We recently surveyed Marjolein’s fans about what they would like to ask Marjolein Bastin. Here is the second answer in our 3-part Q&A series. Written by Marjolein Bastin. Thanks for reading!

  1. How did Vera the Mouse get started?

Years and years ago the editor in chief of the magazine Libelle I paint for in the Netherlands asked me to make a drawing of a dressed-up mouse for a special feature in the magazine. Somewhat taken aback I just chuckled and said that I couldn’t possibly do that, I was a serious nature painter! How could he expect me to paint a mouse in a dress??? But he wouldn’t take no for an answer, and kept asking if I would please do it…just once.

And so it happened. And quite unexpectedly I immediately fell in love with that dear mouse. I named her Vera and in many ways she was a lot like me; I recognized so much in her.

From the very beginning the painting with the mouse was a big success for the magazine. And that’s how I started to paint her on a regular basis.

After some time I decided that Vera needed a few friends. First there was Dolly, the sweet “always know it better” doll. Then Saartje (in real life my Jack Russell dog) wanted to be part of Vera’s family. Then Wrenny the wren joined them, because they all wanted an egg for breakfast and where else do you get an egg? Fritzy lives next to Vera in his nest-box, accessible only by climbing a long ladder. Fritzy always makes a mess, but is also a creative handyman!

At one point he even made his own bright red wooden sports car.

Niece Bianca, a fancy white mouse from the big city, thinks very highly of herself (naturally she wears high heels) but sometimes needs a break from her exciting city life. For her, being in the hammock at Vera’s place is exactly the medicine she needs. And of course, she brings her own sherry to sip on. Then there is Mr. Mole, a grumpy loner. I felt we needed him in the picture for contrast. Over the years there were many other characters that made an appearance in the Vera the Mouse stories, it has been a wonderful creative outlet for me.

The Vera the Mouse stories allowed me to talk informally about lifestyles, values, the importance of being honest, how good it feels to help somebody, all in a playful way. To be honest most of the Vera the Mouse personalities resemble real family members. Haha! They didn’t necessarily know it but because of them I was never without new stories and adventures.

-Marjolein Bastin

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