Karlsson on the Roof
Chapter 1 - Karlsson-on-the-Roof
On a perfectly ordinary street in Stockholm, in a perfectly ordinary house, lives a perfectly ordinary family called Ericson. There is a perfectly ordinary Daddy and a perfectly ordinary Mommy and three perfectly ordinary children—Bobby, Betty, and Eric.
“I’m not at all an ordinary Eric,” says Eric. But he is wrong there. Of course he is ordinary. The world is full of boys of seven with blue eyes and pug noses—boys who have not washed behind their ears and who are forever wearing holes in their trousers. So, of course, Eric is perfectly ordinary—there can be no doubt about that.
Bobby is fifteen and is fond of football and does not do extra well at school, so he is perfectly ordinary too. Betty is fourteen and wears her hair in a long bob, exactly like other perfectly ordinary girls.
There is only one person in the entire house who is not ordinary—and that is Karlsson-on-the-Roof. He lives on the roof, Karlsson does. This alone is out of the ordinary. Things may be different in other parts of the world, but in Stockholm people hardly ever live in a little house of their own on top of a roof. But Karlsson does. He is a very small, very round, and very self-possessed gentleman—and he can fly! Anybody can fly by airplane or helicopter, but only Karlsson can fly all by himself. He simply turns a button in the middle of his tummy and, presto, the cunning little engine on his back starts up. Karlsson waits for a moment or two to let the engine warm up; then he accelerates, takes off, and glides on his way with all the dignity and poise of a statesman; that is, if you can picture a statesman with a motor on his back.
Karlsson is very contented in his little house on top of the roof. In the evenings he sits on his front doorstep, smoking a pipe and watching the stars. Naturally, you can see the stars much better from the roof than from anywhere else in the house, so it is really surprising that more people do not live on roofs. But the occupants of the house don’t know that you can live on a roof; they don’t even know that Karlsson has a cottage up there, it is so well hidden behind the big chimney. Besides, most people don’t notice little houses like Karlsson’s, not even if they trip over them.
A chimney sweep once caught sight of Karlsson’s house when he was about to sweep the chimney. He was astonished. “It’s odd,” he said to himself. “There’s a house here. It’s hard to believe, but there’s actually a house on the roof! How could it have got here?”
But then he began to sweep the chimney and forgot all about the house and never gave it another thought.
It was nice for Eric to become acquainted with Karlsson, because, whenever Karlsson flew past, life became adventurous and exciting. Maybe Karlsson was pleased to make the acquaintance of Eric, too, for it must be a little dull sometimes to live all alone in a house which nobody knows is there. It must be pleasant to hear somebody calling out, “Hi-ho, Karlsson!” when you fly past.
This is what happened when Karlsson and Eric first met.
It was one of those days when everything went wrong and when it was no fun at all to be Eric. As a rule, it was quite nice to be Eric. He was the darling and pet of the whole family, and they spoiled him for all they were worth. But there were days when things kept going wrong. Then you were scolded by Mommy because you had worn a hole in your trousers, and Betty would say, “Blow your nose, child,” and Daddy would make a fuss because you were late coming home from school.