Monday, November 8, 2010

Ronia The Robber's Daughter

Astrid Lindgren 1985

Written by Astrid Lindgren (who created Pippi Longstocking) our copy even has a front cover illustration by my favorite Trina Schart Hyman.  Ronia, the daughter of a ruthless robber, is fearless and filled with spirit and adventure.  She loves nothing more than to be out running and exploring through the nornthern forests full of wild horses, harpies and dwarves.

Now it was night, and the moon was high in the sky.  Ronia stopped at the lake to rest, sat down on a stone, and felt how still everything was in her forest.  She listened but could hear nothing but silence.  The woods in the spring night felt full of secrets, full of magic and other strange and ancient things.  There were dangers there, too, but Ronia was not afraid. 

 Lindgren writes so lovingly of nature. 

Evening came, the sun sank, dusk fell, the dusk of a spring evening that was no more than a strange dimness between the trees and never turned into darkness and night.  The woods fell silent.  There was no more sound of blackbird and cuckoo.  All the fox cubs crept into their lairs, all the baby squirrels and hares to their nests, the adder under her stone.  All that could be heard was the owl's far-off melancholy hooting, and in a little while that too died away.

Ronia develops an intense friendship with the rival robber's son, Birk.    It's a bit like Romeo and Juliet but more innocent and magical.  It's a children's book that has quite a bit of fun, but Lindgren also writes about forgiveness, and making hard decisions.  

Ronia could not hear him, but she could see from his lips what he was saying.  And although neither of them could hear a word, they spoke to each other.  They said what must be said before it was too late.  How good it was to love someone so much that there was no need to fear even the most difficult thing.  They spoke of it although neither of them could hear a single word.

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