Books We Love – Elle Karri by Elly Jannes

Lynley has shared with me one of her favourite childhood books - Elle Kari by Elly Jannes.
Terrisa, Selector


I hadn’t heard of it before but this is what I found out about it;

  • Elle Kari is almost 4 years old and lives in Lapland. She lives in a house in winter and in a hut made of logs and peat in summer. She dreams of having adventures with her dog but sometimes he must guard the Reindeer.
  • The Swedish author along with the photographer Anna Riwkin-Brick had worked on a photo book for Adults on the Sami people as part of a UNESCO project but decided to also produce a book for children in 1951.
  • It was the first Swedish photo book showing every the day life of a child.
  • It was an instant hit and was translated into 18 different languages.
  • It was the first book in the photo novel series “Children’s everywhere”. Later authors included Astrid Lindgren.

But even before I started googling it, there was already plenty of telling evidence about this gem.

  • “Lynley McDonald Ilam School” is written proudly in pencil inside the front cover.
  • There’s a ‘Cancelled from Canterbury Public Library’ stamp on one page and a ‘Parents’ Collection Adult Department’ stamp on the opposite page.
  • It is in a very worn out condition. There are yellowed sellotape remnants showing ineffectual attempts to keep it together. The string of the spine is exposed and half-heartedly keeping the book bound. The pages have those soft worn edges that come from many, many turnings of the page. But alarming of all are the many scribbles throughout the book in bright red pen.

Lynley assures me that it looked like that when she first got it. It had come to her that way after many obvious battles and struggles for survival.

This makes me smile. To me it means two things;

  1. That whenever Canterbury Public Library (as we were once named) eventually weeded this from their collection, they still thought that the book had more to offer. That someone would want it despite its battered appearance.
  2. That Lynley loved it. She didn’t mind its shabby splendour. She saw past all this and still found wonder and comfort in the story of a little girl and her dog on the other side of the world. So much so that it still remains with her today despite all the many changes in her life since she was a primary school student at Ilam School.

View more Books We Love, librarians sharing their most loved books.

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