Sunday, January 12, 2014

Waffle Hearts Lena and me in Mathildewich Cove by Maria Parr translated by Guy Puzey

Late last year I attended a Christmas function with Alison Lester as the after dinner speaker (more about her book Sophie Scott goes South soon) and while I was there a friend of mine gave me Waffle Hearts.  This has turned out to be a lovely present.

I liked the look of this little hard cover book straight away.  The textured cloth cover reminded me of books from my long ago childhood and I do find myself drawn to books that have been translated especially books from Scandinavia.  Waffle Hearts is a Norwegian book but oddly one of  two the main characters - Lena is exactly like the famous Swedish character Pippi Longstocking.  Lena also reminds me a little of Violet Mackerel and Gooney Bird Greene.

There are twenty chapters in this volume and each one is a self contained story narrated by her friend Trille. His real name is Theobald Rodrik Danielsen Yttergard but everyone calls him Trille.

"(Lena's) my best friend, even if she is a girl.  I have never told her. I don't dare, as I don't know if I am her best friend. Sometimes I think I am, and sometimes I think I'm not.  It depends.  But I do wonder about it."

Lena is fearless and always on the look out for an adventure.  I think my favourite incident comes in chapter four when Lena decided to re-enact the story of Noah's ark using her Uncle's small fishing boat.  Trille as usual is doubtful this will work but he is a loyal friend and so the pair round up various farm animals, wild animals and even insects in jam jars.  Everything goes smoothly until Lena declares they need a cow.  "In the middle of the gangplank, with the heifer in front of us, we suddenly discovered that the goat was eating the curtains in the cabin.  Lena let out a furious scream, and from that moment everything went wrong ... "

While there are many, many very funny incidents in this story there are also moments of great sadness such as when Aunty Granny - the maker of delicious waffle hearts - dies suddenly and when Lena moves away
and breaks Trille's heart.  Do not worry though the ending of the whole book is so perfect it will make you smile.  I also want to mention the grandfather who is a very special character in this book. He still has the ability to participate in imaginative play and when the parents are away there is great fun to be had.

You might like to read this warm and detailed review.  You can also read an extract from the story here.  There is a television series based on this book but I suspect it is in Norwegian.  As I have done previously with translated books I am including the Norwegian cover here so you can compare it.

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