Love and death, God and nothing, the beauty and the endangerment of our world: There are hardly any of the big questions that are not dealt with in the children's and young people's books of our time.
Often enough one wonders about a narrative style that bends down to the child who lectures and explains instead of confessing to one's own perplexity about these things.
Or who, on the other hand, persists in such perplexity without allowing any perspective to emerge.
Editor in the features section.
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Ulf Nilsson was obviously not afraid of big questions.
Born in Helsingborg in 1948, the author of a total of over a hundred books became widely known in Germany when his children's book “The Best Burials in the World” was published in 2006 by the Moritz Verlag in Frankfurt, translated by Ole Könnecke.
It is about the curious as well as gripping girl Ester, who acknowledges the discovery of a bumblebee corpse with the words “finally something happened” and after the animal is buried, founds a “funeral company” and dedicates herself to this task with great seriousness one suspects a wonderful game - no contradiction, as the rightly acclaimed book makes clear, in which Eva Eriksson's pictures interpret Ulf Nilsson's story in the most beautiful way and sometimes even undermine it.
How to become a poet
Above all, however, the children's enterprise is the reason for the first-person narrator of the book to discover a talent for which he has so far had no real use: the writing of funeral poems. How an unexpected situation challenges and thus changes the person who gets caught in it and is brought to the limit by it, can be read in other books by Nilsson, perhaps most beautifully in “Heart Pain”. Ulf Nilsson lets such a boy tell himself what love does with a boy at elementary school age, and the range of effects of this elementary feeling is wide. Not only because it structures a sense of time, a personal chronology (the time before he knew Britta, the moment he fell in love, the time since), but also in the decisions,all of which result from the soberly considered, therefore no less great feeling. And in the skills that the boy develops, such as poetry - if he rhymes “heart” with “pain” and is enthusiastic about the sound, then the most worn-out pair of rhymes in the world sounds new and fresh to the reader.
Nilsson, a studied librarian who also practices his profession, looked at his characters, which also include the protagonists of his popular animal crime series about Commissioner Gordon, with interest, with love, but without companionship.
We take away their amazement at the wealth of the world, precisely because Nilsson leaves them their own mystery and at the same time gives us the opportunity to share their experiences.
Now he has died, a few days after his 73rd birthday.Keywords: