Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent Treat 2: Ollie's Ski Trip... a book review

Ollie's Ski Trip (Mini Edition)

Our Winter Books basket was hiding another new book today!  Ollie's Ski Trip, by Elsa Beskow [author of Children of the Forest] is a mini-edition, in a sweet small size and yet still possessing easy-to-read text and detailed illustrations. 

Once again, the kids sat around with rapt attention as we started this fresh story.

Ollie is a little boy who loves wintertime.  He has lovely new snow skis, all ready to be tried out.  His only problem: there is no snow.  "Will it ever come this year?" Ollie wonders.

After much watching and waiting, snow finally falls the week before Christmas.  And because this story is set somewhere in the far North, the snowing doesn't stop for two whole days and nights, until "everything was covered with a thick white blanket."

Ollie is, of course, wildly excited and after eating his breakfast, he stuffs a sandwich into both pockets [at this point Righty informed me he would have put both sandwiches in one pocket and a bag of licorice in  the other!] puts on his skis and ventures out into the forest, which is so beautiful that Ollie is overcome with wonder.  He says to himself, "Thank you, King Winter.  I'm so glad you came!"

With that, his fantastical adventures in the forest begin.  The first person he meets is Jack Frost, who offers to take Ollie to meet King Winter.  They stop momentarily while Jack Frost chases away Mrs Thaw, Winter's cleaning lady, who has turned up too early.

It doesn't take long for them to arrive at King Winter's palace, which is built of snow and guarded by two polar bears.  Inside the palace, King Winter sits on a huge throne of ice.  Ollie is a little afraid at first, "but then King Winter smiled, and his eyes gleamed like the northern lights."  He kindly quizzes Ollie about skiing, tobogganing, and skating, then asks if Ollie would like to look round his palace.

Of course Ollie does, so he follows Jack Frost around on a quick tour.  In one room, "little people" are making ski boots and knitting thick socks.  In another, girls are knitting and embroidering ski mitts; and in the next, a workshop, boys are crafting skis, toboggans, sledges, and skate blades.  When Ollie asks one of the boys why they're all so busy, the boy replies that they're finishing presents for everyone for Christmas!

Right after, a gong sounds and all the children rush out, Ollie included, to play in the snow. "Everyone wanted to play with Ollie and he joined in with everything."

Soon it's time for Ollie to go home, which he does with the help of Jack Frost and a reindeer.  And of course, on Christmas morning, what should appear for Ollie but a pair of magnificent skates!

The book closes with Ollie's gradual acceptance that eventually Mrs Thaw does arrive quite legitimately to sweep up Winter before Spring comes "driving up in her airy carriage drawn by white butterflies".

We enjoyed this latest addition to our collection of Elsa Beskow books.  Her illustrations are always enjoyable and a realistic portrayal of the mix of fantasy and real-life that she writes about.  I love the way she creates a believable fairy world, so enchanting for both children and adults, with words and pictures.  

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