Hattie & Olaf


Olaf does not elicit the sympathy you’d expect from Hattie. Although he’s been ill-treated and neglected by Persson, all Hattie can think of when she first sights him, is that Olaf is a donkey. He is not what she wanted. She wanted a horse, in fact a white horse.

Thereafter, seemingly to save face at school, she reinvents Olaf as a bad-tempered, grumpy neighbour and then white horses that she can ride. This huge invention commands much respect and attention, though risks losing Hattie her best friend Linda. However it’s worth it, isn’t it? What’s more, Hattie’s lie is so big that she cannot risk anyone discovering the truth, until they do…

As Hattie’s temper flares and she becomes a revenge target, she needs friends and support. Is it possible these might come from unexpected sources? Then again, what of Olaf? Is there any reprieve for him, from Hattie, and then within the family farm?

Bookwagon loves Hattie & Olaf. It’s hard to be sympathetic with a main character who behaves as appallingly as Hattie. However, she is so well created, that we are committed to her entirely. It means we hope for the truth to emerge and then for Hattie to find peace in her apple tree with Linda, and with Olaf too.

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Hattie & Olaf

Frida Nilsson, illustrated by Sina Wirsén

Translated by Julia Marshall

(Gecko Press)

Hattie’s dream is of three white horses that she ‘can ride every day‘. It’s the story that she tells at lunchtime to Ellen and Karin and the other children. It means she is offered caramels so that the children might visit. What’s more, it means that her best friend Linda begins to stay away…
However, Hattie’s lie is so big that she does not know how to back away from it. After all, what might happen if the other children were to learn this is really the story of Hattie & Olaf. Furthermore, rather than being Olaf’s neighbour, Hattie’s his owner and Olaf’s a donkey- ‘Iiiiiiii-hawwww! Iiiii-hawww!’ 
Therefore, what does happen when Hattie’s truth is discovered in a most public way? What might it mean for her relationships at school, and then for the donkey itself? Furthermore, how can she fight her way back? Is it possible that it will require help, from a most unexpected quarter?
Frida Nilsson has created such a flawed, feisty, realistic heroine in Hattie. We are in turns, horrified and fascinated by her impulsive behaviour and feelings. It means that at times it is hard to justify her actions. However, somehow, her flaws make her more ‘real’. What’s more, it means we are fully invested in Hattie & Olaf.
Bookwagon recommends this story, for readers with growing confidence and middle grade readers. We love this title, this wrier, this series.


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