Schmidt, Annie M.G. (2008). Pluk z wieżyczki. Wydawnictwo Hokus-Pokus. ISBN 978-83-60402-17-7.
  24. ^ Piet van Avermaet et al., "The Role of the Teacher in Task-Based Language Teaching," in Branden, Kris van den (2006). Task-based language education: from theory to practice. Cambridge UP. pp. 175–98. ISBN 978-0-521-68952-6. p. 186-87.