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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 Edith Unnerstad
Age Range: 6-8
Another Larsson family story by Finnish author Edith Unnerstad (1900-1982) who was born in Finland but moved to Sweden with her family when she was ten years old.
The Pip-Larsson’s are a large family: Dad, an inventor, mum, a former actress, four daughters and three sons - Lars, Mirre, Dessi, Knut, Rosalind, Little O and the ‘Urchin’, a nickname for the five-year-old youngest son, as well as their cat Sooty.
Despite his young age, the Urchin is very independent, or at least, he endeavours to be, but his obstinate temperament often gets him into some dangerous situations. When he realises that he has left his favourite toy duck at Miss Gumpert's cottage, he travels by bus and boat on his own to retrieve it and falls asleep inside the boat while his parents desperately search for him. At his aunt's birthday party the Urchin wants to surprise her by putting up a birthday flag on top of the chimney and climbs onto the roof but suddenly finds he is unable to get down. There are other hilarious episodes too, such as an invitation to his friend Margaret to a special party where the Urchin plans to marry her! Or when he tries to be a hen and sits on a (boiled) egg expecting a chick to hatch.
Unnerstad has created a strong believable, lovable and sometimes mischievous character and each chapter can be read as an individual story. The author has managed to capture the true essence of childhood with a very sharp eye for a child's behaviour, psychology and social interaction with grown-ups.
Unnerstad is particularly known for the series of children’s books about the Pip-Larsson family, many of which have been translated into English and are listed on the website: The Pip-Larssons Go Sailing (1963), Saucepan Journey (1968), Little O (1976) and Little O’s Naughty Day (1974). Other Unnerstad titles translated into English include: Spettacake Holiday (1959), Grandmother’s Journey (1960), A Journey to England (1961) and The Cats from Summer Island (1966).