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

Posts tagged ‘bill bergson series’

Bill Bergson Lives Dangerously

Astrid_BBLDBill Bergson Lives Dangerously (Masterdetektiven Blomqvist Lever Farligt, 1951), translated by Herbert Antoine, is the second book in the Bill Bergson trilogy.  It was the final Bill Bergson book I read and a bittersweet experience for me, because I really enjoyed this series.

Again, Bill and his best friends Anders and Eva-Lotta have grand adventures and get caught up in a mystery.  This book deals with a murder in a way that most children’s books wouldn’t, but Lindgren handles it well.  Since these books are aimed at an older reader than most of her writing, I think even today’s children could handle the scene of the murder without too much fuss.  The children process the event in very realistic and caring ways.

Eva-Lotta is one of the strongest females that Lindgren created, and the banter between the trio is flawless.  I found myself wishing there were another handful of Bergson books just so I could spend more time with these three.

My favorite of Bill’s thoughts: And a good thing too, that the summer vacation was so long.  About the cleverest invention ever, Bill considered.  Come to think of it, it was strange that grown-ups had hit upon the idea.  Actually to let you roam idly in the sunshine for two and a half months without having the bother your head a bit about the Thirty Years’ War and the rest of it!

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Bill Bergson and the White Rose Rescue

Due to a quirk of the library system, I ended up reading the third and final Bill Bergson book, Bill BergsoAstrid_BBWRRn and the White Rose Rescue, before the second Bill Bergson book.  Although there are three in the series, it would make little difference what order they are read in.  They’re less of a series and more like a grouping.

Florence Lamborn translated the version I read from the original Kalle Blomkvist och Rasmus, first published in 1953.  This book has frequent pictures by Don Freeman – the guy who wrote the Corduroy picture books!  I knew his name was familiar.  This book strikes a good balance between text and pictures, with most chapters beginning with a small picture.  This lightened the mood a little from the first Bill Bergson book.

Bill’s world, perhaps the least magical and whimsical of Lindgren’s series, is nevertheless a great place to hang out for a couple hundred pages.   In this story, Bill, Anders, and Eva-Lotta help a kidnapped child (originally named Rasmus, but changed to Eric in the American translation – WHY, God, WHY?)  If you can get past the fact that the kidnappers in the story really suck at their job and may be the most inept kidnappers ever, even adults will enjoy this adventure.

Adults also have to put aside the harsh reality that any kids attempting what this trio does would be grounded.  Forever.

Adults will also have to struggle with the fact that Eric is an obnoxious little brat and really, a kidnapping might have been a blessing.  I am sure that he is much more tolerable when he is named Rasmus, but we’ll never know, because someone authorized all these name changes.  Whoever did that was morally bankrupt and ought to be ashamed.

Eva-Lotta remains one of my favorite characters: plucky and brave as they come, completely respected by her two BFFs.  Oh, they roll their eyes at her when she’s oogly-eyed over little Eric, but I am sure her affinity for the little boy was much more realistic when he was named Rasmus.

I can’t possibly choose just one scene to highlight from this book, as I frequently chuckled.

“Isn’t it really strange,” he said, “What we get involved in time after time . . . .”
“Yes,” Anders agreed.  “The things that happen to us only happen to other people in books.”
“Perhaps this is happening in a book,” said Bill.
“What do you mean?  Are you nuts?” said Anders.
“Perhaps we don’t exist,” said Bill dreamingly.  “Perhaps we’re only a couple of guys in a book that someone has made up.”
“Well, maybe you are,” said Anders, annoyed.  “It wouldn’t surprise me if you were a typographical error, to come right down to it.”

and:

“This was an uncomfortable thought.  To be laughed at and – still worse – to be forty years old at the same time there were other fortunate people who weren’t more than thirteen or fourteen!  Anders felt a deep dislike of those youngsters who would some day take over playgrounds and hiding places . . .”

One final thought: They ought to have kept Eric’s name as Rasmus.  I don’t know if I made that clear.

Bill Bergson, Master Detective

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Bill Bergson, of all of Astrid’s characters, is one that held absolutely no draw for me.  Nevertheless, I ordered it through inter-library loan and started reading it last night before bed.  I was done with it early this morning.  Now, to be fair, it’s only a couple hundred pages long, but my point is: Bill Bergson’s not bad at all.

The original Swedish book is called Mästerdetektiven Blomkvist and was published in 1952.  The translation I read is by Herbert Antoine.  There is a picture by Louis S. Glanzman.  This is the least-illustrated Lindgren I’ve ever seen, but it does not need more.

Bill Bergson’s charm is in his ordinary-ness.  He’s just a normal boy who, like most children, has a dream about what he wants to be.  He lives in his head, often narrating his successes to himself, but is aware that he is a pretty normal kid.  His best friends, Anders and Eva-Lotta, make great sidekicks.  I appreciate how Eva-Lotta is treated as an equal who can hold her own. The trio reminds me just slightly of Harry Potter and his friends.  Given how much time has passed between publication and today, I’m amazed at how well Bill’s story has aged.

In fact, my only issue with this book is the fact that Bill Bergson’s name, Kalle Blomkvist, was changed in the English version.  Kalle is a much more suitable name and there’s no reason to have changed his last name so dramatically.  For fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, the main characters of that series reflect the characters of the (Swedish version of the) Bill Bergson series.  More information on these interesting connections can be found on the Bill Bergson Wikipedia page.

One of many favorite scenes: Anders and Bill and Eva-Lotta stared at him.  Did he really mean to suggest that a grown-up person should take part in their fights?  And spoil all the fun!