Astrid & Marit

Here Astrid(89) and I work together during
the building of Junibacken in Stockholm.

I was 10 years old and made this photo of Astrid when she visited us in in Småland, Sweden.

We participated in the film about Emil i Lönneberga, here you see my mother, my little sister and me to the right.

Already when she was young Marit came in contact with Astrid Lindgren because her mother, Rita Törnqvist-Verschuur, translated Astrid’s books onto Dutch.

When Marit was one year old it seemed as if she might play the main part of ‘Skrållan’ in the film Sea Crow Island. In a letter to Marit’s parents Astrid wrote that she was the ‘skrålligaste Skrålla’ she had ever seen. But Marit did not learn to walk in time so the idea did not work out.

Astrid visited the Törnqvists now and then, once when Marit was 10 jaar in their old farmhouse-cum-summer house in Zweden. Astrid was enthusiastic about the house and wanted the film based on her Madicken to be shot there. But the Törnqvists were not keen on this idea. Astrid’s visit made a deep impression on Marit, not least because, at the age of 65, she spent a whole afternoon with the children jumping in the hay.

When Marit was 23 and showed her final exam work from the Dutch Gerrit Rietveld Academy to the Swedish publisher Rabén & Sjögren, she was immediately linked with Astrid Lindgren. The old farm buildings in the province of Småland where Astrid grew up, the cows, the forests and the meadows with cherry trees in blossom, it all recalled Astrid’s stories.
Marit made her international debut in 1989 with a picture book by Astrid Lindgren – A calf for Christmas.Within a month it sold 30.000 copies! Since Astrid by this time did not write anything new, the publisher asked Marit to read all her stories and select one of them for a picture book.

After the debut the picture books , The day Adam got mad, In the land of Twilight and The Red Bird were to follow, all based on Astrid’s texts. A close friendship developed between Marit en Astrid. Marit visited Astrid every time she was in Stockholm and sometimes they experienced exciting adventures, as when they flew over Stockholm in an air balloon because Marit had otherwise been unable to draw a certain scene in In the land of Twilight. Astrid was then 85.

In 1994 Marit received the overwhelming commission to turn the best known stories by Astrid Lindgren into a three-dimensional journey in the newly created children’s cultural center Junibacken in Stockholm.

This resulted in an intensive collaboration for two years during which time Astrid supported Marit in her artistic struggle to to make Junibacken something more than an ordinary amusement park. Marit interpreted Astrid’s stories in a very personal way and saw to it that Astrid wrote and read aloud the text that the passengers were to hear during their ‘story train ride’. Junibacken opened in the presence of Astrid Lindgren and the Swedish the King and Queen in 1996. Since then millions of people have visited it and experienced the fairy tale journey, for which Marit has received several awards. Marit is still responsible for the scenery in the story-train.

When Astrid passed away in 2003 her family decided that the thousands of flowers and wreaths from the funeral should be laid down at Junibacken.

This was a check that Astrid gave to me when I told her that I wanted to invite all builders for dinner…