A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lessons on bravery, overcoming differences, and reconciliation.
Strong themes of loyalty and caring for others: Ronia's unconventional family is very close and supportive, and they care deeply for each other. The story also celebrates free spirits who buck convention and thoughtfully pursue their own paths. It's impossible to avoid all danger, but you can make sensible decisions and cultivate a mindset resistant to fear. One good turn deserves another. Petty disagreements can have disastrous consequences. Working together can help everyone.
Positive Role Models
Ronia is deeply empathetic and courageous, risking her own safety to save others. She's fiercely independent, and sometimes impetuous, but determined not to be undone by fear. Her rebellion is rooted in her empathy for others, including Birk's family and the robbers' victims. Ronia's father is emotionally volatile, prone to both teary breakdowns and fearsome rages, and her mother is smart source of calm. They both give their daughter wide latitude to find her own way and nurture her confidence. Birk is a joyful presence, open-hearted and kind, but just as determined as Ronia.
Violence & Scariness
Children are menaced by fantastical creatures including harpies, dwarves, and trolls and are repeatedly in deadly peril. Robbers torment travelers in the woods. Feuding chiefs threaten to kill each other's clans and kidnap each other's children. A man strikes his wife in anger, and she then hits a man who comes to her aid.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ronia, the Robber's Daughter, first published in 1981, is a fantasy by Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking) featuring a free-thinking, self-reliant girl being raised in a band of thieves. The warmhearted men in the clan are loyal and very fond of Ronia. They drink and get rowdy, and the chief in particular is prone to yelling and throwing objects when he's angry or upset. Ronia and her friend Birk do not approve of thieving but love their families unconditionally. There are some scenes of intense, fantastical dangers, including attacks by clawing harpies and menacing dwarves and gnomes. The rivalry between robber clans -- and disagreements within each family -- is full of angry threats and promises of violence. Two men face off in a violent fight for supremacy, ending with mutual respect and friendship. Characters deal with starvation, freezing, and the risk of execution. One character dies peacefully. The book makes a great read-aloud. It was also adapted by Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away) for an animated series with a slightly different title, Ronja, the Robber's Daughter, which premiered in early 2017.
Is It Any Good?
This magical adventure story by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren features a fiercely independent heroine to rival her beloved Pippi Longstocking in determination, loyalty, and sheer chutzpah. Ronia, the Robber's Daughter weaves a spell from some classic building blocks of great stories: an enchanted forest of great beauty and great danger, feuding clans, forbidden friendship, and rebellious children. Lindgren skillfully straddles the line: Her characters break rules and take great risks, but the overriding message is about responsibility to yourself and to others.
The pace of the story -- and this edition's small type -- might turn off some modern readers. Fortunately, it's a wonderful read-aloud: An adult can help bring to life the lively banter between Ronia and her loved ones. Lindgren's description of the forest's changing nature through the seasons is worth lingering over.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.