Written by Barbro Lindgren and illustrated by Lisen Adbåge
Translated by Sarah Death
This classic Swedish children's novel is an absurd tale full of playful nonsense in a world where anything can happen.
Soda Pop loves bright orange clothes and wears a tea cozy on his head. He has brought up his son Mazarin on sweet buns and love. Grandfather Dartanyong emerges from his woodshed every morning with a new identity, and Great-grandfather has moved into a tree, eats birdseed, and thinks he is a cuckoo.
Theirs is a carefree life, untroubled by social norms. In this tolerant world anything can happen—is the garage suddenly full of tigers? We are not surprised.
Recommended for readers 6-8 years.
Hardcover, 112 pages. 5.7 x 7.8”.
"Readers expecting a story arc, plot progression, and a certain amount of sense in their novels are bound to be disappointed with the madcap meanderings of Mazarin, his father Soda Pop, and his grandfather Dartanyong. However, if zany characters and a world with just a twinge of normality are a welcome change in your reading, this book, first published in Sweden in 1970, fits the bill. Mazarin lives in a house among the pines and firs and anthills with his 'really great dad [who] couldn't care less about anything.' Out in the dilapidated shed lives Mazarin's grandfather, 'alone in the woodshed so other people's germs can't jump out and grab him.' There is also a giraffe that 'wanders off from time to time eats whatever it can find,' as well as scaring the cows. The barn is filled with a 'swarm of tigers,' and the tigers are traded for a thousand hot dogs from the hot-dog man to feed everyone. Did I mention that each day Grandpa Dartanyong wakes with a different identity and, shall we say, very unusual problems? Fans of the wackier reaches of Jack Gantos and Polly Horvath will love these random ramblings that make up in emotional sense what they lack in conventional storytelling."—The Horn Book Magazine
"Set in a nondescript time and place, young Mazarin lives with his eccentric father, Soda Pop, and forgetful grandfather, Dartanyong. Their home includes monochromatic rooms; a garage with a fish-filled pool on top; a barn the perfect size for the cluster of tigers that turns up; a rubbish heap complete with a bed-eating giraffe; and a woodshed-turned-apartment where Dartanyong can avoid germs and store his many charts that help him remember details. Three recurring characters round out the cast: the cross man who's upset about red owls nesting in his mailbox; a hot dog seller turned tiger enthusiast; and Gustav, a robber with ballpoint-pen tattoos who is let out of the local jail occasionally for short jaunts. Nonsense is name of the game in this Swedish novel originally published in 1970 by prolific author and winner of the 2014 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (no relation to the famous author of Pippi Longstocking). This slim volume of short, episodic chapters is unabashedly absurd, moving quickly from adventure to adventure. The exploits often revolve around Dartanyong's identity of the day. When he emerges from his woodshed, he may think he's a plumber, a master painter, or a trapeze artist, and Soda Pop and Mazarin go with the flow, occasionally using his forgetfulness to their advantage when it comes to, say, feeding the hungry tigers. The translation is nicely complemented by full-color illustrations that have an appealing childlike quality. Readers wanting character arcs and climactic scenes won't find them here, but for a whimsical, lighthearted, unique reading experience, look no further."—School Library Journal
Lisen Adbåge was born in Sweden in 1982 and published her first picture book in 2000. She has won three major prizes for her children's books.