Inspired by is a blog series by my friend Riikka and I. We decide on a theme (and that theme can be anything from a film, a book, a painting, to an item, colour scheme or material) and then we create something with that theme or thing in mind.
We keep what we’re making a secret until reveal day on the 10th, when we show you and each other our creations.
This time the theme is a book. But not just any book, it’s a classic Dutch children’s book:
The book is written by Annie M.G. Schmidt and published in 1953. It was her first complete novel.
I grew up reading Annie M.G. Schmidt and I think I’ve read most of her children’s books and stories. My absolute favourites are the ones that are illustrated by Fiep Westendorp, but those weren’t available in Riikka’s local Finnish library, so we went with Abeltje instead.
According to Wikipedia the book about the lift boy who flies around the world in a department store lift is translated into Danish, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish. Not in English, but there’s a plot summary on the Abeltje Wikipedia page in English.
Abeltje is one of the few Schmidt books that I do not own. I have memories of it being read to me in first grade and I always thought I had read it myself later on, but… now that I’ve re-read it, I’m not so sure anymore. Most of the story surprisingly didn’t ring a bell at all!
I’ve also never watched more than a few snippets of the film that was made in the nineties.
To me it was like reading a new book. A book that was already ‘old’ when I first learned to read… And it’s mind blowing to find out that this 64 year old book isn’t dated.
I’m curious to read what Riikka has to say about this, as I think she has read to book to her kids. There is of course mention of phones and typewriters, instead of cellphones and computers, but I’m pretty sure kids still know what they are and it didn’t seem like the story took place more than half a century ago. Not to me, anyway!
A sure sign that the book is still popular among kids, after all these years, is that all copies were checked out each time I went to the library. I even tried reserving it, without any luck. So I went to the thrift store to find one. And… I did!
It was an oooooold yellowed paperback, but the cover looks pretty cool and there are black and white illustrations inside by Wim Bijmoer.
And just in case I wasn’t aware, the former owner wrote on the first page that Abeltje is the first of two books. The second one is ‘De A van Abeltje’, but there are also editions where the two books were published in one volume. I’m not sure if Riikka read either one or both, but I haven’t read the second book.
This book is another mammoth… Which means that you can easily have a years worth of inspiration from just one page of this book: there are the characters, the clothes with shiny buttons, sequins and ostrich feathers, the department store with all kinds of merchandise, the adventures in different countries, the singing, the rabbit…
I just didn’t know where to start!
So I decided to start with one sentence or paragraph.
I opened the book to a random page. This is where it landed:
And luckily for me, there, between the words ‘Toen werden…’ and ‘… wat een grote!’ were all the words I needed to create this:
It isn’t the best illustration ever… But I had fun creating it and in the end that’s all that matters!
Now hop on over to Riikka’s blog Paperiliitin to find out what she thought of Abeltje and of course to see what she created!
Have a wonderful day!