White Ravens: Iceland

7 books      

Iceland (Icelandic) - 1998 - 191
Guđjón Sveinsson (text)
Erlu Sigurđardóttur (illus.)
Kvöldstund međ pabba. Lítil saga handa börnum
(Evening hour with Papa)
Breidalvík: Mánabergsútgáfan, 1997. 35 p.
ISBN 9979-9147-2-6
Father/Son - Everyday life
We become acquainted with an episode of childhood in Iceland when Karl Agnar and his sister spend an evening alone with their father because their mother has gone out. In accord with a familiar motif, father, a teacher, must come to terms with an unaccustomed activity. And along the way we learn something of Iceland's way of life. The several colored pictures which illustrate the book are done in modest realism; outstanding children's book illustrators are seldom found in this small country. (6+)

Iceland (Icelandic) - 1998 - 192
Magnús Scheving (text)
Halldór Baldursson (illus.)
Latibær í vandræđum
(Latibær needs help)
Reykjavík: Æskan, 1997. 103 p.
ISBN 9979-808-34-9
Small town - Adventure
While this small town slumbers along in summertime indolence, it is visited by a mysterious man in a black cloak and tophat, who causes much confusion among the town's sport fans, before taking to his heels in the end. This amusing story with robust, comic-like illustrations is the third volume in a successful series about the city of Latibær. (8+)

Iceland (Icelandic) - 1999 - 200
Guðrún Hannesdóttir (text/illus.)
Kerling vill hafa nokkuð fyrir snúð sinn
(The old woman wants payment for her spinning whorl)
Reykjavík: Forlagið, 1998. [26] p.
ISBN 9979-53-348-x
Iceland/Folktale - Greed
A variation of the folktale about the fisher and his wife is retold here in picturebook format. The fisher's wife looses the golden wharve on her spindle and suspects that a spirit named Kiðhús has taken it. The fisher must instead bring her other things - first a cow, then a trough for the grits. When finally she gets a ladder and climbs up to heaven, together with her husband, in order to bring Maria the left-over grits, the ladder falls down. This book exemplifies the efforts that are being made in Iceland, among a fairly small audience, to awaken an interest in reading through attractive books. (6+)

Special Mention - Iceland (Icelandic) - 2004 - 183
Jónsdóttir, Áslaug (text/illus.)
(The egg)
[Reykjavík] : Mál og Menning, 2003. [28] p.
ISBN 9979-3-2446-5
Egg – Pursuit – Escape
An egg falls out of the bird’s nest onto a hungry cat’s furry back. The egg flees and is threatened by many obstacles during its escape, either because of its fragility or its substance – by the bus, a mad group of dancers, a cook, of course, whose bowl of cracked-open fellow sufferers hints at the fate awaiting the egg, an older couple cuddling on a park bench, a golf player who raises his club. It is stolen by a crow and falls back down to the ground – directly in front of the cat’s mouth. At the last second, the newly-hatched little bird flies away evading the cat’s teeth. The cat just calls after it: I’ll eat you later then! This witty picture book with its various allusions (suggestive advertisements with a fried egg, a plucked chicken, or a bald man whose head looks like a huge egg) is illustrated in pale colours and with elements of collage. It stands apart from other Icelandic books because of its grotesque style. (5+)

Special Mention - Iceland (Icelandic) - 2004 - 184
Steinsdóttir, Kristin (text)
Sólveig Þorgeirsdóttir, Halla (illus.)
Engill i vesturbonum
(An angel in the western part of the city)
[Reykjavík] : Vaka-Helgafell, 2002. [104] p.
ISBN 9979-2-1642-5
Child – Household
Most adults consider high-rise housing a nightmare of facelessness and anonymity. For Askur, Scandinavian Languages the boy with the old Germanic name, however, the tenants are mysterious or weird creatures who turn into angels, werewolves, or witches in his imagination. His everyday experiences are told in short episodes that include a snowstorm, a flaming sunrise, and a cosy evening spent reading with his mother. The illustrator has designed each double spread in a distinct colour and mood. In a style typical for modern painters she creates appealing pictures with bold brushstrokes, several layers of colour, and collage elements, so that every page turn becomes an exciting adventure. (8+)

Iceland (Icelandic) - 2005 - 184
Bjarkadóttir, Björk
Leyndarmálið hennar ömmu
(His grandmother’s secret)
Reykjavík : Mál og Menning, 2003. [28] p.
ISBN 9979-3-2431-7
Grandmother – Grandson
Six-year-old Óli loves his grandmother dearly. For him, she is simply the best. One day, she promises him that, on his birthday, he will be able to fly. At night, she picks him up and together they fly across the town. Through their binoculars, they suddenly spot some thieves who are robbing a bank. But thanks to Granny’s courage and strength, the culprits are finally caught. The dream comes to an end, and so does the picture book. Within the context of Icelandic children’s literature, this book’s illustrations stand out for their unusual style. Both naïve and grotesque, they present a sober, realistic setting that is not toned down. (5+)

Iceland (Icelandic) - 2006 - 185
Gunnhildur Hrólfsdóttir
(The enslavement)
Reykjavík : Frum, 2004. 199 p.
ISBN 9979-9687-0-2
Algeria/1627 Slavery
Katla, a modern teenager with psychic powers living on the Westman islands in Southern Iceland, suddenly finds herself transported into the year 1627 when Algerian pirates attack the island. Together with hundreds of other inhabitants, the girl is taken on a terrible journey, treated with cruelty, and sold off into slavery as soon as they arrive in Algier. In this compelling young adult novel, the final part of the »Katla« trilogy, renowned author Gunnhildur Hrólfsdóttir cleverly weaves together historical facts and fiction. The exciting plot and the vivacious characters will make a past era come alive for a modern audience and arouse interest for the lives of people from other cultures and different religions. (14+)