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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)
Flight From the Polar Night
by Anna Rutgers van der Loeff
Age Range: 9-11
Peer's mum is ill in hospital and his dad, a sailor, is away at sea. Peer is being looked after by his aunt Marit and uncle Anders who live in the north of Norway in the land of the northern lights where the sun never appears in winter, there are long dark days and an endless covering of snow over the landscape. Peer misses his home in Holland and the warmer climate of the south where his family live. He has difficulty adapting to his new environment and is desperate to return home so Peer decides to make the difficult journey back home. Following some unsuccessful escapades, Peers is bullied and laughed at by his classmates at school and one day he undertakes a dangerous challenge that nearly ends in tragedy.
Flight from the Polar Night first published in 1968 by Dutch author Anna Rutgers van der Loeff (1910–1990) is an interesting novel set in Norway. The main protagonist Peer has moved four hundred miles away from his family home in Holland. He is an outsider, reluctant to embrace and accept his new life. The story deals with separation, loneliness and the adaptation to a new environment, diverse weather conditions and making new friends.
Marieke Clarke’s translation from the original Dutch reads beautifully in English, while Jenny Dalenoord's dark black charcoal type drawings add to the mystic and sometimes gloomy nature of the story.
Other titles listed on the website by the author – Avalanche (1957) and They're Drowning Our Village (1959)