Title: Lili the Brave
Author: Jennifer Armstrong
Reading Level: 7-8
Star Rating: ★
Lili the Brave! Lili the Brave! It really has a nice ring to it. Something like ‘Charles the Great’ or ‘Gustavo the Magnificent’, what? Unfortunately, the story didn’t have nearly as nice a ring as the name does…
When a man from America convinces Lili’s father to move his family overseas, Lili is horrified. How can he think of leaving their beloved Norway with its lovely skies and streets and seas? How can he even consider uprooting their family for some fairy tale land, this America which is supposed to be so wonderful? Lili cannot, will not understand.
But whether she understands it or not, this nightmare is becoming reality. As she sails away from her homeland, can Lili reconcile herself to this journey – and her family?
As Norwegians, Lili is descended from the Vikings. One of the themes of the book is the trips Viking heroes had to take down to Nifelheim to rescue people who had been captured by trolls and how it compares to Lili’s trip to America. It is referenced quite a few time for such a short book – my guess is that the author was trying to make the story unique. In one sorta-scary-but-meant-to-be-comical scene, Lili and a few other children see what they believe to be a troll and run away from it screaming. It turns out to be a heavily bearded Norwegian.
But my biggest concern by far was the behavior of Lili. She is a very brave little girl – that is true. But she is also outspoken, disrespectful, and rebellious. She opposes her father’s plan to move to America from the beginning and voices her disagreement boldly. She tries to convince her parents to change their plan and even goes so far as to lie to them. She calls the man who invited them to America a “fat walrus man in store-bought clothes” to his face and yells at him. On one occasion she is so incensed by her father that she refuses to speak or listen to him. She never apologizes for her behavior – one day she just forgets that she’s mad and asks him a question. He does not encourage her to apologize or repent for her actions; life just returns to ‘normal’.
Conclusion. All in all, I do not consider Lili’s behavior to be an acceptable example for children, nor does the historical setting redeem the story.
Review © 2012 Laura Verret