a book blog about reading all of lindgren's books in 2015

Archive for March, 2015

Happy Times in Noisy Village

Astrid_HTINVHappy Times in Noisy Village has something that many Astrid Lindgren books lack – a section at the end about the illustrator, Ilon Wikland.

I don’t focus on the illustrators very often on this blog, not because I don’t love the pictures (I do!), but because my focus is really on the writing, the stories.  Some books have had multiple illustrators (think of Pippi!  of the top of my head I know of three illustrators and I am sure there have been more!) and focusing on artwork is a whole ‘nother project entirely.  Anyway, although I don’t focus on the illustrations, Ilon Wikland has had an incredible impact on the books of Astrid Lindgren.  It was wonderful to read more about her.  The “About the Illustrator” section featured this quote by Astrid to Ilon: “…how indebted I am to you; how important you have been to my stories in helping them to reach their audience through your pictures. […] I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

It is so wonderful to know that Astrid Lindgren understood what a gem she found in Ilon Wikland.

Happy Times in Noisy Village was published in Sweden as Bullerby Boken in 1961 and translated by Florence Lamborn.  I thought I was so terribly smart when I “figured out” that The Children of Noisy Village was also translated as Cherry Time in Noisy Village, but the joke’s on me: the cherry time occurs in this book, although the cover of The Children of Noisy Village is the same as Cherry Time in Noisy Village.  My brain has splattered all over the screen at this point.

Highlights of this edition include: Kersin’s birth, starting school, Olaf’s loose tooth, the Chest of the Wizards, playing in the hay, Karl falling into the lake, April Fool’s Day, Lisa’s baby lamb Pontus, capturing musk-oxen, cherry time, and midsummer.

There seemed to be a little more tension between the boys and the girls in this collection of stories.  The Chest of the Wizards that the boys hide reminds me of the treasure box that Bill Bergson and White Roses have.  The tricks played by the Noisy Village children are reminiscent of the “wars” between the White and Red Roses in Bergson’s world.  In both series, the sparring sides all really do like each other.  This, I think, makes all the difference.

There were so many one-liners that made me laugh in this book.  Lisa’s narration always makes me smile; she sees the world from a nine-year-old’s point of view when she makes amazing statements like this:

  • So it really isn’t too bad to have brothers, but, of course, it would be better to have sisters.
  • My, how I liked Kerstin!  She was the prettiest baby in the world.  Anna and Britta and I used to run over to South Farm almost every day to watch while Aunt Lisa took care of her.  How she wiggled and kicked! — not Aunt Lisa, of course, but Kerstin.
  • You always get hungry right away when you’re outdoors, so we all thought we might as well eat.

Lisa.  She’s brilliant.

Astrid Lindgren – A Critical Study

Astrid_ALACSThere’s no way to accurately sum up this 327-page book about Astrid’s writing.  It was an exhausting read, but an excellent one.  Written by Vivi Edstrom and translated by Eivor Cormack, it was published originally as Astrid Lindgren – Vildtoring och lagereld (1992).  I was curious how the English title compared to the Swedish title, so I did an online translation.  It came up with this: Astrid Lindgren – Vildtoring and Campfire.  Uh huh . . . well, so much for that.

The book gives a short overview of Astrid’s writings focusing on the following groupings:

  • “Adventure and Apple Blossoms”
    • Britt-Mari and Kerstin books which, to my knowledge, have not been translated to English
    • Kati books
    • Bill Bergson books
    • Rasmus and the Vagabond
    • Rasmus, Pontus, and Toker (not translated to English)
  • “From Bullerby Village to Salt Crow Island”
    • Noisy Village books
    • Lotta books
    • Madicken books
    • Seacrow Island
  • “Humor and Farce”
    • Pippi Longstocking books
    • Karlsson books
    • Emil books
  • “Reality and Vision”
    • Mio, My Son
    • The Brothers Lionheart
    • Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter

I could not possibly sum up everything I learned from this book, but what I can do is make a list of super-interesting things that I want to remember:

  • Oskar from Rasmus and the Vagabond is mentioned as having the nickname “God’s Own Cuckoo” in this book, as opposed to the English translation of “God’s best friend.”
  • This books lists Pippi’s name as “Pippilotta Provisonia Gaberdina Dandeliona Ephraimsdaughter Longstocking”
  • Astrid Lindgren was talking about the difference between her two flying characters, Mr. Lilydale and Karlsson: “Mr. Liljonkvast [Lilydale] returned several years later, but then the rascal had gone and changed character, without asking me, and what he had turned into!  Such an unbearable and willful character [Karlsson] that no one really wanted to see him!  He, however, saw himself as a handsome, highly intelligent, and reasonably stout man in his prime.  But he was no longer nice little Mr. Liljonkvast.”
  • On The Brother Lionheart, Astrid Lindgren said, “Never before have I had such strong and spontaneous reactions to any book.”
  • In regards to the younger brother Lionheart, whose name is Karl, it is noted that karl is a Swedish word for man.  This adds depth not only to the younger Lionheart’s journey into growing up, but also to Karlsson-on-the-Roof, who is obsessed with how manly he is!
  • On why she wrote Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, Astrid Lindgren said, “I wanted to get out into the forest.”
  • “Ronia has some free-spirited predecessors in Lindgren’s works.  She is related to Pippi Longstocking, Madicken, and, as already mentioned, the Amazon-like Eva-Lotta in the Bergson trilogy.  These girls overstep the limits of convention, and they always do it outside the family, in a world of their own, with the threat close behind them.”
  • Astrid Lindgren is explaining how she came to be a writer: “If it had not been snowing in Stockholm on a certain day in March 1944, it would probably not have ended that way.”

The most fun pages of the entire book, however, were a couple pages on names.  It lists the Swedish names of characters and the English/American names.  By now, I’ve mostly figured them out – Kalle Blomkvist/Bill Bergson, Madicken/Meg/Mardie, Jum-Jum/Pompoo, etc. – but a few of them absolutely floored me.  For instance, Ronja/Ronia was once translated into English as Kirsty.  KIRSTY.  Thank you, world, for reverting to Ronia.

I also loved the list of books by Astrid Lindgren, but was somewhat dismayed to see only 35 books listed, not even half of what she wrote.  Very few of her picture books were on the list or discussed.  I would love to read more about her picture books.  Alas.

This is a very fun read, but much more enjoyable because I have read almost all of the books discussed.

Pippi Goes to School

Astrid_PG2SPippi Goes to School is another Pippi storybook adapted from the original novels “with Astrid Lindgren’s assistance.”  It’s one of the most fun Pippi stories and works well as a stand-alone storybook.  It would be good for young readers who would see the humor in how not to act in school, or as a how-to manual for the little Emils and Pippis of the world.  For those who have read the novels, there is no new material here, although the pictures by Michael Chesworth are quite fun.

Pippi’s Extraordinary Ordinary Day

Astrid_PEODPippi’s Extraordinary Ordinary Day is an excerpt from two chapters of the book Pippi Longstocking “with Astrid Lindgren’s assistance.”  It’s another book that I think isn’t necessary to read if one is simply trying to read all of Lindgren’s work, but it’s fun and the library had it.  Unlike Do You Know Pippi Longstocking? this book is not listed on Astrid’s official site (I think).

Many of the adventures are the same that have been rehashed now three or four times: scrubbing the floor with scrubbing shoes, Pippi lifting the bull, etc.

Honestly, for the stories, I’d skip the book, because I’ve already read them.  But for the illustrations it’s worth it.  Michael Chesworth has really grown on me.  Check out this fabulous picnic scene:
Lindgren_Chesworth
“What have you got in your basket?” asked Annika.  “Is it something good?”
“I wouldn’t tell you for a thousand dollars,” said Pippi.

Clearly, it was good.  I never get invited to picnics like this.

The World’s Best Karlson

Astrid_WBK Karlson has been spotted!  In this final Karlson book (Karlsson pa taket smygar igen, 1968, translated by Sarah Death) he and Smidge evade the bad guys who are out to get him and they play some tricks on the wretched Uncle Julius and Creepy Crawley.

Karlson remains a bully as ever, but the family has learned to deal with him — Mother has learned to keep buns around for him and Smidge has learned not to show Karlson his favorite toys – for he knows that as soon as Karlson sees Smidge’s coolest things, he will demand to have them.  But underneath the family’s frustrations with Karlson, there is acceptance and even a blossoming care for the little man.

Even Miss Crawley seems to have come around.  When Smidge and Karlson make a loud noise one night, awakening both her and Uncle Julius, she seems to cover for them:
“What a dreadful storm,” said Miss Crawley.  “What a crack of thunder, eh?  No wonder the power’s gone off.”
“Was that really thunder?” said Uncle Julius.  “I thought it sounded like something quite different.”  But Miss Crawley assured him that she recognized thunder when she heard it.
“What else could it have been?” she asked.

As if she doesn’t know!  Yet she doesn’t rat Smidge and Karlson out and she doesn’t turn Karlson in for the reward.  In fact, Karlson’s identity is revealed in a much more Karlson-like manner, which I won’t spoil: it’s a fitting end to a fun series.

The Children of Noisy Village

Astrid_CONVUp until this point, I had only ever read the picture books about Noisy Village.  While this book has tremendous artwork by Ilon Wikland, it is a short-chapter book.  It was published in Sweden under Bullerby Boken in 1961 and translated by Florence Lamborn.  I discuss the Noisy Village series in overwhelming depth here.

We experience Noisy Village through the eyes (and all senses) of Lisa, our nine-year-old friend who narrates stories about the birthday when she got her own room, reading to Grandfather, running away with Anna, walking home from school and all the adventures had while doing so, Christmas, New Year, and Easter fun, the last day of school, crayfishing, and going shopping forgetfully.

Each chapter is very short and includes pictures, making this a great book for children just beginning to read chapter books or a great book for reading aloud.  The adventures that the Noisy Village children have prove that children don’t need screens or even toys to have fun.

I love this: As we were walking along, Britta took her book out of her schoolbag and smelled it.  She let all of us smell it.  New books smell so good that you can tell how much fun it’s going to be to read them.

I love this too: I think Britta and Anna went to sleep long before I did.  I lay awake and listened to the rustling of the forest.  There was just a little rustling, and small waves lapped against the shore very quietly.  It felt strange and all of a sudden I didn’t know whether I was happy or sad.  I lay there and tried to decide, but I couldn’t.  Perhaps you get a little funny from sleeping in the woods.

True that, Lisa.  True that.

Pippi Won’t Grow Up

Astrid_PWGUThis is another Pippi comic book.  Its original name was Pippi Vill Inte Bli Stor Och Andra Serier.  It was published in 2011 but the text is from 1957-1959.  It was translated by Tiina Nunnally with pictures by Ingrid Vang Nyman.

Of all the Pippi comic books, I think this is the absolute best, probably because the stories are the ones that don’t get told as often.  There is much time spent in the south seas, which feels like a rare treat.  And while the stories feel short and jumpy, I found myself longing less for the novel versions of the stories than I have while reading previous comic books.

Also, Pippi is adorable.