Maria Gripe’s books are treasures of international children’s literature. In The Glassblower’s Children she draws on old traditions of fairy tale and Norse myth to tell an exciting story with a very modern sensibility.
Albert the glassblower and Sophia are the loving parents of two small children, Klas and Klara. While Albert spends time in his studio, making beautiful but impractical bowls and vases that nobody wants to buy, Sophia works in the fields, collecting flax. Every year Albert goes to the fair to sell his goods, and sometimes Sophia and Klas and Klara get to go along. The children especially like to admire the dolls and toys that the family is too poor to buy. It is at the fair that Albert and Klara meet Flutter Mildweather, a wise woman who weaves rugs that tell what the future holds. And it is at the fair that the Lord of All Wishes and his Lady first set eyes on Klas and Klara. The Lord and Lady live in a castle in a fabulously luxurious but nearly deserted town, and they have everything they want, except for children of their own.
The Glassblower’s Children is filled with exceptionally vivid characters, like the one-eyed raven Wise Wit, who Flutter Mildweather thinks is “a bit superficial” now that he’s lost his “nighttime eye” and sees only the good, and the monstrous governess Nana, whose singing is enough to shatter every piece of glass in the town of All Wishes. These figures delight even as Gripe touches on serious questions, such as the search for meaningful occupation and the danger of getting everything you want except for the very things you need.
Beautiful and terrifying by turns…The Glassblower’s Children is a brave book.
—The New York Times Book Review
Gripe polishes each separate scene to fine perfection.
Not quite a folk tale, not quite a fairy tale, The Glassblower’s Children, winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1974, is a beautiful book and a disturbing one too. In her style of writing Maria Gripe combines simplicity with poetic intensity, and she has the ability to capture the poignancy of emotional experience familiar from memories of childhood…. This is a book to be read and returned to: it touches one deeply before the full pattern of meaning becomes clear, but, when it does, every detail is seen to have its place.
—Lesley Croome, The Times Literary Supplement