You’d expect to find Astrid Lindgren, of Pippi Longstocking fame, over on Bookwitch, but Saltkråkan is primarily a television series. Last summer may well have been the first for many years when I didn’t watch the annual repeats on Swedish television. Not that I need to, as we now have most of it on video, but there’s a certain feeling of tradition about watching it in the summer holidays. This year I haven’t noticed whether it’s on or not.
Saltkråkan is a fictional island in the archipelago north of Stockholm. Tjorven (that’s a pet name; not even Swedes have that peculiar a name) is a seven-year-old girl living on Saltkråkan, with her family and their enormous St Bernhard dog Båtsman. The witch is the same age as Tjorven, which may explain the lingering affection I have for the series. And she’s chubby. The Melkersson family from the city come to spend their first summer on the island. Their youngest boy, Pelle, is a similar age, and he loves animals. He even loves the wasps that attack his poor, accident prone father. The house they’ve rented is a leaking old place, ready to collapse, but they grow to love it.
Not all that much happens, really. It’s simply a charming account of a typical Swedish summer; rowing, swimming, finding hidden treasure, getting chased by a bull, fighting off Pelle’s older sister’s suitors, catching fishing net stealing thieves, buying a rabbit, getting lost while picking berries in the woods. The Melkerssons return for Christmas, for some traditional style celebrations, and beautiful snowy scenery.
Later on they made a few films, including letting Pelle’s sister get married and have a little girl of her own.
I’m fairly sure the book of Saltkråkan came after the television series, rather than the other way around. And 45 years on we are still watching. For me it was one of the most important things to find for Offspring when they were younger. It was expensive buying videos at the time, but I still did it. Daughter still marvels over the way Tjorven and Pelle manage to buy the old house right under the nose of the rich city type who wants to build a bungalow, by offering the owner a deposit equalling the cost of an ice cream. That’s proper fairy tale material.