In a village somewhere far in the far north live Lily, Bear and Pani. Their lives are full of curiosity and wonder, as they go out to explore the undiscovered world revealed in a dream, try to unravel the mystery behind the enigmatic prophecies in a story told to them by their mother, go off sailing alone at night in an orange boat to show their independence, or investigate the disappearance of a beloved friend.
North of the North Wind is an illustrated collection of four children’s stories which draw on myths and family history and are written with a folk-tale feel, so that the surprising and the unforeseen are the norm. The stories have different settings and contain dreams and prophecies, family history, mystery, puzzles and riddles, animals, danger and adventure at sea, all woven together with imagination and a sense of wonder.
Nils-Johan Jorgensen creates a sort of dream landscape, full of colourful pictures and quirky corners, with all the originality and unexpectedness of the best folk tales. North of the North Wind is a delightful treat for imaginative children everywhere, especially those aged seven to ten.
A jaunt into Scandinavia is always a welcome thing and sadly this one was over all too quickly, despite slowing my reading so as to thoroughly enjoy the stories therein, alas it had to come to an end. Balancing the short duration of the book though is that I now get to introduce the book to you, which is handy for a site about books.
The first line is my favourite and coincidentally is the perfect introduction to Jørgensen’s world:
In a small village school north of the north wind a new magic world was opening. The children were learning to write.
It’s such a great opening and exudes the feeling of so many different adventures just waiting to be created and read. It’s that lightness, the feeling one gets at the start of a journey to explore the unknown that keeps us enchanted and is the perfect way to kick-start these gentle adventures.
The four stories are varied and distinctive, each of which retains the thread of innocent curiosity about the world that can only come from the experiences of three children learning and attempting to understand life. At its heart the book is more than just four stories for children, it’s a treat that adults will love as well, combining many elements to form a well-rounded reading experience for all the family.
With plenty of vivid imagination, each page underlines how simple ideas – especially in nature – can be captured and turned into wonderful things – most notably through the eyes of children – and free us from the everyday grind. Some books retain that enjoyment of the first read over the course of years and this is one such book, together with the other volumes West of the West Wind and East of the East Wind (a review coming later in the year) it makes a fine series so far.