Friday, September 17, 2010

The Sun Egg

The Sun Egg
Elsa Maartman Beskow (1874-1953)

Ages 4 to 8

There once was an elf who lived in a hollow tree in the woods.

When a story starts like this, showing a beautiful little elf on the first page, dancing through the seasons doing her Welcome-Back-Sun dance in Spring , Swirling-Yellow-Leaves dance in Autumn , Falling-Snow dance in Winter, I am hooked, and my five year old faerie-phile daughter is mesmerized.

The elf finds a yellow-ish orange egg one day. She thinks it might be the sun's egg and the sun cannot see it as the clouds are obstructing her view. She runs to tell her friend Larch who just teases her. She runs to Happy Frog who laughs heartily as he serves his customers at The Happy Frog restaurant. Soon, along with a few more forest friends, the gang reluctantly follows the elf to see what all the fuss is about.

But guess what? A chaffinch comes along and reveals that this mysterious orange-ish yellow orb is actually a fruit called Orange. She shows them how to drink its sweet juice with a straw. But a greedy crow comes along and snatches the sun egg err.. orange and flies away. (He chokes on it and drops it. Serves him right). When the little elf begins to cry about losing the sun egg, a mistle-thrush offers to take her along to an orange grove in the land of the sun.

The elf has a magical time in the land of the sun. Finally it is time to come back to her forest and she does.

As we begin to wonder what's there in this run-of-the-mill story, the last page reveals a happy little boy out to pick wild strawberries in the very same forest, his picnic lunch bag hanging open and a round (orange) fruit falling off quite unbeknownst to him as he walks away!

The illustrations are charming and delightful, each one worth savoring. The hardcover large format with a full-page image on each spread makes it impossible to read this book in a hurry.

Elsa Beskow was a Swedish writer of children's books. She has some twenty books to her credit and was well-received early on. However, to quote from this article, "In the 1960s and 1970s Beskow's work was considered by many critics old-fashioned. Her idyllic pictures, full of good-natured children, animals, brownies, and flowers, were seen to present false ideals. Also her gender roles were seen as too narrow: "the father is strong and brave, and the mother is obedient and loving" (from Tomtebobarnen)."

However, The Sun Egg (Sol Agget, in the original Swedish) instantly became a favorite at home thanks to the sweet and simple story that has a bit of adventure, a bit of mystery, a bit of twist at the end, and a lot of elf magic which is hard to resist in these parts.


sandhya said...

Smiling throughout your review. Lovely!

Meera Sriram said...

The book sounds like a delight, as you said, a bit of everything! Nice!

Vibha said...

Lovely post Sheela. I like the last twist in the story.

Sheela said...

Sandhya/Meera/Vibha: Thanks... the illustrations and the twist were my favorite parts too :)

Choxbox said...

Totally delightful!

Related Posts with Thumbnails