Nils-Johan Jørgensen is a master teller of folk tales for children which draw on myth and legend from cultures around the world. His first collection; North of the North Wind included four stories based on Nordic fairy tales, set in curious dreamscapes. His second, East of the East Wind, incorporate oriental themes and lore to create beguiling modern-day fables. West of the West Wind continues the series in the same tradition, featuring three beautifully illustrated stories; The Library, Wolves and the Silence of the Sail. This time, our heroes face adversarial situations and malevolent foes which challenge every bit of their strength and courage. Dark and foreboding, these stories will appeal to older children’s love of the bizarre and sinister.
For me Norway and nature are synonymous, situated at the edge of things. This mystical place conjures up frozen wastes, surrealness and a certain mournfulness that is at once as pleasing as it is anguishing. Michael Avery’s art work which accompanies each story complements this feeling and is wonderfully rendered. The pencil drawings show the contrast of nature and humans vividly.
Former diplomat Nils-Johan Jørgensen has successfully managed to combine these traits into his latest collection of stories in a way that will appeal to both adults and children. With its focus on the human ideals and the misdirection that life constantly throws at us.
The first story is set in World War II, following a boy attempting to stop books being burned and focusses on the themes of confusion, fear, censorship and loss but also exudes a love of words and thoughts upon the legacy of humanity. A constant running throughout the book is that circumstances are not always as they appear to be, preconceptions are usually proved wrong in a gentle way, reminding us of the flaws of preconception in our minds and lives. Read the rest of this entry »