Kidlit destinations in Norway

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World children’s literature seems to be all the rage at the moment – in just the last couple of weeks I’ve discovered two great challenges which focus on reading children’s books from all over the globe.

Paper Tigers is hosting a Reading the World Challenge whilst Book Dads have their own Read Around the World Challenge. It’s not too late to join either or both challenges and if you’re looking for some book suggestions from Europe, hopefully you’ll follow our own Reading Round Europe journey. Indeed, as part of Reading Round Europe we’re ready to pick up our passports and return overseas after the relative quiet of last week. Our next destination is Norway!

Let’s start off our Norwegian sojourn with a visit to Prøysenhuset, a museum dedicated to author and musician Alf Prøysen, best known in translation for his Mrs Pepperpot stories.

Photo: Prøysenhuset

In the main exhibition you can learn all about Alf Prøysen’s life and writings and children of all ages will enjoy themselves in the world’s largest mousehole! In Norway Prøysen is as famous for his (folk) music as his books. Indeed, one of his songs apparently can be heard in an episode from series 6 of the Sopranos!

As we’ve toured the Nordic countries, I’ve learned that trolls are an important feature in Nordic culture and illustration. Theodor Kittelsen (1857 – 1914) was a Norwegian artist who is famous in his homeland for his illustrations of fairy tales and legends, especially of trolls and the next stop on our kidlit tour of Norway is Lauvlia, Kittelsen’s former home.

Photo: Lauvlia.no

Lauvlia is now a museum exhibiting his paintings and drawings. There are plenty of activities for kids to get up to, including exploring a troll path where you might meet nymphs and river sprites as well as trolls.

Otto Valstad was another Norwegian illustrator of children’s books and so included in our itinerary is his former home turned museum, The Asker Museum in Hvalstad, just 20km or so SE of Oslo

Christmas card designed by Otto Valstad

A visit to Norway’s captial is a must and once in Oslo we’ll definitely visit the specialist Children’s Second Hand Bookshop – do click through and see their great image of what looks like a wall made out of Ladybird books in Norwegian!

Photo: National Library of Norway

No doubt with a book or two in our bags we’ll then head of to The Norwegian Institute of Children’s Books (NBI) on the top floor of National Library of Norway. The NBI is home to country’s most comprehensive collection of Norwegian and international academic literature on the subject of children and young peoples’ books and copies of almost all texts published for children and young people in Norway from the 1800s up to and including the present day can also be found in the library.

And if you can’t make it to the NBI, their website has a great section for browsing – their Illustrator of the Month.

The House of Literature, also in Oslo, aims “to inspire a growing interest in Norwegian and international fiction and non-fiction, and to serve as a meeting place for all those interested in books and literature.” It regularly organizes events for children and one floor is dedicated to children and YA books and events. The House of Literature is particularly interested in supporting youths and young adults with immigrant background.

I hope you’ll be back for my next few posts, all about Norwegian picture books in English. In the meantime do share any stories if you’ve been to Norway yourself or read any Norwegian children’s literature that you’ve particularly enjoyed.

My thanks to Mari Kristin Høilund for her help with some of this post.

4 Responses

  1. Oh, we love the Mrs Pepperpot series. And we’ve thoroughly enjoyed all books by Roald Dahl, who is of Norwegian roots. Although I had my reservations about introducing his very macabre sense of humour so early to A. She got two of them- Matilda and The BFG for her 8th birthday and then there was stopping her.

    • Yes, M likes Mrs Pepperpot too and already is a big fan of Dahl. We haven’t read The BFG yet but we’re looking forward to it!

  2. Have you come across Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire? Ingri was born and brought up in Norway; she met Edgar at art school in Paris. I have read their illustrated Norse myths. Their work is influenced by Norwegian folk art. Also, I’m now having this running through my head: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkRRj_XGmL8&feature=related

    • Hi Ali, yes, I’ve included the D’Aulaire norse myths in my round up which I’ll be posting next week, although I didn’t know that Ingri was from Norway. Love the video – the “icy” mikes, and the breathing at the start just like breathing on a very cold day sending out plumes of condensation!

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