Read Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow Free Online
Book Title: Children of the Forest|
The author of the book: Elsa Beskow
Edition: Floris Books
Date of issue: July 15th 1987
ISBN 13: 9780863150494
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 337 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.5
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Although I do at least somewhat wish that this English language version of Elsa Beskow's 1910 classic Tomtetobarnen had adhered to the poetry, the lyricism of the original (I have a copy of it, but as my Swedish is extremely rudimentary and self taught, I do not understand all that much of it), I also can and do very much respect and understand the reasons why translator, or perhaps more to the point adapter, Alison Sage has decided to turn poetry into prose (it is often very difficult and sometimes even nigh impossible to successfully translate poetry, to keep as close as possible to the lyricism and spirit of the original without resulting textual awkwardness, and I have recently read some rather problematic poetry to poetry translations that have made me increasingly appreciative of good, solid, verbally flowing prose adaptations).
The basic plotline of Children of the Forest is simple enough, but sweet and engaging, showing the four frolicking gnome children's escapades and adventures throughout the seasons, from cavorting with bats and frogs to picking berries and supplies for the winter (not sure if I agree all that much with the rather gratuitous killing of the snake, especially considering that the type of viper depicted is now increasingly rare in Western and Northern Europe and is generally not considered dangerous, but attitudes have changed since 1910, and at the turn of the 19th century, snakes were often still mostly negatively depicted and approached in both culture and lore).
That being said (and also being vaguely familiar with the German language adaptation of Tomtetobarnen, Die Wichtelkinder), I really do not understand Alison Sage's need to expand the narrative to include personal names (Tom, Harriet, Sam, and Daisy for the four children, Buffo for the frog, Renata for the bat, even the viper has a personal name). Part of the charm and magic of the original (and the German translation I have recently skimmed) is the anonymity of the four gnome like children and their environs (and naming them kind of destroys this a bit, kind of lessens the magic somewhat).
The detailed and lush illustrations (in the Swedish original, both text and illustrations are by Elsa Breskov) are magical and ethereal, providing not only a sweet and descriptive accompaniment to the narrative, to the text, but also more often than not, expanding on the same. The four children are simply darling and in many ways cuteness personified (although I do have to admit that at first, the red and while fly agaric like caps the four children don, reminded me somewhat of the kind of gaudy bathing caps my grandmothers used to wear). A bright, caressing and yes sweetly loving little gem, Children of the Forest is highly recommended, my issues regarding certain aspects of the narrative quite majorly notwithstanding!
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