Back in 2007, Hawthorn Press published Pancakes for Findus, our first foray into the Findus and Pettson series by Sven Nordqvist. Translated from Swedish by Julia Marshall and Penelope Todd, and edited by Nathan Large, we were excited to bring this fantastic book to an English- speaking audience. The series was (and is) massively popular across Europe, but had yet to be translated into English. Ten years on, and we have published another nine Findus and Pettson books, all translated by Nathan Large. So, in celebration, here are some bits and pieces about the characters and the author.
Who is Pettson?
When Pettson was little he lived with his mother and father and five siblings on a farm. They had cows and pigs and goats and hens and two horses. When he was younger he had a fiancée for a few years. But she met a popular Danish singer with a moustache and moved with him to Australia. Since then Pettson has lived on his small farm with his hens.
He doesn’t like chatting very much. He likes being on his own. Although sometimes it could get quite lonely. But that was before Findus came along. After that, things took off!
Since then, Pettson has never felt alone. Pettson doesn’t have much to do other than making sure that the cat and hens are taken care of. But he likes to spend time in the shed, coming up with and building tricky appliances. The trickiest thing he has built is a mechanical, talking Yule Tomte. He still doesn’t know how he managed that! (we are currently translating the book in which Pettson does this).
Sometimes Pettson and Findus go swimming or fishing in the lake. In the forest they gather wood to light the stove with and Christmas trees for Christmas. In the evenings Pettson usually sits in the kitchen and listens to the radio, drinking coffee and solving crossword puzzles while Findus lies comfortably on the kitchen sofa.
Who is Findus?
Pettson has said that Findus was given to him a long time ago. He came in a cardboard box when he was a kitten. Findus can’t remember living anywhere but in Pettson’s house.
Pettson is Findus’ best friend. They are together every day. When Pettson wants to be alone, Findus usually plays with the hens. They are not very good at playing, because they forget the rules all the time. But they can chase each other and play hide and seek.
Pettson is the only human who understands what Findus says. But Findus understand what the humans say. He can also talk to the muckles who are all around. Pettson can’t do that. He doesn’t seem to see them at all.
Findus likes going fishing with Pettson. He is quite afraid of big pikes, but he’d rather not admit that. One time he got so afraid that he wanted to go home. But then again, he saw the biggest pike in the world that time.
He also likes to jump on the bed, hang around in the attic and in the shed, playing with everything there, playing with the muckles, walking in the woods with Pettson and picking mushrooms and lying on the kitchen sofa at night, listening to the radio with Pettson.
Findus does not know how old he is, but he doesn’t seem to grow older, either. But he still likes his birthday, so he celebrates it three times a year. Then they have pancake cake.
Aside from big pikes, Findus isn’t afraid of anything – except foxes. He thinks that foxes eat cats. But Pettson has said that they probably don’t. PROBABLY?! That’s not enough; it’s best to stay away from them or scare them away.
Who is Sven?
Sven Nordqvist’s history as a writer of children’s books began in 1983 when he won the picture book competition arranged by the publishing house Opal with Agaton Öman och alfabetet. He first became known to the public the year after when Pannkakstårtan, the first book about old man Pettson and his cat Findus, was published. It immediately became a success and is to this day, over 30 years later, still read and adored by children of all ages around the world.
Sven Nordqvist’s pictures are distinguished by immense colour and detail which are difficult to find anywhere else. Each picture is like its own world, full of small figures and things that in their own way comment on the rest of the story, and you can look at them for a long time and still find new details you hadn’t noticed before. Perhaps this is why his pictures are so popular and appreciated by so many people, from small children to adults who left their picture book days behind a long time ago.
Sven Nordqvist’s artistic creations are not limited to written and illustrated stories. His interest in carpentry and technical constructions has resulted in several artistic decorations in schools and hospitals.
So here’s to Findus and Pettson, and at least ten more years of their wonderful adventures!
This review of Findus Rules the Roost appeared in Juno Magazine, issue 49 (we’re looking forward to the big 50!), and was written by Saffia Farr. Many thanks to her, and everyone at Juno – we love this issue.
This is the latest in the characterful series about Findus the cat and Farmer Pettson. In this story a rooster comes to live with the chickens. Findus feels very put out that the chickens no longer want to play with him, and especially that the rooster makes a lot of noise! Findus and Pettson try various strategies to resolve this, but in the end the rooster leaves, making the chickens very sad, although they are all cheered up at the prospect of expecting chicks! The usual fun and chaos with Findus and Pettson.
Goodness, another review already! This time from the brilliant Zoe of Playing by the Book. This one also has linked activities (and we may just end up making some enormous flowers to decorate the office with). Thank you, Zoe! Please note that this is an extract – a link to the full review is posted at the foot of the article.
Have you ever ruled the roost, known the lay of the land, had everything humming along tickety-boo with a lovely bunch of great family or friends around you, only to have it all messed up by the arrival of an imposter? Perhaps you were an older child who had to deal with a newborn sibling suddenly taking all the sunshine? Or maybe someone unknown arrived in your classroom and all at once your best friend appeared to abandon you?
Findus Rules the Roost by Sven Nordqvist, translated by Nathan Large draws on these experiences, so recognisable to many, whether young or old, and lets us explore complicated feelings such as jealously, annoyance and a desire for revenge through laughter, mischief and gloriously absurd humour.
Findus, a very sweet pussycat admittedly fond of a prank or two, has lived for many years with the inventive, somewhat grumpy, and yet ultimately loveable old farmer Pettson. Theirs is an idyllic life on a small Swedish farm, where there are always ripe redcurrants to pick, bright white eggs to collect and a cosy corner to share. Despite his outward curmudgeonly appearance, Pettson’s heart couldn’t be bigger and one day he brings home a rooster, rather than see the bird end up in his neighbour’s stew.
This generous act has serious consequences.
Findus feels pushed aside, and to make things worse, the rooster really makes a racket, relishing in what roosters do best: crowing very, VERY loudly. (“‘What a fine sound,’ said Pettson. ‘I think we should call him Pavarotti after Pavarotti the opera singer.’ ‘I don’t think he should be called anything.’ said Findus sulkily.“)
Growing ever more exasperated by the rooster, Findus succumbs to fibbing in an attempt to – as he sees it – put Pavarotti back in his place. Initial relish at this stand against the new upstart doesn’t last long, and although there’s an ending filled with hope and kindness, not everything is resolved neatly with all made better as if nothing had ever gone wrong.
Friendship – its ups and downs, its ins and outs, its joys and difficulties – is at the heart of all the Findus and Pettson books (Findus Rules the Roost is the tenth book in the Findus and Pettson series to be published by Hawthorn Press. You can find my reviews of several of the earlier titles here.) These stories are packed with fierce love (without it ever being sugar-coated) and utter hilarity, both in the telling of a good yarn, but especially and most delightfully in the deliriously detailed and imaginative illustrations, with little cameo gems in almost every direction you look. Look above, and spot the butterfly or below and take on board the hen pecking at the tray. Life is crazy and sometimes makes little sense, but love is everywhere and will always find you. Time and again, this is the message I take away from visiting with my favourite farmer and feline.
The farm on which Findus and Pettson live is full of magic. Look closely and you’ll see little friendly goblin-like creatures going about their business, and everywhere there are exuberant, outsized flowers blooming with all the joy in the world.
Wanting to bring a bit of that cheerfulness into our home, we decided to turn our front garden into a homage to Pettson’s grandi-flora.
Our first review of this title! We’re very very excited about it, because not only is this a lovely book; it’s the tenth Findus and Pettson book that we’ve published, so we feel extra happy about it :) Thanks to Luce for this review – read her gorgeous home-ed blog here.
Farmer Pettson has a surprise for his hens, a proud and very handsome Cockerel! The hens are thrilled, but Findus the cat is less than impressed by this noisy new addition to the farm. The rooster is spoiling all of his fun, the hens are no longer interested in playing, the rooster has taken to chasing him and can give a nasty peck, and the noise is simply too much to bear.
It’s time for a plan, Findus sets to work on a cunning trick to get rid of the pesky cockerel once and for all… but will his plan work?
We were excited to read this latest story, having read many of the other titles in the series we knew we were in for a treat and we were certainly not disappointed. Findus Rules the Roost is beautifully written, warm and humorous. Both Bundles thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story and pausing to explore and appreciate the stunning illustrations, in which there are many delightful details and characters to be discovered. It is already becoming a firm favourite in our spring book box.
If you haven’t met Findus and Pettson yet, what are you waiting for? And for those of you who know the characters well, this story will make a great addition to your collection.
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