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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)
Trina Finds a Brother
by Berit Braenne
Age Range: 6-8
Six-year-old Trina from Norway is travelling to Africa with her mother on board the cargo ship Trinita where her father is the captain. Trina has always longed for the company of other children and when they arrive at a port off the coast of Africa she notices a young Arab boy on the docks who appears to be unwell. Trina asks her mother if they can take the boy, called Tamer, to the hospital and adopt him so that she can have a brother. Tamer soon recovers and as the days pass Trina and her family become close to him even though they don’t speak the same language. When Trina's birthday arrives, as well as getting presents, she is in for a big surprise.
This novel written in 1958 by Norwegian author Berit Braenne (1918-1976) is a story of adoption and a child’s adaptation to his new European family and way of life. Today the story can easily be deconstructed and criticised, particularly in terms of references to race and gender. One episode depicts the horrified reaction of an elderly European lady towards Tamar when she sees him on board the ship. Although the author intends to emphasise her character’s narrow-mindedness and prejudice, there are also several references to 'being of brown colour'.
Nevertheless, Braenne shows how Tamer learns the value of finding security, of being accepted and loved by his new family. Although the story is perhaps rather more idealistic than realistic compared to fiction written today on a similar subject the genuine warmth and sincerity of Trina and Tamar’s eagerness to be accepted make the characters endearing.
Braenne was an actress, children’s writer and songwriter. After Historien om Tamar og Trine two sequels followed Tai-mi, Tamar og Trines søster and Tom Tangloppe, bror til Tamar, Trine og Ta-mi which were published in 1959 and 1960, respectively. From 1964 Braenne wrote several television shows for children.