The Flowers' Festival, Hardback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


A lucky little girl is invited by the flower fairies to join them for their Midsummer festival.

Gathering around Queen Rose, all the flowers and bumblebees and birds tell their enchanting stories, while Pea-blossom and the Dew-cups serve refreshments.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 32 pages, colour illustrations
  • Publisher: Floris Books
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Picture books
  • ISBN: 9780863151200



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A young girl witnesses the flowers' Midsummer festival in this Swedish picture-book, first published in 1914 as <u>Blomsterfesten</u>. Too young to go to the Midsummer dance on her own, Lisa is left alone for the day by her grandmother, who must go out. When she encounters the Midsummer fairy, that beautiful lady makes her invisible, allowing her to witness the flowers of the field, forest and home as they gather to celebrate high summer. Presided over by Queen Rose, with her many lovely attendants - Ladies Pansy, Peony, Lilac and Honeysuckle, Lords Crown Imperial and Bleeding Heart, Sir Iris - the floral gathering is dominated by storytelling, as various insects and birds relate tales involving various flowers and plants. From the bumblebee's observations about the unhappy Bird's-Foot Trefoil, who is displeased at being called a 'vetch' - so like a witch! - to the goldfinch's chronicle of Mrs. Chestnut and her many sons, the selections presented win universal acclaim. All, that is, save the sparrow's song in tribute to the ever-lasting weeds, banished to the area outside the garden gate...Like all of Elsa Beskow's books, <u>The Flowers' Festival</u> is a aesthetically pleasing volume, with its creator's appealing artwork gracing every page. Each two-page spread features the bulk of the text on the left, with black-and-white drawings, and the remainder of the text on the right, with full-colour paintings. All are beautiful, although I tend to prefer the colour paintings. The scene in which Lisa meets the Midsummer fairy was particularly lovely, I thought. The story itself is engaging, revealing Beskow's long-standing interest in nature, and her evident belief that it was a magical realm, if the child (and through them, the reader) could only find a way to truly see it. I thought the fairy's use of poppy juice to make Lisa invisible was amusing. Adults today might question the inclusion of such a substance in a children's book, but in the early 20th century, it would have been far less remarkable. One has only to think of the field of poppies that puts Dorothy and her companions to sleep in <u>The Wizard of Oz</u> (1900), or the magical tobacco the five-year-old hero smokes in <u>The Old Tobacco Shop</u> (1921). The conflict between the flowers and vegetables on the one hand, and the weeds on the other, was also quite interesting, smacking a bit a classism. The flowers are all refined delicacy - many of them ladies and lords - while the weeds are depicted as rowdy and rough, and of a lower social order. This was an interesting formulation for a nature lover to impose on her floral world, I thought, as so many weeds are also beautiful flowers. For myself, I have always loved Queen Anne's Lace, although it is considered a weed. Perhaps Beskow approached the question with a gardener's dislike of invasive plants that make her task more difficult? However that may be, I thought the subplot involving the weeds inserted a decidedly human element into the floral world being depicted.