a book blog about reading all of astrid lindgren's books

The Brothers Lionheart

Astrid_BLThe Brothers Lionheart is a novel originally published in 1973 as Broderna Lejonhjarta.  The English version was translated by Jill Morgan.

It is the story of Jonathan and Scotty who travel through death together in order to find themselves in happier places.  It’s very mature in how it deals with death, with many scenes much darker and scarier than typically found in children’s literature.  Off the top of my head, I can think of these topics that work their way into the story: terminal illness, deadly fire, death in childhood, betrayal, tyranny, battle, and death of parental figures.  Doesn’t sound much like a kids’ book, does it?  Yet Lindgren also weaves into the story courage, brotherly love, loyalty, kindness, generosity, and standing up for what is right.  But most importantly — hope.

I think many parents might shy away from letting their child read a story that can be, at times, so dark, but if a parent can handle the subject material of The Brothers Lionheart, the child will be able to handle it too.  In fact, parents are more likely to have issues with the material than children would.

My favorite scene: But then Jonathan said that is was something he must do, even if it was dangerous.
“Why?” I wondered.
“Otherwise you’re not a human being but just a piece of dirt,” said Jonathan.

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Comments on: "The Brothers Lionheart" (3)

  1. […] book reminds me of The Brothers Lionheart.  It has many of the same elements: an unhappy boy in the “real” world, a magical […]

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  2. Interesting, there must be a new translation out because the English version that I have has the name of the younger brother as Karl. And I don’t recall being traumatised reading that as a child (I wasn’t too young, older than 10). The ending did make me cry but in a rather beautiful way. I think adults tend to underestimate children and unintentionally rob them of such emotional experiences.

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