Notes from Scandinavia


A couple of weeks ago, I returned from a trip to Scandinavia. We had only a few days in Sweden and Denmark and the bulk of the trip was in Norway. Besides the spectacular scenery of fjords, forests, waterfalls and lakes, Norway has its own delight for a writer of children’s stories. After all, Norway is the land of Vikings, trolls, reindeer, moose, goats and sheep.

As usual, I brought some children’s books (translated into English). I also looked for story ideas for future children’s picture books. Books about trolls. Scandinavian myths and Vikings were everywhere, although those translated into English were harder to find. Still, I came home with a goodly number to read and share with my grandchildren.

One cute book from Sweden is a delight. The story takes place in the 1600’s and is about a pig who was sold to the Swedish navy. He ended up on the Vasa, a ship that went down near Stockholm in 1649 on her maiden voyage because she was top heavy. Poor piglet destined for a ship’s dinner, nearly drowned in the city’s harbor only to survive by clinging to a piece of the mast. This ship has since been raised from the bottom and is in a museum. It is now made more famous by being immortalized in a children’s book about a pig. I’m drawn to this story because it is based on real events, yet told from a novel view point with delightful drawings and story line. I look for children’s books where learning and fun are combined in unusual ways.

On trips, I am also on the alert for new story ideas. In Norway, I met a goat farmer who told us about his own experience about saving one of his flock from a snow storm. Although I often use real-life events in my own kid’s stories, I look for ways to make them my own by adding story elements or other characters to give them a wider appeal.

This new story idea is in its formative phase, but I am thinking of making the main character a small boy. The goat will be young, frisky and inquisitive, a gift from the boy’s father that the boy is now raising. The farm will be the same farm I visited. Bordered by steep cliffs in a small meadow with a trickling stream, the story will have sod covered, small cabins where the family stays and makes goat cheese. My little goat may even end up on one of these sod covered roofs eating a snack. My next job is to learn more about Norwegian goat farming.

I’m often asked where I get my story ideas. My answer, “I find them all around me.” My next trip is to South Africa where I’m sure I’ll find plenty to write about.


troll 4x4 180


Troll from Norway


About berylreichenberg

I am a storyteller. Writing and illustrating books for children, I have published over 35 titles. Three of my books, "Ants on a Log", "Camouflage", and "The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake" have been published by a traditional publisher, Oak Tree Press. These are available from Oak Tree and Amazon as well as other outlets. The others are published by and can be seen on their website. Some of my stories are in prose and some in verse. All are designed for small children and young school children. My fiction stories are designed to delight these children and help them learn about themselves and the world around them. I also have a number of nonfiction books about animals, the natural world, and other cultures. I illustrate my stories with drawings and photographs. I hold a Master's Degree from UCLA and have taught school in California. I hope that young children and their adult companions will enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.

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