1 April, 2020

Get to Know Swedish Children’s Book Icons

If you had just moved to Sweden, with small kids, it’s just a matter of time until your kids gushing about Swedish children’s books icons relentlessly. Like me, three years back, you may never have heard some of them. So here I compile the list of Swedish children’s books icons you may need to know to keep up with your kids

Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump)

Created by Astrid Lindgren in 1945, Pippi Longstocking is probably the most famous and the most celebrated fictional character in Sweden. She is a red-haired, freckled, unconventional and superhumanly strong girl who lives in VillaVillekulla, with her monkey whose name is Mr Nilsson and her horse.

This character draws a long debate among adults due to its strong and unusual personalities, challenging the conventional ideas about how kids should behave. Nevertheless, many people consider Pippi as the symbol of girl power and gender equality.

Pettson and Findus (Pettson och Findus)

An interpretation of the Findus character by my then 7-year-old daughter

Pettson and Findus is a series of children’s books written and illustrated by Swedish author Sven Nordqvist.

This character is an old farmer who lives with his cat, Findus, in a red-painted wooden farmhouse in the Swedish countryside. Pettson can talk to Findus so his neighbors regard him as a bit odd. In the story, Findus is more like a small child as the character dresses in a green-striped costume, wears a cap, and can stand up like a human.

Alfie Atkins (Alfons Åberg)

Another Swedish children book is Alfie Atkins. Gunilla Bergström created this character in 1972. Alfie is an ordinary kid who lives with his father and experiences many everyday problems all kids can relate to. Just like other kids, Alfie imagines things and is longing to grow up like a big boy. For that reason, Alfie often competes with his father (who is a nice and positive man) who can solve everyday problems in the best way.


Bamse is another famous Swedish children book. It’s a character of a brown bear created by Rune Andréasson. Thanks to special honey called dunderhonung (literally means thunder honey) from his grandmother, Bamse becomes the world’s strongest and kindest bear that often helps those in need.


Have you ever seen odd-shaped characters in bright colors in a toyshop in Sweden?

Those are Babblarna, a colorful group of characters from Hatten Education. Designed to help children from 0-5 years old in learning language, each Babblarna character speaks its own language which sounds more like a babble. For example, Babba talks Babbish and Diddi talks Diddish. However, it doesn’t stop them from understanding each other.

The Little Ghost Godfrey (Lilla spöket Laban)

Inger and Lasse Sandberg created this Swedish children’s book character, initially to make their son not afraid of ghosts. Just like Casper, Laban is a friendly ghost who does not want to haunt or scare people. He lives in the basement of the castle “Gomorronsol” where he makes friends with the youngest prince.

The Moomin

The Moomin is actually not Swedish, but it is very popular in Sweden.

They are a family of white, round, hippopotamus-like characters. Tove Jansson, a Swedish-speaking Finnish illustrator, wrote these series. The central family consists of Moominpappa, Moominmamma and Moomintroll who live in their house in Moominvalley. In the story, they embark on many adventures along with their various friends.

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Hayu Hamemayu
Hayu Hamemayu is a Lund-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Jakarta Post, Media Indonesia, Kompas, Majalah Kartini, and Indonesia Travel Magazine among others. A traveller mommy by nature and random thinker by inclination, she keeps memories in her Instagram @hayuhamemayu and writes her everyday stories in her blog.

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