Middle Grade Classics: Seacrow Island
Title: Seacrow Island
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Publication Info: Kindle Edition NYR Children's Collection, 2015. First English edition, Viking Books for Young Readers, 1969 (original Swedish publication 1964). 287 pages.
Source: Library digital services
Tiny Seacrow Island is one of hundreds of islands in the sparkling blue of the Baltic Sea. Though small, it has everything you’d want in an island: woods to wander in, flowers to pick, fish to catch, boats to sail in, all kinds of animals. But it doesn’t have very many young people. So when the four Melkerson kids and their father move into Carpenter’s Cottage one June day, they’re immediately welcomed by the resourceful islanders: Johan and Niklas Melkerson, at twelve and thirteen, are natural companions for adventurous Freddy and Teddy (girls exactly their age); dreamy Pelle, the baby of the family, gets up to trouble with bossy Tjorven and fanciful Stina; and ever-responsible Malin, who at nineteen looks after her scatterbrained father as well as her brothers, catches the eye of all the island’s young men. Before long Seacrow Island and Carpenter’s Cottage (tumbledown and leaky though it may be) have become a real home for the Melkersons.
Seacrow Island is a remarkable story, filled with sweetness and sorrow, humor and suspense, and peopled with the vivid, unexpected, wonderfully winning characters we’ve come to expect from the creator of the unforgettable Pippi Longstocking.
I no longer remember exactly why this was on my TBR list--I saw it somewhere and thought it sounded charming. And, indeed, it is. I haven't read Pippi for a long time, but this felt better to me than I remembered Pippi (as a child I always worried about the trouble she was getting Tommy and Annika into). Compared to most modern children's books, the story is slower-moving, more about a feel for a wonderful place, maybe creating a fantasy of that wonderful summer life on a magical island. But in the end, it had a lot more plot than I expected, and every bit as much charm as promised.
There are a lot of characters, and the author moves the point of view among them scene by scene, but never in a way to confuse the reader, and for me it created a feeling that every one of the children was important, and deserving of attention. If pressed to pick the main characters, I'd choose three: Pelle, Tjorven, and Malin. It may be a bit odd to have an almost-adult as one of the main characters, and we don't see things so much from her adult perspective most of the time, but her changes and development are definitely central to the story.
Read it for a calming dip into a more peaceful time. There are adventures, but nothing madcap as Pippi Longstocking delivers. I found it a soothing read.