Josefine Ottesen
  prize-winning Danish author
Presentation > Books > Fables > The Garden Gnomes Move In

The Garden Gnomes Move In

Illustrated by Birde Poulsen
Høst & Søn, 2015

This a really jolly Christmas book about the gnome children ​​Parsley, Churney and Gnarley, who live with their grandmother in the garden behind the Red House. Even though the magpies are after them, and the cats, Twirler and Whiskers, go hunting in the garden, the gnomes are happy for their cosy home in the hollow apple tree, and as usual they have gathered in a large supply of dried fruits and grass seeds and nuts so they can get through the winter. But just before Christmas, a terrible storm arrives. The old apple tree snaps and their food is blown away. At the same time, the weather turns to frost and snow. Their friends in the garden would like to help them, but they can't because they don't have anything to give away. Without food and without a place to live, the gnomes can't survive outside, so they have to try to get into the Red House, although they are well aware that they don't belong there. It's hard to get in because the cats are on guard, and the Big People who live in the house mustn't see them, of course. It's a hard struggle but finally they get in to the warm house where there is plenty of food – but unfortunately there is already a doll's house family living there and they certainly don't intend to let the dirty gnomes from the garden live on their patch! But fortunately, children are sometimes smarter than adults!

Author's Comments 
Over the last couple of years, the refugee flow from war stricken zones and disaster areas has been growing steadily. For those of us living in this part of the world, it is frightening that so many people are having to leave their native countries without knowing where to go. But for those who have to leave everything they know behind them, it's even worse. This has affected me greatly because, from my own history, I feel strongly associated with the thought of ​​being forced to flee. My mother, a German-Hungarian Jew, had to leave everything she knew three timesin her life, in order to start all over again in a new country and a new culture and learn a new language. I know how much it meant to her that she was very fortunate every time that there was someone in the new country who opened their home to her. From each of the countries she emigrated to, she brought friendships with her that lasted until she died. If my little Christmas story about the garden gnomes can help to create just a little understanding of how much it means that someone says "Welcome", then I've achieved what I wanted.