The author of illustrations to books of Astrid Lindgren’s childhood fled to Sweden from the war

Stockholm — the Door opens, a delicate silver-haired woman. Her eyes are shining. I think she exudes the warmth that animates the characters in her illustrations to the fairy tales. However, soon notice that hidden inside the little beast.

“Where the hell did she go?— boil the batteries from the hearing aid. — I, of course, and without cost, but then bad apart high-pitched sounds”.

Before us is a 86-year-old Elon trips abroad (Ilon Wikland), through which the light appeared the familiar illustrations of favorite fairy tales Swedish children’s writer Astrid Lindgren. The brush trips abroad out, for example, the characters of the books “the Brothers Lionheart”, “Ronia, the robber’s daughter”, “the six bullerby children”, “Lotta from the Noisy street” and “Madicken”. In her drawings clearly traced the major themes of the works of Lindgren — children’s joy and enthusiasm, as well as the sorrows, fears and losses.

Trips abroad, and she survived all in childhood: the parents abandoned the girls, and during the war, her alone was sent from her native Estonia with other refugees to Sweden.

Path trips abroad to a new home in a solid the Stockholm district of Kungsholmen was very long. We know that when the famous artist sits in a chair and begins to talk about my childhood so vividly, as if for the listener draws a picture. And just as the characters of Astrid Lindgren, trips abroad finds in his difficult childhood full of bright moments.

Around a beautiful large house was laid out a magnificent garden where little Ilon loved to run as Maliken from the fairy tales of Lindgren. And around the blooming Apple and cherry. So Elon trips abroad recalls his early years spent in the Estonian city of Tartu.

Elon lived with his grandmother, the owner of the restaurant, along with two uncles, aunt and husband titinum officer. In the house of the military, of course, stored weapons.

Life Elon flowed serenely, although parents were not there. The girl’s mother, a talented artist on fabric, and dad, too, of the family of artists lived in Tallinn. “I can say that I did not need them — only bother was created,” says Elon.

But then an event occurred which changed everything.

One of the uncles of a girl named Leo didn’t work. Describing him, Elon said that he was “a little slow”, but in the family everybody loved him. And once Leo picked up weapons stored at home and accidentally pulled the trigger. Shot in Elon: entered the shoulder and exited through the back. On these sites and still have the scars.

The weapons have since hidden under the castle, but it was not enough. Mother of three Elon took the girl from the hospital and taken to Tallinn.

“I didn’t really know her,” says Elon’s mother.

The incident greatly shocked the girl. Elon says that if if kept to himself. Fortunately, the house had a dog and a cat that brought her small comfort. However, the presence of parents did not give a sense of security.

Upon reaching the Elon school age the situation has improved slightly. She went to a French school, made friends. “In school I went a week later than the others, but the mother had no idea when school starts,” recalls Elon.

When the girl was 8 years old, her parents divorced. Mom went to Italy, there to develop their artistic abilities, dad also got married again.

Elon was sent to the city of Haapsalu, this time to the parents of the father. It would seem that the separation from parents and friends was supposed to be the girl’s ordeal, however, proved that backfired.

“The best and it was impossible to imagine,” she says.

In Haapsalu at grandma and grandpa was quiet, but then, their lives have crept the fear. In 1940 the Soviet Union occupied Estonia. People were put in trains, driving away them to Siberia.

In 1944, the grandparents decided that Elon shouldn’t stay in Estonia. The girl’s father with a new family had already moved to Sweden, not even bothering to invite the eldest daughter. Elon had to go alone.

According to experts, from Estonia from the Soviet authorities fled 80 thousand citizens, and a quarter of them went to Sweden.

The path through the Baltic sea was very dangerous. Many went to the island of Gotland on small fishing boats, just like refugees trying on old boats to cross the Mediterranean sea to reach Europe. Last year alone in Sweden reached a record high number of refugee children — 35 thousand children and adolescents.

Elon your journey remembers it very well.

Great waves beat against the side of the ship “Shoshanna”. There was a strong autumn wind, but the deck was still better than in the hold: not so much rocked.

The passengers feared that they will notice and sink Russian or German ship. This fear was groundless as a result of the storms and under fire of Germans and Russians killed hundreds of Estonians.

14-year-old Elon wanted to go, but grandma and grandpa said that was too old to move. Grandma held Elon to the pier and slipped into her pocket a note with a phone number aunt living in Sweden.

“I think she was very hard, because she had to send her granddaughter”.

In Stockholm, Elon was sent to a school at the Church of St. Catherine. Here she was sent to the shower, took her to a medical examination and issued clean clothes.

Soon Elon fell ill with jaundice and was in the hospital, where living in Sweden, bought her paper and crayons. “I was painting so hard that all the sheets were in the colored spots,” recalls Elon.

After the hospital she moved to her aunt in a rented Studio apartment. The first thing designed for girls library card and said that now she needs to learn Swedish. Elon wanted to learn the language, so training went quickly.

“I thought if anyone here will be able to settle down, it’s me,” says Elon and transmits aunt’s advice to all young refugees who arrive in Sweden today. “Learn the Swedish language. This is the only way to integrate into society,” she said.

Elon believes that, while preserving their culture is very important, visitors should not separate from the Swedes. “It is better not to live in areas where Swedes are not at all.”

Aunt helped Elon to do in the Stockholm art school “free student” — she was released from tuition fees. After 16-year-old girl got an Illustrator in the local newspaper. She took an apartment, it went well. Elon has lived more independently than most of its peers. “16-year-old, who has seen what war is, of course, differed from the Swedish youth of the same age,” says the trips abroad.

When Elon was 21, she met at a party with the Swedish officer Stig trips abroad (Stig Wikland), and the sympathy was mutual.

Officer trips abroad wanted to marry the Estonian Ilon, despite the protests of his mother. Future mother in law believed that marriage with a refugee will hurt his military career. Now her words make Elon a smile: “the one who glorified the name of Vilandos, it’s me”.

In 1953, Elon went to the publishing house “Raben and Sjogren” (Rabén&Sjögren) with a bundle of sketches. By this time her first daughter was born, and salaries of officer young family life is not enough. But the main thing was that the 23-year-old Elon wanted to paint.

She came with their pictures to the editor of children’s books Astrid Lindgren and said, “Please allow me to draw something”.

Elon was at the right time in the right place. The author of illustrations for “Pippi Longstocking” was ill, and the novel “Mio, my Mio” was laying in wait for clearance. Elon received the manuscript and went home with her to draw. Soon she was as an Illustrator Mio.

“After that without a job I wasn’t sitting,” she says.

Trips abroad created for the books of Astrid Lindgren’s idyllic paintings and paintings everyday. And, in the other was visible the ironic view of life, however, appeared here and images of sadness, loneliness child.

Elon was looking for inspiration everywhere. In her illustrations you can find the faces of the daughters, images of Estonian and Swedish yards and small towns. Many of the characters copied from passers-by. So, for example, trips abroad wandered through the Parisian squares and alleys in search of Carlson.

“I drew a man, and Astrid said it is not Carlson’s.”

Elon and Astrid has managed to work well together. Only twice Lindgren took trips abroad created characters — in addition to Carlson, to change the image I had and Rani, daughter of the robber.

This Carlson Elon found on one of the Paris area, where he met lounging young man in coveralls and sticking up hair.

Career Elon went up the hill, while her marriage was collapsing. Although she claims that the Stig was a good husband, the wife more and more distant from each other. “I shouldn’t have to marry early,” concludes Elon.

They lived together for almost 30 years, and during that time they had four daughters. In the end, Elon met with one architect and filed for divorce. Her new relationship lasted for many years.

Before us an illustration from the book “Peter and the wolf” — joint work trips abroad and her friend Mark Levengood (Mark Levengood), a Finnish broadcaster and writer, living in Sweden.

The hunter in front of Putin, in the background, there Stalin. Shortly before the creation of the illustration Russia annexed the Crimea, and thoughts about these events were the thoughts of the artist. Revived and memories of the night visits the Soviet invaders to the neighbors in Haapsalu.

“After that, I’m in politics to deepen not wanted”, says the trips abroad.

So the kids are not frightened of the wolf in the book is depicted with the face of the former dog Elon — lapphund named Sammeli, which she had brought friends from Finland.

Illustrations for the book Levengood — the latter currently working trips abroad. Brushes and pencils in the office of the artist neatly stand in banks waiting for a new project. Elon says that she Mature new ideas, which she cannot yet share. “I continue to draw. Now gradually ponder what to work on.”

A long conversation begins to bore Elon, and she wants to go to the balcony to get some fresh air. Before that we for a moment go back to her childhood in Estonia.

Trips abroad understands that sometimes young people make mistakes and have children too early. It happened with her parents.

“I have achieved something in life thanks to the parents, and with grandparents. Most importantly, someone to take care of you”.

Elon also emphasizes that a critical role played for her freedom. A former refugee, she wanted all the girls to think as independently: “no One should tell you what to think and what to love.”