Tove Jansson (1914 – 2001)

Tove-Jansson

© Aftonbladet

Yes, another Scandinavian writer of children literature – but what can you do? I was enchanted by the Moomins a long, long time ago, and the enchantment still holds, even when I read them now aloud, to kids. We’re talking about books here, mind you – not that dreadful Japanese-European animated series, nor the gloomy Polish puppet animated show (although I still remember the Groke from this show – with a memory of lingering terrified fascination).

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Actually, Tove Jansson wanted to be a painter; she studied art in Sweden, Finland and France, and she painted intermittently throughout her life, both commissioned and private works. The images of the Moomins’ world were also created by her – apparently the prototype for Moomin was Jansson’s caricature of Immanuel Kant. She drew “the ugliest creature imaginable” on the toilet wall and named it Kant after she lost a discussion about the philosopher with her brother. Fortunately, the final image of the Moomin is much more friendly and blobby, with a big, round nose, a big, round belly, short, fat arms and legs, and a thin, slightly incongruous tail. Tove Jansson’s illustrations form the world of Moomins as much as the text – and they are in perfect harmony with each other.

Mumintrollet-dagdrömmer

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Astrid Lindgren (1907 – 2002)

ASTRID LINDGREN

Foto: Jacob Forsell COPYRIGHT PRESSENS BILD

Today’s post will be a short but heartfelt tribute occasioned by the recent birthday anniversary of Astrid Lindgren, falling on 14th November. Astrid Lindgren was – and still is – one of the most popular, prolific, and influential authors of children’s literature, one of the most translated, too, right on the top with the classics: Grimms and Andersen. And most empathetic, and humane, of them all ;).

But why do I write about her on a blog dedicated to fantasy and science fiction? I have my reasons, rest assured :).

Although she didn’t write many fantasy books, Astrid Lindgren was an exceptional fantasy writer, one of the greatest among all authors of books for children, and probably the best the whole Swedish literature has to offer. Period. And don’t tempt me, I could forever go on about Shakespeare, Goethe or Mickiewicz being great fantasy writers as well :D.

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Robin McKinley, The Hero and the Crown (1984)

Hero-and-the-CrownI’ve been toying with the idea for this review for a time now. It’s such a small book, slim and unprepossessing in the face of all those bricks like Erikson or Tchaikovsky or even Hobb, forming literal walls on my shelves. And I’ve written two reviews of McKinley’s novels already. But The Hero and the Crown is a special book, and not just because it has won the Newbery Medal, awarded for “The most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”.

Don’t be misled by the “children”, in no aspect this is a childish book. I am quite irritated with the whole “genre” thing anyway, doubly so for fantasy and so called “children’s literature”, which, contrary to popular belief, is often more mature and artful than literature for grown-ups. But it’s a separate problem, one we’ve already mentioned here and we’ll probably tackle it more thoroughly another day.

The Hero and the Crown is often perceived as a prequel to Blue Sword. Correctly, because it takes place in the same place, only much earlier than Blue Sword, and, at the same time, incorrectly – because it deals with characters and events mentioned in Blue Sword only in the form of a legend.

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