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

Posts tagged ‘mirabelle’

Mirabelle

Astrid_Mira Mirabelle is a picture book illustrated by Pija Lindenbaum and translated by Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard from the Swedish Mirabell (1949).  When I read it, I thought it was charming and magical.  I went online to check reviews of it, which I always enjoy, and I was shocked that the general consensus seems to be that this is a super-creepy book.  Huh.  That was not my impression at all.

The story is a simple yet fantastical one: Young Britta comes from a poor family yet she desperately wants a doll.  One day she does a good deed for a stranger.  In return he gives her a seed and tells her to plant it and take care of it.  She does, and out of the ground grows Mirabelle!  Mirabelle talks and plays, but only whenAstrid_Mirabelle grown-ups aren’t looking.  Everyone is happy, the end.

What’s so creepy about that?

Well.  I read Mirabelle a second time.

And yeah, when the doll’s head first starts sticking up out of the ground, sure, I guess that’s creepy.  Like a toy rising from the dead.

And yeah, the first time Britta says goodnight to her and the doll responds, “My name is not Margaret.  My name is Mirabelle!” I can see that being creepy too.

And yeah, the fact that Mirabelle only comes to life when the adults aren’t looking, that’s kind of creepy.

But mostly, I found Mirabelle’s eyes creepy.  It’s hard to tell in this picture, but when she is pretending to be a doll, her eyes are SUPER big and vacant.  Honestly, I bet if her eyes were not so vacant, others wouldn’t have thought the book was creepy.

I still think this is a charming book.  The creepiness is there if you look for it, but it took a second reading for me to see any of it.  Mirabelle was, at least for me, a delightful character with flawless taste:

“But don’t ever try to feed me oatmeal,” she said, “Because I don’t eat it.”