Outside in World | Browse Books
Use our Book Finder to search for books by Title (or part of the title), Author, ISBN, Age Range, Keyword, or Continent/Country. Then simply click the magnifying glass to start your search.
‘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 Dikken Zwilgmeyer
Age Range: 9-11
Johnny spends most of his free time with his best friend Tellef, although their bond was not always so strong. Their close friendship started after Johnny broke Tellef's fishing rod following a fight. Johnny was so full of remorse and aware of the limited financial resources of his friend's family so decided to cover the cost of replacing the broken rod by asking his Uncle Issac for the money.
Johnny is known for his cheerful disposition and good behaviour. At School he even has a special mention as a 'credit to the school', however, he doesn’t like this label because sometimes he just doesn’t feel like living up to everyone's expectations. In fact, he is full of mischief just like most of the boys his age.
Uncle Issac is the owner of Kingthorpe, a large estate which Johnny is heir to and inherits it when the old man dies. Finding himself wealthy and with a certain social status puts pressure on Johnny to maintain the same respectable standing that his Uncle had within the community. Nevertheless, Johnny is such a lovable character, altruistic and willing to help everyone in need whether raising money to cover Tellef's blind grandmother's operation or having a big birthday party to which everyone in the village is invited.
Johnny Blossom by Norwegian author Dikken Zwilgmeyer (1953-1913) was first published in 1903 and is a well-known classic of children's literature in Norway. The charming black and white illustrations are by husband and wife team Ingri and Edgard Parin D’Aulaire. Ingri Parin D’Aulaire wrote the preface to Johnny Blossom in which she mentions the big influence this story had on children in Norway. Ingri had been born in Norway and met her future German husband Edgar in Munich before emigrating to America where they both became prolific illustrators of children's books. Many of their titles are available today in beautiful and colourful newly published editions by The New York Review of Children's Books.
Having been written at the beginning of the 20th century there are representations of gender and disability which are of their time. There is also a strong religious element with frequent references to God and religion which is a strong driving force to the story – when Johnny finds out that he is the heir to Kingthorpe he prays for the first time in his life, “prayed a prayer that he made himself, after saying the Lord’s Prayer. He said: “Thank you, God, for all the money for the fishing rod …”
Barbara Hendrikke Daae Zwilgmeyer wrote under the name Dikken Zwilgmeyer and is most noted for her ‘Inger Johanne’ series of books. The first title Vi břrn in 1890 was written under the pseudonym "Inger Johanne, 13 years old". This book became very popular and eleven more ‘Inger Johanne’ books followed and they remained a favourite of Norwegian children for generations and are regarded as a significant example of Norwegian children's literature around 1900.