cover image The Story of the Blue Planet

The Story of the Blue Planet

Andri Snaer Magnason, trans. from the Icelandic by Julian Meldon D’Arcy, illus. by Áslaug Jónsdóttir. Seven Stories/Triangle Square, $12.99 (136p) ISBN 978-1-60980-428-2

While fairly unknown in the U.S., Magnason is an acclaimed author in his native Iceland. His sly, smart parable, first published in 1999, takes aim at the central dilemma of the developed world: is it ethical to be happy at the cost of others’ suffering? The tranquil Blue Planet, inhabited only by children, is jolted when fast-talking grownup Gleesome Goodday parachutes in and teaches its children to fly. (To supply the service on a permanent basis he charges them, insidiously, just the tiniest fraction of their youth.) Blown off course, friends Brimir and Hulda find out quite by chance that because they can fly, another group of children has no sunlight, safety, or food. Mr. Goodday is unruffled by their discovery: “There’s as much happiness in the world now as there was previously, it’s just been readjusted,” he says. Dahl-like wit and a couple of eccentrically Arctic moments (seals are for eating, and Brimir and Hulda suckle the milk of a she-wolf) make this a memorable and provocative tale, and a splendid opener for discussions about our own blue planet. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)