Bartje

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Bronze statue of Bartje

Bartje Bartels is the main character in a series of Dutch books written by Anne de Vries from 1935 on. The stories are about a boy who grows up in a poor family in the countryside of the northeastern Dutch province of Drenthe.

In the books, Bartje is a boy whose father is a poor farmer. His parents expect him to become a farmer as well, but Bartje has other ideas. He works as an apprentice, but then his mother dies and he has to look after his younger brothers and sisters.

There is a statue of Bartje in the town of Assen which has been vandalized several times.

Famous quotation[edit]

The most famous quotation from Bartje's books appears in the story in which the family is sitting at the table for a meal; they are going to eat brown beans. Bartje, who hates brown beans, pulls his empty plate away when his mother wants to give him some. He refuses to say grace (a prayer to thank God for the food they are about to eat) and says: Ik bid nie veur bruune boon'n (in modern Dutch: Ik bid niet voor bruine bonen, meaning: I don’t pray for brown beans). His parents are shocked and he gets into big trouble.

Television series[edit]

Bartje has become a much-loved symbol in Drenthe. His stories were adapted to a television series which aired in 1972 and again in 2004. It had Dutch subtitles because the actors speak in Drenthe dialect.]