Friday, February 20, 2009

Betsy and the Chicken Pox by Gunilla Wolde

Gunilla Wolde, illustrator and author
Random House, 1976
Originally published in Sweden as Emmas Lillebror Ar Sjuk

When I was small I had the book Betsy's Baby Brother. I remember the pictures quite distinctly. They were sort of explicit. As in, you could see the baby's bottom in one shot and in another see him nursing. Even at that young age I sensed that this was sort of unusual in puritanical America. Now that I understand that Gunilla Wolde is Swedish, well, it all makes sense, right? Free from our American conservative tendencies. Even in this book there is an illustration of Betsy's brother getting his temp taken in his bottom.

The stories, on the other hand, are typical. A sister must adjust to a new brother. And in this book, Betsy must deal with all the attention going to her sick brother and she longs to have the chicken pox too. She paints spots on her face and has a temper tantrum when no one really pays much attention. Of course as they wash off the paint, they discover she has real spots and she's sick too. It turns out, it wasn't as much fun as she thought! :)

Wolde has a very distinct style of illustration and it reminds me a bit of the pictures of Ramona on the covers of my Beverly Cleary books. It all feels very 1970s to me and really just brings me right back. I will have to try to track down a few more of her titles.


Anonymous said...

All of Gunilla Wolde's "Betsy" books were much loved by our kids when they were 2 and 3 years old, and noq our two-year old granddaughter loves them too. Unfortunately, they're out of print in the US & UK, but you may be able to find them through your local library network.

Barbara said...

I loved these books! I wonder if they have survived my parents' attic...

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