a book blog about reading all of astrid lindgren's books

Posts tagged ‘translator unknown’

Pippi on the Run

Astrid_POTR Pippi on the Run (Pa rymmen med Pippi Langstrump) is one of the original stories about Pippi – not a retelling, or a re-retelling or a re-re-retelling.  It was published in 1971.  No translator is listed in the version I read.

There are two versions of this book: illustrated and with photography.  I grew up with the book on the left, a very thin novel.  There is also a very thick picture book with photographs by Bo-Erik Gyberg.  The photographs are from the 1970 Pippi on the Run movie starring Inger Nilsson.  The photograph book is the one I got through inter-library loan – not that I meant to, it just happened.  I have never seen the movie, but I thoroughly enjoyed this trio as Tommy, Pippi, and Annika.  Aren’t they just obnoxiously perfect?  Yeah.  Astrid_PippisCrew

Reading this book was particularly fun because I grew up with the movie The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, and a lot of those “new” adventures came from this book.  Or was this book based on the 1970’s Pippi on the Run movie?  Or were they created at the same time?  It’s hard to find out.

Whatever its inspiration, I loved The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking movie when I was growing up, but one scene always bothered me: when Pippi convinces Tommy and Annika to float down the river towards a waterfall in a barrel.  Pippi always kept the kids safe until that moment.  She was wild, but she wasn’t dangerous.  But in that movie scene, she almost gets all three of them killed and they are saved by grown-ups!  Ugh.  Well, it turns out that in the book, only Pippi floats down the river and she even regrets it: “I’m really silly. [. . .] Why did I have to go and float away in that old barrel?”  I feel that Pippi’s character has been cleared of guilty charges.  Of course she wouldn’t do that to Tommy and Annika.  I always knew it!  The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking movie got it wrong!

In fact, in this book Pippi saves a kid’s life.  When offered a reward, she replies, “Oh, I do things like that for free.”  Yes.  Pippi would never hurt anyone – especially not Tommy and Annika.

I love this scene:
The farmer was even more annoyed.
“He doesn’t like us,” Annika whispered to Pippi.
“I just don’t understand how he can help it,” said Pippi.


The Runaway Sleigh Ride

Astrid_RSRThis 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.  Astrid_RSR2

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.”

Kati in Italy

Kati in Italy tells of the time when Kati and Eva won a small fortune and decided to blow it all on a trip to Italy. Astrid_KiI (That’s pretty much always the right thing to do.)  This story is titled Kati pa Kaptensgatan in Swedish, which is something like Kati on Captains Street.  And yes, some of the story does take place in Kati’s place on Captains Street.  However, for once I’m not going to quibble about title changes, because the story is really about Kati in Italy.  So there.

Similar to Kati in Paris, if you don’t already have some affinity for Italy, this book might drive you nuts.  Astrid Lindgren paints beautiful descriptions of Venice, Rome, Florence, Naples, etc., but you might just want to smack Kati for not enjoying it as much as she should be, because she’s too busy mooning over the stupid boy she goes on to marry in Kati in Paris.  Get a grip, Kati.  Seriously.  Don’t invite this girl on vacation.  Unless you like having your trip ruined.

Also similar to Kati in Paris, Eva is the true highlight of the book.  If I can bend reality a little, I can pretend that Eva-Lotta of the Bill Bergson books grew up to be this Eva.  “Don’t read so much, Kati,” Eva tells her best friend, “Live, instead.”

The scene where Kati and Eva accidentally crash a party for an old lady they’ve never met is pretty special.  Kati muses: Eva has a clear, high soprano voice, and my little alto voice is very pretty too.  We sometimes play the Andrews Sisters, and here we had a wonderful opportunity to show what we could do.


Kati aspires to be this cool.

Why is that special?  Well, it isn’t for anyone except me. The Andrews Sisters are from the town where I live and where I’ve read every Astrid Lindgren book so far.  The Andrews Sisters are from here!

So is Kevin Sorbo.  I will be way more impressed if Kevin Sorbo makes a cameo appearance in an Astrid Lindgren book.



Final words of wisdom from inside Kati’s head: There is no dainty, elegant way to eat spaghetti – it just isn’t possible.

Final words of wisdom from Eva: “I don’t want to criticize contemporary males, but they aren’t especially magnificent,” said Eva.

And to prove her point, below are some Kevin Sorbo memes.  Why?  Well, you try reading 60 books by the same author in a month and a half and then you’ll understand.





Kati in Paris

Astrid_KiPThis is the forgotten series by Astrid Lindgren(besides that Children of the World series which everyone has been trying to forget).  There are three Kati books that chronicle a young woman’s life. The edition of Kati in Paris (Swedish: Kati i Paris, 1953, no translator listed) that I read included a handful of pictures by Daniel DuPuy, all in color and on glossier paper than the rest of the book.  I mention this because the book feels and looks different from anything else Lindgren wrote — and the subject matter follows suit. These were obviously written for an older audience and they read like teen fiction. Astrid Lindgren’s official site sums it up: Today these three Kati-books appear to have their own special genre, of which this is the last: books for girls with a combination of reporting, portrayal of a woman’s business-life and in this last “edition”, a love-and-marriage novel.

Yes.  This is the only book I’ve read by Lindgren that by any stretch of the imagination could be called a romance novel or a “love-and-marriage” novel, though all of Astrid’s books deal with love in some form.  I enjoyed seeing this side of Lindgren’s writing.  Although I jumped into the series at the end due to a quirk in the library system, I loved the depth of the characters she created.

There’s Lennart, Kati’s fiance, of whom she says, “Lennart was far from the first man in my life.  He was the second, and I hoped he would be the last.”

There’s Eva, Kati’s BFF, who she describes like this: I was thinking of the list Eva had in her desk drawer in the office: ‘If I get rabies, these are the people I’m going to bite.'”

And then there is Paris: “Old cities are strange.  Human beings crowd together, live their brief lives, work, love, laugh, and cry for a time in this city which they call Paris.  Gradually they die, and their places are taken by other people who work and love and laugh and cry; and then they, too, are gone.  But don’t they leave behind something of their joy and their pain, their desires, their thoughts, their sorrows and their longing, their hates, their fears?  Isn’t that what I feel when I walk around in their city?  Don’t the cobblestones murmur a quiet account of those who lived here before?  I can go anywhere in Paris, and those who live here. . .can’t outshout the cobblestones.”

Of course, there’s part of me that chafes at the fact that Kati gives up her job which she is fond of in order to have a baby.  But there are also progressive ideas in this book, like the fact that Kati and Lennart move next door to Kati’s friend Eva.  Eva is such a part of Kati’s life – a part that Lennart just has to accept and love.  Indeed, it seems that Lennart gives up more for the marriage than Kati does, straining his relationship with his mother.

In the end, you can tell that this book was written in the 1950s and not in the 2000s, but its tone is, if anything, quaint – far from oppressive or offensive. As a stand-alone book, I enjoyed it, although descriptions of Paris would be tremendously tedious if one has not been to Paris and already developed a love for it.  The Kati books are very rare, though, so finding a copy to read will be a challenge.  I was only able to read Kati in Paris because my boyfriend Peter finagled it from an out-of-state library.  Major thanks to Peter.

Sia Lives on Kilimanjaro

Astrid_SiaThis 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.

Christmas in the Stable

Astrid_XITSChristmas in the Stable (Jul i Stallet 1961), was illustrated by Harald Wiberg in the version I read, though it appears there have been other illustrators.  The layout of the story is interesting, because it is a story of a mother telling her daughter a story about Christmas.  We never even learn the child’s name; in fact she barely appears in the story.  Lindgren has employed this story-within-a-story technique before (Ghost of Skinny Jack comes to mind), but it’s particularly well-done here.  Instead of being just another story about Christmas, it has become a story about someone telling a story about Christmas.

It is a very short and utterly inoffensive book.

Favorite line: “There was a Christmas long ago and far away,” she [the mother] said, but the child did not know about long ago and far away.  She knew only their own farm and a few yesterdays.


Lotta’s Bike


In Lotta’s Bike (Visst kan Lotta cykla, 1971), Lotta turns five years old and wants – spoiler alert – a bike.

Jonas and Maria, her siblings, ride bikes and Lotta wants to be like them.  For her birthday she gets lots of fun presents and is content with them until she remembers wanting a bike.  She hatches a plan to steal one from Mrs. Berg.  It is old and is too big for her and she crashes spectacularly.  Mrs. Berg forgives Lotta and helps patch her up.  Later on, her father comes home with a used bike he found.

The best part of this Lotta book is how Lindgren captures five-year-old logic and word use.  For example, Lotta’s hung up on the word “secretly.”  She can “secretly” do anything – go to school, ride a bike like Jonas, have blue eyes instead of green.  She doesn’t have a full grasp on the language, but that is what will make children love her so much.

I can find no translator listed for the edition I read, which is too bad, for the fun language suggests a skilled artist crafted it into English.  The pictures are once more by Ilon Wiklund, who captures the fine line between simplicity and detail in his works.  The picture of Lotta’s bedroom is wonderful – chaotic as a five-year-old’s room should be.Astrid_Polly

Interestingly, Astrid Lindgren’s Lotta’s Bike Page says that this book was also published under the title Of Course Polly Can Ride a Bike.  Big relief for me, as that was one book I’d been unable to track down through the library and to buy it used was looking very expensive ($30+).  It’s a pretty unforgivable sin to change Lotta to Polly in any translation, so it’s best if I never see that version in print anyway.

My favorite line: In the street she met the chimney sweep, who had just cleaned Mrs. Berg’s chimney.  “I think red bags are nice, don’t you,” she said to him.  The chimney sweep thought so, too, and that made Lotta even happier.