‘It’s a cold winter’s night and a hungry fox is creeping through the snow.’
The nights keep drawing in, there’s a nip to the air, and it’s hard to believe that December has arrived. At this time of year, nothing feels better than a cosy evening spent snuggled up with a great book, and the great Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod feels like the distillation of all that is wonderful about books and reading in the winter months.
We’re big fans of this season of book-gifting here at Floris Books, not least because it gives us the opportunity to wax lyrical about the work of some of our wonderful Nordic authors and illustrators. So, in the spirit of the season, please enjoy this round-up of some of our favourite books from across the Nordic region.
Ollie’s Ski Trip – Elsa Beskow
Swedish national treasure Elsa Beskow is the country’s best-loved children’s book illustrator. Sometimes called the ‘Beatrix Potter of Sweden’, her charming artistic style takes the reader back to an idyllic Sweden at the turn of the last century, often helped along with a splash of magic.
Beskow produced a wide array of gorgeous picture books, but the suitably wintery Ollie’s Ski Trip, first published in 1907, is a favourite at this time of year. It sees six-year-old Ollie being given his first pair of real skis, and dashing out as soon as the snow begins to fall. He heads off into the woods and meets sparkling Jack Frost, who shoos away damp Mrs Thaw. Jack Frost takes him on an adventure to the palace of King Winter, and Ollie has a wonderful time in a huge snowball fight! But will Mrs Thaw return too soon and melt all the snow?
Tomten and the Fox – Astrid Lindgren
Illustrated by Eva Eriksson
Astrid Lindgren is undoubtedly Sweden’s most famous children’s author; her books have sold over 145 million copies worldwide and have been translated in to over 90 different languages. Best known for her books about Pippi Longstocking, she also wrote a number of well-loved picture books, including this story of a mischievous fox and a wise, kindly old tomten (a traditional Swedish gnome character).
It’s a cold winter’s night and a hungry fox is creeping through the snow.
He sees a hen house and hopes to grab a couple of chickens, but he’s forgotten about the old tomten who guards the farm… This classic Swedish tale is brought to life by acclaimed illustrator Eva Eriksson, who is based near Stockholm and won the Astrid Lindgren Prize in 2001.
Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas – Nora Surojegin
Illustrated by Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin
Moving from Sweden to Finland, this charming story book was created by mother and daughter duo Nora and Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin, whose detailed, delicate illustrations and gentle, episodic storytelling capture the true spirit of Christmas.
One day Otto, an elfin adventurer, finds a postcard on the seashore showing pictures of beautiful sparkling lights in the night sky with the words, ‘The light of Christmas!’ If this ‘Christmas’ can brighten even the gloomiest Finnish winter, Otto decides he must find it. So he heads north, trudging through dark forests and skiing towards the fells of Lapland, in search of the secret light of Christmas. Will he ever find the mysterious light he’s looking for, and will Christmas brighten Otto’s winter?
The House of Lost and Found – Martin Widmark
Illustrated by Emilia Dziubak
Martin Widmark is a bestselling children’s author in Sweden, where he has published over 100 different titles, including this moving story of loss and hope. Full of uplifting sentiment and atmospheric illustrations from the award-winning Emilia Dziubak, this book will bring cheer to even the darkest and coldest of wintery nights.
Niles is old, and lives alone in a house full of dust and memories. One day, a little boy appears on his doorstep and asks him to take care of his potted plant. At first, Niles is grumpy at the prospect but, as the plant begins to grow under his care, he finds the seeds of hope begin to grow within himself once more…
Illustrated by Anastasiya Archipova
Last, but certainly not least, it’s nearly impossible to think about Scandinavian children’s books without thinking of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, whose fairy tales have delighted children and adults alike for nearly two centuries.
This treasury collects Andersen’s best-loved tales and includes The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, The Princess and the Pea and The Emperor’s New Clothes. Beautifully adorned with illustrations from Moscow-based artist Anastasiya Archipova, it makes a perfect addition to any bookshelf.
Find our full collection of Nordic children’s books on our website.
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‘all of them have stopped me in my tracks, glinting with the suggestion of meanings beyond the commo …