How does a jewellery designer move on to writing a children’s book? By writing about an enchanted ring, of course.
Hendrikka Waage is an accomplished jewellery designer who recently made it to the list of the 100 most influential women in Iceland compiled by the business magazine Frjáls verslun.
Waage has lived and worked in many different countries, India, Japan, Russia, USA and the UK included, and is also the president and among the founders of the Kids Parliament, an international charity with the following mission:
“The mission of Kids Parliament is to build a community of children where they can meet each other, exchange ideas, understand and respect each other's opinions, and experience multicultural views in a moderated and peaceful way.”
Part of the proceeds from the book will go to the charity.
Rikka and Her Magic Ring in Iceland is Waage’s first children’s book. The author explains that when she was growing up in Iceland she wondered what the rest of the world was like and wanted to travel to faraway places.
In Waage’s book, the protagonist Rikka (who might very well be based on Waage as a child), travels with her friend Linda around Iceland with the help of a magic ring. And so children living abroad can learn about Iceland’s geography and culture through Rikka’s eyes.
I find the idea good; the book is, in a way, a travel guide for children with colorful illustrations by Inga María Brynjarsdóttir.
I like that the places the two friends visit aren’t only the best-known attractions in Iceland, such as the erupting hot spring Geysir and Thingvellir national park, which are part of the famous Golden Circle in southwest Iceland, but also places such as the salmon river Laxá in Adaladalur valley and the mountain peaks Hraundrangar in Öxnadalur valley in northeast Iceland.
The ring doesn’t only take them to scenic places but also teaches them a thing or two about Iceland’s culture. For example, they visit an art gallery, play handball, go horseback riding and feast on traditional Icelandic food.
When I first saw the title of the book, Rikka and Her Magic Ring in Iceland, I imagined it was a play on words and that Rikka’s ring would take her to locations along the Ring Road.
That’s not the case and I don’t know if it would have been a good idea but I kind of liked the connection between the ring on Rikka’s finger and the ring that circles Iceland. But then again, I like word games and multiple meanings.
The book is intended for children ages five to 11 but I find it a bit too childish to suit that entire age group. The storyline is simple and not many words are wasted on each location.
I miss a deeper and more thorough storyline, and there are loopholes too. For example, where did that enchanted ring come from?
We learn that Rikka’s mother gave it to her but how come it was a magic ring? The book says she is an artist but doesn’t mention anything about her having supernatural powers or connections to magical beings.
Also, the secondary characters, the dog, the puffin and the elves, that follow the two girls on their journey, aren’t introduced until towards the end while a boy called Dimitri is introduced on the second page although he doesn’t have any specific role in the book. Except maybe make it politically correct since he has an immigrant father and is disabled.
The overall message of the book is great but perhaps goes a bit overboard on the political correctness, environmentally friendly, peace and love message. It also isn’t particularly impartial when it comes to Iceland, making it sound like the best country in the world.
Take this paragraph, for example:
“Yum, yum, says Rikka, look at all this Icelandic food: lamb, fish, skyr, dried fish, lobster soup and lots more. There is plenty of clean water here. - We are so lucky that the water is so good in Iceland, says Linda. - Yes, it is not polluted and that is why it is so healthy. - The best water in the world, Rikka says proudly. But we must remember to recycle the bottles, she adds.”
Fine, but if they’re so concerned about the environment and the water is so great, why are they drinking bottled water in the first place, as opposed to straight from the tap or from a mountain spring like everyone in Iceland does, except for the tourists?
Anyway, I tend to be too critical sometimes. This really is a beautiful book with an educational value and for young children, I’d say ages three to five, it is likely to be entertaining as well.
But for her next book, I’d advise Waage to delve a bit more into the actual story and tone down the Iceland-is-great and love-thy-neighbor message.
Rikka and Her Magic Ring in Iceland is published by Salka. It’s available in bookstores in Iceland and on the publisher’s website (email: [email protected] if you have any questions). Click here to learn more about the book and the Kids Parliament.
Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – [email protected]
Eygló graduated with a Bachelors degree in communication studies from the University of Erfurt, Germany, in 2004. In 2006, she graduated with a Masters degree in journalism from the University of Westminster, London. She has worked as the web editor for Iceland Review since October 2006. Eygló received an award for her entries in a nationwide short story competition in 1997, 1998 and 1999.