The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson

Nils Holgersson is part of a series of legendary characters that many people know and love. The red-capped elf who crosses Sweden on the back is an icon. He owes his immortality to the sense of adventure and the imaginative language of Selma Lagerlöf, as seen once again in these beautiful new adaptation of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson (1906).

Children's books
Bette Westera

Bette Westera has taken on Lagerlöf’s Swedish classic. She writes smoothly and skilfully, while maintaining the fairy-tale atmosphere of the magical journey of the badly behaved Nils, who has been transformed into a ‘tomte’. Martijn van der Linden’s realistic landscape pictures and close-ups of Nils and main characters such as Martin the goose and Smirre the fox cleverly take the place of the lengthy descriptions omitted by Westera.

This adaptation has correctly sensed that the original story is in essence about a growing child who, because he lives with animals, is confronted with the beauty, harshness and freedom of nature, and the universal question of what it means to be human. Nils, who often misses ‘his familiar life as a human child’, learns from Akka, the leader of the geese, that being human comes with great responsibility and that respect for life and nature among his fellow humans cannot be taken for granted.

Westera’s Nils is touchingly believable and human. This makes his exciting adventure unforgettable.

How wonderful that this retelling has been published. Bette Westera has once again made it into a delightfully readable story. And combined with illustrations by Martijn van der Linden, this is a stunning book!

Bette Westera
Bette Westera (b. 1958) is a versatile writer who creates modern fairytales, poems, picture books and realistic stories for children up to the age of around ten.
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