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Summer is always too short:
Astrid Lindgren's Seacrow Island



The funny thing about summer (wrote Malin in her diary) is that it always flies by way too fast.
That's why writer Melker Melkerson, widowed father of four, decides to leave the city and rent a holiday house for his family for a whole year, not just for the summer.
The story takes place on Norröra, a tiny remote island of the Stockholm archipelago, a fertile yet uninhabited land in the middle of the sparkling Baltic sea, where old buildings and cottages are mainly rented out to tourists for the holiday season.
Norröra took the name Seacrow Island in the 60's, after filming the Swedish TV series Vi på Saltkråkan (We on Seacrow Island). The script was written by Astrid Lindgren, who re-wrote it as a novel in the same year, that has since then become a YA classic.
We follow the adventures of the Melkerson family since their arrival on the island with the ferry one June day: there is the 19 year old Malin, wise, sweet and incredibly pretty, entirely dedicated to hold the family together after her mother's death, basically the perfect daughter. She will be courted in vain by all the guys in the area until she will finally fall in love with the right one.
The three sons, Johan, Niklas and Pelle,  13, 12 and 7, fill their days with fun jaunts around the island, inspired by three daughters of their neighbour residents, Teddy, Freddy and Tjorven (girls exactly their age).
The first part of the book ends on the day of their departure at the end of the summer, which is surprisingly not the end of the story though.
As we find out that the scatterbrained father Melker is planning to come back to the island for Christmas, and then in Spring, and then following Summer, we can breathe a sigh of relief hanging onto that holiday light heartedness. And we keep reading.
The idyllic family life on the island is animated by unexpected events in the second part of the book, when the increasing suspense leads to the final happy ending and the old Carpenter's house becomes a home. The best readers could wish for.
Lindgren masters pacing and the initial cheerful narration speeds up as we progress reading, becoming choral at the end of the book, when all the residents on Seacrow Island seem to embrace the fight of the Melkerson family to keep the old cottage.
I don't usually read much YA literature and chapter books, honestly I have no time and I prefer grown-up narrative. But I missed this book as a kid and wanted to read it before leaving it in my daughter's hands in a few years. I read the new compact edition published by Salani in June, which really feels slightly too small.
Although apparently Lindgren never meant writing for adults, Seacrow Island is a book for everyone and adults can enjoy it as much as kids and teenagers.
The characters are beautifully depicted as well as the setting: the Carpenter's House is in a way a character too, and so is the island. You can't but plan a trip to the archipelago after reading it.
Plus there is the whole idea of a home for the kids' childhood, the connection with nature and the process of collecting memories as a family. Children are definitely magic creatures as seen through Astrid Lindgren's eyes, which is why probably adults should still read her books.
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Seacrow Island [1964]
English language edition published by OUP Oxford [paperback, 2016]
Vacanze all'isola dei gabbiani [1994]
Italian edition published by Salani Editore [2018]
Written by Astrid Lindgren
Reading age: 8+
Themes: Holidays, Family, Friendship, Siblings

“I don’t want to write for adults. 
I want to write for readers who can perform miracles. 
Only children perform miracles when they read.”
Astrid Lindgren










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