Happy Santa Lucia Day! This image of Lucia and her attendants comes from my childhood copy of Hugo and Josephine by Maria Gripe, with drawings by Harald Gripe (1962); translated from the Swedish by Paul Britten Austin (Dell, 1969). Sorry about the poor image quality: what kind of paper were Dell Yearlings printed on in the 1970s? Anyway, there is Josephine as a maid of honor (May-Lise, the prettiest girl in the class, is Lucia) and Hugo at far left as a star-boy.
I read and loved the Hugo and Josephine trilogy as a child (Hugo has since gone missing); my other favorite Gripe book was the more mysterious Glassblower's Children. Gripe's books must have been widely available in translation then: Maria Gripe, "one of Sweden's most distinguished writers for children," had won the Hans Christian Anderson Award in 1974. Now my library system doesn't hold a single copy of any of her books. Not one. Which is a shame: Hugo and Josephine, the one I've most recently reread, is a delight: perceptive, often very funny, told in a distinctive present-tense and set in a place (Sweden) and time similar to but interestingly different than our own. When I start my own press dedicated to printing neglected or OOP children's fiction, the Hugo and Josephine trilogy will be on my list. Does anyone else remember it?