FRIET is a small card-covered exercise book for eight-to-ten-year-olds. According to its subtitle it contains archaeological finds of plastic from the Damrak and Rokin in Amsterdam, found during the construction of the North-South metro line between 2002 and 2012. A mention of archaeology naturally makes you think of museums full of mummies, coins and other ancient artefacts dug out of the ground. In FRIET there is none of this. Instead, the exercise book contains forty-one photographs by Harold Strak of twentieth-century plastic objects and fragments of objects, ranging from combs through a piece of someone’s dentures to Bic ballpoints and those little forks you get with a serving of chips (that is, French fries; hence the title FRIET).
Each object has been carefully photographed and placed on the creamy white page, alone or with others of the species. At top left on each page there is a number which returns at the back of the book. In this way everything is done according to standard archaeological practice; with on the final pages a catalogue (with find numbers, descriptions, dimensions and datings) and a map of Amsterdam showing the site of each excavation.
With all its simplicity this stapled exercise book is a sophisticated ‘look and imagine’ book. It invites you to browse through it, to try to picture past events, think up stories about them, travel through time. It can also offer educational starting points for thinking about life in the city, waste disposal, ecology and much more. The panel were glad to see this unusual children’s book, which without further embellishments or a noticeably child-oriented approach is highly effective and encourages children and adults alike to make better use of their eyes.