A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Alice Schertle (All You Need for a Snowman, Little Blue Truck), and Cheryl Willis Hudson (Hands Can).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Donald Carrick (1929-1989), The Wednesday Surprise, Patrickâ€™s Dinosaurs.
- In 1795 France adopts the metre (meter) as a basic measurement of length. Hence, it is Metric System Day.
- Best birthday wishes to the World Health Organization (WHO), established by the United Nations in 1948. And, by chance, it happens to be World Health Organization Day. Read Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss and Peek-a Who? By Nina Laden.
This week, from April 8-10, marks the London Book Festival, a huge international gathering of publishers who exchange rights for books. At the end of March, childrenâ€™s book publishers gathered in Bologna, Italy, for the Bologna Book Festival, where the Hans Christian Andersen Medal was announced.
In honor of international book exchange Iâ€™d like to look at a former Andersen Medal Winner, Maria Gripa. Gripa is one of Swedenâ€™s most prolific writers for children, but is probably unknown to many Almanac readers. This month, New York Review is rereleasing her masterpiece The Glassblowerâ€™s Children, illustrated by her husband Harald Gripe. First published in 1964, The Glassblowerâ€™s Children, like many great foreign works for children, took a long time to arrive on American shores; it appeared in 1973 under the aegis of the Seymour Lawrence Press.
When I picked up The Glassblowerâ€™s ChildrenÂ after so many years, I was once again enchanted by Gripeâ€™s ability to tell a mesmerizing story so simply and so well. In a book that conjures up Norse mythology and fairy tales, Gripe brings to life the world of Klas and Klara, the two children of Albert the Glassblower and his wife Sofie. Every autumn and spring Albert heads to market to sell his extraordinarily beautiful but impractical pieces. But at one fair, Klas and Klara catch the eye of the Lord and Lady of All Wishes Town, who have everything they want besides children. This sets a chain of events into motion that will keep readers turning the pages until the two young people are finally reunited with their parents. As the story moves along it explores some serious concepts, such as this insight into desire: â€śOne almost always gets what one wishes–one just doesnâ€™t know when or how–and that makes wishing so frightening. One must wish for what one is able to accept.â€ť
Filled with great secondary characters, like Flutter Mildweather the fortuneteller and Wise Wit the one-eyed raven, and a brooding Kafkaesque atmosphere, The Glassblowerâ€™s Children will appeal to those readers, ages ten to fourteen, who enjoy reading invented fairy tales. For American readers it may bring to mind Anne Ursuâ€™s Breadcrumbs or The Real Boy.
I am grateful that this international gem has now been made available to yet another generation of readersâ€” in all its original glory.
Here’s a passage fromÂ The Glassblower’s Children:
People often have cats in the country asÂ house pets. Or dogs.Â Flutter Midweather had a raven. Wise. Wise Wit was his name. It is not known how she got hold of himâ€”whether she caughtÂ him herself, for instanceâ€”but she’d always had him, and he was a very remarkable creature.
He could talk. And he didn’t chatter just any old nonsense, either. He answered directly and very wiselyâ€”that is, if he felt like it. Sometimes he didn’t want to talk, for he could be quite temperamental. And sometimes he talked in riddles so that ordinary people couldn’t make any sense out of itâ€”but Flutter understood everything.
Originally posted April 7, 2014. Updated for .