Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1909— the first woman to be so honored— Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf (1858–1940) was a gifted storyteller whose writings were often tinged with the supernatural and rooted in the sagas and legends of her homeland.
She secured her reputation as a children’s-book author with The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, long considered a masterpiece of children’s literature. Written at the request of Swedish school authorities and first published in 1906, it is the enchanting and remarkably original tale of Nils Holgersson, a mischievous boy of 14 who is changed by an elf into a tiny being able to understand the speech of birds and animals.
Wonderful is just the right word for remarkable story. Selma Lagerlöf was already one of Sweden’s most renowned authors when she was asked to create a new reader for Swedish schools. What she fashioned broke all the rules – no more disconnected little stories, no more reading for the sake of learning to read! No, she brought her full talent as an outstanding storyteller to bear on the project and created a 17 chapter book that told children a tale from beginning to end. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is that book, and it is just as delightful today as it was at the turn of the century when it was written.
Nils is a boy who can think of no one but himself. This so annoys a dwarf that he shrinks Nils as punishment for his selfishness. Tiny Nils finds himself carried off by a flock of geese on their way to the far north. Through his long adventures to get back home, Nils learns to know and respect both humans and the life of nature. As they fly over the countryside with Nils, children will discover an abundance of information about nature, geography, folklore, animal life and more. Ages 7 to 11.
A short note about this edition: many of you know that we used to carry the large-format, illustrated edition of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Recently, we discovered a very inexpensive, domestically produced edition and decided to take a look, thinking that a choice in cost would be a happy thing for many. I reviewed that book with trepidation, wondering if it was abridged from what I thought was the original. What a surprise— it was the expensive copy that had excised much of Selma Lagerlöf’s prose! We have decided to discontinue the large volume in favor of this unpretentous edition that preserves every bit of the author’s magic. It is the identical translation as our previous edition— but every word is intact. You and your children won’t need large, color pictures, Selma Lagerlöf’s words will transport you on clouds of imagination.