Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Spettecake Holiday by Edith Unnerstad

I have recently been reading the works of Edith Unnerstad, a Swedish children's author from the 1950s and 60s. Far from being outdated, her works are as cheerful, comforting, and fascinating as they were when she first wrote them. With the trademark style of translated Scandinavian works from that period (a rather upbeat swing to the rhythm, frequent exclamations, and a general lilting feel - a linguist could probably explain it better) Unnerstad tells simple but heartfelt stories of everyday life.

Her most recent story I've read, The Spettecake Holiday, is a perfect bedtime story. Each chapter is almost complete, there's enough tension to carry interest, but not enough to keep you awake! and the whole story feels like a pleasant summer dream. Six-year-old Pelle-Goran's mother is in the hospital and he responds by misbehaving. The older reader easily realizes that she is in no real danger, but sympathizes with a small child's misery. Pelle-Goran is sent to the country to stay with his grandmother, where he is joined by his orphaned older cousin Kaja. Together, they have many pleasant adventures, from listening to the thatch-maker's stories, to saving a friend from snake-bite and reuniting an estranged old man with his family.

For a peaceful evening read, or if you need a little relaxation, stretch out with Edith Unnerstad and enter a world of hot summer days and innocent adventures.

Verdict: I occasionally take the time to painfully regret the media-infused life most children lead which causes them to expect and demand books that are basically tv scripts with nonstop action. In other words, if you can find a kid who isn't allowed to watch tv, they might enjoy this. Otherwise....if you find a used copy you might as well pass it on to me. Nobody else under the age of 30 will want it.

ISBN: N/A; Published 1958 by Macmillan (out of print); Borrowed from the library; Added to my personal wishlist

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