Yetis and trolls
The wolf scoffs rum truffles, slurps bottomless coffee and flicks though stylish Scandic kids’ books at a lovely Umeå museum.
The cafe is gorgeous, the staff laid back, and the galleries super-elegant at Västerbottens Museum. And there’s a lively children’s activity section downstairs. While the kids made creatures from wire, beads, bottletops and sticky tape to add to the growing exhibition next door, I lurked in the reading corner. Here are two of the wonderful picture books I leafed through:
Snomannen (the abominable snowman), Eva Susso and Benjamin Chaud
This book, written by Swedish author Eva Susso, and illustrated by French artist Benjamin Chaud, hasn’t been translated into English, though there is a French version.
My Swedish is limited to a dozen words, but the story, as far as I can tell, goes like this:
Two children, Max and Uno, head out by themselves into the forest on snowboards (I love this concept of going off for an adventure in the forest, out of sight of adults). They whizz down a never ending hill…
…then find themselves lost in thick woodland.
They keep their heads – Uno reckons he knows the way back. But suddenly they notice enormous footsteps in the snow! A beast emerges from the bushes, picks up the boys and runs away!
You can see from the following images that there’s not much to be afraid of:
I wish I could illustrate like Benjamin Chaud. He know just which details to draw and which to leave out. Here are the endpapers for Snomannen. So simple! So good:
There’s a decent article on Benjamin Chaud’s book Une Chanson d’Ours here, on Picturebook Makers.
Bukkene Bruse På Badeland (The Billy Goats Gruff at the Swimming Pool) Bjørn F. Rørvik and Gry Moursund
And now to trolls! Gry Moursund’s drawings are ‘naive’ and bursting with colour and life. They’re also very funny. I’d never seen her stuff before, so was blown away by this troll:
The story seems to go like this:
The Billy Goats Gruff are on the way to the greener grass as usual. On the way, they see a sign that says “Swimming pool – 200 metres”.
“Can’t we just go there this year?” asks one.
“Please?” asks the smallest goat. “Then we will not have to go over the bridge. That troll is so scary.”
The goats get a family discount and have fun on the water-slides. But then, someone shows up…
This type of illustration makes me want to get my pencils out straight away. Although the compositions are very accomplished, the style is wonderfully accessible, energetic and fun.
The book was first published in 2012 – in Norwegian and later in Swedish – not too helpful for most of us. ‘Google Translate’ tells us this:
“Gry Moursund , which is considered one of Scandinavia’s most innovative illustrators, behind the amazing pictures. Her lustful, crazy and humorous illustrations are loved by both children and adults.”
And the wolf, too, is now a new fan of Gry’s ‘lustful’ illustrations, and planning to scribble out some trolls during today’s hearty Scottish breakfast.
Moursund’s sister Jill Moursund is also an artist. Here’s her blog site: jillmoursund.blogspot.co.uk/
Here’s a article in ‘Thornews’ (!) on the book – seems I was roughly correct on the story… thornews.com/2014/06/24/this-is-the-most-popular-childrens-book-in-norway/