If you love someone… you have to let them leave you

posted in: Sven Nordqvist | 12

If you don’t already know the wickedly funny, heart-warming, deliciously illustrated Pettson and Findus books by Sven Nordqvist, please STOP READING this blog post and get on your online library catalogue or down to your local bookshop and Rectify This Situation Immediately. This is for your own good. Don’t waste time on my words, just do what’s a very simple action but one which will bring your enormous amounts of joy into your life.

Go on, off you go….

findusmovesoutOK. So those of you that are left… you’re basically going to just see one enormous smile, one bear hug of happiness, turned into pixels on a screen as I tell you about Findus Moves Out by Sven Nordqvist (translated by Nathan Large), the latest in the Findus and Pettson series to be published here in the UK.

Pettson is a grumpy old (Swedish) farmer, who lives with his best friend, a cheeky, cheerful cat called Findus. Their friendship is robust, profound, sincere, and – I dare to claim – one of the best anywhere in children’s literature. They have their ups and downs, their arguments and makings up, and along the way there is always a great deal of madcap humour.

In this particular story, Findus is driving Pettson spare, waking up early every morning and turning bouncing into an Olympic sport on his bed. The old man snaps and threatens to move the cat’s bed out… but Findus seizes the initiative and insists himself in setting up home away from Pettson.

Of course this isn’t really what Pettson wanted. Despite his moaning, he loves Findus dearly. He knows (though he might not admit it) that his house without his cat isn’t really a home. But in an unspoken declaration of true love, Pettson helps Findus set up his new home (in a converted outdoor lavatory!) and even helps prepare a housewarming feast. Does Pettson really have to let his best friend go his own way? Will Findus really cut his ties with Pettson, and brave a night all alone?

Giant vegetables, lurking foxes and platefuls of pancakes later, friendship triumphs and there’s a very happy ending for everyone involved. The arts of letting go, compromise, and swallowing one’s pride all have a place in this unsentimental, but powerful story full of love and laughter.


Apart from simply brilliant characterisation, these books are ones you must track down because of their witty, wonderful illustrations. They’re full of detail and many other little dramas being played out around the farmer and his cat (often involving mysterious and mischievous tiny creatures). There are crazy contraptions and glorious clutter to mentally rummage through and play with. I’m particularly in awe of how Nordqvist illustrates time lapse – one large picture captures multiple moments so that there is almost a cinematic quality to his drawings.

Quite simply, a perfect picture book, Findus Moves Out will have your kids roaring with laughter, begging for the book to be read again and again, and… I’m (not really) afraid to say …bouncing on their beds with delight! A surefire winner indeed.

Apart from bouncing in beds, it was clear from the very first reading of this marvellous book what my girls wanted to do: move out!

But where to? Our small garden shed was the obvious place but this winter and spring have been so cold that it was only recently they were able to make headway with their plans.


First we had to empty out the shed of all its rubbish very useful contents, then the girls cleaned it up.


Next it was filled with rugs and overturned flower pots and boxes to make furniture, before being made more homely with the addition of pictures cut out from books discarded by the library where I (now!) work.


It’s almost impossible to get a decent photo of the inside, but the girls are VERY happy with their new home. They’ve taken to having as many of their meals in there as possible, and they say they’d love to sleep in there if I’d let them…. maybe in the holidays we’ll give it a go!

There’s nothing quite like your own (play) home, to read in, to snack in, to get up to mischief in. It was quite an effort to create, but the results have made it all worthwhile. And I’m DELIGHTED to have Findus’ house at the bottom of our garden, to have woven this very lovely book into the fabric of our home.

Music which could go well with reading Findus Moves Out includes:

  • Come On Over To My Place by The Drifters
  • No Jumping on the Bed by The Barbers
  • Jumpin’ On The Bed by Geof Johnson

  • Other activities which would work well with reading Findus Moves Out include:

  • umm… dare I suggest jumping on a bed??
  • Making a rag rug – these appear all over Pettson’s house, and whilst they take a little time to make, older kids can certainly manage it with minimal help. Here’s a tutorial from Everyday Art
  • Setting up a trip wire with string and bells (Pettson and Findus create such an intruder alarm to protect Findus in his new house). I can’t find a good tutorial, but some pulleys and a rattle or two would be useful no doubt.

  • Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher. I was under no obligation to review the book and received no payment for this post.


    12 Responses

    1. WendyLady@GoodBooks

      Well, I kept reading this post even though I had never even heard of Pettson or his cat Findus. I’m not sure if my library way over here in California will have any of these books, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get them on Amazon (and I’m half Swedish, so I’m extra determined – haha!)

      Your links for music and rag rug tutorial are great!

      I absolutely love your girls’ little shed! We actually have a real “Cupboard Under the Stairs”, and I”m hoping to set up the same kind of reading hideaway space for my grandchild someday!
      WendyLady@GoodBooks recently posted..Learning a Lesson About Forgiving our Enemies, from a Brave Saint Named George

    2. Stephanie

      Library visit due this week so will see if they have this author, sounds fab. The den is genius, my two would adore that, no shed at the moment but would love them to have something like this one day.
      Stephanie recently posted..Bryony Bird

    3. Zoe

      Lyn, Stephanie, Wendy, YES TRACK THE BOOKS DOWN! 🙂 (you know the capital letters are all used in a very friendly way, not meant to be shouty, just excited!)

      And Bamauthor, yes, it is a lovely little retreat for them – I’m even tempted to use it myself whilst the kids are at school!

    4. Sallie

      I think my daughter will love this book. We’re big cat fans in our house and reading James Bowen’s A Street Cat Named Bob, which might also fit the bill as it’s about a homeless guy adopting a cat … and changing his life.

    5. Simone Fraser

      I have obviously had a deprived childhood as I am one of the Ignorant who haven’t experienced these books. Which I will rectify. Zoe’s enthusiasm is as always utterly infectious. Thank-you! And thank-you for more envy-inspiring photos: I want a shack like that!

    6. Zoe

      Hi Sallie, I don’t know A street cat named bob, but will have to track it down, thanks for the tip 🙂

      Yes, Library Mice, a new shed would have been nice… on the allotment… with space for a mum as well as two kids…

      Hi Simone, I didn’t know these books as a child; the first one came out in 1984 (in Swedish). I’m not sure when they were translated for the first time into English. But the series is definitely one of my best ever picture book discoveries as an adult.

    7. Fred and Sophie

      yeepee ! a fresh new Pettson and findus book( Picpus in the french translation). If you ever go to Sweeden stop by Junibaken in Stockholm (a child literature “museum” where you can actually enter Pettson house after a visit to the Moomin’s)…For our 5 year son, every place that is cramed with tools and old antiques and weird things is “like Pettson’s place” We particularly appreciate the book where Pettson adn Picpus go camping in the fjelds (ending in the courttard of the house)..

    8. Anya

      Ooh, we are so excited about the new Pettson and Findus book! We read them all and kids adore these books (and other books by Nordqvist too). They are rather hard to find in my part of US (there is an older version that I came across a couple times, translated as Festus and Mercury for some reason). We’ll have to ask friends from Europe to bring it for us.

      The playhouse looks awesome 🙂
      Anya recently posted..Screen-Free Week

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