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

Posts tagged ‘florence lamborn’

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.

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.

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 Goes to the Circus

Astrid_PG2CPippi Goes to the Circus (1999) is another storybook version of a previously-told Pippi story.  This book “has been excerpted, with Astrid Lindgren’s assistance, from two chapters in Pippi Longstocking.”

It’s cool that Astrid was involved.  That’s why I bothered to read it, though it’s a story I know well.  If anyone else ever attempts a Lindgren Through-Read, I don’t think this book is a necessary component.

It’s a fun-enough version and, for those young readers unacquainted with Pippi, this should enthrall them and suck them into Pippi’s world.  The pictures are appealing and Michael Chesworth does a great job of illustrating motion and chaos.

Oh Pippi: Pippi leaned forward and took the horse’s right foot in her hand.  “Hello there,” she said, “My horse sent you his best wishes.  It’s his birthday today too, but has bows on his tail instead of on his head.”

Pippi in the South Seas

Astrid_PItSSThe third and final Pippi novel, Pippi in the South Seas, is a fitting end to the long Pippi tales.  It was originally published in 1948 as Pippi Langstrump i Soderhaver.  The version I read was translated by Florence Lamborn and illustrated by Michael Chesworth, whose illustrations of Pippi really grew on me.  One thing he does really well is capture the feeling of movement in his illustrations.

In this collection of Pippi stories, Pippi explores the neighborhood looking for a spink, cheers up sad schoolchildren, and gets a letter informing her that she must go to the South Seas.  Tommy and Annika, long-suffering from sickness, are again heartbroken at the thought of losing Pippi.  But somehow, Pippi has convinces their parents to let her take them.  On the island they have all kinds of adventures, returning to Villekulla just after Christmas, much to the dismay of her friends.  But Pippi, being Pippi, arranges a Christmas feast and party for Tommy and Annika so really, they didn’t miss out.  Then she offers them each a magic pill so they will never have to grow up.  Readers can only assume that, if the pill worked as promised, the three are still playing in Villa Villekulla to this day.

It’s so hard to pick favorite lines from Pippi’s books because she is witty and wise and ridiculous and true all rolled into one.  One of my favorite scenes is this: “Eat your good cereal she [Tommy and Annika’s mother] said.
Annika stirred hers around in the dish with her spoon a bit, but she knew that she just couldn’t get any of it down.  “Why do I have to eat it, anyway?” she said complainingly.
“How can you ask anything so stupid?” said Pippi.  “Of course you have to eat your good cereal.  If you don’t eat your good cereal, then you won’t grow and get big and strong.  And if you don’t get big and strong, then you won’t have the strength to force your children, when you have some, to eat their good cereal.  No, Annika, that won’t do.  Nothing but the most terrible disorder in cereal-eating would come of this if everyone talked like you.”

But I also deeply appreciated this sentence: [Pippi’s pet monkey] Mr. Nilsson, who was sitting on the table and trying to spread butter on his hat, looked up in surprise.

What is going on with Noisy Village?

Bullerbyn, also known as Bullerby, also known as Noisy Village, is a series of picture and chapter books.  However, figuring out the English translations is enough to drive someone (cough, me, cough) crazy.  Warning: unless you really care about this series, you probably shouldn’t suffer through the following 1,000 words.

Astrid Lindgren’s official site lists eight books about Bullerbyn.

These are:

  • THE SIX BULLERBY CHILDREN/CHILDREN OF NOISY VILLAGE (Alla vi barn I Bullerbyn)
  • MORE ABOUT US BULLERBY CHILDREN (Mera om oss barn I Bullerbyn)
  • HAPPY TIMES IN NOISY VILLAGE (Bara roligt I Bullerbyn)
  • ALL ABOUT THE BULLERBY CHILDREN (Bullerby Boken)
  • CHRISTMAS AT BULLERBY/CHRISTMAS IN NOISY VILLAGE (Jul I Bullerbyn)
  • SPRINGTIME IN NOISY VILLAGE (Var I Bullerbyn)
  • A DAY AT BULLERBY (Barnens Dag I Bullerbyn)
  • BARNEN I BULLERBYN

Good news: we can right away not worry about Barnen i Bullerbyn, because it is just a collection of existing Bullerbyn stories and anyway, it isn’t available in English.

That leaves us with seven Bullerbyn books to worry about.

Well, two of them are really simple: Springtime in Noisy Village has just one translation that I know of and is relatively easy to find.  Christmas at Bullerby/Christmas in Noisy Village has two pesky translations but is the same story.  Not much to worry about there.

That leaves us with five Bullerbyn books to worry about:

  • THE SIX BULLERBY CHILDREN/CHILDREN OF NOISY VILLAGE (Alla vi barn I Bullerbyn)
  • MORE ABOUT US BULLERBY CHILDREN (Mera om oss barn I Bullerbyn)
  • HAPPY TIMES IN NOISY VILLAGE (Bara roligt I Bullerbyn)
  • ALL ABOUT THE BULLERBY CHILDREN (Bullerby Boken)
  • A DAY AT BULLERBY (Barnens Dag I Bullerbyn)

I happen to own two books about Noisy Village (thanks Dad!): Happy Times in Noisy Village and The Children of Noisy Village.  Both of these claim to have been translated from Bullerby Boken (A collection in English called All About the Bullerby Children which supposedly includes Happy Times in Noisy Village, More About us Bullerby Children, and Children of Noisy Village.)  Because All About the Bullerby Children is another collection as proven by my translations and the Astrid Lindgren site, we can cross that one off our list too, but soon we have to remember that it existed.

Okay, so now we’ve got four Bullerbyn books remaining:

  • THE SIX BULLERBY CHILDREN/CHILDREN OF NOISY VILLAGE (Alla vi barn I Bullerbyn)
  • MORE ABOUT US BULLERBY CHILDREN (Mera om oss barn I Bullerbyn)
  • HAPPY TIMES IN NOISY VILLAGE (Bara roligt I Bullerbyn)
  • A DAY AT BULLERBY (Barnens Dag I Bullerbyn)

Are we having fun yet?

Let’s look at the first book listed on Lindgren’s site, The Six Bullerby Children/Children of Noisy Village.  The synopsis includes the following highlights:

  • Sleeping in the hay
  • Getting dressed up and going to school
  • Having fun on the way there and back

Looking at More About the Bullerby Children, the Lindgren’s site lists highlights as:

  • Skating on the lake at North Farm with Lars falling through a hole in the ice
  • Lisa and Anna going to buy yeast, and ginger, vinegar and sewing thread and sausage of the finest quality
  • That particular adventure taking a long time because they forget things

Here (according to Astrid Lindgren’s site) are the highlights of Happy Times in Noisy Village:

  • Hunting wild oxen
  • Feeding baby lambs
  • Catching crayfish
  • Dancing around the maypole during midsummer

Here is the synopsis for A Day at Bullerbyn (which appears to be a picture book):

  • Lars reads that there is a “Children’s Day” in Stockholm and thinks it should happen in Bullerby too, for Kerstin’s sake.

In my book The Children of Noisy Village, these are some of the stories:

  • Walking home from school
  • Fun in school
  • Anna and Lisa shopping for sausage of the best quality, yeast, ginger, sewing needles, etc.
  • Anna and Lisa forgetting things and the adventure taking a long time
  • Crayfishing

Notice how these stories appear to come from three different Bullerbyn books (and now you understand why this is a rainbow-colored post).

In my book Happy Times in Noisy Village, these stories are told:

  • Playing in the hay
  • Skating and Karl (Lars) falling into the frozen lake
  • Hunting wild oxen
  • Feeding baby lambs
  • Dancing around the maypole during midsummer

Again, it certainly looks as if stories in this book come from three different Bullerbyn books.

Remember that each of these books (my copies anyway) claims to be translated from Bullerby Boken (All About the Bullerby Children – a collection of Bullerby books).  Looking at the breakdown of story highlights, it seems evident that when translating this collection of three books, the translator (Florence Lamborn) or editors decided to split Bullerby Boken into two books, eliminating the book More About the Bullerby Children but not getting rid of that book’s stories.

The list now looks like this:

  • THE SIX BULLERBY CHILDREN/CHILDREN OF NOISY VILLAGE (Alla vi barn I Bullerbyn)
  • HAPPY TIMES IN NOISY VILLAGE (Bara roligt I Bullerbyn)
  • A DAY AT BULLERBY (Barnens Dag I Bullerbyn)

A Day at Bullerby, meanwhile, appears to have only been released in Britain.  That’ll be a fun one to track down . . .

While we’re at it, Lindgren’s site lists the children’s names as Lisa, Lars, Pip, Britta, Anna, and Ollie.  The versions I have include the characters Lisa, Karl, Bill, Kerstin, Britta, Anna, Olaf.  This is deeply unimportant and actually, the least offensive name-changes so far (although still totally unnecessary), but I thought it was worth mentioning.

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.