Thursday, March 24, 2011

Netherlands - Ot en Sien

An illustration from a children book called Ot en Sien.

Sent by Monique, a postcrosser from the Netherlands.

This is from Wikipedia : Ot en Sien is an old children's book, written by a teacher in Drenthe, the Netherlands.

It was the start of a new method of writing children's books and had profound influence on Dutch elementary education in the first half of the twentieth century

Ot and Sien are the main characters in a series of Dutch children's tales that were very popular in the first half of the twentieth century. The first series titled Dicht bij Huis ("Close to home"), appeared in 1902. The second series Nog bij Moeder ("Still with mam"), followed in 1904. De author of the stories was Hendricus Scheepstra. However, he acted on the inspiration of Jan Ligthart, who had the intention to expose young people to what he considered a healthy daily family life. The illustrations were made by Cornelis Jetses.

After WWII the stories of Ot and Sien gradually went out of fashion and they were often ridiculed for the unrealistic picture they gave of life in the province. A century after their appearance there is a revival in the interest for the publications and in 2004 an exposition was held, focusing mostly on the artwork by Jetses.

Ot (short for Otto) and Sien (short for e.g. Francine) are two next door neighbors, a boy and a girl. Their illustrations were based on two children that actually lived in Jetses' neighborhood. The stories are situated in Drenthe that was at the time the most impoverished province of the Netherlands where quite a few people were still living in dwellings constructed of peat and sods. The surrounding poverty is nowhere to be seen in the stories that depict a very idealized version of reality.

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