This new book on the bilingual block is the first of a planned series written in both Dutch and English. It tells the story of red headed twins, Kiki and Rembrandt, who move from England to the Netherlands. They have a Dutch mother and their father is English, so they speak both languages.
“Rembrandt and Kiki Move to the Netherlands” / “Rembrandt and Kiki Verhuizen naar Nederland” by Jane Acher-Wilms & Marlies Veenhof
The day the book arrived in the post I immediately read it to my seven, four and two year old. All three, despite the age differences, were a captive audience. They enjoyed hearing a story in both English and Dutch simultaneously, had a good snigger in two languages and loved the fact that they could relate to having both an English and a Dutch parent. My seven year old could also read the book himself, much to his delight.
The authors, Jane Archer-Wilms and Marlies Veenhof, wanted to create a series of books that were not only fun but which also served an educational purpose. Their aim is to help children improve their Dutch or English language skills.
Each page has a double spread colourful illustration that portrays the mischievousness of the twins brilliantly. Furthermore, hidden on each page there is a British and Dutch flag for young children to find, which my two year old and four year old had lots of fun doing. Time after time.
The left hand page tells Rembrandt’s and Kiki’s story in Dutch, which is then translated into English on the right hand side. The genius part of this book is the free audio book on the book’s website which is a valuable tool for parents who are themselves not bilingual. It’s also useful for adult expats who are learning Dutch (or English) to hear the correct pronunciation and learn a few words themselves. A win-win during story time!
On each page some words are highlighted in blue, words that are repeated throughout the book to help extend your child’s vocabulary. At the end of the book there is also a vocabulary list to summarise these words.
When the authors got in touch with me to tell me about a bilingual book, I was curious. During the fourteen years I have lived in the Netherlands I haven’t come across many bilingual books written in Dutch and English so this is quite a unique idea.. and they have pulled it off brilliantly. They’ve written a book in two languages but managed to stay true to both the story and to both languages. By that I mean they use everyday Dutch and English and the story is the same in both languages. You just need to lay a Nijntje book next to a Miffy book to see that this is certainly not always the case.
If the aim of Rembrandt and Kiki was fun in two languages then – mission completed. Missie volbracht!