Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

The Dangerous Journey by Tove Jansson (in a new translation by Sophie Hannah), reviewed by Frank Cottrell Boyce

As ever Frank Cottrell Boyce's review merits reading in its entirety. I cannot resist quoting the opening and closing paragraphs in full...

This is a rollicking and vivid new translation of a lavish, beautiful picture book by Tove Jansson. Depending on how you feel about Jansson, that sentence will read either like a straightforward item of publishing news, or like the announcement of the discovery of a previously unknown Shakespeare sonnet. Or Beatles album. Or species of dolphin. Among the ridiculously excited might be Philip Pullman, Ali Smith, Esther Freud, a Japanese man who had Snufkin tattooed on his arm "as a symbol of freedom" and half a million Scandinavian girls who were christened "My" after another of Jansson's characters.


One of the many debts we owe to our favourite children's authors is the way that they alerted us - at an impressionable age - to various small pleasures. To this day I can give myself a sense of freedom and carelessness by setting out on a walk with a couple of hard-boiled eggs and some buttered bread - thank you, Milly Molly Mandy. William Brown pointed out the peculiarly sensual pleasure of beating your opponents into submission through extended bouts of spurious moral outrage. Jansson valorised coffee and pancakes and reticence and the mystery of others. But more to the point she showed me how it might be just those small pleasures that keep us together when we start to grow apart; that when words fail you can still express love by making sure the roof isn't leaking, the woodshed is full and the meal ready. Competence, manners and hospitality will keep us connected when nothing else will. We can tolerate any amount of difference, as long as we all agree to share the raspberryade.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on February 19, 2011 10:19 AM.

Children's books most borrowed in libraries - Toddler+ - MadeForMums was the previous entry in this blog.

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