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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)
by Edith Unnerstad
Age Range: 6-8
The Pip-Larsson’s are a large family: Dad is an inventor, mum used to be an actress and they have four daughters and three sons. Ophelia, the youngest child is known as Little O. She is rather precocious and curious, always in search of new adventures, some of which end with disastrous consequences. The family also own two horses Laban and Lotta, a black cat named Sooty and two naughty puppies, Truls and Pella.
Divided into nine chapters the story focuses on the daily life of five- year-old Little O. Bath time is chaotic as Little O usually manages to get the whole bathroom as wet as herself; when she finds an old pram in the attic Little O is determined to get her elder brother Pysen to be her ‘baby’. Of course, he is less than keen on the idea so Little O disguises Sooty as a substitute with unpredictable results! Little O learns the art of braiding, but everything gets twisted up including the fringed ends of the rugs and she climbs up a pear tree with no intention of coming down.
The consequences are often hilarious because Finnish author Edith Unnerstad (1900-1982) has so accurately characterised the antics and emotions of five-year-olds and their relationship with their elders. The chapters are short and packed with amusing adventures and illustrated throughout with black and white line drawings by Ilon Wikland, which perfectly represent the mischievous spirit of the story. A delightful book that will entertain young readers and adults alike.
Unnerstad was born in Finland but moved to Sweden with her family when she was 10 years old. She is particularly known for the series of children’s books about the Pip-Larsson family, which include: Saucepan Journey(Puffin Story Books, 1968), The Urchin(Puffin Story Books, 1967), The Pip-Larssons Go Sailing (Macmillan, 1963) and, of course Little O. All of which have been translated in English.