Ok! You ready to get back on the road? Our next stop reading our way around Europe is Iceland!
Diving straight in, our first port of call is Nonni’s House, in Akureyri in northern Iceland, about 380 km from Reykjavík.
This is the former-home-turned-museum of Iceland’s noted children’s book author Nonni, the Jesuit priest Jón Sveinson (1857-1944). Although he left Iceland as a teenager, Nonni’s children’s stories based on the childhood in Iceland he shared with his brother Ármann, nicknamed “Manni” are popular in his homeland and have been translated into several other languages.
Sveinsson’s Nonni and Manni stories have also been adapted into a popular television series .
Although still in print in German, English language translations are not. I’ve had difficulty getting hold of a copy, but try your library – you might strike lucky!
Next on our itinerary is Gerðuberg, Reykjavik’s cultural centre, which hosts an annual exhibition of those illustrations from Icelandic children’s books which were published during the previous year. This year’s exhibition, “This is what the children like!” (Þetta vilja börnin sjá!) opened on January 23rd.
As you might be able to tell from the photo above, Jonsson’s winning book is all about art. A painter, Sofus, has an assistant, a pig called Konrad. The pig helps him in all sorts of ways, cleaning, cooking, modelling and even choosing colours because Sofus is colour blind. The paintings Sofus creates look uncannily like some famous portraits, and indeed the book includes every original portrait with information about the relevant artist.
The Dimmalimm award is named after a classic Icelandic children’s book written and illustrated by the artist Gudmundur Thorsteinsson – I’ll be returning to this book in a couple of posts time!
Another current exhibition at the Gerðuberg is The Loooooong Serpent. This exhibition has been curated and designed by Icelandic illustrator Kristín Ragna Gunnarsdóttir, winner of the Dimmalimm award in 2008.
All about Norse mythology it looks like a wonderful exhibition!
Gerðuberg will also be the hosts for a conference next month (March 5th) of special interest to those who love children’s literature. Every year they host a conference, with a different topic each time. This year’s them is books for boys versus girls. Topics to be covered include what kind of books do they read and is there a difference between what they are offered and how much they read? This conference takes place on March 5th and if you’d like more details please contact Margrét Baldursdóttir
Finally, Iceland hosts a biannual, international children’s book festival. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait until 2012 for the next one! In the meantime, I hope you’ll be back next week to find out about Icelandic picture books that are available in English – we’ll be starting off on Monday with a very cute book about Puffins!
Have you ever been to Iceland? Have you read any book from Iceland or set in Iceland that you particularly enjoyed?