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Erik of het klein insectenboek facts for kids

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Eric in the Land of the Insects
1942 edition
Author Godfried Bomans
Original title Erik of het klein insectenboek (Erik or the small book of insects)
Translator Regina Louise Kornblith
Country Netherlands
Language Dutch
Genre Children's literature
Publication date
Published in English

Eric in the Land of the Insects, originally called Erik of het klein insectenboek (English: Erik or the small book of insects) in Dutch, is a 1941 Dutch children's novel by Godfried Bomans. It is widely seen as a children's classic and Bomans' magnum opus.


Erik Pinksterblom is a little nine-year-old boy who lies in bed at night, worried about a test about insects he has to perform at school tomorrow. Suddenly the paintings in his bedroom come alive, including one depicting a meadow full of insects. Erik climbs into the painting where he meets several talking insect characters.

First he meets a snobbish and rich family of wasps. Erik unintentionally gives offence when he recites a poem about the "busy bee" – it turns out the wasps despise bees, because they work for people. After dinner Erik joins the wasps in playing some music, using flies as string instruments, but he's forced to leave the party early when Erik accidentally causes the house fly he was playing to die.

A bumblebee who claims to be a philosopher brings him to a hotel, made from a huge snail's house. Erik surprises everybody by reciting interesting facts about insects he read in a natural history book. While all the insects are amazed they are also scared often doing anything if it's not reported in the book. Erik can comfort them by telling them they just have to follow their natural instincts.

In one of the hotel rooms a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. Together, he and Erik leave the hotel. Later the butterfly meets a female butterfly with whom he falls in love. Erik helps him write a poem for her and eventually the couple gets married, leaving Erik alone.

As Erik walks through the forest he gets into a fight with a spider. Knocked unconscious, Erik is dragged away by a burying beetle. The beetle considers himself to be the most important animal because all creatures live and die to serve as his dinner. His theory is destroyed when his entire family turns out to have been eaten by a mole.

Erik then meets a rain worm who thinks he is superior to all the others, because he has no need for things like limbs and eyes. However, the worm ties himself into a knot and needs Erik to find somebody to help untie him. As Erik searches for help he is adopted by an ant colony. He once again amazes them with his knowledge about insects, but gets homesick and asks them to bring him back. While the ants travel along with them to the edge of the painting they meet another ant army, whereupon a large battle takes place.

Then Erik wakes up. Despite being back home he's disappointed to find that humans are much like the insects he met. He longs to get back to the meadow, but the paintings in his bedroom never come alive again. At his school test he writes about the experiences he had during his time with the insects and fails as a result – he's even forced to stay in detention.


In 1979, 1995 and 2007 the story was adapted into a television series.

In 1990 the novel was adapted into a comic book by Luc Morjaeu.

In 1992 Peter Drost adapted the story into a solo theater performance. A theater group called "De Jonge Honden" also adapted the story into the play "Insect" (2008).

In 2004 a film adaptation, Erik of het klein insectenboek, was made by director Gidi van Liempd. This film adaptation was also made into a TV series in 2007.

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