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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)
Magnus and the Squirrel
by Hans Peterson
Age Range: 9-11
Seven-year-old Magnus is an only child who lives on the top floor of a house in the city of Gothenburg in Sweden. Magnus is lonely, he doesn’t have many friends. That is, until Matthew, a delivery boy who works for a neighbour, arrives on the scene. Matthew is like an older brother to Magnus and when his mother is in hospital, to cheer him up, Matthew allows him to look after his pet squirrel Frisky Jimjim over the summer. Although he’s not supposed to keep pets in the building Magnus takes Jimjim home even though the curmudgeonly old caretaker Mr Anderson with his long list of prohibitions would certainly not approve. Magnus loves looking after Jimjim but as the summer comes towards an end he will need to take a difficult decision about the squirrel’s future.
Swedish author Hans Peterson’s bittersweet tale of friendship will have many young readers sympathising with Magnus as he has to come to terms with letting go of the pet he has come to love so much. Ilon Wikland is a well-known Swedish illustrator that has collaborated with outstanding writers such as Astrid Lindgren. Her artwork is full of expression and movement which adds to the joy and pathos in this story.