These wonderful stories of the North will delight children of all ages with the humanity and grace of the gnomes.
7 x 11 inches
Liputto by Jakob Streit
When I was in grade school, my handwork teacher told our class that at night, gnomes came and worked on our projects - as a means to explain why our scarves were longer or potholders had more colors than when we last worked on them.
I'm not sure whether I thought my teacher was being honest, or whether I simply accepted her explanation, knowing full well it was she who had done the work. Children can accept something as true, even when they know it doesn't make sense. Invisible things and beings can be useful devices to explain things to children, precisely because they have this capacity to understand without the need for airtight, logical proof. I wouldn't advocate always responding with a story about a gnome or a fairy; kids grow out of that - at a certain point it won't work anymore, and the truth will have to do. But stories give parents a way to talk about things that are complicated, or just too lengthy to explain. And it's more fun for the children.
Liputto is this kind of gnome my handwork teacher was talking about. The stories of his discoveries and exploits are really touching - mostly in so far as he's interested in children, and in helping them. He's a very thoughtful character, and I love the way the author gives us a window into his inner life - his curiosity, uncertainty, fear, and courage. I especially like an early episode, in which Liputto rescues two children who are lost on a mountain picking flowers for their mother's birthday; Liputto, who is wearing an invisibility hat and isn't supposed to reveal himself to humans, decides to take off his hat so that he can show them the way home. He doesn't say anything, but gestures and points, and when the children figure out where they are going, he disappears. Rules are important, but sometimes one needs to disregard them.
Review by Lauren Ciborski