Friday, January 13, 2012

Understad* (for Understand*)

Edith Unnerstad was born in Helsingfors, Finland, in 1900 and died in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1982. Finland, I've been given to understand, as well as Scandinavia in general, produces some marvelous children's writers. Finland was the home of Tove Jansson, mother of the Moomintrolls; Denmark, of course, gave us Hans Christian Andersen; and Sweden has a long tradition of such writers, including Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi Longstocking. Pippi, as you probably recall, lived happily without benefit of parents or siblings, although she did share her spacious abode with a monkey and a horse. By contrast, Edith Unnerstad's Larsson family consists of seven children and two adults coexisting in rather tight quarters. According to the publisher of The Saucepan Journey, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin (who also did the drawings for Pysen and Little O): "The background is of cramped living and the housing shortages of Stockholm in the 1940s where families with many children were often denied housing." Understandably enough, we found 11 examples of Understad* in OhioLINK today and 144 in WorldCat.

(Edith Unnerstad, ca. 1960, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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