Babbis Friis-Baastad Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Babbis Friis-Baastad 1921–1970

(Has also written under the names Eleanor Babbis and Babbis Friis) Norwegian young adult novelist. Like many young adult and children's authors, Friis-Baastad began her literary career by telling and writing stories for her own children. Her audience gradually widened and she eventually found herself contributing on a regular basis to children's radio broadcasts in the 1950s. Her best known books, Kristy's Courage and Don't Take Teddy, are unsentimental treatments of young adults coping with mental and physical handicaps. Friis-Baastad became interested in this topic through her acquaintance with a handicapped child. Her interest in this field grew as she began an intensive study to gain background for her fiction and culminated in the publication of Du ma vakne Tor, which translates as "Wake up, Tor," and was written for an audience of mentally handicapped young adults. This book was quite controversial in Scandinavia, with some critics feeling that the text was too complex for its audience. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 17-20, rev. ed., and Something about the Author, Vol. 7.)

When seven year old Kristy wakes up in the hospital after having been hit by a car, she does not realize how deformed she will seem to the outside world. It is only after she goes, in typical excitement, to her first day at a new school that Kristy, taunted and stared at by the other children, begins to think of her facial scar as ugly…. The author [of Kristy's Courage] has a rare gift for conveying a child's sensitivity in a way other children will be able to understand. There are moments of real humor and tenderness and (most unusual) snatches of very real sounding adult conversation, the sort every child overhears…. [This] is a realistic treatment of a situation some children experience and it is movingly told. (p. 678)

Virginia Kirkus' Service, July 15, 1965.