Seacrow Island, by Astrid Lindgren; The New York Review of Children’s Books, $17.95, 245 pages, ages 12-16.
Summer is upon us, and with its arrival also comes the tough decisions of what books to pack for those lazy days at the beach or hiking in the mountains. Why not offer older children this classic by Pippi Longstocking creator Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002). Lindgren wrote over forty books for children – fairy tales, picture
books, and chapter books, with most of them taking place in the bucolic
countryside of her native Sweden. Set on a tiny, pristine island in the Stockholm archipelago, Seacrow Island recounts the charming summer adventures of the Melkerson children and their goofy yet lovable father who decamp for this rustic refuge every year. Seacrow Island appeared in 1964, nearly twenty years after the publication of Pippi Longstocking, and while the Melkersons don’t have superhuman strength, the book is filled with equally remarkable characters. (Each of the Melkerson children has a markedly different personality, giving readers ample opportunities to identity with any one of them.) The book was so popular when it was first published that it was also adapted for TV and a feature film. (Lindgren wrote the screenplays for both.) Evelyn Ramsden’s peppy translation brings this gem to a new generation of English-speaking readers, and reminds us that simple pleasures are often the most memorable.