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Literature / The Six Bullerby Children

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The Six Bullerby Children (also known as The Children of the Noisy Village) is a book for children written by Astrid Lindgren. It's a set of stories about idyllic life and small adventures of six children who live in rural Sweden in the very small and remote village of Bullerby (Bullerbyn in Swedish). It was originally published in 1947 in Sweden. It has since been translated into many languages and published in many countries.

The village consists of only three lined up houses in which live six children with their parents and hired help. The book is narrated by a girl Lisa who has two slightly older brothers Lasse and Bosse. She's best friends with Anna and Britta, two sisters who live in the neighbouring house. Olle is an only child from another neighbouring house though later he "gets" a little sister Kerstin. The children, especially the boys, are often mischievous and there is some friendly rivalry between the boys and the girls.

All the children have loving parents. Anna and Britta have a kind old grandpa who plays grandpa for all the kids from Bullerby. The children go to school in Storby and they have a good and nice teacher. They are on friendly terms with their hired help. The children sometimes visit Kristin, an old woman who lives alone, and they sometimes cross paths with an evil shoe-maker. The families do some agriculture work and the children often help working in the fields or taking care of their animals. They play in their gardens, in woods and mountains, by the lake or on small islands and other exciting places. They often build little dens and hideaways and play games. There are lots of holiday-themed chapters with parties and celebrations as they celebrate birthdays, Easter, end of school and beginning of the summer holidays, summer solstice, Christmas or New Year's Eve.

Bullerby(n) is identical with a small village called Sevedstorp where Lindgren's father grew up. The book gave name to "Bullerby Syndrome", which is a term referring to an idealization of Sweden. It consists of a stereotypical image of Sweden with positive associations, including easy and simple life, happy communities, wooden houses, nature untouched by mankind, clear lakes, green forests, frosty winters and midsummer sunshine.


  • Animal Lover: All the children love animals in general. Bosse especially loves birds and bird-watching. He collects bird eggs, cares about nests and gets a pet chick. Olle rescues a mistreated dog. In one story, the children get three kittens and bring one to each house. Lisa manages to rescue a baby lamb who almost died because its mother had no milk. The children even feel compassion towards an old aggressive ram.
  • Birthday Episode:
    • In one early chapter, Lisa describes her best birthday. She was surprised because she didn't get any presents, just a cake. But she got her own room with new furniture and beautiful handmade rugs.
    • Grandpa celebrates his 80th birthday in one chapter. It's very sweet as the kids read him congratulatory telegrams and a small note about it in the local newspaper.
  • Christmas Episode: There are several Christmas chapters. The kids go with their fathers to cut their Christmas trees, they bake gingerbread, make paper decoration and decorate the trees, wait for the dinner, get presents, play during the winter holiday and the whole village gets invited to Aunt Jenny for a great feast.
  • Cuckoosnarker: Bosse's mind works in some weird ways sometimes. This doesn't hinder him from being one of the snarkiest of the kids.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the kids are extremely snarky. Lasse, Bosse and Britta are the snarkiest, but Olle can snark with the best of them when the mood takes him. Lisa and Anna, who are also the youngest (apart from Kerstin), are the least snarky kids, though Lisa gets in a couple of digs though her narration.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: There are six kids in Bullerby, three boys and three girls. In the second book, Olle's little sister Kertin is born, meaning the girls outnumber the boys by one — though the general agreement among the other kids seems to be that Kerstin is too young to really "count."
  • Girls Have Cooties: Lasse definitely insists that he believes this, often going on about how girls are no good compared to boys, though it does seem to be mostly for show.
  • Good Parents: All the children have wonderful loving parents who let them play and enjoy their happy childhood. Sometimes the fathers have time to play with them, but not very often because they're busy on their farms.
  • Ironic Name: The local shoemaker, Mr Kind ("Snäll" in the original Swedish) is anything but. He's angry, a bit of a Child Hater, he neglects and abuses his dog, and is implied to be a drunk. Lisa even points out the irony of his name in her narration. (He does get one small Pet the Dog moment in one book, when he comes rushing out to save Lasse, whom he thinks is drowning — but since Lasse was only playing around and was never in any danger, the entire incident ends badly.)
  • "Jar of Jellybeans" Contest: Lasse, Bosse and Lisa organize a Christmas contest for everybody in Bullerby. Whoever guesses right the number of peas in a jar wins their prize which is a huge piece of gingerbread.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Kristin is an older kind lady who lives alone in a cottage in the wood. The children occassionally visit her and bring her some food as she's rather poor. She has several cats. One of the cats has kittens: the children ask to take them home, with which Kristin agrees, provided their parents don't object.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Lasse insists he knows just about everything, but it's pretty obvious that he's just making things up. In his defense, he's a kid.
  • Lazily Genderflipped Name: Bosse gets a pet chick who he names Albert, but she turns out to be a hen so he renames her Albertina.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Though Narrator-Lisa often sighs about how impossible the boys are, and there's definitely a bit of a low-key Girls vs. Boys Plot to several of the chapters, the three boys fit pretty neatly into this category. Olle (the kind-hearted animal lover) is Nice, Lasse (the most mischievous and biggiest showoff) is Mean, and Bosse (who generally tags along with Lasse) is In-Between.
  • The Runaway: Grandpa was orphaned as a small boy and his guardians mistreated him, so he ran away from his abusive home and later some good people took him in. Lisa and Anna think it sounds amazingly fun, like in a novel, and they think it would be fun to run away as well. They carefully prepare their adventure and tell only Grandpa about it. However, they don't manage to stay awake and run away at night, so they decide to postpone it and run away some other time.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The kids have plenty of these when they have nothing else to do. Doesn't hurt that all of them can get very snarky when the mood takes them.
  • Slice of Life: The books focus on the daily life of the Bullerby children whose adventures tend to have rather low stakes.
  • Siblings Wanted: Olle is an only child who really wants to have siblings. Eventually, his wish comes true and he gets a little sister Kerstin. She's adorable and Olle loves her to bits, and Anna and Lisa adore her, too, and they enjoy when they can help taking care of her.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Bosse puts a hen's egg into an owl nest. The chick hacks out but Bosse gets scared the owl will not like it among her little owls. He takes the chick back and names it Albert. The chick grows up and turns out to be a hen, so he renames her Albertina.