The Red Bird (original title: Sunnanang) is the story of two children who find escape from a dreary existence in a magical land where all their dreams come true. The book has a darker tone than most children’s books I’ve read. Lindgren did not shy away from writing about the sadder parts of life but, like her other works, the shadows are soon lifted.
It was published in 1959 but I read a relatively new translation/illustrated version from 2003-2005.
Patricia Crampton, the translator who masterfully translated Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, also translated this book.
Illustrator Marit Tornqvist captures the contrast between worlds. The regular world of Matthew and Anna is dark and dreary; Sunnymead is green and alive.
My favorite line: “All the loveliness of spring burst over them in one exultant instant: A thousand little birds sang, rejoicing in the trees; all the spring rivulets gurgled, all the spring flowers sparkled, and the children were playing in a meadow as green as the fields of paradise.”