Gunilla Bergström

Gunilla Bergström

Author and illustrator

Gunilla Bergström was born in 1942 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Her first children’s book, Mia’s Dad Moves Out, published in 1971, has been followed by about 40 others, which she has also illustrated.

Gunilla Bergström has been pioneering in many ways, thematically as well as artistically. She was the first to introduce the collage as a story telling device in picture books and the first to write about divorce for children. Very early on in the world of children’s books she used a dad instead of a mom as the primary parent in her stories – Alfie’s dad in the series about Alfie Atkins – and she received enormous attention as the first children’s writer to write openly and candidly about disabilities in her story about Bill and the secret child Bolla. A particular curiosity and a fascination for human beings shines through in both her texts and her illustrations. She prefers to write about the everyday lives of children, about human behavior and psychological situations.

Selected awards

The Elsa Beskow Plaque 1979
The Astrid Lindgren Prize 1981
Grammis Award for Children’s Album of the Year 1988
The City of Stockholm Honorary Award 1993
Children’s Book of the Year 1998
The Swedish Academy Schullströmska Award
for Children’s and Youth Literature 2006
The Emil Prize in memory of Astrid Lindgren 2011
The Astrid Lindgren’s World Scholarship 2012
The Government of Sweden Illis quorom
Gold Medal, eighth size 2012
The Big Audio Book Prize, Storytel 2015
The Royal Pro Patria Society, 2018
Litteris et Artibus, 2019

Gunilla Bergström

In the Author’s Own Words

Reality is fairytale enough!

“No princesses, adventures or spacemen! No flashy pictures and, above all, no pretty lies! I want to tell true stories about real people, just the way they behave in everyday life. Mini-dramas on a psychological level. It’s about mischief, about missing a friend, about being afraid of ghosts, about getting into fights, the end of Christmas …

The kind of thing every child can recognize. But preferably there should also be room for something imagined, unexpected!

Because in the midst of the ordinary, there is awe, fear, a sudden burst of laughter and The Eternal Questions. We adults have often forgotten about this as we struggle to come up with the rent, food, meet responsibilities; that life is an incredible mystery! Full of possibilities. The things we come up with! There is so much we can do that we never believed! And while wars are being fought, computers are being invented and people are having babies…seasons turn their eternal cycles, the same rhythm for thousands of years…

It is incomprehensible!

Reality is fairytale enough. Every day is new. Children know this best of all. It is we, the adults, who have forgotten. I want to tell stories so that children and adults are reminded and can laugh and be awed together. Children who get to charge up on reality and the magic of reality become better equipped. Then different decisions can be made, better fights fought and a warmer atmosphere can be created – when these kids one day come into power. Or ‘only’ become parents…”

Books by Gunilla Bergström

1971 Mias pappa flyttar
1972 Good Night, Alfie Atkins
1973 Tjuven
1973 Very tricky, Alfie Atkins
1975 Hurry Up, Alfie Atkins!
1976 Alfie Atkins and his Secret Friend
1976 Who’ll Save Alfie Atkins?
1977 You’re a Sly One, Alfie Atkins!
1978 Alfie and the Monster (GB)/Is that a Monster, Alfie Atkins? (US)
1978 Ramsor & Tramsor om Bill och Bolla
1979 Tokigt & Klokigt – mera rim om Bill och Bolla
1981 Are you a Coward, Alfie Atkins?
1982 What’s Alfie up to now?
1983 Who’s Scaring Alfie Atkins?
1984 Happy Alfie Atkins
1985 You have a Girlfriend, Alfie Atkins?
1986 A Party, Alfie Atkins!
1987 Hocus-Pocus, Alfie Atkins!
1988 Just Tie It, Alfie Atkins!
1989 What did Mr Atkins Say?
1990 Pekbok – Alfons egna saker
1990 Pekbok – Alfons tycker om
1991 There goes Alfie the Thief!
1991 Milla mitt-i-natten
1992 More Monsters, Alfie!
1992 Ingen sak sa Milla
1992 Pekbok – Alla möjliga Alfons
1992 Pekbok – Mera miner med Alfons
1992 Trall’fonsar
1993 Three Cheers for Alfie’s Daddy! 
1993 Milla mitt-i-godiskriget
1994 ”Not Likely!” said Alfie Atkins 
1994 Lösgodis – Fickan full
1994 Lösgodis – En påse till
1997 Fly with me said Alfie Atkins
1998 Milla mitt-i-musiken
1998 Invisible with Alfie
2002 How far does Alfie reach?
2002 Alfie’s ABC
2006 Alfie and the soldier daddy
2010 Alfie Atkins with the Magic Sack
2011 Milla och Mållgan mitt i natten
(Revised, published in 1991 as Milla mitt-i-natten)
2012 The Last to Laugh! Said Alfie’s Dad
2017 Mias pappa flyttar (1971 new edition)

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