Manny's Reviews > Stackars Pettson

Stackars Pettson by Sven Nordqvist
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Aug 23, 2010

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bookshelves: children, well-i-think-its-funny, swedish-norwegian-and-danish
Read in August, 2010

A charming Swedish children's book about depression. Pettson is an eccentric farmer who lives alone with his manic cat Findus - there is a whole series, and one can safely assume that this won't be the first time the reader has met them. Usually Pettson is no worse than grumpy and a little out of it, but now he's suddenly got no energy at all. He sits listless and dejected, with a symbolic rain cloud hovering over his head. (The artwork tends to be on the magical realist side). Findus does his best to cheer him up with his usual mad antics, but all that happens is that Pettson yells at him. This shocks both the man and the cat. Pettson apologises, but then just reverts to his apathetic state.

But Findus isn't beaten yet. He knows exactly what Pettson needs, and starts a clever campaign to persuade him that he should take his boat and go fishing on the lake. Fishing, Pettson! Fishing is funnnn!!! My favourite picture is the one where the cat is sitting in the washing-up bowl and pretending it's the boat, as he play-acts fishing on the living room floor and catches imaginary pike out of the rug.

After a while, he coaxes a grudging smile out of the farmer. Aha! It's starting to work! And, sure enough, Pettson laboriously hauls himself out of his chair and gets his fishing rod. They set off through the late October forest with Findus in Pettson's backpack and go down to the water.


As they sit in the boat, Findus notes to his satisfaction that Pettson is now almost back to his usual self. He doesn't need to do anything else - the sunlight and fresh air will take care of it for him. And, indeed, when they set off home with two freshly-caught perch, everything is okay again.

You will gather that SAD is a big problem in Sweden, and kids need to learn about it early on.
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09/26/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by notgettingenough (last edited Aug 23, 2010 12:45AM) (new)

notgettingenough Ah, how interesting. I thought maybe if you were used to a climate that was relatively sunless you wouldn't be affected that way.

I only recently learned the acronym SAD, we've always called it winter blues, but it isn't, of course, just a winter thing. When I'm in Melbourne in Spring it is often grey and it is so hard to stop feeling grey when the sky is grey.

Manny The melancholy of Autumn is a big theme in Scandinavia. If you want the musical version, check out Tove Jansson's Höstvisa.

message 3: by notgettingenough (last edited Aug 23, 2010 03:20AM) (new)

notgettingenough Manny wrote: "The melancholy of Autumn is a big theme in Scandinavia. If you want the musical version, check out Tove Jansson's Höstvisa."

The melancholy of autumn would not work in Australia where it is a lovely season, maybe the nicest.

It's funny, although I was quite clearly from a young age a person who needs the sun - and is transformed by it, as you observed a little while ago in Geneva - I never consciously realised this until quite recently. If you'd asked me as a child, I would have said I loved winter, and yet my report cards constantly showed worse grades and teachers were for ever wondering where the joyously happy little thing was, hidden behind winter sadness.

Manny I love that picture too! Are you Swedish? Malin låter ju ganska svenskt :)

Manny Hur gammal var du när du flyttade till Texas?

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