The above title makes perfect sense to me, because it’s a quote from a song title (Kan du vissla Johanna?). That’s why it puzzled me so much when it appeared on the invoice which accompanied all those books I received some months ago, that weren’t for me. Because deep in this parcel madness, I could tell that with such a title, this really did have something to do with me, after all.
When the correct books arrived, all became clear. They were by Ulf Stark (his name was missing on that list) and Can you whistle, Johanna? is one of his best known books.
I say that, without actually knowing very much about Ulf. But a witch can read up on people, who have decided to become big and famous after her departure from Sweden. Ulf has written lots of books. This one, about the whistling Johanna, has been filmed and is shown on television every Christmas, meaning he is almost as big as that Disney chap. (That’s all we got in my day, you know.)
It is a very sweet little story, featuring two boys aged about seven. (And because of their age, you can work out that this must be set in the past, when little boys could roam freely and parentlessly. I’m guessing Ulf might be setting his books when he was a little boy, in which case we’re talking the 1950s.)
One boy, Ulf, tells his friend Berra about having a grandfather. It’s quite nice. So Berra wants one too, and they go to the place where you get them; the old people’s home. The prospective grandfather is happy to be adopted (not that he was actually asked), and there follows a brief period of ‘grand’-relations between the man and the boy.
It is very sweet. As I said. It ends in tears, and you can probably work out why. The question is who gained the most from their brief kinship, Berra or ‘his’ grandfather?
(I found the film on YouTube, but came to the conclusion I didn’t want to ruin my book experience with the film. Yet, anyway.)
Interesting, and charming, illustrations by Anna Höglund.