The Glassblower’s Children

by | Sep 22, 2021 | Book Review, Fiction, Illustrated book, Translation

The Glassblower's Children (cover)

Book Details

The Glassblower’s Children
Maria Gripe, illus. Harald Gripe, transl. Sheila La Farge. New York: The New York Review of Books, pb, 978 1 6813 7378 2, 2019, £8.99, 176pp.
Illustrated book, fiction, 8-12 years

Albert the glassblower and Sofia are little Klas and Klara’s loving parents. Albert’s exquisite glass bowls and vases do not sell until a nobleman purchases his wares. 

However, there is a sense of foreboding as he has no children of his own.How will the tale unfold and will the children be safe? What part will a one-eyed Raven and a Wise Woman they encounter play?

First published in 1964 by the 1974 winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, Maria Gripe, The Glassblower’s Children is a haunting fairytale echoing Norse myth and folklore with a one-eyed raven, Wise Wit, and a wise woman, Flutter Mildweather, weaver of rugs that foretell the future. Albert, the unsuccessful, unambitious, highly skilled glassblower is married to Sofia, who works in the fields to support the family, and has a son, Klas, and daughter, Klara. Their encounter with Lord and Lady of All Wishes Town has unhappy consequences involving kidnap and much smashing of glass.

Harald Gripe’s black and white scraperboard illustrations capture the events and characters vividly. Employed to teach the children, Nanny is an evil presence of grotesque proportions, constantly guzzling and sleeping, who is finally overcome by none other than her sister, Flutter.

A gripping, chilling tale, universality makes this relevant to today’s reader as we ponder the significance of family love, finding meaningful work, the difference between what you wish for and what you need. This is a welcome reprint for the imaginative and curious.

Review by Susan Bailes