No Ordinary Necklace
Janna’s mother is in hospital. Daddy goes to visit her twice daily but Janna isn’t allowed to go with him. Mummy looks very sick and sometimes she can’t stop crying and she doesn’t want to confront her little girl with these things. Janna feels shut out and decides to change the situation herself. She strings together a colourful bead necklace that will make her mummy beautiful and happy and then sets out for the hospital. But before she can find her mother’s room the necklace breaks and most of the beads roll away and are lost.
Fortunately, old Mr Boomsma has a wonderful plan. Patients and visitors are asked if they can contribute something to fix up the necklace. In this way Janna threads a curious collection onto her string: a gold button, Spanish coins, a little glass heart, a dolls’ house teacup, a key ring, silk flowers and a hand full of pretzels. The kind people who give her something all tell her a story to go with their ‘bead’, so that in the end Mummy isn’t just given an ordinary necklace, but a story necklace. And in future Janna will come every day to tell her one of these stories.
In this modest story for reading out loud to pre-schoolers the author manages to summon up all kinds of things with just a few words, giving children and grown-upsenough food for thought to talk it over later. Through the eyes of her enterprising small protagonist the reader catches glimpses of the hospital world, full of hasty people, a woman who’s gone bald, an old man with a drip on wheels, and a father who lays his head on his sick wife’s pillow. These images are, however, presented without an emotional interpretation that is left to the reader or listener.
The story revolves around a child in a difficult situation who is confronted with the impotence and panic of adults while, at the same time, being kept at a distance by these same adults. Unintentionally this protective response summons up feelings of insecurity and loneliness. The writer recognises this mechanism without judging it, and gives her main character the possibility of wilful action, which provides all involved with the space they need to look each other in the eyes again.