Plantyn publisher discontinues legendary paper school magazines
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Generations of primary school pupils in Belgium grew up with Zonnekind, Zonnestraal, Zonneland, Doremi and Doremini. Who does not cherish fond memories of the children's magazines, especially now that they will cease to appear in print in June.
On 4 January 1920, the publisher Averbode launched the first Belgian children's magazine, Zonneland, and its French-language sister magazine, Petits Belges. The publishing house was attached to Averbode Abbey, which had founded the Eucharistic Crusade Movement (E. K.) that same year. Normal, then, that the weekly had a strong Catholic slant. As subtitles, it very appropriately carried: Weekly for the Catholic Flemish Youth - Magazine of the Eucaristic Crusade. A bit heavy-handed, you think? Yet it made room for good jokes right from No. 1. It was aimed at children in the 5th and 6th years of primary school, which started using it for the subject of World Orientation. The first comic strip appeared in 1929. The magazine became increasingly popular in the free schools under Nonkel Fons, the pseudonym of Father Daniel Omer De Kesel.
In December 1958, Zonneland pretty much became the magazine of the last three and the new Zonnekind that of the first three years of school. Surprise for beginning readers: on 21 June 1959, the gag strip Rikske & Fikske about a little boy and his naughty dog made its appearance on the last page of Zonneland, and later also in Doremi, which emphasises the creative, affective and psychomotor development of the oldest toddlers. Then editor-in-chief Daniel Omer De Kesel devised, and Belgian Briton Lionel Graham Croucher (pseudonym Gray), drew the stories. Rikske & Fikske really boosted the popularity of Zonnekind. In 1966 the Zonne magazines were finally rearranged: Zonnekind was for grades 1 and 2, Zonneland for 5 and 6 and the newly separated Zonnestraal was for 3 and 4.