- The Tomten
Astrid Lindgren, 32 pages
Astrid Lindgren, creator of irrepressible Pippi Longstocking, here shares the Scandinavian legend about a kindly winter dwarf who secretly inhabits and protects isolated farms. This independent little fellow wears shaggy clothes, a long white beard (hundreds of years’ growth) and a long red stocking cap. Now you must understand that no human being has ever seen the Tomten, but in winter sharp eyes might detect his tiny footprints in the snow. Only children could see him, but then—alas--they are always asleep when he peeps in, so they can’t be counted as believers.
There is no real plot in this first story, which serves as a gentle introduction to beloved Nordic lore, lovingly adapted from a poem by Viktor Rydberg. Like a secret benefactor the Tomten paces his lonely rounds to the farm’s various buildings--soothing the animals by giving them pleasant dreams of future spring and summer, some straw or a midnight snack. A few repetitive phrases will sound rhythmically on the listener’s ear. Despite the lack of action and conflict, the gently-told tale will touch those who are young at heart and the delightful pastel illustrations by Harald Wiberg will charm children and adults alike. Every quaint old farm needs a loyal Tomten to ensure smooth, nocturnal operations!