Frida Nilsson (text), Stina Wirsén (illustrator), Hattie and Olaf, Gecko Press, August 2021, 184 pp., RRP $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781776573189
Hattie and Olaf is the delightful follow-up novel to Hattie. Swedish author Frida Nilsson has created another dynamic adventure, with Hattie and her friend Linda, who are now in their second year of school.
Six-year-old Hattie’s dream of owning a horse almost comes true when her dad brings Olaf home to their farm. Olaf is a donkey who is completely bonkers. Hattie’s relationship and attitude towards Olaf leads to some unplanned adventures.
Hattie is instantly likeable, because she faces decisions and sometimes consciously chooses the path least likely to get glowing accolades from grownups. Hattie instantly regrets some of her decisions. The turmoil of sometimes choosing self-gratification and pursuing her wants instead of the greater good feels like a raw and real insight to childhood.
Hattie learns some of the nuances of navigating friendships and how our decisions and responses can impact the people around us. Expressive sketches by Stina Wirsén are arranged within the text, appealing to young readers who are emerging chapter book readers.
Hattie and Olaf is a wonderful story for young readers, exploring the painful learning about how we may inadvertently hurt others by deviating too far from the truth.
This review is for the English-language translation of Hedvig och Max-Olov, translated by Julia Marshall.
Reviewed by Angela Brown