by Selma Lagerlof
Somehow this title got onto a book list of mine years back, and I finally had to request an interlibrary loan in order to read it. I'm glad I did. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, by a Swedish author, is a fun adventure about a naughty boy named Nils who delights in teasing and tormenting animals on the farm. One day he goes too far, and in punishment is shrunk to the size of an elf (tomte). The animals are eager for revenge now that Nils is small, but he escapes by jumping onto the farm goose as it takes off after a flock of wild geese. The wild geese aren't too happy to have a domestic goose in their midst, nor is the goose happy at first to have Nils aboard. As the goose must prove itself to its wild cousins, so too must Nils demonstrate that he can have a change of heart. On his journey with the geese, traversing many parts of Sweeden, Nils learns about the natural world and the lives of the animals. He comes to see that he has badly mistreated them, and hopes that by proving he can be kind to animals, his misdeeds will be forgiven and he can be restored to his natural size. There's more to this book than just Nils' adventures, though. There are vivid descriptions of all different parts of the country, and local folktales included as stories Nils hears from people and animals he encounters along the way. There's even an environmental theme, as the use of the land and its resources are addressed as well. The is the only book I've ever read (as far as I know) that includes lore from Sweeden, and it's a lovely introduction to the country's natural beauty and lively folktales. There's also a sequel called The Further Adventures of Nils, but I've never come across it yet.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 219 pages, 1906
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