This book, which is the latest work of Sweden’s greatest fiction writer, was published in Stockholm, December, 1906. It became immediately the most popular book of the year in Scandinavia.

Four years ago the author received a commission from the National Teachers’ Association to write a reader for the public schools.

She devoted three years to Nature study and to familiarising herself with animal and bird life. She sought out hitherto unpublished folklore and legends of the different provinces. These she has ingeniously woven into her story.

The book has been translated into German and Danish, and the book reviewers of Germany and Denmark, as well as those of Sweden, are unanimous in proclaiming this Selma Lagerlöf’s best work.

One reviewer has said: “Since the days of Hans Christian Andersen, we have had nothing in Scandinavian juvenile literature to compare with this remarkable book.” Another reviewer wrote: “Miss Lagerlöf has the keen insight into animal psychology of a Rudyard Kipling.”

Stockholm’s Dagblad said among other things: “The great author stands as it were in the background. The prophetess is forgotten for the voices that speak through her. It is as though the book had sprung direct from the soul of the Swedish nation.”

Sydsvenska Dagbladet writes: “The significant thing about this book is: while one follows with breathless interest the shifting scenes and adventures, one learns many things without being conscious of it.⁠ ⁠… The author’s imagination unfolds an almost inexhaustible wealth in invention of new, and ever-changing adventures, told in such a convincing way that we almost believe them. As amusement reading for the young, this book is a decided acquisition. The intimate blending of fiction and fact is so subtle that one finds it hard to distinguish where one ends, and the other begins. It is a classic⁠ ⁠… A masterwork.”

From Gefle Posten: “The author is here⁠—as always, the great storyteller, the greatest, perhaps, in Scandinavian literature since the days of Hans Christian Andersen. To children whose imaginations have been fostered by Ashbjørnsen, Andersen, and Thousand-and-One Nights, Nils Holgersson will always be precious, as well as to those of us who are older.”

From Göteborg Posten: “Selma Lagerlöf has given us a good lift onward. She is the one whom we, in these days, place first and foremost⁠ ⁠… Among the other work which she has done for us, and for our children, she has recreated our geography for us⁠ ⁠… Upon imagination’s road she has sought to open the child-heart to an understanding of animals, while she tactfully and playfully drops into little knowledge-thirsty minds a comprehensive understanding of the habits and characteristics of different animals. She carries us with her⁠ ⁠… and shapes for us⁠—old and young⁠—a new childhood in tune with the thought of our time. What does she not touch upon in this wonderful book?⁠ ⁠… As Mowgli, who had the key to all the languages of the Jungle, once found his way to all his little brother and sister-hearts in the great civilised world, so shall the Thumbietot of Swedish fairyland lead many little thirsting child-souls, not only on the highways of adventure, but also upon the road of seriousness and learning.”

Another critic says: “Beyond all doubt, Nils Holgersson’s Journey is one of the most noteworthy books ever published in our language. I take it, that no other nation has a book of this sort. One can make this or that comment on one and another phase of it, but the whole impresses one as so masterful, so great, and so Swedish, that one lays the book down with a sense of gratitude for the privilege of reading such a thing. There is a deep undercurrent of Swedish earnestness all through this tale of Nils Holgersson. It belongs to us. It is a part of us.”

Ny Tid writes: “Selma Lagerlöf’s book contains just as much information⁠—no, twice as much⁠—as the old readers. It acquaints the children with Sweden’s nature; it interests them in its bird world⁠—both tame and wild; in its domestic and forest animals, even in its rats. It explains its vegetation, its soil, its mountain-formations, its climatic conditions. It gives you customs, superstitions and the folklore in different sections of the country. It takes in farming industry, manors and factories; cities and peasant-cabins, and even dog-kennels. It has a word for everything; an interest in, and for, everything. For, mark you, this book has not been patched together by the dilettante, by committees⁠ ⁠… It was written by a highly gifted, warmhearted seer, to whom the child-nature has not been a murky pool to fish in, but a clear, impressionable mirror. The author has fulfilled her mission in a wholly convincing manner. She has had enough imagination and skill to blend all the dry travel and nature material into the harmonious beauty of fable. She knew how to combine the useful with the beautiful, as no pedant of the practical, or the aesthetic, has ever dreamed it. She has converted the absorption of knowledge into a child’s game⁠—a pleasure. Her style throughout is the simplest, the most facile for children to grasp.⁠ ⁠… Her utterances are hearty without being boisterous; most playful and humorous without being loquacious. Her work is a model textbook; and just therefore, a finished work of art.”

From Göteborg Morgon Posten: “The fame of her literary greatness goes forward without a dissenting voice; fills her own land, and travels far and wide outside its borders⁠ ⁠… Just as modestly as she points a moral, just so delicately and unobtrusively does she give information. Everything comes to you through the adventures, or through the concrete images of imagination’s all-compelling form.⁠ ⁠… No one who has retained a particle of his child mind can escape the genuine witchery of the poesy in Nils Holgersson.”

A new history of literature, entitled Frauen der Gegenwart, by Dr. Theodore Klaiber, mentions Miss Lagerlöf as the foremost woman writer of our time, and says that she is receiving the same affectionate homage for her art in other lands, that has been accorded to her in Sweden. Dr. Klaiber does not see in her merely “a dreaming poetess far removed from the world.” He finds her too forceful and courageous for this.

“But she sees life with other eyes than do our up-to-date people. All her world becomes saga and legend.⁠ ⁠… More than all other modem authors, she has that all-embracing love for everything which never wanes and never wearies,” says Dr. Klaiber.

Torsten Fågelqvist, a well-known Swedish writer, ends his review of the book with these remarks: “Our guide is clear-visioned, many-sided and maternal. She can speak all languages: the language of animals, and the language of flowers; but first and last, childhood’s language. And the best of all is, that under her spell all are compelled to become children.”

Some of the purely geographical matter in the Swedish original of the “The Story of Karr and Grayskin” and subsequent stories has been eliminated from the English version. The author has rendered valuable assistance in cutting certain chapters and abridging others. Also, with the author’s approval, cuts have been made where the descriptive matter was merely of local interest. But the story itself is intact.