Monday, February 28, 2011

Brothers Lionheart

I grew up with the books of Astrid Lindgren: Ronja Robbersdaughter (still my favourite), Mio my Mio, The Bullerby Children and many more. I love her language, plain but never artless, and the sense of wonder her stories are filled with.

In The Brothers Lionheart, the deadly ill Karl is promised by his brother Jonathan that after they die, they will meet again in Nangijala, a land of campifires and storytelling. Jonathan dies soon after that while rescueing his brother from a fire and Karl dies from his illness. he does indeed find himself in Nangijala, just like Jonathan described it. The brothers live happily for some time, but even in Nangijala, there are dark things and their happiness doesn't last.

The book drew heavy criticism when published in 1973 because of its dark themes and because some critics thought that it encouraged suicide as a solution to problems. It certainly is unusual for a children's book to deal with such themes and I'm not sure how many (if any at all) such book had been published before The Brothers Lionheart. Children do want to know about death, so why not let them read this book or read it with them. If you look past the fact that both characters die right at the beginning of the book, it's a tale of love and loyalty, of courage and the search for happiness and freedom.

For some reason, the my second favourite book for children about death also comes from Sweden, All the Dear Little Animals

The 14th book for the Library challenge

No comments:

Post a Comment