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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Wonderful Adventures of Nils (The)
by Selma Lagerlöf
Age Range: 9-11
This is an abridged version of a classic Swedish story first published in two volumes in
1906-7. It tells the story of the adventures of Nil Holgersson, a disobedient and lazy 14-year-old boy who is changed by an elf into a Tom Thumb-like being. The smaller Nils has one new power; he can understand the language of the animals. He is taken away by a gander, which flies him northward all over Sweden into Lapland and back again in a series of adventures.
As Nil’s travels through the air it allows him to see large parts of Sweden and gives readers the opportunity to learn about Sweden, its towns, inhabitants and their traditions. Each chapter is an individual story, often a retelling of a fairy tale or myth with Nils and his animals as the protagonists. There are also important lessons for Nils to learn such as compassion, justice and respect of nature.
The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Swedish Nobel laureate Selma Lagerlöf is one of the most popular children's books from Sweden. It has been translated into over 40 languages and made into films and animations. Lagerlöf was asked to write the book at the request of the Swedish National Teacher's Society. Rather than write a dry text book, she wrote an entertaining story weaving lots of historical and geographical material into it which has been required reading in Swedish schools ever since.