Looking for new reading suggestions for your children? You’re in luck. In association with Nordic Matters, here ten traditional and much-loved children’s books from each of the countries celebrated in our year-long dedication to Nordic culture. Each of these books, recommended by the Nordic embasies in London, can be enjoyed in our Room for Children - a comfy space inspired by Stockholm’s Rum för Barn in Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, in which children can read or listen to stories.
Karius and Bactus is a 1949 children’s book by the celebrated Norwegian author and illustrator Thorbjørn Egner. Karius and Bactus are ‘tooth trolls’ who live in the teeth cavities of a boy named Jens. The two live a happy life, as Jens only eats white bread with syrup and doesn’t brush his teeth. However, one day a dentist treating Jens teeth, rinses out Karius and Bactus destroying their homes. With its amusing illustrations and important message Egner’s book has become a classic of Norwegian children’s literature.
Born in in 1950, Mauri Kunnas is undoubtedly Finland’s most successful author of children’s books, having published over forty books, in thirty-five languages. With brilliantly coloured illustrations rich in humourous details, he has an unrivalled gift for taking history and casting it in a new and hilarious way. Santa Claus is Kunnas’ best-known book internationally, in which the author and illustrator allows us to accompany Santa’s elves as they prepare for his Christmas gift-giving.
Another book with a Christmas theme, Enginn Sà Hundin (No One Saw the Dog) was nominated for The Nordic Council Literary Prize for Children‘s and Young People‘s Books 2017. Hafsteinsson’s book tells of a group of children, who are delighted to discover a frisky puppy among their Christmas presents. But the following year, their gifts are even more exciting, and when all the presents have been opened, the dog appears to have been forgotten. And so, he has to take matters into his own paws!
The first work Bárður Oskarsson illustrated was one of his grandfather’s, Under the Trollmountains, but the Faroese author writes his own stories, accompanied by his special cartoon-like illustrations. In this book, a dog, a cat and a mouse live together in peace and harmony, but they are all bored. They try to remember the good old days when they had much more fun. Then one day the mouse hits the dog´s tail with a hammer and suddenly things take a turn!
The award winning and highly acclaimed writer of fantasy, Lene Kaaberbøl has written more than 30 books for children and young adults, having published her first at the age of 15. Wildwitch is the story of Clara, a normal 12-year old girl, until a scary encounter with an unusually large black cat changes her life forever. Now, a Wildwitch she is forced to grow up fast as she must get to grips with her new found powers whilst also facing a powerful enemy.
Jakob Martin Strid is a Danish cartoonist who has written a number of comics and books for children. Full of Strid’s idiosyncratic illustrations Little Frog is a witty story about trying not to be bad. Little Frog arrives in a meteor, fallen from the sky, and though Father and Mother Frog think he’s cute, he soon turns out to be very naughty. After storming out Little Frog gains advice from an ancient Old Man, but just as he feels it’s too late and he’s been left all alone, Little Frog receives a surprising rescue.
Christian Fleischer Rex is an animator and illustrator who in 2008, published a version of Kaassassuk is one of the most known and loved Greenlandic legends. An orphaned boy, Kaassassuk seeks help from the Lord of Power after being teased and bullied in his village. The Lord bestows supernatural powers on the boy, prompting the villagers to instead treat him with fear and respect. But it is too late, and Kaassassuk takes revenge on his tormentors.
The writer and illustrator Sven Nordqvist is one of Sweden’s most loved authors, and has sold over six million copies of his Findus series, worldwide. In this tale, Findus’ friend Petsson is feeling really grumpy - he doesn’t feel like doing anything, and besides, he has chores he must do. But Findus is in a really good mood and wants to cheer Pettson up, suggests they go out fishing together. Pettson, takes a lot of persuading, but eventually Findus’ reasoning pays off.
Ulf Nilsson is a celebrated Swedish author, and for this book has teamed up with award-winning illustrator Anna-Clara Tidholm to deliver a tender and powerful story about a sensitive subject often seen as taboo for children. Mr Muffin, a family’s guinea pig, is getting old and his health is failing. He is looking back on his life, thinking back to when he was young and strong. Now he’s old, grey and tired. As the story progresses the reader witnesses his decline in health, his death and the preparations for his funeral.
Åsa Lind’s read-aloud books aim to inspire both children and adults to take part in philosophical discussion, and are complemented by Kristina Digman’s black-and-white illustrations. The Sand Wolf unexpectedly appears when Zackarina, angry at her dad, digs a hole in the sand. The two become friends and meet on the beach every day where he patiently listens to Zackarina’s thoughts on all kinds of subjects which can occupy an imaginative child’s mind.
Find out more, and get reading at Room for Children, which can be found in Royal Festival Hall, outside The National Poetry Library on Level 5, Blue Side.