Who would have thought that merely by working on a jigsaw puzzle you exercise both sides of your brain, and increase the links between them? And increase your dopamine levels? (Dopamine is one of your pleasure and soothing hormones.) Brain development and creating pathways to soothe jangled nerves are crucial in early childhood education and development, of course. While 'hothousing' kids has been questioned in some quarters, it nevertheless feels wonderful to give your children a pleasurable, aesthetic and fun activity that at the same time increases brain activity and development. It's a little like eating chocolate cake loaded with vitamins. The quality of our Hjelm jigsaws also plays a part - their tactile nature and the gorgeous illustrations add to your child's enjoyment and developing understanding of the world. Perhaps not as well known in Australia as May Gibbs, Swedish author and illustrator Elsa Beskow was of a similar ilk to Ms Gibbs. She is one of Sweden's best loved and well known children's authors and, with her flights of whimsy and imagination, she rightly deserves wider recognition in Australia. In her stories children meet elves and goblins, and farm animals talk with people. Her main themes are the relationships between children and adults and children's independence. Children of the Forest is a beautiful affirmation of the inner life children experience (and adults often miss) in the quiet forest floor deep in the roots of an old pine tree. The little people wear acorn and toadstool caps and spin yarn from cotton grass. They collect wild mushrooms and blueberries and shelter under toadstools when it rains. They play with squirrels and frogs, and when autumn comes, they collect and prepare food to see them through the winter.
We have a range of products based on Beskow's gorgeous illustrations, including a Children of the Forest Suitcase Puzzle, containing two puzzles from her classic book. This is a mini gift edition of her classic story, published by Swedish publisher Hjelms, who focus on products derived from Swedish story books. If only all our learning and brain development could be as aesthetic and fun as this!