I was never happier about any Children of the World book. This book, almost impossible to track down, was the best possible book to finish the series on. It’s ridiculously cute. The copy I have has 50% ripped pages, taped together and yellowed with age. It’s original title was Eva moter Noriko-San, published in 1956.
Eva gets the news that she is going to visit Noriko-San all by herself (!). Noriko-San gets ready for her, putting on a kimono and arranging a bunch of super-creepy dolls. Eva comes and the two frolic about. They switch outfits. Finally Eva leaves. From the plane window she waves with her hankie. I giggled.
I don’t really understand why this is the most rare Astrid Lindgren book of all; it’s cute, but this book seems like it has a following like no other book in the series.
You have to suspend your belief in reality a little for this book: Then all at once, the smallest cousin of all says, “Listen. I hear an airplane.” And that was really Eva’s plane.
I could not find the Children of the World series book about Noriko-San anywhere.
Some journalist tracked down Eva and Noriko-San, but I couldn’t even track down their book!
There is not a single copy available on Amazon. Not on the American Amazon, not on the British Amazon, not on the Canadian Amazon. Not on AbeBooks. Not anywhere.
There is one copy available through inter-library loan where I live. But it is in Swedish, and they refuse to lend it out. So . . . that’s a dead-end, twice over.
Thank goodness for Peter. He was able to use his magical university powers to get a copy. What would I have done without him? Not read about Eva visiting Noriko-San, that’s for sure.
This is the single most rare book by Astrid Lindgren, at least in English. Review coming tomorrow.
This book claims to be part of the “Children of the World” series. Whew. That is so much better than “Children’s Everywhere.” No other book in the series so far has claimed “Children of the World,” but I am going to run with it.
Sia Lives on Kilimanjaro (originally Sia bor pa Kilimandjaro, 1958) is the story of a girl who lives wherever Kilimanjaro is in Africa. (Yes, yes, I know where it is. Do children?)
Sia lives in a sweet hut with her little sister Linga and little brothers Saika and Kitutu. She has another brother, Sariko, who is older than her and doesn’t let her forget it.
One day her parents dress up and desert the children so they can go see the king. They leave 8-year-old Sia to look after all the mess they’ve left behind. No wonder she ditches the kids and takes off after her brother, who also wants to go see the king.
They walk past elephants and giraffes (seems legit) in order to hitch-hike into town. Sariko lies and tells his sister that only boys are allowed to go. Jerk. Then why did her mom go? Sia doesn’t fall for his crap. She hitches into town too.
Then she marches up to the king. Because security sucked in those days. She tells him that her brother is full of crap, and the king says he will speak with him. Burrrrrn. Of course, Mum and Pop are bummed that their kids disobeyed all their orders and left all the little kids alone to fend for themselves among the wild animals.
“We will not be too cross, for they are small, and this has been an exciting adventure,” says their mother. Right. Because that’s totally how it would go down.
Honestly, reading these books isn’t bad. It’s the trying to find anything good about them after reading them that is so tough.
Here, almost at the end of the Children of the World series, I am presented with a (relative) gem of a story. Noy Lives in Thailand is listed on Astrid Lindgren’s website (and also Wikipedia) as Noby Lives in Thailand, but the original Swedish version of 1966 was titled Noy bor i Thailand and the English version is about Noy as well, so an online typographical error seems like the most likely situation. I doubt a book about Noby ever existed – if it did, Google can’t find it.
Noy lives in rural Thailand. Finally her father lets her go with him to Bangkok to sell fruits and vegetables there. While in Bangkok, Noy wanders off and tours the city before eventually being found. It’s a simple story, but interesting and sweet. There seems to be less jumping around on the storyline. Maybe it’s just that wandering the streets of Bangkok is an easier plot to weave bits of whimsy into rather than forcing it onto the more serene landscapes of other books in this series.
Of the books in this series, this one has aged the best, perhaps. Black and white pictures are still a setback to enthralling children, but overall the story is good, the translation seems decent, and Noy as a character is fun and unobjectionable. For the Children of the World series, this is high praise.
Although he only appears on a couple of pages, Noy’s brother Tavi sums up the world in this sentence: “I like to bathe too, even though I’m not a buffalo.”
Lilibet, Circus Child (listed as simply Circus Child on some Lindgren websites) tells the story of young Lilibet who grows up in a circus (bet you didn’t see that one coming). The original title was Lilibet Cirkusbarn and it was published in Sweden in 1960. Translators for this series are unknown.
This book in the Children of the World series has perhaps the most compelling pictures from a kid’s point of view: many photos feature Lilibet or other children interacting with animals such as elephants and horses. That’s way cooler than looking at Randi ski or Dirk being a jerk.
Knowing how Astrid Lindgren was an advocate for animal rights, it must have really irked her to write text for photos of chimpanzees and tigers in cages looking sad. She gets her dig in: “Chimpanzees don’t like being in cages, and tigers don’t either. If Leo had his way, he would let them go. Tigers and monkeys should be in the jungle and not in circuses, he says. He’s very clever sometimes, I think.” Leo and Lilibet don’t see eye to eye on anything, but even Lilibet sides with him on this case.
My Swedish Cousins was originally Mina svenska kusiner (1959). As with all books in this series so far, the translator remains a mystery. Probably had to join the Swedish version of the witness protection program.
In this story, Bjorn (who lives with his grandmother in Dalarna) introduces and waits for a visit from his cousins. His cousins conveniently live all around Sweden. Maria and Anders live in Skane. Gunnar lives in Norrland. Sigrid lives on the west coast by the sea. Johan and Eva live in Stockholm. All these losers meet up once a year at Midsummer. In the meantime, they write letters to Grandmother. In those days, texting was called “letters.” No fewer than 16 pages are spent on the story of the day Eva took her cat on a tour of Stockholm. Gunnar, meanwhile, is a self-proclaimed hero for bringing his dad the lunch foolishly forgotten. Let’s hope Granny has a wood stove to burn all this inane nonsense. I even like nonsense! But this book’s nonsense is so tedious that, quite honestly, I missed Randi and Dirk.
Finally Midsummer comes and Grandmother forces the kids to eat meatballs. The kids stay up late and have a pillow fight and then go home to their sad, dull lives.
The best line of the book: You shouldn’t have cats in town, I thought. And not sisters, either.
In Dirk Lives in Holland, we continue the Riwkin-Brick series “Children’s Everywhere.” The Swedish title, Jackie Lives in Holland (1963) was translated by someone, but it’s just as well we don’t know who. Whoever it was did a terrible job. Not knowing Swedish, how can I tell that he or she did an awful job? Because part way through the book, Dirk is referred to as “Jackie.” Anyone reading it, without knowing the original title, would be completely and utterly lost.
Pro tip: If you’re going to insist on changing the names of the people in books, at least be consistent and not flip-flop back and forth in the same book. I mean, this book is about 40 pages long, 90% pictures. Did no one edit it before it went to print?
But presumably, none of that is Astrid Lindgren’s fault. However, the story is.
Dirk/Jackie is a boy who grows up surrounded by fish. He whines about not being old enough to fish. He whines about not owning a bike. He covets his grandfather’s money that is being hoarded. He chooses his friends based on their submissiveness to his plans. “I like playing with Elleke,” he says at one point in the book, “For she does what I tell her.” Elleke and Dirk play hide and seek but one can’t help but wonder if Elleke is playing or if she is just truly hiding. He tries to take another girl’s bike but she escapes. He gets angry when Elleke is not around to take orders from him. He orders his poor pet rabbit to not eat the grass. Let that one sink in for awhile. He complains to his father about first-world problems. Unable to get what he wants, he complains to his grandparents about first-world problems. Grandfather gives in and buys the brat a bike.
Favorite line: He sometimes climbs up lampposts, but he really shouldn’t do that.