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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Fingerling at the Zoo
by Dick Laan
Age Range: 9-11
Fingerling is a tiny old gnome with a long white beard and a pointed hat who is no bigger than a child's finger. He lives in a mouse hole beyond the sideboard in the Big House inhabited by a family composed of a father, mother and unnamed boy and girl. Fingerling never shows himself to people but shares his home with five friendly mice: Twitchytail, Greycoat, Sootynose, Nibbles and Brighteyes. All the animals love and respect Fingerling because he can communicate with them and is always ready to protect them and be on their side.
When the little boy receives a book about the zoo for his birthday, Fingerling is curious and can't resist taking a peek. He doesn’t know what a zoo is and when he opens the book and sees all the pictures of the animals he asks Whipperty (the crow) to take him on a visit to a zoo. At the zoo, Fingerling makes the acquaintance of a whole host of different animals: There is the owl who tells Fingerling about some naughty children who had visited the zoo; the lions, including the young cub who initially teases Fingerling; the fierce eagle who is reluctant to be loved; the penguins who entertain him with their funny dance; a huge elephant who nearly squashes poor Fingerling and a giraffe who used her long neck as a slide.
Pinkeltje, as Fingerling is known in his native Holland, is a very well-known national hero created by Dutch author Dick Laan (1894-1973). This enjoyable story contains many funny incidents and situations. The series included 29 titles published between 1939 and 1977, the last four books appearing posthumously. In 1995 the book series was republished in an adaptation by Suzanne Braam with new illustrations by Julius Ros. A special book Pinkeltje – het verhaal van de film was published in 1978 to accompany the film Pinkeltje. Fingerling and the Sandman (1961) and The Travels of Fingerling (1964) are also featured on the website.