The Tomten/Tomten är vaken
The Tomten is a truly unique Christmas story and a classic to be. The author behind the story is world famous Astrid Lindgren and the illustrations are the work of ALMA-award winner Kitty Crowther. The Tomten has never previously been published in Sweden.
This inspiringly beautiful picture book depicts a magical winter’s night on an old farmstead located deep inside the woods. The story is solemn, yet refreshingly down to earth. A love of life and a deeply rooted humility toward all beings is ever-present through out the story with the farmstead gnome – a tomte – as the subtle symbol for unconditional love. The Tomte’s gentle compassion with the farmstead animals – each in their place; the dog on its lead, the cows in their corral and the workhorse in its stable – is all very touching. He caresses the needy, consoles the sad and ingests courage in those in need of faith. The farmstead safe keep speaks the language of the tomtar, a quiet language that the animals know. He speaks of rich fields, lush meadows and he feeds the critters of the farm a little extra in times of need. The midwinter night is dark and cold but the tomte of the story keeps watch on the grounds, safe keeps the barns and stables as he moves around the farm each night.
Kitty Crowther’s sensitive illustrations are rich with sincerity. The settings and the mood of the winter night alike are wonderfully crafted and the delicate portrait of the closeness and subtle love between the tomte, the animals and the sleeping famers invoke a strong, nearly unfathomable feeling of Christmas peace and harmony.
The manuscript of The Tomten was written in the early 1960’s. Rabén & Sjögren had by then published Tomten, a poem by Viktor Rydberg carrying illustrations by Harald Wiberg. A few European publishers, Oetinger in Germany among them, wanted to publish Wiberg’s drawings but not Rydberg’s poem. Astrid Lindgren then wrote a new story – then named Tomte Tummetott – for Wiberg’s illustrations, which by now is a German children’s classic. The original manuscript was soon forgotten but was recently found again by publisher Silke Weitendorf, daughter of Lindgren’s German publishers and friends Friedrich and Heidi Oetinger.