Recommended Reading: Swedish Folk Tales Illustrated by John Bauer
Swedish authors are popping up in bestseller lists across the United States. Authors Jo Nesbo (The Snowman, The Leopard, and The Phantom), Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series), and Marcus Samuelsson (Yes, Chef) help put Sweden on the current US pop culture map. These books top some of my favorite candy reading, but lately, I’ve been doing some different type of reading, including Swedish folk and fairy tales.
These folktales entertain me with trolls, gnomes, princesses, and castles. Although similar to the fairytales of my youth, these tales provide a respite from predictable outcomes and cliché themes. For example, in one story titled “The Changelings,” trolls swap their baby with the newborn princess (different versions represent different socioeconomic classes). Both sets of parents attempt to love their children despite their “hideous” looks. The ending isn’t exactly what you expect, but I won’t give it away. You’ll have to read it for yourself. Despite being written for children, lively characters and beautiful illustrations captivate my imagination.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have children and I’m not reading the same story every night before bedtime, but I find these folktales interesting, playful, and a bit dark. If you’re looking for something different for you or your children, I recommend any collection of Swedish folktales; however, if you’re also interested in beautiful illustrations, then I recommend this particular book.
If you prefer a Kindle Edition, then I recommend Swedish Fairy Tales (1890) by Herman Hofberg ($1.99 Kindle Edition); however, the Kindle does not do justice to the illustrations. Instead, spend the $15 on the hardcover with illustrations by John Bauer. It’s worth the extra money.
Why am I reading classic Swedish folktales? I’m glad you asked (warning…shameless plug ahead)! Last fall, Sheridan College accepted my application for a faculty lecture for this spring. My lecture takes place this Thursday, March 21st, 7:00PM in the CTEL auditorium on campus. Although I will discuss a few of these folktales, the presentation focuses on traditional Swedish folk music. My violin tuned, my bow rosined, and my storytelling skills sharpened, I’m prepared to entertain you. So, I hope that not only will you read the recommended book, but that you’ll also attend my lecture on Thursday.