Gunilla Bergström is the illustrator and author behind the stories about Alfie Atkins, who is now a classic character for millions of children all around the world.
Every year, about one million Alfie Atkins books are borrowed at libraries across Sweden. Gunilla Bergström’s books have been translated into 30 different languages. The 26 Alfie Atkins books are bookstore classics and have never gone out of print. Almost 5 million copies have been printed for the Swedish market alone since the first book came out back in 1972.
But Gunilla hasn’t confined herself to Alfie Atkins; she’s written rhymes and short stories as well. She’s written lyrics together with Georg Riedel, as well as the libretto for a children’s musical, and she’s also worked with children’s theatre and cartoons. She created the sayings and nonsense philosophy in the two Lösgodis Alfie Atkins rhyme books, and she has illustrated picture books.
Gunilla Bergström, born in 1942 in Gothenburg, trained as a journalist, but has been writing full-time since 1975. She calls herself “an odd character, who prefers to go her own way”.
And she’s broken new ground time and again in lots of different ways:
- she was the first to introduce collage as a narrative feature in picture books, which is evident from the cover of her debut book, Mia’s Dad Moves Out (1971).
- she was the first to tackle the subject of divorce, in the same book.
- she got a huge response from being the first children’s author to write openly and candidly on the subject of disability in the book about Bill and the secret child Bolla.
- she was the first to bring out a book that dealt seriously with the subject of war – Alfie and the Soldier Daddy.
- and she was the first to have a dad instead of a mum as the main parent in the world of children’s books – with ‘Pappa Åberg’ in the Alfie Atkins series.
On top of that, she was the first contemporary Swedish author to be translated into Arabic! That was way back in 1985, with two books from the Alfie Atkins series.
“A magical balance between everyday life and fantasy” (DN) “Gems of child psychology” (SvD) and “she gives children courage” (Bulletin Jugend & Literatur) are quotes that speak volumes about her books.
Gunilla herself says: “I’m not much good at fairy stories and detective novels… for me, reality is magical enough! I want to tell true stories about real people. For in the midst of everyday life we also have: astonishment, terror, a sudden paroxysm of laughter and Eternal Questions… Life is an incomparable enigma! Full of possibilities. The things we get into! Each day is new. Children understand that better than anyone. It’s we adults who have forgotten. I want to tell stories so that children and adults will be reminded and can laugh and be amazed together”.
For further information about Gunilla Bergström, why not visit Alfie Atkins’ own website at www.alfons.se