This might take some time. Both Toby and I have read books by Swedish authors, and neither one of us wanted to be lazy, and so we both chose to read something new.
Well, we can't write about "reading Sweden" and not mention Astrid Lindgren. Toby has read most of her books, but two stick out in particular. He first encountered "Ronia, the Robber's Daughter" when he was 5 years old, and this was our book review at the time (taken from when we first blogged it on Writing to the World):
Toby says: It was really good! Ronia lives in Matt's Fort, Matt is Ronia's Dad, and he is a robber chieftain. Birk Borkason is the son of Borka, and Matt and Borka are enemies. But Birk and Ronia are friends. Their Dads don't like that Ronia and Birk are friends, so Ronia and Birk secretly run away and live in a bear's cave. I liked it when Ronia and Birk made friends. I don't like that there are no more Ronia books, only one.
Mummy says: Ronia the Robber's Daughter was one of my favourite books as a child, and re-reading it with Toby has reminded me why I love it so much! Ronia is such a strong girl, and really, there are no "baddies" in this book (apart from wild harpies and other creatures of the forest) - it's full of essentially "good" people who just have to see each other's point of view a bit more.
About a year later, Toby and I read The Brothers Lionheart together. And then we read it again. And then he read it again, by himself. And to this day, it remains one of his favourite books. Toby says: "I can't decide which one is my favourite, but I think if you want to read two amazing books, or you only have time to read two books by Astrid Lindgren, then I think you should read these two."
For the challenge, however, we both read a book we hadn't read before (Sabine read two), and here are our reviews:
Toby: The Glass Children by Kristina Ohlsson
"I don't like this house", said Billie. "Well, cope with it", responded her Mum. Billie and her Mum have just moved into an old house, which used to be a children's home in the 1920s. Billie is convinced that there are ghosts in there, but her Mum doesn't believe her. But if there are no ghosts, why does the ceiling lamp keep coming loose, swinging without a breeze? Billie is determined to find out the secrets of the house!
This book is a very scary but exciting book. You always wonder what is happening, but for me, working out who the culprit was was not too difficult. My favourite part in the book is when Billie and her friends go to the library and try to work out the secrets of the house. In the book, it also mentioned brittle bones disease, and I think this is good, because it means that children reading the book can learn more about something that can affect adults and children in the real world.
Sabine: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend: Katarina Bivald
This book makes a lovely summer read - Sara, a young woman from Sweden, decides to throw caution into the wind and plan her first international journey, to visit Amy, an elderly lady from Broken Wheel, Iowa, with whom she has been exchanging letters. Unfortunately, when she arrives, there is nobody there to greet her, and when she finally makes her way to Amy's house, she discovers that Amy has passed away, having left instructions for Sara to make use of her house - and her books. What follows is a story about belonging, friendship, love, and, above all, books. Sara is quiet yet persistent, the inhabitants of Broken Wheel are detailed and individual (although how quite so many "characters" can fit into a sleepy tiny town remains a questions that is maybe best not asked), and the whole book is a thoroughly enjoyable way to while away a few hours.
Sabine: My grandmother sends her regards and apologises: Fredrik Backman
Without putting too fine a point on it: this book is a thing of beauty. This story about a nearly-eight-year-old girl, her grandmother, and the people around them, is written with such unbelievable tenderness and attention to detail, it is actually quite hard to review, because all you want to do is tell people to read it, with a kind of fervour that would probably make you look slightly odd in the eyes of the very people you are trying to convince. But if you like people who are a bit "different", and not afraid of being so, if you like seeing the world through the eyes of a child, and having magic seeping into the real world in the way that all our lives sometimes resemble fairy tales, and if it's okay with you to feel an awful lot of emotions across the time span it takes you to read the book...then (and I am writing this with as little "mad-sounding fervour" as I can) you might really, really want to read this book.
Elsa is nearly eight when her grandmother - her protector, her story-teller, her guide to the "Land-Of-Almost-Awake" - dies from cancer. Her grandmother, a former doctor who saved lives the world over in disaster areas, sends Elsa on a final quest, with a series of letters to apologise to the many people she feels the need to - posthumously - apologise to. The quest not only helps Elsa understand more about who her grandmother was before she became Elsa's grandmother, but also to learn more about the people around her.
Backman thanks Astrid Lindgren in the "Author's Thanks" at the end, and The Brothers Lionheart is mentioned several times throughout the book, tied in as only a lover of stories can. I can't remember feeling this touched about a grandparent/grandchild relationship since reading Peter Härtling's "Oma" ("Nan") as a child...which I don't think ever got translated into English. Thank you to Fredrik Backman for this book - and to Henning Koch, for a beautiful, beautiful translation!
My name is Toby, and I am 10 years old. I have written letters to every country in the world - you can read about that adventure at my other website, Writing to the World. Some letters are published in a book called "Dear World, How Are You?". In order to learn more about the countries I am writing to, I am reading books, and I am reviewing them here. I also review books for LoveReading4Kids, and those reviews are on here, too. I am trying to find one book set in each country, or by an author from that country. My Mum is doing the same for grown-up books, and I am reviewing mine, and she is reviewing hers. So whether you are a child or a grown-up, you can explore the world with us :)