Bak Mumme bor Moni – Gro Dahle

mumme_moniI dag har jeg lest Bak Mumme bor Moni for fireåringen. Vi lånte den på biblioteket forrige uke. Det var hen selv som valgte den, med ordene «Den hadde vi i den gamle» – hen snakker om barnehagen – «og jeg har savnet den sånn!»

Bak Mumme bor Moni er en billedbok med tekst av Gro Dahle og illustrasjoner av Svein Nyhus. Boka handler om Mumme, som er en snill og rolig liten gutt, men av og til kommer Moni, som rir på en svart hest med seksten ben eller kjører en lastebil med hundre svarte hjul. Og Moni er ikke snill og rolig, Moni er raseri og mørke.

Historien er en underfundig framstilling av raseriet som bor i oss alle, hvordan følelsene kan bli så sterke at de tar helt overhånd og føles som om et annet, separat vesen og av hvordan man kan lære å takle dem. Teksten er en fryd å lese høyt, poetisk, drivende og vakker, tross det tidvis svært sinte innholdet. Illustrasjonene kler teksten og understreker både hvordan Mumme og Moni er forskjellige og hvordan de likevel er den samme.

Flere bilder, og noen tanker om (selv)sensur i barnebøker kan du finne på Svein Nyhus sin blogg.

Boka er visst ikke i trykk lenger, men jeg skal nok se om vi ikke kan få tak i en brukt utgave, for dette er en bok jeg gjerne vil ha i hylla permanent.

Bukkene Bruse på badeland – Bjørn F. Rørvik og Gry Moursund

Jeg tenkte jeg skulle forsøke å få lagt ut litt fler omtaler av barnebøker som slår an hos treåringen (snart fire, hvordan gikk det til, egentlig?). Dagens bok er en superhit av de helt store her i huset.

RorvikBukkene Bruse på badeland bruker eventyret om bukkene som skal til seters for å gjøre seg fete som utgangspunkt på en riktig så intelligent måte. Det hele starter med at bukkene er på vei til setra som vanlig på begynnelsen av sommeren, og på veien ser de et nytt skilt der det står «Badeland». De bestemmer seg for å sjekke hva dette er for noe. Men trollet har slett ikke tenkt å gå glipp av sin årlige krangel med bukkene, så det følger etter og lager kvalm for både gjester og ansatte på badeland.

De kjente elementene fra eventyret er vevd inn i den nye historien – trippinga over brua er for eksempel blitt til tripping i trappa opp til sklia – så gjenkjennelsesfaktoren er absolutt tilstede, noe som er et stort pluss for målgruppen. Det er også en bok det er gøy å lese høyt, fordi den åpner for mye lek med stemmeleie – som å la den minste bukken snakke mye lysere enn den største bukken – og innlevelse, som når den største bukken roper «Ædda bædda buse, trollet ha’kke truse!» eller trollet småfornærmet lurer på om det virkelig ikke er lov å bare sitte litt under trappa.

Alt i alt: Noe å sette på ønskelisten til jul, kanskje? Både jeg og treåringen gir i hvert fall tommelen opp!

Bæsj – Stephanie Blake

kaninVi oppdaget denne boka i påsken. Det vil si, poden hadde nok lest den før, formodentlig har de den i barnehagen. Hen kom i hvert fall gledesstrålende fra bokhyllen til det svensktalende vertskapet vårt og sa:

«Kan vi lese kaninen sier BÆSJ?»

Og det kunne vi selvsagt. På svensk sier kaninen forøvrig «Bajskorv», noe som visst stemmer bedre med den franske orginalen, men jeg tror nok at den norske oversetteren, Cornelius Jakhelln, har gjort det rette valget, for det er noe utrolig tilfredsstillende i å lese «Det var en gang en liten kanin som bare kunne si en ting» og så bla om til neste side og si, i  kor med treåringen, med fynd og klem: «Bæsj!»

Og det er da også bokas raison d’être, tilfredsstillelsen man (særlig de av oss som fortsatt av og til er tre år) får ved å si «Bæsj!» Det er i det hele tatt et ord som trykker på alle de rette knappene, og man kan si det kort og kraftig med gusto eller trekke ut æ’en slik at man virkelig får understreket det ekle – (b)ææææææsj.

Kort oppsummert er handlingen slik: En liten kanin sier aldri noe annet enn «bæsj». En dag spør en ulv om han kan spise kaninen og kaninen svarer selvsagt «bæsj», hvorpå ulven spiser ham. Etter det sier plutselig ulven også bare «bæsj». Men han får vondt i magen, og når legen – som er kaninens far – kommer skjønner han fort at ulven må ha spist den lille kaninen og haler ham ut av magen til ulven. Da kan kaninen plutselig konstruere kompliserte setninger og er nesten overdrevet høflig. Men neste dag sier han plutselig «Promp».

Jeg måtte love poden at vi skulle se etter et eget eksemplar av boka, så neste dag var vi innom et par bokhandlere for å lete. I den ene ble hen opptatt av andre bøker, men i nummer to, etter at vi hadde kikket litt i barneavdelingen, løp hen bort til en av de som jobbet der og ropte «Vi lete etter kaninen sier BÆSJ!» Dessverre hadde de den ikke, så vi måtte vente til vi kom tilbake til Trondheim etter påske med å skaffe oss dette mesterverket til egen hylle.

Dette er nok ikke en barnebok at den typen jeg ville kjøpt til meg selv. Illustrasjonene er sjarmerende og litt naivistiske, og jeg har særlig sans for ansiktsuttrykkene til ulven, men ikke av den typen som gir meg lyst til å kjøpe et ekstra eksemplar for å kunne demontere og henge bildene på veggen. Og selv om treåringen i meg synes det er svært så gøy å si «Bæsj!» med fynd og klem er det først og fremst podens glede over boka som gjør meg glad, det hadde ikke vært det samme å sitte der alene og si «Bæsj!» Hens begeistring strekker seg forøvrig til å kunne boka mer eller mindre utenat, slik at hen kan «lese» den for Max (dokka) og «lese» ordene sammen med oss når vi leser for hen. Pussig nok insisterer hen på å kalle ulven «rev» til tross for at hen altså kan resten av teksten nesten ordrett.

I det hele tatt er dette en bok som anbefales på det varmeste dersom du har en tre-åring i livet ditt.

Doktor Proktors prompepulver og Doktor Proktors tidsbadekar – Jo Nesbø

proktor1Jeg har selvsagt gått og siklet litt på Jo Nesbøs barnebøker siden de kom ut (figurativt, altså, bøker har jo slett ikke godt av fuktighet), men ikke kommet meg så langt som til å kjøpe dem. Jeg har vel tenkt at det er noen år til det er aktuellt å lese dem for ungen. Men så dukket de jo opp på Mammutsalget, og da var det jo ikke noe særlig å lure på.

Doktor Proktors prompepulver starter med at Lise kjeder seg fordi venninnen hennes har flyttet til Sarpsborg og de eneste andre barna i nabolaget Kanonveien er to bøllete gutter ved navn Trym og Truls, som er mer opptatt av å true og mobbe enn å leke. Så flytter det nye mennesker inn i det tomme huset, og yngstemann i familien viser seg å være på Lises alder. Han heter Bulle, har knallrødt hår og er veldig kortvokst. Bulle og Lise får kontakt med Doktor Proktor, som har bodd i Kanonveien lenge og som er en tilsynelatende mislykket oppfinner. Men nå har hann funnet opp et prompepulver, og moroa kan begynne.

Det er mye bra med Doktor Proktor-bøkene. Som hovedpersoner utfyller Lise og Bulle hverandre bra, Lise er typen som tenker før hun snakker, Bulle den mer spontane typen, men som regel lander han på beina. Doktoren selv er passe sprø og passe tilstede i forhold til at det ikke vil være ham lesergruppen først og fremst identifiserer seg med. Den underliggende tematikken handler om vennskap, annerledeshet og oppfinnsomhet. Stilen, særlig de heller absurde handlingselementene, minner mest av alt om Roald Dahl.

Selvsagt går alt bra til slutt, og de slemme får sin rettmessige straff, sterkt regulert av «poetic justice», også det et ekko av Dahls bøker.

proktor2I bok nummer to har Doktor Proktor reist til Paris for å forsøke å finne igjen sin tapte kjærlighet, en dame ved navn Juliette. Lise mottar et kryptisk postkort fra ham, og etterhvert blir det klart at Lise og Bulle er nødt til å reise til Paris for å redde doktoren, som tydeligvis har rotet seg bort ved hjelp av tittelens tidsbadekar.

Spenningsnivået er høyere her enn i den første boka, jeg ble faktisk sittende oppe lenge etter at jeg hadde planlagt å legge meg fordi jeg var «nødt til» å lese ferdig. Historien er forøvrig like innfløkt og oppfinnsom som i «prompeboka». Også her får de slemme sin straff og de snille sin belønning, men vi blir også introdusert for konseptet «slemming som gjør opp for seg», og jeg synes det er bra med litt gråsoner, også i barnebøker. Ikke alle kan leve lykkelig hele tiden.

Hvis jeg skulle ha en innvendig mot Proktor-bøkene er det at likhetene til Roald Dahls barnebøker nesten blir i meste laget for meg. Jeg tror ikke jeg hadde stusset dersom samme manus hadde blitt presentert for meg som noe noen hadde funnet på loftet hos Dahl-familien. Per Dybvigs illustrasjon hjelper ikke, heller, fordi de minner om Quentin Blakes, blandt annet i bruk av overdrevne kroppsfasonger og fysiske aspekter for å understreke et poeng. Helheten føles nesten som pastiche og jeg blir sittende og lure litt på hvor bevisst det egentlig er. Samtidig føles det litt feil å klage over likhetene. Illustrasjonsstilen er allikevel orginal, og illustrasjonene føles helt perfekte for boka. Og hva angår fortellingen er det unektelig sånn at det ikke finnes nok Roald Dahl-bøker i verden og at Dahl selv desverre ikke er i stand til å skrive fler, så hvorfor skulle jeg klage når Nesbø gjør en så utmerket jobb?

Nå ja. I det store og hele hadde jeg det svært så hyggelig med disse bøkene, og jeg ser fram til å kunne lese dem for ungen når hen blir et år eller tre eldre.

Baby Einsteins’ Former og farger (Shapes and colours) – a review, with some observations on the concept in general thrown in

Oh, the horrors you have to suffer through as a parent! Not only does the word «worry» take on a whole new meaning (I still check on the lass to see if she’s still breathing. She’s pushing two, now. Quite possibly I’ll still be doing it when she pushes eighteen), you are subjected to the strangest products designed to entertain your child. Unfortunately, mum and dad are still the child’s favourite toy, and so no matter how exciting a product may be you still tend to end up taking part in whatever activity it involves.

When it comes to books, you’d think I wouldn’t mind. Well, I do and don’t. I like reading with the lass, but like all toddlers she prefers to read the same books over and over and over, and though I reread books all the time, I tend to leave a little more than an hour between readings. I therefore attempt to achieve a nice mixture between reading the same books over and over again and discovering new ones. To that end we visited the library a few weeks ago. One of the books we took home was Baby Einsteins’ Former og farger (literally: Shapes and colours). The lass liked the illustrations. So far so good. Mum has some problems with it, though.

Former og farger

First: Shapes AND colours? Ok, so the shapes are very colourful and I can name them when reading, however the only actual mention of colour in the whole book is in relation to triangles when the goat says his horns are triangular and yellow. So colours? Not so much. The English version of the book seems to be called See and Spy Shapes, so that deals with part of the problem (i.e. the Norwegian editors committed a SNAFU). To continue in the gripy vein, though, why «See» AND «Spy»? Aren’t they synonyms in this context? Well, ok, children like repetition, I grant you, so we’ll move quietly on…

Gule horn

Second: Shapes. Another blooper – I assume – from the Norwegian editors. «Square» is translated «firkant». Not wrong, as such, just very imprecise. Firkant means, literally «four sides», i.e. it can refer to any quadrilateral. The correct translation, geometrically, for square, is «kvadrat». Had the squares been the only quadrilaterals in the book I might not have given it a second thought, but rectangles and diamonds are also given a mention. The fact that most Norwegians use firkant to mean square matters to me not one jot, it is still not the correct term.

Third: Shapes. Again. Stars, this time. I do not dispute that that is how we generally represent a star and that that shape is called star, but is it necessary to teach kids that that is what the stars in the night sky look like? Because, duh, they don’t.

Stjerner

Yes, I’m splitting hairs. I wouldn’t mind (much)  if this was any old children’s board book. But by taking the name Einstein the company is asking for it. I don’t particularly want the lass to be the next Einstein, Curie, Fert or Grünberg, but I do try to avoid teaching her things that she will have to unlearn later.

We’ve handed the book back to the library, now, and I don’t think we’ll be buying a copy.

And on the subject of Einsteins, Little Einsteins is shown here at «barne-tv», the children’s hour on the state channel. I have several other gripes when it comes to that show, but they also contain these stupid, well, they can hardly be called mistakes, really, so lets call them unsound premises. The most recent example came just the other day when the gang were helping a pet called «Melody» find its ticket for the pet train. They stumble into Monets garden at some point and Melody ends up out in the lake, walking on the waterlily leaves. The gang need to rescue her, and do so with the help (or not) of the viewers by conducting Melody’s melody making her (him?) jump from leaf to leaf. Fine, you say? Well, yes, except the melody needs to be conducted quickly or slowly depending on how fast the leaves are moving up and down the lake. Anything strike you as odd in that scenario?

Of course it’s not the end of the world, but it’s so unneccesary. Especially in a show that purports to teach the kids things. Fine, so the kids may recognise Monets waterlilies next time they see them (though somehow I doubt it), but couldn’t they try to not in the process teach the kids things that are pure nonsense?

Since the middle of February

The Tale of Desperaux – Di Collofello
Very sweet. Not exceptionally good, though, and with an underlying sort of morality which bothered me. Since I rather like rats I objected to the description of them being so nasty to look at and touch (especially in comparison with mice, which are, apparently, not nasty at all), but I can understand how it might be necessary for the story. However, I can’t quite excuse the idea that a rat is a rat and can never change his nature, it smacks – to me – a little of the I’m-trying-to-be-politically-correct-but-I’m-a-racist-really premise that all, say, negroes are lazy, but it’s in their nature and they can’t really help it. Balderdash.

Small Wars Permitting – Christina Lamb
Very interesting, highly readable. My father just finished this when I was trying to get through Sorting Out Billy (see below) and there was no competition, really, I jumped at the chance to read something else. Lamb manages to be both informative, profound and thought-provoking and at the same time laugh-out-loud funny in places. The book contains both newly written context material and quite a few of Lambs articles from various papers and both are equally readable and absorbing. Highly recommended.

Then, a bit of a Durrell reread going on – in between all the other stuff – if I find the time and energy I might write a more detailed post on Durrell, but for now, here’s a list:
The Bafut Beagles – Gerald Durrell
Fillets of Plaice – Gerald Durrell
The Stationary Ark – Gerald Durrell
A Zoo in my Luggage – Gerald Durrell
Catch me a Colobus – Gerald Durrell
The Dunken Forest – Gerald Durrell
Himself and Other Animals – David Hughes (biography)

Sorting Out Billy – Jo Brand
I read only the first half, or thereabouts and then gave it up in disgust. Abysmally bad, actually.

The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly
Entertaining, slightly scary in parts. Well worth the time.

Anybody Out There? – Marian Keyes
Excellent. I was a little worried, not being a great fan of spiritualism and trying to speak to the dead, however, Keyes managed the issue beautifully, I think, and I didn’t cringe even once.

Slam – Nick Hornby
Hornby’s first «young adult» novel, which probably should be compulsory reading for most British teenagers as a sort of literary contraception. Not Hornby’s best book – by far – from an adult point of view, but then that’s hardly the right point of view for judging it.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Superb.

A Ramble Round the Globe – Thomas Dewar
Disappointingly unoccupied with whisky or with advertising, the two main reasons I am interested in Tommy Dewar, but a rather interesting read nonetheless.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – Bill Bryson
Just what you’d expect from Bill Bryson: Very good.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator was also picked out of a box because the husband hadn’t read it. Well, now he has. And I’ve reread it. It’s pretty much as enjoyable now as it was way back when. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a strange book, but I think Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is just that little bit stranger.

Inkheart – Cornelia Funke

Another bookcrossing goodie arrived in my mailbox this week, and caused another pause in the book I’m supposed to be reading. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is pretty much just what a good book ought to be, it draws you in and keeps you interested enough to make putting it down difficult (towards the end, well nigh impossible). And, of course, it’s an adventure involving books and reading. Could it get any better?

(The book’s bookcrossing journal)

A Wrinkle in Time

Another bookcrossing rabck, A Wrinkle in Time made it smile when it arrived in my mailbox and it made me smile again as I read it (except just at the end when it made me tear up – I’m a stickler for sentimental endings). I’ve been hearing Madeleine L’Engle’s name mentioned in discussions also involving such books as The Chronicles of Narnia for years, and so I was rather curious to find out what mettle she was made of. And I can tell you it’s very good mettle indeed. The plot and characters are engaging, the language and the concepts used or invented complex enough to make it interesting reading for adults while not so difficult that a 10-year-old wouldn’t be able to handle it.

(my copy’s bookcrossing journal)

Update

(Here is one I prepared earlier, i.e. last night:) This is not good. The diary seems to be stopping me from updating this reading log (would that be a rlog or a glog, I wonder?). I will try to improve the frequency, especially because this is going to have to be some post to get me up to date…

Hornblower… Finished the series. Thought once again what a pity it was that there are only 10 books. Reflected that I am glad there are 20 Aubrey/Maturin books (O’Brian), especially since they are infinitely better than Forester’s books, although there should have been more. There should always be more books, good ones, that is.

Read some more Sayers. Thrones, Dominations arrived, so I dropped everything to read that. Kjetil was a bit miffed, as he was visiting that week, and I became rather engrossed. Lovely book. I don’t think I would have noticed that it wasn’t all Sayers’ work if I hadn’t known (it was finished by Jill Paton Walsh), and also suspect that the bits I did wonder at were probably Sayers’ own. At least considering JPW’s statement that the majority of the letters she’s had saying «that’s not the way Sayers would have wanted it» actually referred to Sayers’ own passages.

And, of course, I’ve been reading No Logo. It really is highly recommended. Even if you don’t want to get involved in actual activism, and even if a boycott of all the brands that deserve being boycotted is virtually impossible (unless you start producing everything yourself), knowing why others become activists and exercising a little bit of consumer awareness when shopping is no bad thing. And if you think, as I vaguely did, that the main focus of the book is the exploitation of the «third world», you really should read it. The main impression I am left with is that the so-called globalisation is not only an economic and ecological threat, first and foremost it is a cultural threat. Corporate thinking is taking over our cultural space. That can’t be good. Read the book!

On a lighter note, I got hold of India Knight’s (my favourite columnist) new novel, Don’t You Want Me. It is a vast improvement on her first, My Life on a Plate, and that is very good, so this is rockin’. The most enoyable parts of Don’t You Want Me are, in fact, the parts that are most like her columns, rants of various kinds on any topic that happens to be remotely related to the plot. There are also a couple of hilarious scenes when the main character takes her toddler to an extremely PC playgroup. I suspect, however, that the reason I liked it so much more than the first one, is that this has a perfectly happy ending of the «and they lived happily ever after» sort. I like happy endings.

The new job gives me plenty of bus-time to read. It makes up for the fact that getting to work now takes 45-50 minutes instead of 20-30. So I read Populärmusik från Vittula on the bus. Risky stuff, as it’s of LOL quality, and that sort of thing tends to startle the other passengers. Apart from being side-achingly funny, it is a very enjoyable book on many levels (though enjoyable might be the wrong word, it’s rather tragic in a way), and fully deserves all the attention that’s been lavished on it in the Scandinavian media lately (and how often does that happen?).

This weekend I read Arthemis Fowl, after having put it off for ages, thinking I probably wouldn’t like it much. I finally caved in (due to the «what to read while waiting for Harry Potter 5» hype), hoping to be proved wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. It’s decently written, but suffers from a severe lack of likeable characters. People talk about Harry Potter being immoral and bad for children, well, what about a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind? How moral is that. Ok, so he loves his mother and he has a soft spot, preferring not to kill people (or fairies), but that really does not make him sympathetic. And the other characters aren’t much better. By the end of the story I was rooting for something to go wrong and blow up and kill everyone involved so the rest of the world could get on with it, and good riddance. NOT a book I will put on my «what to recommend to children (of any age)» list (notice that I have NOT linked to this book).

I’ve also read, of all things, a couple of so-called «erotic classics», The Story of O, which was more disturbing than erotic, really, and Uten en tråd (Jens Bjørneboe). I can see why the latter caused a stir when it was published in the latter half of the 60ies, but in a way I also wonder at it, because it is so obviously written to provoke. I thought I’d read Mykle next, the other serious Norwegian author tried in court for publishing obscene/pornographic material. Unlike Bjørneboe, Mykle apparently was caught unawares by the hullaballoo, he was simply trying to write good literature. Hopefully that will mean the books are better worth reading, and possibly have an actual plot (I like plots).

This Saturday saw me on the prowl for more Saxegaard books, and I had amazing luck at one of the second-hand book-shops at Majorstua, where I found the last Ina-book, Ina og Ingolf (which means I’m now down to missing only four Ina books to complete the collection). Obviously, that’s what I read Saturday evening.

I’m sure I’ve left something out, this doesn’t actually seem like a lot for one-and-a-half month’s reading. I’ve watched a lot of television, though (bad girl!), and I’ve read at least one trashy romance of average quality (no, I’m not going to tell you the title, there’s no point, they’re pretty much all the same anyway).

Right now I’m in one of those «too many books at once» moods, where I have a hard time settling down to one book, because there’s so many others I’d like to be reading at the same time. Consequently, I read a chapter of one and then swap to another one and then back and then to a third, and sometimes end up just turning the television on instead (which is quite stupid, really, as that’s just going to postpone the finishing of the books further). Anyhow, I am currently in the middle of the following:
Two Feet, Four Paws, the travelogue by a girl, Spud, who, with her dog, Tess, walked the coastline of Britain in order to raise money for Shelter. Very enjoyable, though I have not yet come to Scotalnd, which was what I was looking for when I bought the book (trying to read as much about Scotland as I can before I go in September).
The Port-Wine Sea, by Susan Wenger, fellow O’Brian fan and member of the Gunroom – the book being a parody on the beloved series. Immensely satisfying.
Hele verden er min, Annik Saxegaard – another of Saturday’s finds.
Big Chief Elizabeth, by Giles Milton, is reminding me why I so seldom read history. Despite being avidly interested in the subject, I tend to find «proper» history books too heavy going (remember I do a lot of reading on the bus and such places), on the other hand, «popularisations» like this are just too lightweight – I keep looking for more depth, more source references, more detail, more critical reflection (not PC condemnation of anything resembling racism and sweeping generalisations).
Sangen om den røde rubin (Song of the Red Ruby), Agnar Mykle – as mentioned above, I’m only a few pages in, though, so no opinions to vent yet.
Those, as well as several others, including Min son fäktas mot världen by Björn Ranelid, which I stranded in half-way through sometime around Christmas and still really want to finish (I was enjoying it before I got stuck), but can’t quite work up enthusiasm for. We’ll see. I’ve also got the Chaim Potok biography by Abramson on the table, and I want to get started on it in order to write a proper Potok page for the bookshelves – there is very little good information on Potok on the web, and I feel I ought to at least try to remedy it somewhat.

Updates will (probably) follow once any (or all) are finished.