When I first read Nils Holgersson in Swedish I wondered, as a translator, what the style and the level of writing could be in other languages. If the German and French translations of this litterature masterpiece are remarkably good nothing compares with the 'tour de force' Velma Swanston Howard achieved. Hats off! The quality and the English level are rather high, which may make it somewhat difficult for children under 9 or 10 to read nowadays (rampant illiteracy being no piddling evil).
Nils' adventures are those any child could wish to experience, be it only in their dreams, and turn out to be a fantastic tool to learn Sweden's geography and mores in a very recreative way. The vocabulary of birds, trees and plants is quite rich and widens children's knowledge consequently. In short, an edifyng,teaching book which mingles fantasy, adventure, ecologial awareness, civic-mindedness (but fortunately not moralizing to the extreme, THAT would be boring !)with a freshness of style. Some good and salutary food for thought and dreams!
This book is the exact translation of the complete Swedish version (abridged in parts with the author's consent and approval at the turn of the century for the Swedish edition as it was sometimes too "stodgy" with all its geographical details). N.B. There is a shorter version for children aged 4 to 5 that makes them want to read the entire book later on their own wthout their parents' help or reading it aloud for them for bed-time.