Today we’ve got our passports ready for a trip to Sweden and I promise you, we’re going to have fun!
Mulle Meck i glada Hudik is an attraction about 300 km north of Stockholm dedicated to the character Mulle Meck, from the books by George Johansson and Jens Ahlbom. Popular in Sweden, the Mulle Meck stories have been translated into several languages including German (as Willy Werkel) and English (as Freddy Fixer)
Mulle Meck loves to fix things and in Mulle Meck i glada Hudik you and your children can play with gadgets and tools, take a trip with the airplane or even a space flight with Mulle’s new rocket.
You can find out more about Mulle Meck at his own website (in Swedish, but if you don’t read Swedish at least you can have a look at the illustrations!)
Next up is the Carl Larsson-Gården, a museum dedicated to the artist and illustrator Carl Larsson and his family in their former home Lilla Hyttnäs, 230km north of Stockholm.
Larsson illustrated many aspects of idyllic family life, as well as an edition of of fairy tales by H. C. Andersen and other children’s books and at Lilla Hyttnäs you can see the original settings for many of his paintings and drawings.
In place of visiting these locations in person, you can see 47 of Larsson’s works online here, at Project Runeberg
Now think of Sweden and children’s literature and many people will first think of the wonderful Pippi Longstocking. And yes, there are some great looking places to visit if you’re a fan of this fun loving, mischievous girl.
Astrid Lindgren’s World in Vimmerby (about 225 km SW of Stockholm) consists of “a theatre and theme park where visitors can experience characters from Astrid Lindgren’s books in their true settings. Everyone can meet the characters, they perform scenes from the books and improvise situations involving the children in the park”.
There are several shops specialising in merchandise featuring Lindgren’s various characters, and you can even stay overnight, camping or in a chalet.
Whilst in this neck of the Swedish woods you’ll want to visit Astrid Lindgren’s childhood home, Näs, also in Vimmerby.
You can tour the house in which Lindgren (nee Ericsson) grew up and also visit the cultural centre next door where there are exhibitions about Lindgren’s life and accomplishments as well as a reference library if you’re interested in doing scholarly work on Lindgren’s books.
One of the places I’d really love to take my girls to is Junibacken in Stockholm, a fantasy world where not only can you meet several characters from Astrid Lindgren’s books, but also other stalwarts from Swedish children’s literature.
In Storybook Square you can call on Alfie Atkins (from the books by Gunilla Bergstrom), try cooking in Moominmamma’s kitchen, try on hats with Rut, Knut and little Tjut (Tove Jansson was a Swedish speaking Finn), or feel what it’s like to sit on Mulle Meck’s motorbike.
From Storybook Square you move into The Junibacken Gallery which features three illustrator most well-known for their work illustrating some of Astrid Lindgren’s books: Björn Berg, Ingrid Vang Nyman and Ilon Wikland. From there you can take the Storybook Train all the way to Villa Villekulla where, “you are free to play just as wildly as you like” :-). Here you can ride Pippi’s horse, play in Pippi’s kitchen, dress up, paint and draw, play hopscotch, and do lots of other fun things. And if you’ve any energy left after all that there’s also a theatre and children’s bookshop you can visit! Doesn’t it sound like a wonderful place to visit?
At Julita Gård, Sweden’s Museum of Agriculture and the country’s largest open air museum (situated about 120 km West of Stockholm), you can visit the farm of the lovable Pettson and Findus, well known from the books by Sven Nordqvist (I’ll be reviewing one of his books in a couple of posts’ time…).
During the summer Pettson and Findus wander round their farm in person, playing, singing and reading stories with visiting children. Children can also help feed the farm’s chickens!
Unfortunately the John Bauer Museum is closed for renovations until Spring 2012 but I still thought it worth including here for future reference as Bauer’s pictures are so beautiful. You can view several of them online at Project Runeberg’s Bauer pages.
The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books in Stockholm is open to the public and houses a library and regular exhibitions and seminars. One of their resources you might want to check out before any visit to Sweden is their list of specialist children’s bookshops. They also maintain a calendar of events around the country relating to children’s literature (In Swedish, but you could use Google Translate if something was happening at the time you planned to visit).
Millesgården in Lidingö (just outside Stockholm to the NE) is about to host Sweden’s first ever Beatrix Potter exhibition. It open on January 29th and runs to May 15th.
And finally, just in case you can’t make it to Sweden but are in New York then you shouldn’t miss A Child’s Adventure in the Swedish Countryside: A Storybook Installation at Scandinavia House. This “is an interactive playscape that takes children on a magical journey from New York City across the ocean to Sweden where they can explore, hear stories, and read while surrounded by vibrant and imaginative murals evocative of the bucolic Swedish landscape.”
Wow! Aren’t there a lot of exciting places to visit in Sweden if you’re interested in children’s literature? If you had to pick just one place to visit, where would you go? I think my first port of call with the girls would be Junibacken!
If this has whetted your appetite for some kidlit based tourism, you might enjoy my post about Finnish kidlit destinations. And in February I’ll be continuing the theme, exploring places to visit in Norway, Iceland and Denmark for fans of children’s literature.