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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)
Ronia, the Robber's Daughter
by Astrid Lindgren
Age Range: 9-11
Born during a wild storm, Ronia is a robber’s daughter and grows up to be strong, hardy and self-reliant. One day, she meets and befriends Birk, the son of another robber (Borka) who happens to be the mortal enemy of her father (Matt) and things start to get complicated. Soon Ronia and Birk tire of their feuding fathers and run off to live in the forest. Are they ready for the realities of forest life? Will Matt and Borka ever end their feud and live in peace, so that their children can return home?
Astrid Lindgren has a lot of fun with this Romeo and Juliet inspired tale of two young children becoming friends across an impossible divide, and luckily gives her version a happier ending! Ronia and Birk are also just friends in this story, and there is a sweet, innocent charm to their adventures together in the woods. Lindgren also strikes the balance just right by showing the pleasurable side of living in a forest as well as the dangers. Ronia and Birk can go from quietly fishing and camping to suddenly being chased by wild harpies. You can never be sure what is going to happen next in this enchanting page-turner and children will quickly become engrossed in Lindgren’s gripping plot, which is – as always- fast-paced and full of action.
With this ability to spin a story and her flair for vivid descriptions and clear prose, it is easy to see why Astrid Lindgren’s stories have stood the test of time. Here, her imagination also shines through when she describes the woods and some of the magical creatures that she has thought up therein. Lindgren introduces us to wild harpies, murktrolls and sinister grey dwarfs, and describes the seasonal beauty of the woods so that the reader also feels the heat of the summer and the bitter winter cold. Her human cast does not disappoint either. Ronia is a plucky, smart and determined tomboy with a kind heart and the robbers are in equal parts amusing and kindly. Robber Chieftain Matt, father of Ronia is perhaps the most striking character. With a loud voice and a proud spirit, he is very much king of the castle, but Lindgren makes sure that we can always see how much he loves Ronia, even when they are fighting.
Overall, Ronia The Robber’s Daughter is an enchanting read, with it’s highly magical forest setting and suspenseful plot. Readers will be gripped by the story and by setting, as Ronia and Birk venture through the forest and enjoy a freedom that most children can only marvel at.
Abby Phillips (2016)