The Red Bird

Overview

From the creator of Pippi Longstocking comes a LITTLE MATCH GIRL for our times, a book of surpassing compassion and beauty.

Astrid Lindgren is beloved worldwide for her stories of Pippi Longstocking, the cheerful little girl with upside-down braids and no parents. With THE RED BIRD, Lindgren turns her attention to two very different orphans, Matthew and Anna, who are sent to live with the stern farmer in Myra. The work is hard; the food is scarce; the days are cold. But then ...

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Overview

From the creator of Pippi Longstocking comes a LITTLE MATCH GIRL for our times, a book of surpassing compassion and beauty.

Astrid Lindgren is beloved worldwide for her stories of Pippi Longstocking, the cheerful little girl with upside-down braids and no parents. With THE RED BIRD, Lindgren turns her attention to two very different orphans, Matthew and Anna, who are sent to live with the stern farmer in Myra. The work is hard; the food is scarce; the days are cold. But then Anna and Matthew follow the red bird to Sunnymead, where they find hope, sunshine, and in the end, freedom. This extraordinary story of hope and redemption, with exquisite illustrations by Marit Tornqvist, is certain to become a modern classic.

Anna and Matthew, two poor siblings who have known only hunger, cold, and hard labor since their mother died, follow a bright red bird to a land of happiness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Marit Tarnqvist reimagines Astrid Lindgren's wistful tale of two children "left alone in the world" and The Red Bird that gives them hope (first published in 1959, and here translated from the Swedish by Patricia Crampton). Fans of Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking tales may miss the author's sense of humor here, but T rnqvist's pen-and-ink and watercolor wash fluidly charts the children's transition from a sepia-toned, colorless world of poverty to the many-hued meadow filled with birch trees they discover, thanks to the red bird. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This story, by the author of Pippi Longstocking, is unusual and thought provoking as might be deduced by the opening sentence. "Long ago, in the days of poverty, there were two little children who were left alone in the world." Matthew and Anna had to leave Sunnymead to go and live with a farmer at Myra who was a stern taskmaster. The children, existing in mind-numbing poverty, were forced to labor long hours and fed only potatoes dipped in herring brine. Life was so difficult that Anna declared she would only live to see winter arrive, for in winter all the children had to go to school. Anna was sure school would be their salvation. Alas, when they finally did go to school, the schoolmaster was harsh and the other students tormented Matthew and Anna. One day the two children followed a red bird to a door in a high wall. Upon walking through the doorway, they discovered a beautiful and warm land also called Sunnymead. They returned to the farm, but after several visits to Sunnymead they had to make a decision. Should they close the door behind them and stay in Sunnymead? To an adult, Sunnymead must be life after death, but perhaps to a child there is a different meaning. The contrast of the gray world the children inhabit in Myra to the colorful scene of joy in Sunnymead is heartbreakingly apparent in the illustrations. 2005 (orig.2003), Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, Ages 4 to 8.
—Carolyn Mott Ford
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-A lengthy tale of two orphans who are adopted by a stern farmer. Matthew and Anna's gray lives are full of work and despair. They look forward to winter when they can attend school, but it fails to provide the joy they seek. As they begin to lose all hope, the children are saved by a red bird that leads them to a magical world where there is a mother to care for them and they can play all day in the sun. Tornqvist's painterly illustrations are beautifully crafted and add emotional impact to the text. They are hauntingly dark when the children are in despair and bright lime-green when the siblings find their safe haven. Some readers may be disturbed by Anna's comments about death, "There is no fun in my life, and I don't want to live till spring." Occasionally the translation is awkward: "-he took the children to make themselves useful." Lindgren's fans will be willing to overlook these shortcomings; for others, it is a secondary purchase.-Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this first English language edition of Lindgren's 1959 tale, two orphaned children escape their sad world of forced labor and grinding poverty by following a red bird to a hidden doorway, beyond which lies Sunnymead, a warm, bright land where children play and a Mother provides lavish amounts of food and love. In Tornqvist's new illustrations the orphans, Matthew and Anna, are small figures, hunched and grey in their drably wintry rural setting, but standing straighter, and clad in red, once they enter Sunnymead's lambent, grassy woodland. Crampton's translation conveys a lyrical tone-"All the loveliness of spring burst over them in one exultant instant: A thousand little birds sang, rejoicing in the trees;"-in keeping with the author's metaphoric contrast between the landscape of idealized childhood and its grim, colorless, "real" counterpart. In the end, knowing that their act cannot be undone, Matthew and Anna close the door on that ugly world forever-a choice that will seem reasonable to younger readers, and will also resonate with fans of Oscar Wilde's sentimental, symbolic fairy tales. (Fiction. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439627962
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2005
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 0.47 (d)

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