This is a ridiculously delightful short story. Reading this book totally reaffirmed to myself why I am doing this project. I never would have read it without this project. I’m so glad I did.
First of all, I was totally shocked: I hadn’t researched this book at all and had no idea that its original title was Titta, Madicken, det snoar!. MADICKEN! This is about Madicken and her little sister!
Madicken is a series about a little girl who is hilarious and gets into all kinds of trouble. The first book was translated into English as Mischievous Meg. It was also translated as Mardie. (Yeah, this girl has three names associated with her – move over Kalle/Bill, Lotta/Polly and Rasmus/Eric!) I am in the middle of reading the Madicken books and will post about them later. Bottom line: Madicken is a quirky, fun, wonderful character. I adore her. And finding that this book is not just a random picture book but a story about Madicken’s world was so incredibly exciting.
I know, I need to get out more.
The Runaway Sleigh Ride focuses more on Mardie’s little sister Elizabeth (who, in other translations is known as Betsy and Lisbeth, because translators!). That was really cool, because the Madicken series focuses on, well, Madicken/Mardie/Meg. It was nice to read a story about Elizabeth/Betsy/Lisbeth.
The book was published in 1983. No translator is listed. The pictures are by Ilon Wikland who just can’t be praised enough for her work. (I think I have referred to Ilon as a male in the past. Surprise! Ilon is a female. And an awesome one.) Check out this beautiful picture of Elizabeth/Betsy/Lisbeth. This picture of the picture doesn’t do it justice. Ilon is so great.
And it’s not just the pictures — the story is fantastic. It starts with Mardie and Elizabeth enjoying a beautiful snow from their window and then playing in it with their dad. Mardie gets sick the next day so Elizabeth goes alone with Alva (Alma in some translations) to town for Christmas shopping. While there, Elizabeth ends up on the back of a sleigh which takes off. The man driving the sleigh sings a song about getting drunk which even includes the word damn, which seems super risque for a kids book, but it’s a reminder that we all ought to loosen our corsets a little. Elizabeth wanders the woods while her family freaks out. She eventually gets a ride to her house where only Mardie is(everyone else is out looking). Elizabeth inhales all the food in the house and tells of her adventures.
I love this: Then Mardie comes up to her again and gives her another hug.
“You are a horrid child! But I like you anyway.”