"Deep in the forest, under the curling roots of an old pine tree, was a small house. Warm and dry in winter, cool and airy in summer, it was the home of one of the forest people. He lived there with his wife and four children; Tom, Harriet, Sam, and Daisy."
So begins one of our family's favorite stories ever, Children of the Forest. In fact, our copy is in tatters from so many re-readings throughout the years! Written by Elsa Beskow in Sweden in 1910, this story follows the adventures four children who live deep in the forest. They play hide and seek with the squirrels (who can be "scatty, thoughtless creatures and sometimes they forgot what game they were playing and the children could catch them.") Occasionally they are frightened by vipers laying in wait or by a grumpy troll who lives in a cave near the biggest blueberries, but mostly they happily scamper through the seasons with their animal playmates.
The illustrations are gorgeous and offer many fanciful details to enjoy. I'm convinced that the evocative illustrations have fueled my boys' imaginations over the years as they have frequently spotted signs of children in the forest in the woods around Fairbanks!