As it recently was April, 2nd, World Children’s Book Day 2016 I was asked which children’s book would be my favourite. There is one writer for me, that represents both in writings as in personality an ageless children’s soul and that is Astrid Lindgren.
Astrid Lindgren is a Swedish writer who lived for nearly a century (1907-2002) and never lost the connection to her inner child. She is well known for ‘Pippi Langstocking’, the redhaired daughter of a pirate captain Ephraim Longstocking. Pippi lives in Villa Villekulla with her horse and monkey Mr. Nilsson. She drags the neighbouring kids Tommy and Annika Settergren into all sorts of adventures. The books are delightful and charming, as well as entertaining.
However Astrid Lindgren’s fantasy book ‘The Brothers Lionheart’ is the one that swept me away. The story is about the 10 year old Karl, who is bedridden and knows he is going to die real soon.
He has a very close bond to his 13 year old brother Jonatan, who tells Karl that dying is not as bad as it seems and that Karl will then go to some sort of afterlife in Nangijala, a land where he will be happy again and not feel the burden of his physical problems.
Unfortunately a fire breaks out in their house and not Karl, but Jonatan, while rescuing Karl, dies from his injuries. Karl is heartbroken and dies short after. When Karl awakes, he finds himself in Nangijala’s Cherry Valley and is reunited with his brother.
Instead of a ‘happy ever after’ there unfolds a story of adventure, of betrayal, mistrust, actions and a dragon Katla. The dragon has to be conquered and destroyed before the land of light Nangilima can be reached where all will be carefree and happy forever. To be able to enter Nangilima Karl will have to find the power and strength in himself to rescue in turn his brother Jonatan.
Do you think this sounds dark and dangerous? Don’t feel that way! Even now, when writing the storyline and reminiscing about the book and the two brothers, I get goosebumps all over and cannot praise the author enough. It is a book that deals with fears of illness and death, but so much more, it is adventurous and above all shows the powers of love.
In effect ‘The Brothers Lionheart’ is a book not to be taken lightly, but something that will inspire children, young adults and adults throughout their lives. It is so beautiful and breathtaking, the views on the afterlife and the land of light. Do not be afraid to read and enjoy the book, it has hidden depths of beauty and I hope it will impress you as much as I am captivated by the beautiful words of that unique Swedish author Astrid Lindgren.