Tag Archives: Elsa Beskow

Sisters and Friends

Tant Brun

I know we did colours yesterday, but permit me to add a colourful, literary lady; Tant Brun. She is one of Elsa Beskow’s three tants, Green, Brown and Purple. This one appears to run a café in Sigtuna. I was so full of having been ‘thrown out of’ another Sigtuna café the other day, that I completely forgot to mention Tant Brun. I bet she wouldn’t dream of behaving like that.

Bokhandel, Norrtälje

‘All’ postcards of Norrtälje that I have ever received, have featured this bookshop. I found myself buying the same card myself, and sending it, despite there being many others. But the shop is quite pretty and as the Resident IT Consultant remarked, it grows inside and goes on and on. Rather like Blackwell’s in Oxford.

Norrtälje Bokhandel

Norrtälje has another bookshop, too. Not as cute, but still a bookshop. (Last time in Norrtälje I bought four plastic fish-shaped soap dishes. Not in a bookshop, I hasten to add.)

As you will know if you called in yesterday, we drove south. After enjoying another breakfast on the terrace overlooking Mariestad harbour, we went to visit my oldest sister. I have met her a few more times than her little brother, whom we saw last week. Unlike him she has no lake, but her flat boasts a larger garden than Bookwitch Towers, and much more forest. Very nice.

Then we drove even more south and ended up at School Friend’s house. The weather continued fine, but it was the first time in over a week that I could sit still without breaking into a sweat. (I know. One shouldn’t mention perspiration. But sometimes it’s all a witch can think of.)

Today is Mr School Friend’s birthday. I’m hoping for cake. And a party. Coincidence is an interesting thing, and I am fairly certain I will see Brother of School Friend, who was once – a very long time ago, it has to be said – class mates with oldest sister (which is stranger than it might seem to you).

The road atlas

This is the book that brought us all the way north (well, more north than I am used to) and back again. Whenever the Resident IT Consultant asked how far it was to somewhere, I always replied ‘about an inch,’ because strangely enough, it always seemed to be. The atlas can rest now. We know the last part of the journey well enough to manage without help. Although it is a wee bit further than an inch.

Counting the days

Reviewing a calendar is not the easiest of tasks, but with this one I really wanted to have a go.

Elsa Beskow Calendar 2013

The Elsa Beskow 2013 Calendar is beautiful, and fills me with nostalgia. Hopefully it will do something for you, too, even if it’s not reminding you of (your) childhood.

Elsa Beskow Calendar 2013

The illustrations are from various Elsa Beskow classics, and nicely follow the changing of the seasons. Except (I have to say this) January. It looks like December to me, but after some not inconsiderable research, I have to give in. Those three boys are the New Year, not Star Boys accompanying Lucia. But you could have fooled me.

Rosalind and the Little Deer

This is an Elsa Beskow story I didn’t know. I am guessing it’s because it has only recently become a book, even in Swedish. The pictures are obviously Beskow originals from almost a hundred years ago, but maybe they haven’t appeared in book form until now.

Elsa Beskow, Rosalind and the Little Deer

Rosalind is a little girl who, with the help of her grandfather, writes (draws) a story. It is about Rosalind, who has a little deer. The deer is accidentally frightened and runs off, and is captured by a wicked King, as creatures often are in picture books.

The deer refuses to eat and there is a reward for managing to feed it. And eventually things happen much in the standard picture book way; after a bad start, things work out in the end.

While, for me, the pictures don’t have quite the same magic as the ones from my childhood, I suspect this is the reason. Elsa Beskow should be enjoyed at a young age, and you will always feel that special tug at your heart, no matter how old you are. This will do the same for today’s young readers, tomorrow.

I really could

I recently talked about favourites among Elsa Beskow’s books. I’m not sure if this counted as a true favourite. Yes, I liked it. Yes, I read it all the time. But this was in the olden days when a child didn’t own many books, so obviously I would read and read the same book.

Read. Hah! I started school at six, which was a year early, but the book I’m talking about was well before school. It was Sagan om den lilla lilla gumman, which translates into The story about the tiny tiny old woman. (Somehow that doesn’t have the same ring to it…)

Elsa Beskow, Sagan om den lilla lilla gumman

So the reading was presumably done by Mother-of-witch. I hope I didn’t demand the book every day for two years. But I might have done.

But, anyway. I told the neighbour’s children (older ones) that I could read. They didn’t believe me, because they weren’t stupid.

I went on to prove it, by getting out my old and trusted Sagan om den lilla lilla gumman. And then I read it to them, those doubters of no faith at all. They went away with the knowledge that this little mini-witch really could read. (I doubt that child prodigies were known about in our part of the world.)

Mother-of-witch had looked on, saying nothing. Because she knew that I knew it by heart. Every word, and knowing how to – seemingly – follow those words with my finger as I ‘read.’

I reckon I was too young to feel satisfaction, even. And it wasn’t cheating, was it?

(If it looks old-fashioned, that’s because it was published in 1897.)

Hat Cottage

It’s odd, but I’m sure the Elsa Beskow classic The Children of Hat Cottage wasn’t quite like this. I mean, I know it was, now that I have re-acquainted myself with the book. But for the life of me, I could not remember it well at all. And that’s despite it being an old favourite.

Elsa Beskow, The Children of Hat Cottage

Looking at it with 21st century eyes, it is not terribly pc. And wondering to myself what it was I loved so much, I have to say it was probably the idea that you could have a nice house in a hat. Even that early I was into houses and interior decorating.

Elsa Beskow’s illustrations are as wonderful as always. There is good reason for Swedes loving her books so much. Generations of us have grown up with her picture books, and I’m sure we all have a favourite, if you were to ask. This wasn’t mine, but it ranked pretty high.

It’s about a woman who lives with her three children in a hat. One day she has to leave them on their own to go and buy some yarn to make clothes. In fairness she does take unexpectedly long over this shopping expedition. But,

those children decide to sweep the chimney, then wash their dirty clothes, and then make a fire to dry them. Yes. There isn’t much left of the lovely hat cottage after a while. But not to worry. The little man across the water comes to help them put the blaze out, builds a new house for when mother comes home, and then finishes off by proposing marriage when she returns.

And they live happily ever after.

I think it must have been all this house business I loved. Having one nice house, and then simply setting about building another when disaster strikes.

I found out about this new translation into English quite by chance, and I’m really pleased that someone – in this case Floris Books – decided to publish Elsa Beskow’s books for a new and wider audience.