Of course Elsa Beskow was always going to be first. Elsa is often called the Scandanavian ‘Beatrix Potter’ and her books feature heavily on our shelves and those of Waldorf kindergartens and class rooms all over the world. Her characters become integral to the beautiful stories and explanations about the natural world that Waldorf teachers give to the children in the early years.
Young children have no need for scientific, rational explanations of the world around them and natural phenomena. They understand the world in distinctive human terms- Mother Nature, Father Sun, root children sleeping in the beds under the earth waiting for mother earth to wake them up- these are explanations that children can visualise and understand. With that they gain an appreciation and wonder of the natural world where their imaginations can thrive and their curiosity can lead to healthy respect.
Like Beatrix Potter, Elsa Beskow instinctively knew that her stories and characters would be something that would speak directly to young children. She was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1874, the second of six children. She grew up surrounded by fairy tales and rhymes and would constantly make up stories to amuse her siblings.
Her first book she wrote and illustrated, the Tale of the Little, Little Old Woman was published in 1897. Elsa married and had six sons, she wrote a book a year to help support her family. Elsa and her family loved in a large house with a rambling garden, inspiring her illustrations of flowers, birds and wee fantasy folk.
Her first commercial success came with the publication of Peter in Blueberry Land. This is a gorgeous story of a boy who goes to pick blueberries and cranberries for his mother as a present for her birthday. He grows weary in his search and sits down, forlorn, when he felt a gentle tap on his foot. It was from the King of Blueberry land. He magically shrinks Peter and takes him to meet his sons and fill his baskets with fruit.
The Sun Egg tells the story of an elf’s discovery of a foreign object on the forest floor. She comes to the wise conclusion that it must be an egg fallen from the sun and that she must protect it. The forest folk are happy that they will have warmth all year round. The truth about the sun egg was revealed by a cheeky squirrel who takes a bite out of it.
Pelle’s new suit is another Elsa Beskow favourite. An explanation of how a coat is made has never been more beautiful. Pelle notices that his coat is getting too short and needs another one. His lamb gratefully gives his coat of wool to Pelle. Pelle washes the wool himself but needs help carding, spinning, dyeing and sewing the coat. To get this done he must do jobs in return. Elsa Beskow’s narratives are rich in imagery and descriptive language. She never speaks down to the reader but treats their dream like imaginative state with reverence. In return children all over the world continue to love her stories and world. We have lots of Elsa Beskow titles at Dragonfly! You and your child will love sharing these magical stories together.