Keeping to the theme of going back to school, here’s a review of a book meant for those still having to find their desks quickly once that bell rings!
For the most part, nine year-old Trille has an idyllic childhood in rural Norway. His life is a series of never-ending adventures with his neighbor and best friend Lena. She’s far more daring and impulsive, but that doesn’t stop Trille from joining in on the fun. From snarfing down waffles to pretending to be spies to using, ahem, creative license in crafting a bonfire decoration to sledding with a chicken, they never lack for a good time. Trille can’t imagine life without Lena causing mayhem and mischief at every turn. Still, Trille harbors a disheartening suspicion that Lena is far more indifferent to him. She is his best friend, but is he her best friend?
This book first came to my attention over a year ago when I was researching possible selections for the tween book club. Due to my well-documented love for all things Scandinavian and my less well-documented love for waffles, I instantly wanted to read the book. It took me a while to get a copy (Thanks, Julie!), but it was well worth the wait.
This book has substantially less murder than most books I read that are set in Norway, but it definitely has a very Scandinavian sense of humor. For that reason, it’s a little odd and even downright absurd at times, which certainly isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it’s absolutely adorable if it is up your alley. In fact, reading the book reminded me a lot of the Pippi Longstocking’s adventures, which I read an inordinate amount of as a child.
The novel is largely an episodic collection of Lena and Trille’s adventures, but there is also the overarching theme of Trille’s doubts and questions about whether or not Lena values him as much as he values her. That (and the loss of a beloved older relative) adds a poignant note to the boisterous action scenes, and author Maria Parr interweaves the differing tones well. The depiction of their friendship is well-done, with Parr getting the dynamics just right. As a result, Trille and Lena seem like believable children with a believable friendship.
I’ve read some Scandinavian novels in translation that have cumbersome, awkward prose, but that was not the case with this book. The translation was smooth and easy-to-read while still preserving the Norwegian atmosphere. And the folk art that appears on the cover and accompanies each chapter opening is amazing!
If you love children’s literature or know a kid in need of a good book, give Adventures with Waffles a try! It’s a delightful book! As always, just follow this link to our online library catalog for more information.
Recommended if you enjoy Pippi Longstocking.
Do you like reading children’s books? Whose your favorite fictional child protagonist? Do you like waffles? Tell us in the comments!