Author: Zachris Topelius

The matchstick

Issue 1/1998 | Archives online, Children's books, Fiction

A fairy-tale, first published in the literary yearbook Svea (Stockholm) in 1879. Introduction by Esa Sironen

The matchstick lay for the first time in its new box on the factory table and thought about what had happened to it so far during its short life. It could still dimly remember how the big aspen tree had grown on the river bank, how it had been felled, sawed, and finally planed into many thousand small splinters of which the match was one. After that, it had been sorted into piles and rows with its friends, dipped in horrible melting pans, put out to dry, dipped again and finally placed in the box. This was not really a remarkable fate, nor a great heroic deed. But the match had acquired a burning desire to do something in the world. Its body was made from the timorous aspen, which is constantly a-quiver because it is afraid that the faint evening breeze might grow into a gale and tear it up by the roots. It so happened, however, that the match’s head had been dipped in stuff that makes one ambitious and want to shine in the world, and so a struggle developed, as it were, between body and head. When the inflammable head, fizzing in silence, cried: ‘Rush out now and do something!’ the cautious body always had an objection ready, and whispered: ‘No, wait a little, ask and find out if it’s time yet!’ More…


Issue 1/1984 | Archives online, Children's books, Fiction

A story from Läsning för barn (‘Reading for children’,1884). Introduction by George C. Schoolfield

There was once a little child lying in a snowdrift. Why? Because it had been lost.

It was Christmas Eve. The old Lapp was driving his sledge through the desolate mountains, and the old Lapp woman was following him. The snow sparkled, the Northern Lights were dancing, and the stars were shining brightly in the sky. The old Lapp thought this was a splendid journey and turned round to look for his wife who was alone in her little Lapp sledge, for the reindeer could not pull more than one person at a time. The woman was holding her little child in her arms. It was wrapped in a thick, soft reindeer skin, but it was difficult for the woman to drive a sledge properly with a child in her arms.

When they had reached the top of the mountain and were just starting off downhill, they came across a pack of wolves. It was a big pack, about forty or fifty of them, such as you often see in winter in Lapland when they are on the look-out for a reindeer. Now these wolves had not managed to catch any reindeer; they were howling with hunger and straight away began to pursue the old Lapp and his wife. More…