L ennart Hellsing always took his young readers seriously, without ever losing the playfulness. SvD’s Erika Hallhagen mourn a loved wordsmith and poet – whose works are able to attract giggle even in the darkest moments.
I do not know how you are doing to cope up in the mornings, those dark, wet, hopeless November mornings. Winter white blanket liberating never seem to put themselves across Stockholm. The world around us is about to fall apart, so many people are displaced and as many countries are closing their borders to them. I’m not fleeing, yet it is so hard to keep the darkness away. It is as if to take care of my own children almost becomes a selfish act when there are so many others who are ill.
To my help, I sagas. Songs. Every morning we put on the album “Songs and rhymes in Hellsingland”. Mr. Cucumber rolls out over the breakfast table, Krakel spectacle and Cousin Vitamin throws himself in the curtains, the triangular old man sitting there on his stool and playing harmonica and dancing out all sorrows with “skrim and rattling and tjo and hope”.
There are so many times I have thought that I should write a postcard to Lennart Hellsing and tell how he saves our mornings. I have even bought one, Poul Ströyers Krakel spectacle beats his drum on the front. I thought that the children themselves could write, or I would do it, with such where snirkligt Funniest style Hellsing himself used when he wrote his autograph in children’s books.
Now it’s too late. The night of Wednesday 25 November died Lennart Hellsing. He was 96 years old, so it was well expected, but there was something so immortal about him that I still find it so hard to take in the news.
It was quiet at times but then he showed up there again in her colorful costume, as if nothing had happened. Undeterred he signed book after book during Berwaldhallen “Singalong Hellsing” exactly a year ago. He wrote a new later than last year – “Shoes,” with illustrations by Fibben Hald. “I often think of shoes and how they go around with people, but they might want to do it,” he said as I pulled on my boots after a story a few years ago.
And at Easter, he was interviewed by the Times about his proportioned smoking habits, the newspaper noted that Hellsing probably belonged to the 15 percent of people whose genes protects them against cardiovascular disease regardless of whether they smoke or not.
Lennart Hellsing was a magician. There is not any Swedish writer who plays as good with words as he is. He never got the Alma-price is quite inexplicable. Perhaps he was too mixed up in the world – his little book “Thoughts on Children Literature” (1963) is a bible for young culture-reviewers, and his large book collection forms the basis of Swedish children’s institute on Odengatan – which he helped found 50 years since. To celebrate his 90th birthday was instituted in 2009 Lennart Hellsing Prize, which according to the author Directive should go “to the person who knows that without poetry, language is without life, and life without flowers.”
In the same way Astrid Lindgren (Hellsing debuted the same year she – in 1945 – with “The cat is blowing in the silver horn”), he was a militant voice of the literature aimed at young readers. As all the major he took his audience seriously without ever losing the playfulness – he recoiled not of death, he rhymed about it – and he challenged his readers with words like “drum major” and “seven-story pulpit.”
He was never splendidly educative but rolled voluptuously in sugar – many of his books were, besides fantastic, also a kind of protest against the prevailing ideals. He created the queer figures Krakel spectacle and Cousin Vitamin, when contemporary nursery reading material about good girls, and well-groomed boys. Set for example, his songbook “Our songs” against Alice Tegner “Now we’ll sing.” Or “Krakel spectacle buying a stick” (1953) against Thorbjørn Egners “Karius and Baktus” (1949).
And he wrote with such breadth. His approach to the issue is what has become the most famous, but he also created beautiful poems in classic song tradition as “Annabell Smith,” and “Wishful View” tales as “The Great Pumpkin” and my absolute favorite – the philosophical story “The Egg”. The list of books he wrote is never ending. As recently as this weekend I discovered a book I had missed, located vigilant well in time: “The dinosaurs or alive”, written in 2006 with illustrations by Gunna Grähs. A dinosaur appears to our rescue. It eats up the government: “Politicians seemed to love; the red-green mess with dumplings and candied small moderates as delicious on the tip narrow. “And when the Migration Board tried to check their passports, took them gently in your ear” and flushed them down the toilet. “
Newly I cried resignedly. state of affairs and that he that made everyday life easier has passed away. Now I giggle when I read aloud from the book and think that tonight we shall celebrate Hellsing’s memory with a lavish birthday party. In the stereo sings himself with a little raspy old man voice his song “Magic Ring” in a recording from 2003. In the book that comes with Tord Nygren painted the author as a smile mountain trolls with the magic of the silver ring in his hand.
When I was thinking about nothing there came a troll with a silver ring
Do I look through the ring as the troll given I see what no one in the world ever seen!
And when I get my magic ring to your ear brought I hear what no one in the world heard.
I put on the big toe of the ring I got I go there no one in the world was
Do you want to come with me so can an if you can get a similar one.
The end is elusive . Now the magician left us, he took the ring with him, but with the help of his stories, he has forever set the door to the fairy tale forest ajar.