Flat Stanley, meet Nils the Nisse

Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch Flat Stanley enjoys playing Monopoly!

Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch
Flat Stanley enjoys playing Monopoly!

Heidi Håvan Grosch
Sparbu, Norway

Flat Stanley is a character who first appeared in the 1964 picture book by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Tomi Ungerer. Since then, Flat Stanley has been the star of many new books, and different illustrators have drawn him.

In 1995 a third grade teacher in Canada, Dale Hubert, wanted to do something so that children in different places would start writing to each other. Since then Flat Stanley has been traveling from elementary school classrooms to places around the world. Students place a paper version of him in an envelope and send it away. The person receiving the envelope with Flat Stanley inside colors him if he is in black and white, and takes pictures with Flat Stanley. Afterwards, they mail the pictures and/or a postcard back with the Flat Stanley to the class who then marks a map with all the places Flat Stanley has been. No passport needed!

Photos: Heidi Håvan Grosch Flat Stanley meets some friendly alpacas.

Photos: Heidi Håvan Grosch
Flat Stanley meets some friendly alpacas.

Recently Flat Stanley was in Norway. My cousin in Iowa is in second grade and his class read about Flat Stanley who accidently was squished as flat as a pancake when a bulletin board fell on him (therefore he is flat enough to travel around in envelopes). Our Norwegian niece (first grade) had a wonderful time helping us take pictures of Flat Stanley in Norway in our gapahuk (three-sided shelter), driving in the car, and visiting the family Alpaca flock.

Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch Flat Stanley enjoys Norway. He even got to visit a gapahuk!

Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch
Flat Stanley enjoys Norway. He even got to visit a gapahuk!

If you go to Flat Stanley’s official website (www.flatstanley.com) and click on 50th anniversary, you can even see famous people like Clint Eastwood and President Obama with him. He really is a superstar. Because of technology, Flat Stanley is also now traveling via email, SMS, and Instagram.

Then we had an idea!

What if we did the same thing with Nils Anders Wik from the Norwegian American Weekly? Using his magic, he can also make himself flat enough to fit into an envelope or travel through the world wide web.

So this is your task.

photo 2bw line drawing

Print and cut out Nils from this article and take a picture of him in your area. Nils would also think it is fun if you dress him in a way that represents what you did together or the place he visited. Maybe you can help him find his long-lost family!

Send him back (with a picture or postcard) to the Norwegian American Weekly (7301 5th Ave NE, Suite A, Seattle, WA 98115 or naw@na-weekly.com) or post pictures of him on Twitter (@NAW­nisse, #NAWnisse), or as an Instagram (#NAWnisse).

Since Nils is so young (or is he old? Maybe he is both—for more on his background, visit www.na-weekly.com/featured/naws-new-friend) he probably shouldn’t be away from home for too long, so if you can send him back before March 15 that would be super.

Happy travels, Nils! And say hi to Flat Stanley if you meet him.

This article is a part of Barneblad, a monthly feature by Heidi Håvan Grosch to share with kids and grandkids.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 27, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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