THE CHANGELING by Selma Lagerlöf


by & translated by & illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 11
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 The first publication in English of a long tale by a Swedish author (The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, 1907) who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1909. The protagonist is not the title's troll baby but the farmer's wife who faithfully cares for him after his mother seizes a chance to trade him for the couple's own child. Despite her aversion to the ugly changeling, conflicting advice from neighbors (``if you cane the troll child till you draw blood, the troll crone will come rushing back with your child...''), and her husband's bitter opposition and plots to abandon or even harm the little troll, the wife treats him as if he were her own--``He's a child, all the same''; the pain she suffers as a result makes her ever more protective. In the end, she is rewarded: her own son returns, explaining that his father's abuse of the changeling was reflected in the mother troll's treatment of him while, similarly, his true mother's kindness repeatedly saved his life. Winter's handsome stylized art, in a rich palette dominated by deep blues and purples and softer rusts and gold, brings out the story's mythic quality and its underlying theme concerning the consequences of mistreating any child. Like some Swedish films, the story bears a burden of angst that won't appeal to everyone, but it's well told, skillfully translated, and beautifully illustrated, and makes an intriguing contrast to other changeling stories--e.g., Brock Cole's lighthearted Alpha and the Dirty Baby (1991). (Fiction/Picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: March 10th, 1992
ISBN: 0-679-81035-8
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1992


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