The Swedish author Astrid Lindgren is one of my absolute favourite children’s book writers; I think of and marvel at her skill on a regular basis, and of her books one of my ultimate loves is Ronja Rövardotter (1981, I read it in fantastic Dutch translation: Ronja de Roversdochter, translated as Ronia the Robber’s Daughter in English).
Ronja is the only child in a settlement of robbers, and you follow her adventures as she explores her forest setting, masters all kinds of fears, contends with strange, dangerous shadow-folk, and follows her own sense of right and wrong amidst the beloved company and shifting drama of the robbers’ castle. It’s all beautifully done, full of feeling, humour, masterful characterisation and tension, and with incredible illustrations by Ilon Wikland which could never be topped, only sighed dreamily at for their perfection (here’re some examples).
I thought of one of Ronja’s favourite waterfall pools to experiment with painting something bigger and backgrounded in gouache. It’s not really what I was aiming for, and there’s a whole lot I’d like to do differently, but it was fun to try, maybe I’ll have another go at some point! In the meantime, go and read Ronja, hide from enemies with her under dense pine branches, smile quietly at the stars, and cheer at her courage!