Astrid Lindgren (1973)
Paperback, December 2004
Gramedia Grand Indonesia – IDR 35,000
I was a bit shocked reading the first chapter of this book, it was heavy with poorness, illness and eventually death, plus it was narrated by a bed-ridden little boy. I felt like crying when I read them, it’s an unusual theme for a children novel. But wait, it’s written by one of the best writers ever existed in this world, so there must be something good coming out of the whole deal ;)
Jonatan went to Nangijala when he passed away, just like his promise to his brother Karl. Nangijala is a beautiful place located beyond the stars, a land of campfires and storytelling. Unlike Jonatan who’s tall, handsome and brave; Karl is fragile, ill and full of fears. With his physical illness, soon Karl also followed Jonatan to Nangijala. Since the day Jonatan left him, that’s the only thing Karl has been waiting for: to be with his loving and handsome brother.
In Nangijala, they live in the Cherry Valley. People there called the boys The Brothers Lionheart. Obviously, they are respected and admired by these people. But even at Nangijala, there’s evil that tormenting the peace with its brutality. This is the adventure that the brave brothers must face. Secretly, Jonatan has been supporting the movement resistance at the neighboring valley, the Thorne Rose, which is being ruled over by Tengil, who enslaves the people of the valley and prisons its leader. Jonatan’s quest is to free Orvar the leader and to free the people of Thorne Rose so they could live cheerfully and peacefully as before.
Everything is different for little Karl. He’s no longer sick, he has straight legs and he can now providing help to his brother. In Nangijala, he’s as strong as his brother and he’s equally brave fighting the evil. Jonatan is his inspiration, his reason to live and his role model for everything. He’s so proud having Jonatan as his brother and he will do everything to be with him always.
The relationship between Jonatan and Karl is full of love. Karl looks up to Jonatan in awe and admiration, while Jonatan loves and protects Karl unconditionally. Eventhough the story is heavy with war and rebels, but the Lionsheart s loving relationship and bravery set up a good story and example for all readers. Death may not be as scary if we see it from the way Jonatan explained it to Karl. For small and fragile kids, the story is a good motivation to believe that everyone can be a hero, someone with goodness, if they want to.
I read the Bahasa version and I thought the villain’s name “Tengil” has been translated from its original version because “Tengil” in Bahasa means “annoying person” or “annoying behaviour” :)
Lastly, I have a complain for Gramedia the publisher. This novel is thick in comparison with other children novels. I opened the plastic cover just yesterday and today majority of the binding is damaged with loose pages come off quickly. This is a very poor quality of book binding. Shame!