I picked up my first Elsa Beskow book only two years ago. Unfortunately, I did not grow up with her but my children will. At first I was attracted by the bright and simple illustrations but then fell in love with the characters, simple domestic charm, and lively fair folk that teach of neighborliness, gratitude, responsibility and consequences. Her masterful combination of playful pictures and potent principles is the reason I keep taking Elsa’s books home to my family.

Elsa was born in 1874* in Stockholm to a Swedish mother and a Norwegian Father. She loved story telling and drawing from a very young age. She married a theologian and together they had six sons. One of her sons went on to be a famous geologist who pioneered ideas about sustainability. Another son went on to become a famous modern artist. Her last book was published one year before she died in 1953.

My hope is that your love for Elsa will come as a process of discovery.  The best way to do this is to read her books. With the precious time you have given me I want to introduce you to the books themselves.  We worked hard writing descriptions for her books and want to highlight a few of them. Allow me to point out a few things about our new descriptions we hope are helpful to your nurturing and gifting.  

Pelle’s New Suit:

A personal favorite. Nothing comes from nothing. Pelle has grown out of his suit. No problem, he has a wooly little sheep. He trades family and friends chores for their domestic skills in carding, spinning, weaving, dyeing and even tailoring. His resourcefulness and willingness to work for an intended outcome paired with a detailed description of how to make an article of clothing are lessons we love to remember and pass on.  

In the description we hope to point out the principal learned taught in the book. Below the description we offer some gifting ideas.

Give to: the dapper gent in your life who appreciates a well-tailored suit. Or, give this to a youngster when he gets his first suit for a wedding, baptism to help him appreciate and properly care for it.

Give with: a skein of wool and a loom to inspire someone you love to make something of their own to be handed down for generations.

Give as: a token of appreciation to your aging parents for all the clothes they outfitted you with growing up in their home.

The Sun Egg:

Curiosity reigns in this simple story ready to delight. It hearkens to a time when exotic fruits were unknown or delicacies to be savored and a forest where fair folk reason and interact with the wildlife as neighbors and friends. The ending is a gesture of kindness from a bird that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Give as: a thank you to a friend or a neighbor who grabbed your mail while on a tropical vacation.

Give with: a bowl of oranges, a pint of fresh squeezed juice or a dove quilt from Sweden. 

Give to: your kids with a bowl of oranges to slow down and be grateful. Take a minute to teach them how to make and enjoy a fresh squeezed glass of sunshine in a cup while you read.

Happy reading. Save us a cup of that fresh squeezed orange juice!


*1874 was a fun year. Sport for leisure was beginning in a big way. Tennis was patented and introduced. Baseball made its way to Europe.  It was the first time admission was charged for a soccer game. The first zoo opened in America (Philadelphia) and Jesse James and his gang were robbing banks in the midwest.

April 25, 2018 — Brad Roberts

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