Barneblad: Anna and the Woven Hearts spreads summer love

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

hearts

Photo: Wendy Jensen
Making woven hearts is a fun and creative activity for any age at any time of the year.

It’s summer again and time for spending time with family and friends. It also gives us time to engage in new activities and projects. Summer is a great time for reading books that we normally might not have time for during the school year.

This summer, there is a new book that I am sure all Norwegian-American children and their families will want to explore, Anna and the Woven Hearts by Wendy Jensen. We all met Anna last year in the book Anna and the Scandinavian Hearts, the first book in the series, and the new book is the latest installment in her adventure.

As author Wendy explained, Anna and the Woven Hearts is all about connecting to family, heritage, and community. It is about generations coming together and sharing love among themselves and with everyone around them—for what could be a better expression of love than a heart?

In the book, Anna visits her grandma’s house, where she has often come to make cookies, a very popular activity for Scandinavian Americans. But on this visit, she will learn something new, as her grandma teaches her to make woven hearts. Not only are they fun to make, but they can be filled with candy and other treats and then be gifted to friends and family.

Wait a minute: I know you are telling yourself that making woven hearts is normally a Christmas activity in Norway. Yes, this is true, but there really are no restrictions on having fun.

Wendy explained that when remembering her childhood, she wished that the joy of her family’s Nordic Christmas celebrations could extend out through the entire year. She came up with the idea of working on these projects in the middle of the summer or during any season. So, Anna and her grandma go out to the garden and fill the hearts with flowers.

And from beginning to end, the book is a “true story,” a poetic depiction of Wendy’s memories of her own childhood in Seattle. The pure simplicity and authenticity work like magic.

The book is also very beautiful to look at with its illustrations by Swedish artist Emelie Wiklund from Stockholm. Wendy and Emelie worked closely, sharing not only ideas but actual photos from the time when Wendy was growing up. I immediately recognized Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, and I could see some of Wendy’s family in the friendly faces drawn by Emelie. The book is filled with pretty pastels and lots of details—specifically Swedish details—which all makes sense, since Anna’s grandmother is Swedish. But don’t despair: Anna’s grandpa is a Norwegian!

Naturally, there are illustrated instructions for making the hearts (we followed them with good results), and by scanning a QR code, you can gain access to a free gift of various templates for making hearts.

While this project-oriented book is geared toward elementary schoolchildren, it can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s delightful bedtime reading and a wonderful picture book for beginning readers. This book is also perfect for anyone teaching art at a summer camp or even Sunday school classes. It’s motto is one of love:  “Here’s to spreading joy everywhere you go.”

Anna and the Woven Hearts by Wendy Jensen is available for purchase at amazon.com.

This article originally appeared in the July 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.