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Donít we all want be like the children of the forest?
Written: Oct 23, 2009 (Updated Oct 23, 2009)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Magical, poetic, well written, artistic illustrations, innocent and sweet.
Cons:No distinct story, somewhat old fashioned (100 years old).
The Bottom Line: This book describes the life of the children of the small people living undetected in the forest. It is an idyllic, magical, tranquil, fun, and beautiful life.
Elsa Maartman Beskow is a well known Swedish Children's author who wrote her books about one hundred years ago. She is known for writing stories that are charming, soft, innocent, short and beautiful. Her stories are simple and folksy and sometimes tug at the heartstrings. The illustrations in her books are rich and imaginative but they present people and Sweden as it looked like a hundred years ago.
About the story
The "children of the forest" is not really a story, it seems to be more like a documentary of the small people who live happily and undiscovered in the deep forest. The size of the small people is about the size of human hand.
We follow the life of four children Daisy, Harriet, Tom and Sam for one year. The children wear mushroom hats that are red with white dots (poisonous mushroom) and whenever people come close, they hide and look like mushrooms. Their mom also wears a mushroom but their father wears a pine cone for a hat. They live off the forest by eating berries, mushrooms, plants, and fruit. They never kill animals. They have their house under the tree roots of an old tree where they are protected from weather, dangerous animals, and people.
The children of the forest are able to communicate with the animals and they talk to squirrels, frogs, bats, and rabbits. They attend classes with the owl who teaches them how to communicate with the animals and how to listen to what the wind tells you. They also encounter dangers like the viper and the old forest troll who loves to scare them.
Elsa Beskow's writing style is somewhat poetic and dreamy. To give you some insight into what I mean let me quote from one page in the middle the book.
--- begin quote ---
The days grew shorter and the moon shone bright and cold as a silver coin, cutting little grey shadows in the pine branches and telling all the forest creatures that summer really was at an end.
Sometimes they found forest fairies dancing and singing in the moonlight and joined them in their games. "Come back tomorrow night," the children would beg. "Perhaps," laughed the fairies as they slipped away, light as thistledown. There was no telling where or when they would return.
--- end quote ---
There are two pictures on this page. The first one shows a moon in the dark sky and the forest children are looking up at the moon between the pine tree tops. The second picture shows the children playing with ghost like princess looking fairies. There is fog on the ground and the grooves and bumps on the boulders in the background seem to be forming smiling faces.
My opinion and thoughts
As indicated I think the writing style is poetic, dreamy, and of very high quality. The illustrations may not be modern or impressive with respect to photographic likeness. However, they are still rich in detail and to some degree art work. There is no particular story or narrative in the book, which may be a negative to you depending on how you see things. However, this book is not primarily about telling a story, it is about presenting a beautiful fantasy life that you may want, but can't have.
It seems to me that Elsa Beskow was somewhat nostalgic when she wrote this book. I think that she wrote this book to express the way she really wanted to live her life. The children of the forest did not have any of the stress of society. They had food, shelter, and loving parents. Their world was magic and beautiful, and they had friends in every tree and every bush (the animals). They lived a tranquil and peaceful life unknowing of human society and unknowing of strife and competition. Don't we all want be like the children of the forest?
The book is primarily for children at an age less then ten years old and I think my daughter may be too old for it (she is ten). She liked it but seemed to think it was a little young. One thing that disappointed me was that the version of the book that you can buy in the United States is the small sized version. The text is small and the pictures are smaller then they should be as well. Elsa Beskow's books are typically in large print with large pictures. I recommend this book to parents with younger children. However, I would recommend that you first get another Elsa Beskow book "Aunt Green, Aunt Brown and Aunt Lavender"
I am also adding this book to my Texas+Sweden Write Off.
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