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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 Ebba Edskog
Age Range: 9-11
Twelve-year-old Karin is travelling from Stockholm to Berga to live with her two spinster aunts after her dad died at war and her mother of influenza. The Haakansson aunts are sisters; Aunt Karin and Aunt Anna and they run a shop where they sell nearly everything, from coffee to textile materials.
To avoid any confusion with her aunt of the same name, Karin becomes known as Little Karin. Aunt Anna is kind and affectionate while Aunt Karin is strict and frugal and likes order and discipline which Little Karin is made well aware of. Little-Karin struggles to adapt to her new life. She helps out in the shop, gradually gaining the trust of Aunt Karin and makes friends with Torsten, a boy of a similar age, much to the disapproval of her aunt. Torsten lives next door with his father Johnsson, (who has taken to drinking after the death of his wife and supports his family by doing manual work for the Haadkansson sisters), and two younger sisters Maerta and Greta.
When Little-Karin discovers that Torsten yearns for a violin she decides to sell her only precious possession, a chain watch that she inherited from her parents. However, this noble gesture doesn’t go down well with please her Aunt Karin who had been looking after the watch.
A highly readable novel originally written in 1949 by Swedish author Ebba Edskog that is reminiscent of the Little House in the Prairie series. There is a real feel-good factor, embedded with a religious element, where human relationships and altruistic behaviour form the main focus of the story, but it is also about how a young orphan sent to live with relatives she doesn’t know adapts to a new life in the countryside.