Showing posts with label Dutch Folklore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dutch Folklore. Show all posts

1.30.2012

Kinderdike (1994)

Retold and Illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher

Acrylics

MacMillian Publishing

Thus far, the Leonard Everett Fisher books I've reviewed have all been based on Greek mythology or Bible stories, and consequently been very weighty affairs. In this story, however, despite the presence of a massive flood and an orphaned baby, the narrative couldn't be breezier. It even rhymes!

A tiny Dutch village stood low near the sea,
where a dike held the tide for a people carefree.

Crisscrossed canals drained seawater away,
helped by a windmill that pumped everyday.

The gorgeous paintings were done by Fisher following a trip he took to the actual Kinderdike - in southern Holland - in 1991. Kinderdike means, "The children's dike," and the legend is that in 1421, during a massive flood which nearly destroyed the town, a single baby and a single cat were found alive, out on a dike. This is the legend which he attempts to recreate here.

It's a sign to rebuild, the villagers agreed.
They built new houses and planted some seed.

Stronger windmills appeared, nineteen in all
to pump the water beyond the seawall.


Over five-hundred years later, those same nineteen windmills still stand, and I could tell Fisher took great joy in painting their shadowed angles.

Carefree days before the flood.
I suppose I was surprised that there was nothing more said about the baby. He was merely found alive and that is the extent of his contribution. I would think as a legend grows over the years, the identity of the young lad would be mythologized as well. In fact, there are no characters in this story at all. The villagers are only ever "the villagers," and the baby is merely "the baby." I think it really is more the landscape of the town which moved Fisher to tell the story, and it is his glorious village overshadowed by the massive windmills which seem to be the true center of it. On the final page, they stand strongly in the distance as tiny villagers pass before them.
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