Friday, December 12, 2014

Once Upon a Time

In Norway these sisters are called: Tante Grøn, Tante Brun og Tante Fiolett
"Once upon a time there was a little town, and in this little town was a little street and on that street was a little yellow house where lived three sisters..."  So begins one of my favorite children's books, the Story of Aunt Green, Aunt Brown, and Aunt Lavender.

You may not have heard of author Elsa Beskow if you grew up here in America.  However, she is part of most children's literary experiences in Scandinavia.

Mother baking cookies
If you don't know about these books, you are missing out! These charming stories are known the world over, and are available in English translations.

Beskow's books often feature fairies and elves interacting with children
These are charming stories.

The Flower Festival
Elsa Beskow was born in Stockholm in 1874 of Norwegian parents.  She was educated at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design and began to contribute stories for a children's magazine called Jultomten (The Christmas Elf).
Elsa Beskow
From the Swedish Portrait Gallery
Overall she would publish some forty books with her own text and images.

Her books are often framed by decorative Art Nouveau styles.

My favorite stories are the ones about Peter and Lotta with their aunts and uncle.

Aunt Brown, Uncle Blue, Aunt Lavender and Aunt Green at Christmas
I remember well reading the stories of Aunt Green, Aunt Brown, and Aunt Lavender in my youth.  I really loved the beautiful illustrations.

Dancing around the Christmas tree with the Peter and Lotta
I also love this woman's imagination!  In her stories, children meet elves and goblins, and farm animals regularly chat with people.  Her themes concern relationships between children and adults and children taking independent initiative in their lives.

Singing Christmas Carols with Aunt Violet at the Pianoforte
These charming stories remind me of a happier, simpler world.

I went berry-picking with my grandfather as a child.  When I see pictures like these, it takes me right back to that time period.

Childhood should still be a time of innocence.  These books certainly evoke that!

As a side note: Almost all the Beskow books, and an Elsa Beskow calendar, are currently available on Amazon.

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