• Posted on November 29, 2011

The Foreign Bookshelf

Along with the giddy anticipation of visiting great Scandinavian art museums and the fulfillment of a life-long dream of being in the same country that whelped ABBA, the prospect of foreign bookstores and the treasures therein was giving me the vapours weeks before my departure. Different cultural sensibilities, the promise of exciting new European illustrators…sometimes I feel like I’ve picked the shelves of my local bookstores clean, and trolling online can be hit or miss, especially when distraction arrives in the guise of a headline announcing the demise of Demi and Ashton’s marriage.

Sowa at Christmas

As expected, the WH Smith in Heathrow did not have any tasty items, but the small bookstore in the Frankfurt airport netted my first score-a Michael Sowa Christmas book, Der Karpfenstreit (The Carp Dispute.) The text was in German, but the illustrations were deliciously odd, more than enough reason to part with my Euros. Sitting in a cafe, drinking a cappuccino and waiting for my connection, I wanted to reach out to the older couple sitting at the same long table with me. “Look what I found!” Instead, I pulled out The Snowman by Jo Nesbø, and proceeded to read about bonhommicide in Oslo. Must remember, not everyone has a passion for picture books.

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  • Posted on May 09, 2010

Bathing with Swedes

If you’ve ever suspected that Europeans are more uninhibited than North Americans, look no further than Else-Marie and Her Seven Little Daddies. The Swedish edition.

My friend and fellow bookseller, Loraine, brought back a copy of Else-Marie and Her Seven Little Daddies from Sweden in 1991. The deliciously whacked story of a kid with seven identical (and diminutive) daddies is a blast, especially as no explanation for the multiple fathers is provided. Steaming cups of coffee are visible in several scenes, therefore one can assume this is not a family of feminist polygamist Mormons. However, it is a story about difference, and childhood mortification. The conflict occurs when Else-Marie’s mother has to work overtime and can’t pick up her daughter from school, leaving the seven little daddies to step in and take her place. Else-Marie loves her daddies, and worries they will be teased for their size and quantity. Who hasn’t been embarrassed by their parents at one time or another? I still am. However, the daddies are an affable lot, and both Else-Marie and her daddies make it through unscathed. After a meal of fried fish and cream puffs, the family curls up on the couch together to watch an episode of the Ingmar Bergman Comedy Hour. Home Swedish home.

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