Tag Archives: Sven Nordqvist

Findus and the Christmas Tomte

Sven Nordqvist, Findus and the Christmas Tomte

Will he come, or not? That is the question. In this much longer than usual tale about Findus and his Pettson, it isn’t so much whether the Christmas (here known as Yule) Tomte exists, but whether he will come to visit Findus.

Findus very much wants to meet the Yule Tomte, but Pettson has not had much experience of him, for obvious reasons. But he’s a kind cantankerous old man who loves his occasionally annoying beyond words cat Findus and he wants him to be happy.

The problem – of course – is that he knows that the Tomte doesn’t really exist. And that is my problem too. Will this story work on British children who know for a fact that Father Christmas is real? There is little room for doubt.

This book comes with an explanatory page about what Christmas in Sweden is like; describing the Tomte, who is much smaller than Father Christmas, and who comes to your door, asking if you’ve been good. But the doubt is out there. And if it’s OK to doubt the Yule Tomte, can we be sure about Father Christmas?

Sven Nordqvist, Findus and the Christmas Tomtest-2

It’s a conundrum. And conundrum is precisely what poor Pettson suffers from. He needs to organise a live talking Tomte for Findus to meet on Christmas Eve. (I’d have asked the neighbour.)

Anyway, this lovely old man sets about building an automated Tomte, and as we all know who have tried making presents in secret in front of the recipients, this is not easy.

But there is some kind of magic out there, don’t you think? Who was that in the woods? And the gifts that turned up?

We can guess at what will happen. We can’t have Pettson fail, nor little Findus disappointed.

It’s sweet. And everyone is happy, if not exactly sure of what happened there…

(Sven Nordqvist has drawn many interesting inventions and little machines. Plenty to study for anyone with a keen eye. And then there are the tiny creatures that only Findus can see.
The translation by Nathan Large is very good.)

Sven Nordqvist, Findus and the Christmas Tomte

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Findus Rules the Roost

It might have been better if Gustavsson had made a stew out of his old rooster, considering the noise he makes. But Pettson is a real softie, so had to rescue the rooster and bring him home to his hens. And to poor Findus. Who has been best friends with the hens until this moment.

Sven Nordqvist, Findus Rules the Roost

But from now on those ladies are very taken with their new rooster, even if he is rather loud. Findus is more direct, asking ‘what’s the good of that?’ when he realises the rooster is there to stay.

Or is he?

The hens fawn over him, and Pettson finds the crowing quite attractive. To begin with.

It’s pretty much like when your mother brings home a new baby and expects you to love it, and everyone else does love it and they seem to forget you. And there is noise, all the time, everywhere. Findus hides in the attic. Pettson talks to the rooster and sets limits. Everyone begins to feel upset. You can see Gustavsson’s point.

Findus is naughty and…

Well, the rooster knew how to – ahem – say goodbye nicely.

I love these books. I am in no danger of tiring anytime soon, even if Findus is a handful. But I do sometimes wonder what Pettson actually lives off. Sawing logs, fishing and picking redcurrants will only go so far. As will savouring the peace and quiet at the end of the day with Findus in the garden.

Slurp

You might remember that Meg Rosoff left me in the corridor on Thursday afternoon. I was still there when she woke up on Friday morning. Or so I tried to claim. I had returned to the same spot, sorting out my plans for the day, when Meg came up and asked if I’d come for coffee with her.

On the understanding I’d not actually have to have any coffee, I agreed, and that’s how I ended up slurping my own pink blueberry yoghurt drink after all. Meg had one as well, and also coffee (Swedish coffee, where you don’t get to choose what kind) to set her up for the day.

(It must be tough to find that the only person ‘in town’ you know is your long time ‘stalker.’ A bit like when friends of ours moved to a new town and the only person they knew there was the bishop. Talking of whom, the bishop was the only famous person I encountered in the corridors during my two days at the fair. Except I refer to him as the former archbishop. Same difference.)

We talked about amusement parks, and nearly falling off carousels, and I recommended Liseberg [across the road] if she wanted a walk. Anyway, it turned out Meg had even more mini-events to appear at than I’d been told about, so I attempted to steer us towards the Brombergs stall, except in the end Meg did better than me. Oh well.

Meg Rosoff

It’s amazing how at a fair this size, with thousands and thousands of visitors you ever accidentally find people you know. As I was making my way to see Chris Haughton, my attention was caught – with some difficulty – by the New Librarian, who was standing there eating lunch with Pizzabella and School Friend. So we chatted over their Thai food, until it was time for me to eat my own lunch during Chris’s event.

My next event was 45 minutes on horror with Jonathan Stroud and Mats Strandberg talking to Lotta Olsson. And from there I ran to the stage where Meg was appearing, again, and where I’d arranged to meet both School Friend and Pippi. Failed to see School Friend, even with the help of the New Librarian and Pizzabella, who both passed by individually, and who both failed to find their mother. Pippi turned up and we chatted until it was time for me to force a couple of signed books from Meg. At this point School Friend materialised, but when offered the opportunity of meeting Meg she vanished, claiming she had another event to queue for, so in the end Meg only got to say hello to Pippi, who then insisted on buying me tea. And a kanelbulle.

Meg Rosoff

I just might have noticed Sven Nordqvist, of Findus fame, walk past. But on the whole I don’t recognise Swedish celebrities. I decided that gossiping was more important than a third Jonathan Stroud event, and when we were done I sent Pippi on her way to look at books and things, while I chased Jonathan for a signature, but missed him.

And that was that.

I went to pick up my suitcase from Miss Vet’s, called in at a bookshop on the way to the station (because I’d not had enough, and because the fair didn’t have the book I was after), and caught a train to go and spend the weekend with School Friend. And that is where I am now.

Findus goes Fishing

No sooner has Sven Nordqvist got his 70th birthday out of the way, but he has a new book out in English.

Sven Nordqvist, Findus goes Fishing

Findus goes Fishing is darker than many other Findus books. Pettson is depressed. He sits and stares into space and he sighs and he gets angry with Findus (who – it has to be said – is behaving like a rather hyper toddler).

Finally Findus realises this is not something he can sort of jumpstart with some fooling around. He suggests going fishing. Pettson doesn’t want to fish.

In the end it takes some trickery from Findus before Pettson gives in. And what do you know? Just getting out makes him feel better. Fishing makes him feel better still. He almost smiles at the end. (And this is Pettson. He doesn’t do smiling.)

Sven Nordqvist, Findus goes Fishing

This just shows you two things; Findus is a very kind cat (deep down), and getting out of the house cheers you up.

Sometimes I wonder if these books are for children at all. It is quiet humour and lessons in living for us old ones. And it is art. That landscape they walk through to go fishing is stark and dark (and I really don’t like it…), but it is so true. A person could study the details for hours.

Sven Nordqvist, Findus goes Fishing

Get it for yourself! Never mind the little ones.

Sven Nordqvist is 70 today

And so is ‘his’ King. But never mind that little coincidence.

Do you remember Sven Nordqvist? Creator of Pettson and Findus, the cranky old man with the cunning – but kind – cat. I’m a bit surprised he is that old, to be honest, but like many Swedes he has aged well.

I like Pettson. And, all right, I like Findus, too. And Sven has a past in my old home town, so I feel sort of at home with him as well, and that crankiness is something I can sympathise with.

His famous characters first appeared 33 years ago, well before I required any picture books with lots of words for any Offspring, and had we not been given a copy by someone who knew what we were missing, we might never have been introduced. After all, who does not like pancake cake? (And when I make it, if I do, I don’t have to deal with hens and other complications first.)

Sven Nordqvist, photo by Leif R Jansson, for TT

Somewhat surprisingly he lives in a flat in the middle of Stockholm. You’d think he’d be hiding out in the wilderness, behind those clucking hens and other creatures.

And it seems that while Sven likes praise as much as the next illustrator of opinionated cats, he gets so much of it from people like me (that’s old and keen bookish females), that it no longer registers. He prefers to hear it from young readers.

According to an article in Hallandsposten the other day, these days Sven mainly works on what pleases him; drawing for himself.

I suppose today he could always pop over to the Palace with some freshly made pancakes.

Findus, Food and Fun

I am going to have to eat sixty ice lollies. A mere two weeks ago I could have been spared this experience, as that is when the Resident IT Consultant was told in no uncertain terms (by me) that he’d have to get rid of his lolly stick collection (clean), since there was nothing sensible anyone could hope to use them for.

They would build you a little ice lolly stick house. That’s what. I have just read the new Findus, Food and Fun book about Pettson and Findus and what they do for each month of the year. In January you can build this lovely little house, as well as make a broom out of the dead Christmas tree. Unless you want to use it to stir your porridge. Ew.

Sven Nordqvist, Findus, Food and Fun

The illustrations in this very useful and extremely inspiring book are by Sven Nordqvist, while the ideas are by Eva-Lena Larsson and Kennert Danielsson. If your child doesn’t pester you endlessly to make the things they read about in this book, I will eat those ice lollies. Or Pettson’s Christmas tree stirred porridge. No, perhaps not. There are limits.

It’s a very green and sensible book. Rather like the Swedes. But inspiring, nevertheless. And I have to admit that at some point in time I have probably made an awful lot of what’s in it.

There is sprouting and planting and harvesting and cooking/baking, making gifts for the little creatures that live under the floor (OK, I didn’t do that) and umpteen other ideas.

It is a little Swedish in places. That’s obviously good in many ways, except when it isn’t. Some things don’t make sense in other countries, and the marvellous Nathan Large who translated the words, clearly didn’t bat an eyelid over the cake that has to go in a crumb-lined springform pan. And, just maybe, it makes more sense to make rosehip soup to a tiny Swede who has been brought up on shop bought rosehip soup. It’s an acquired taste.

Making compost heaps and trying to grow stuff under the bed, it can be hard to tell if it’s Pettson, or Findus, who is the craziest. It’s not every cat that will feed mice. But their hearts are in the right place.

And so is the heart of this book. Use it all year round. Let me know when you’ve made the cake and I’ll call by.

Sven Nordqvist, Findus, Food and Fun

Grow your own meatballs

When times are tough, the tough grow their own food.

You all remember Findus the cat, I hope? The cheeky little feline who lives with his human Pettson. Findus Plants Meatballs is the latest in a – by now – long line of translated books by Sven Nordqvist about this most loveable of cats, straight from the Swedish hinterland of the back of beyond.

I can’t help but feel Findus has got the right idea. What’s the point of growing boring things like veg or potatoes? If you really can stick something in the ground and you water it a bit and then it multiplies into many more of what you stuck in the ground, you can’t lose.

So as Pettson sows seeds and puts old potatoes down, Findus plants his meatball. Unfortunately the hens are out and cause havoc in the vegetable patch in their search for lovely worms. So Pettson and Findus have to start all over again. And again, when the neighbour’s pig has been. After which the hens get uppity and refuse to go in, and forget about being scared of the fox.

Sven Nordqvist, Findus Plants Meatballs

While on fox-watch Findus ends up permitting an even worse disaster, and Pettson needs to use all his cunning to sort everything out.

This is adorable, as usual. Findus and Pettson would probably be quite annoying in real life, but in a book you just have to love them. You also need to look very closely at all the detail on every page. I’m not sure what the little green creatures are, but on one page there is a ticket booth and a turnstile for viewing the shenanigans in the vegetable patch…

(Try and forget the horsemeat for a few minutes, if you can.)