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When Mischief Came to Town Hardcover – January 5, 2016
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From the Publisher
A Conversation with Katrina Nannestad
The delightful author of When Mischief Came to Town answers a few questions about the beauty of Bornholm, the dark side of Thumbelina, and her own experiences getting into a little mischief.
Inge Maria is the kind of character that readers wish they had as a friend—how did you create her?
Inge Maria is, of course, a child of my imagining, but she is heavily inspired by many delightful little girls I have taught over the years. My own personality and silliness as a child have also squeezed their way in there!
Bornholm, the island that she moves to, serves as a character itself. Have you spent time there?
I have lived in Denmark with my Danish husband and we once holidayed on Bornholm. It is fairy-tale beautiful with its colourful coastal villages, round churches, rolling hills, and crisp blue skies. And it has that magical-island thing happening—it feels like the entire world is on that one dot of land.
How did the stories of Hans Christian Andersen impact you as a child?
I remember being quite scared by Thumbelina because she had to live underground with a mole. The silly emperor with the new clothes always delighted and disgusted me. How could he be so foolish?
What might the townspeople in Bornholm might have in store for them when Inge comes to town?
They should brace themselves for a charming but exuberant child who will dance, run, wrestle, sing, and talk at inappropriate moments. They should keep their turkeys, their cakes, and their bloomers tucked safely out of reach, but keep their arms open for the warmest embrace a child can offer.
Did you get into a lot of mischief yourself when you were younger?
I was very much like Inge Maria—not intentionally naughty but with a great capacity for mischief and disaster. So often I would say something that I thought was quite charming and clever, only to be scolded for cheekiness.
How often and where do you write?
I usually write every weekday, at home in my study. Of course, my routine changes when I am traveling to promote a book, visit schools, or take a holiday.
From School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—This moving story quickly pulls in readers as they meet Inge Maria, a young girl traveling from her beloved Copenhagen to a small island village to live with her seemingly stern grandmother. Inge Maria adjusts to her new living situation, but instead of falling into the mundane life of Bornholm, she instead begins infusing the sleepy town and its people with a new sense of life and mischief that was sorely missing. Laughter begins to take hold of the community as the young girl with such lively spirit defies her stern teacher, who believes girls shouldn't be rowdy or expressive, and befriends the rowdiest kids around. Inge Maria and her grandmother, Dizzy, grow together and learn how to move forward as a new kind of family, and the book conveys a soft and warming message that even in sadness, you don't have to lose yourself. The theme of loss is subtle, though the narrative touches on the deeper questions that arise in the aftermath of the death of a parent and the subsequent pain and changes that follow. VERDICT A truly touching story that belongs in most middle grade collections.—Ashley Prior, Lincoln Public Library, RI
Kirkus Best of 2016
Raleigh News & Observer Best of 2016
BookPage Best of 2016
* "Readers can only hope for more of [Inge Maria Jensen's] happy mischief and genuine heart."
—Publishers Weekly STARRED review
* "This heartwarming and richly engaging tale explores grief and the sustaining support of humor with an abundance of love."
—Kirkus STARRED review
* "A yarn too good to pass up."
—Booklist STARRED review
"With both a judicious amount to cry at and much to delight in, this book will satisfy lovers of orphan stories and good-natured mischief makers alike."
"A truly touching story."
—School Library Journal
"Fans of Pippi Longstocking will devour this hilarious debut novel, featuring an energetic 10-year-old who invigorates an isolated Danish town."
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Top customer reviews
Heidi is, of course, the gold standard when it comes to warming old, cold hearts. Rebecca has a dark side and enough mature themes that some publishers felt the need to reissue the original book in a bowdlerized form that made Rebecca more malleable and submissive. Pollyanna was a gimlet eyed realist, (the exact opposite of how she is remembered), who hid her pain and despair under a sunny disposition and faith in better times to come. Anne got the best deal of the four, but her grit and determination allowed her to make the best of a bad hand. Any girl raised on a diet of books like these is going to grow up to be a woman to be reckoned with.
This "Mischief..." book takes a lighter tour through that territory. It doesn't take too long, after scaring Inge and us about grandmother, to show us that the future will be bright and promising. It doesn't grind Inge down just so she can fight back. We share Inge's sadness about the loss of her parents, and her confusion and dismay about being relocated to a strange place with a stern grandparent. But, there is no meanness and there is no heartbreaking despair. In the other books I noted above there is a grim reality that slips in to the stories, and real tension regarding our heroines' fates. But in "Mischief..." we are gently promised and then regularly reassured that all will end well.
That's what I mean when I suggest that this is for a slightly younger crowd, and might serve as an excellent introduction to orphan girl heroines, loss, grief, and life reimagined. The author carries a number of arcs through the story, and the opening threads all tie up neatly by the end, but by presenting the story as a string of episodes the author allows for a fast pace, manageable set pieces, and a lot of pausing and breathing room for a young, ambitious reader. There is sort of a mini-story in each chapter, and the reader hardly realizes that the underlying tale of Inge Marie is building chapter by chapter to a powerful conclusion. This is just a beautiful structure for a middle grade book.
The writing is crisp, clear and direct, with enough color and whimsy and action to drive the story forward. There is wise and knowing humor here. While some scenes are broad and antic, our author is also skilled at deadpan, throwaway and ironic observations that breathe life and personality into the characters. Inge is observant, resourceful, stubborn, creative and self-possessed, and she breathes life and vitality into all of the other characters, (which is, of course, one of the main attractions and points of the story). Inge can be pert and rude, but is usually instructed regarding the difference between high spirits and going too far, and I didn't have a problem with this girrrlll power version of being a troublesome woman. I suspect most girl readers, or readers of any gender, won't either.
So, on every level I found this to be an entertaining and attractive work, and a refreshing and upbeat addition to the family shelf. (Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
When Mischief Came to Town was written by Katrina Nannestad. This is the story of a little girl named Inge Maria, who leaves her life in Copenhagen behind to travel to the island of Bornholm to live with her grandmother following the death of her mother. Inge Maria is a spirited girl, who looks for whimsical moments in her everyday life. This is a stark contrast to the quiet and predictable routine that her grandmother is used to, and at first, it doesn’t seem like Inge and her grandmother are a good match for each other. But as Inge adjusts to life on Bornholm, her joie de vivre proves to be contagious and affects everyone she encounters.
My girls absolutely loved this book, and asked every night if we could read more of the Goat Girl story. My girls were captivated from the moment that Inge arrives on the island with one braid chewed off by a goat. They laughed at her antics, and sang along whenever Inge sang one of her “turkey songs”. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but I will say that a secondary plot helped them to see that things are not always black and white, and things are not always as they appear. This is certainly a valuable lesson in not passing judgment on a situation without having all of the facts.
I have read many children’s books in my lifetime, and I can confidently say that When Mischief Came to Town is one of the best children’s books I have ever read. The old fashioned European setting only adds to the charm of the story. Inge’s spirited ways extend behind the boundaries of the story and touched us as well. Her glee made us laugh, and her grief made us cry.
I would absolutely recommend When Mischief Came to Town. This middle grade reader is perfect for reading out loud to younger children or for older elementary schoolers to read independently. This is a very memorable story, and I am going to be thinking about Inge Maria, her grandmother, Henry the turkey, little Klaus, and the rest of the characters for quite a long time.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.