Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Book Review: Madicken

Madicken Madicken by Astrid Lindgren

Category: Children’s chapter book

Challenges: Childhood Favourites, Women Unbound, Flashback

Synopsis: 7 year old Madicken lives with her parents, little sister Lisabeth and family maid Alma in a large house at the edge of town. Madicken has a knack for getting into trouble even when she doesn’t mean too. The book follows her through most of her first year in school in an episodic fashion. In addition to her family and Alma we also meet their teenage neighbour Abbe who Madicken intends to marry one day and an assortment of other residents of the small town and surrounding area. The story is set in Sweden during the First World War.

My Thoughts: This was a childhood favourite of mine. Like Madicken I have a bit of a stubborn streak, but I too love my younger sister (even when she drives me round the bend).

The book is episodic telling snapshot stories of the things Madicken and Lisabeth get up to. There is a great deal of innocence to the story that I loved as a child and possibly love even more now. The girls roam more or less free and make up games all on their own.

I can’t actually remember the first time my parents read to me but I can’t have been more than four or five. I do remember emulating Lisabeth at one point, in one of the stories she puts a pea up her nose (she likes putting things in other things to see if they fit). I didn’t put a pea up my nose, but much to my fathers distress I put a piece of apple in mine :D.

Astrid Lingren is one of my favourite children’s authors because she manages not only capture the innocence of childhood but also to give each individual character a voice of their own. She makes liberal use of dialect and children’s versions of different words, for example, Lisabeth says “abselut” instead of “absolut”. This enhances the uniqueness of each character and also makes it easier for children to follow along in the story.

Like The Little House on the Prairie books the books about Madicken (there is at least one more plus some picture books I think) helped shape the woman I am today. Madicken showed me the value of independence and curiosity. She helped me in my imaginative games (I liked exploring). She was anything but ladylike but still very much a girl, much like me.

 It is such a shame that this book has yet to be translated into English because it really is a fun beautiful read.

Not available in English at this point.


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Aarti said...

Oh, sad! I wish this was in English :-(

Kristen M. said...

This sounds like something I would have liked as a child too ... except I probably wouldn't have tried sticking anything up my nose!

Zee said...

Aarti~~I really wish this particular book had been translated too because it is so sweet and funny.

Kristen~~I recently gave a speech in my Swedish class about the importance of reading to your children and I used this book as an example of "dangerous ideas" children could get. Everyone laughed at the sticking things up your nose example because I think many of them had at least thought the thought at some point :D Me, I also licked iron bars in winter. The best way to get me to do something is to forbid it :D