What would you do if you're the new girl at school and the teacher mistakes you for a boy? Would you have the guts to go along with it? Simone is going through quite a transition, so you can understand her reasons for the deception. Her mother has a new partner and she and Simone have moved in with him. She has lost her dog and her grandfather has announced he would prefer to spend his last days living with them. Then of course there are the problems pretending to be a boy!
This is a lovely coming of age story. I particularly enjoyed the Scandinavian names and landscape. It is part of the Gecko Press collections of "Seriously good books from around the world."
Julia Marshall translates Ulf Stark's original text. He has written around 30 books for children and young adults. Also he has won many prizes in Sweden and internationally, including the German Youth Literature Prize, the Astrid Lindgren Award and the August Prize. Books by Ulf Stark have been translated into more than 20 languages and he has twice been nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen prize.
Stark writes Simone's grandfather beautifully. He has some sage advice for her, but also for the reader:
We're all filled with forces we don't know about,' Grandpa said. 'Like the sea, which is full of fish and algae and currents and life and all kinds of strange things. The dipsticks carefully build thin, ugly bridges over these unknown waters. They're afraid of getting wet in case they ruin their shoes. We fruitloops like to crawl around amongst it all. We put ourselves in the path of the currents and let them carry us along. Even though it's risky; and even though the dipsticks may sometimes look at us with fear and loathing.' 'Be careful of the bad winds,' Grandpa whispered in my ear before he hobbled out into the dark and disappeared up the stairs.
So if you're feeling a bit displaced, or just a bit fruit loopy, see if you can find a copy of Fruitloops and Dipsticks. I can promise you'll enjoy the ride.
Four hoots/ five.