The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits

“Why do we celebrate Christmas?”
“Because a child has come to earth,” said the tomte.

YuleTomteCover

What’s the Story?

Grump is a tomte. What’s a tomte, you ask? A tomte is a mythological creature from Scandinavian folklore, similar in appearance to a garden gnome, and associated with Christmas.

 

Grump lives alone, which is exactly how he likes it. Or so he says. He’s waiting for Christmas when a gust of wind steals his hat and mittens. That’s the last straw. He won’t be the Yule Tomte anymore!

 

Meanwhile, Binny and Barty, the rabbit children, live with their family in the forest. They’ve never heard of Christmas, or the Yule Tomte, until the wind brings them some strange gifts.

 

All the animals prepare for Christmas’ arrival. They make presents, bake sweet treats, and even decorate a tree. But will the Yule Tomte ever bring Christmas to the big forest?

Why is it Great?

Ulf Gottfrid Stark was a Swedish author and screenwriter. From 1989 to 1998 he was an elected member of the Swedish Academy for Children’s Books Svenska barnboksakademin. In 1998 he received the Nordic Children’s Book Prize.

 

In The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits Ulf Stark brings Scandinavian folklore to life. In ancient times, a tomte were believed to be the soul of the first inhabitant of the farm and acted as a household guardian. After Christianization, the tomte eventually came to be associated with the Christmas season. 

 

It’s still tradition today to leave out a bowl of their favorite porridge on Christmas Eve, similar to the American tradition of leaving out milk and cookies for Santa Claus.

 

 

Susan Beard does an excellent job translating this Swedish Christmas classic into English. Ulf Stark’s humor really shines through—not an easy thing to do across languages!

 

 

This charming and funny Christmas story of a grumpy tomte and the hopeful little rabbits is told over twenty-five chapters—one for each day of December until Christmas. We didn’t read it that way, however! It was so good my kids begged for more and we read all the way through in one day.

Yule Tomte

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