Jesper & Erik: äventyret med väskan

jesper-erik-aventyret-med-vaskanA predominant quality I have come to discover in Swedish culture is the very same one I discover in Inger Hansson’s Äventyret med väsken: an unconcerned, calm, composed approach to life. Like most Swedes I know, the characters in this book take life, and its events, as they unfold. Jesper and Erik travel by train to spend a vacation week with Erik’s grandparents by the sea. Jesper accidentally picks up a bag identical to his own when getting off the train and so does not arrive ready for all the activities the boys had planned. There is no real worrying or wringing of hands. Instead, the boys have fun. They swim and snorkel, go boating, discover a carnival, and eventually locate the owner of the swapped bag and exchange back. I doubt this story would be called an adventure if it were written in English. The boys would have to near-drown or get terribly lost or break an arm. Hansson’s idea of an adventure is wholly charming and, I believe, quite Swedish.

The author writes as though she truly understands children, the way they view the world, and the way they talk about it with each other. More than once, the dialogue reminded me of Beverly Cleary, who in my mind is the gold standard for getting inside the mind of a child. The one hundred-page, eight-chapter book is peppered with interesting facts about nature, animals, safety, and environmentalism. My seven-year-old is not able to read the bigger words but enjoyed hearing the book read aloud. A likely sweet spot for really being able to enjoy the storyline and identify with the main characters is age six to eight. Illustrator Daniella Birkebo has drawn quirky, simplistic cartoons that may cause a kid older than eight to dismiss the book as something for the littler ones.

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Jesper & Erik: äventyret med väskan
Författare: Inger Hansson
Illustratör: Daniella Birkebo
Förlag: Vulkan (2014)
ISBN: 9789187817403
Köp: t.ex. hos Bokus eller Adlibris

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Författare: Laura Geiger

I call myself a serial expat because I moved from the USA to Canada to France and now to Sweden. My days of country­ hopping may finally be over, but the experience of immigrating will last for years to come. Maintaining personal identity while negotiating a sense of belonging in a new culture is a tricky process for both kids and adults. The good news is that books help. Children’s books, especially, provide a window into a country’s widely embraced cultural commonality and heritage. Add to that the simplified language and supporting illustrations, and you have a crash course for new Swedes on the shelves of your local library. I am a poet, artist, and enthusiastic supporter of expressive arts. I have worked as an elementary art teacher and as a homeschooling mama to my three children (born in 2004, 2007, and 2010). With an academic background in sociology and interest in second language acquisition, I am eager to share through Barnboksprat how our family is using children’s books to navigate our first steps into this new land of ours.

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