fiction favorites…Rasmus and the Vagabond

Rasmus and the Vagabond, by Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by Eric Palmquist

“We’re not going to dig up potatoes tomorrow,” [Gunnar] informed Rasmus.  “Some people are coming tomorrow to pick out a kid.”

In the face of this news, the coin and the shell faded into the background.  Nothing could be as important as the possibility that someone in the group would get a home of his own.  There wasn’t a child at Vaesterhaga who wasn’t dreaming of that.  Even the bigger boys and girls who would soon be ready to go out on their own hoped against all reason for such a miracle.  Even the ugliest and most impossible of them wouldn’t stop hoping that some day someone would come who for some strange, wonderful, unexplainable reason wanted just him or her, not as a servant to order around, but as their own child.  To have parents was the greatest joy the children at the orphanage could imagine.  Not all of them would admit their hopeless longing openly.  But Rasmus was only nine and too young to hide his heart.
“Just think,” he said eagerly, “if they should pick me!  Oh how I wish that they would want me.”
“Bah! Don’t get any ideas,” said Gunnar. “They always pick girls with curly hair.”
Rasmus’ spirits sank and an expression of black despair spread over his face.  He looked pleadingly at Gunnar.

It's been made into a Swedish film.

 “Don’t you think there might be a chance that someone would want a boy with straight hair?”
“They want girls with curly hair, I told you.”

Rasmus, a 9-year-old boy with straight hair, lives at an orphanage in Sweden, under the care of a sour, pitiless directress nicknamed The Hawk by the children.  The longing of his heart is to be wanted, to have a home where he is lovingly cared for.  Finally, when the orphanage becomes just too hard to bear, Rasmus runs away, determined to find parents of his own.

Soon he meets up with Paradise Oscar, a happy-go-lucky tramp, wandering the open road and singing for his suppers.  Rasmus tags along with Oscar, thrilled to have a companion, and such a nice one at that.  Things take a nasty turn, however, when Oscar and Rasmus get mixed up with a couple of cold-hearted gangsters.  Accused of the crimes the gangsters have committed, Oscar and Rasmus end up hiding

Originally in Swedish, of course, by beloved author, Astrid Lindgren.

from the law, protecting elderly Mrs. Hedberg, stumbling upon the stolen loot, and facing down two villainous crooks with guns.  Perilous spying, harrowing escapes, a diamond necklace and an abandoned house, arrests, jailbreaks, and a heartstopping rescue — Rasmus is swept up into one wild adventure!

Once the bad guys are behind bars, it’s time for Oscar and Rasmus to hit the road again.  There’s still no solution to Rasmus’ original dream, though.  How will Rasmus find a forever home?  And if he does find someone who wants him, how will he ever say good-bye to dear Oscar?  Clearly the road is no place for a nine-year-old, but the affection Rasmus feels for Oscar makes that parting seem impossible.

Astrid Lindgren’s story of a boy in want of a home is packed with non-stop excitement, grim danger, and the sweet, warmhearted bond between a forlorn boy and a restless hobo.  Guns there are!  Threats.  Suspense.  Quirky widows.  Hard times.  And kindness, fierce loyalty, and one of the happiest endings you’ll read.  I especially love that they pour their coffee into saucers and blow on it to cool it down — just the way my Swedish grandfather did 🙂  Written in 1956, this has been translated into many languages and made into a Swedish film.  Great edge-of-your-seats read-aloud for ages 8 or 9 and up!

Here’s an Amazon link: Rasmus and the Vagabond