Jan Terlouw opened exhibition 'Fantastic Nature in Children's Books'

Published on
September 19, 2013

The exhibition shows the history of how nature has been perceived and illustrated in Dutch children's books starting from the 18th century. The exhibition in the Forum Library will be opened (in Dutch) on 1 November by Jan Terlouw, the former politician and successful children’s book author. You're cordially invited to attend the opening (in Dutch). Date: 1 November 2013 at 3:30 pm in the Forum Building, room C222 (2nd floor). After the opening, attendees may visit the exhibition.

During the opening, Paul Roncken, professor of Landscape Architecture at Wageningen UR, presented his research on Griffel Winners of children's book illustrations in relation to sublime landscape.

From fantasy to morality

The exhibition focuses on the representation and vision of nature as found in children’s books from the 18th century to current day. We see how fantasy reigned supreme in the early 20th century and how morality has recently got the upper hand. The aim of the exhibition is to inspire viewers to think about the influence of nature and environmental concerns on the world of children.

Some of the books included in the exhibition are Bertha Bloemkoe, who doesn’t like grass and fancies only tarts, and Het boek der verbeelding (The Book of Imagination) illustrated by different authors including Jan Toorop. And who doesn’t know the story of Winnie the Pooh?Such a wonderful and imaginative story! In the twentieth century, children tucked into Tonke Dragt’s Torenhoog en mijlen breed (Sky-High and Miles Wide) and Jan Terlow’s Koning van Katoren (King of Katoren). While these books revolved around children’s fantasy and imagination, the contemporary children's book deals with climate change and seems to call children to save the world, as in the story Help mijn iglo smelt (Help My Igloo's Melting) by Natalie Righton.

Creative and Artistic

How the relationship between people and nature was viewed over time can clearly be seen in the 100 old and modern books in the exhibition. The representation of this view is often tremendously creative and artistic since many artists were also illustrators, a ‘side job’ that provided them with a livelihood. The exhibition has been put together with the help of Roel During (researcher Social Innovation and Cultural Heritage at Wageningen UR) and Tosca During (Master's student in art history at Utrecht University), and fans and collectors of children’s books.

Location and opening times

Reading Room of Special Collections, Forum (bldg. 102), Droevendaalsesteeg 2, 6708 PB Wageningen. Opening hours:1 November 2013 - 1 March 2014, Monday to Friday, 9 am - 1 pm and afternoons by appointment only.

For more information and requests for group tours, e-mail or phone 0317-482701