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A to Zåäö

A to ZaaoThis 96-page pic­ture book wraps many pur­pos­es between its cov­ers. It’s an alpha­bet book, a muse­um exhib­it cat­a­log, an intro­duc­tion to the Swedish lan­guage, and a pic­ture book illus­trat­ed  by a moth­er’s water­col­ors and her son’s pen-and-ink draw­ings. The lus­cious water­col­ors por­tray a muse­um object and the pen-and-ink draw­ings are lay­ered over the water­col­ors, invit­ing the read­er to imag­ine sto­ries.

On the page for “P,” the Swedish phrase “pig­ga upp dig!” are trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish as “perk up!” The water­col­or por­trays a three-legged chair in the ASI’s col­lec­tion, carved by a woman who emi­grat­ed from Swe­den to Amer­i­ca before 1939. The pen-and-ink draw­ings on this two-page spread sug­gest many sto­ry pos­si­bil­i­ties, depict­ing fig­ures of knights, a late-eigh­teenth-cen­tu­ry cou­ple, a troll in shorts, a drag­on, a rein­deer, a man in a dol­phin cos­tume, and a mod­ern-day fam­i­ly hav­ing a beach pic­nic, all of them inter­act­ing with each oth­er. The ideas for sto­ries abound!

In the back mat­ter, there are full-col­or pho­tos and descrip­tions of the fea­tured items from the ASI’s col­lec­tion, graced by more pen-and-ink draw­ings. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to play with. Designed to be a trea­sure for all ages, the book suc­ceeds in its mis­sion.

It’s an enchant­i­ng, infor­ma­tive, and fun book, one that invites you to spend a few hours with your imag­i­na­tion. It’s a keep­er! 

A to Zåäö: Play­ing with His­to­ry
at the Amer­i­can Swedish Insti­tute
illus­trat­ed by Tara Sweeney
and Nate Christo­pher­son
his­tor­i­cal text by Inga Thiessen
Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta  Press, 2019
ISBN 978 – 1517907884

3 Responses to A to Zåäö

  1. Tara Sweeney December 17, 2019 at 8:42 pm #

    Thanks Vic­ki. You’ve hit A Zaao on the head!

    • Vicki Palmquist December 18, 2019 at 6:35 am #

      Thanks to you for this beau­ti­ful book, Tara.

    • April Halprin Wayland December 25, 2019 at 9:54 pm #

      Can’t wait to read this one!

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