The Boy with the Silver Helmet by Hanne Kvist
When his baby sister Liv first arrived home from the hospital, Jon felt rejected by his family. However his initial concerns about having a baby sister around disappeared as soon as he saw her; he is captivated by her, and she loves him unconditionally. Unfortunately for Liv, she was born with wings, black wings even, and one day Jon comes home from school to find that Liv is gone. He soon discovers that his parents have sold her to a children’s home. Jon immediately sets off on his bicycle to track her down, armed only with his favourite toy, a silver helmet.
Jon soon finds a companion for his journey, Michum, who works at the children’s home, but is more interested in becoming a professional singer. He agrees to help Jon save his little sister. It turns out to be a bigger adventure than Jon had counted on, but his ingenuity and determination eventually lead to him finding his sister, and together with Michum, they make an attempt to rescue her. But Michum decides it is not enough to just save Liv, and they attempt to free all the children in the home, all of whom have wings just like Liv. Their escape plan does not go entirely as planned, and in the end it is Liv who saves her big brother.
As well as being a moving tale about a big brother’s love for his baby sister and his desire to protect her whatever the cost, there are other interesting angles to the story. Jon’s newfound friend Michum serves as a kind of comic sidekick throughout, but also reinforces the theme of being allowed to be different in society. Michum has always been different, but society has forced him to try to lead a normal life. The film adaptation of the book is used in Danish schools to educate children about people living with disabilities.
Hanne Kvist is a Danish author, illustrator and graphic designer best known for her books for children and young adults. Her works have been translated into numerous languages, including German, Italian and Norwegian.
She has been awarded a number of prizes, including a nomination in 2013 for the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize, and most recently, the 2016 Gyldendal Children’s Book Award.