5+. One of those rare perfect ones.

Youth Services Book Review

Can You Whistle, Johanna?

Best Middle-Grade Fiction of 2021, Kirkus.

Can You Whistle, Johanna? is a funny, sensitive illustrated chapter book about two boys searching for a grandfather and friendship across generations.

It is an international award-winner and a classic in many countries.

Translated by Julia Marshall

Read the first chapter

  • Description

    Why doesn’t Berra have a grandfather? And how can he get one?

    There are plenty of old men at the retirement home, the narrator suggests.

    They go there together to find one—ideally one who eats pig’s trotters, invites you to tea and can teach you to whistle.

    Can You Whistle, Johanna? is an international award-winner and classic in many countries by one of the world’s great writers, Ulf Stark and brilliantly illustrated by Anna Höglund.


  • Book Details

    Country of Origin Sweden
    Reader Age 6-8 year, 8-12 year
    Book Size

  • Reviews

    1. School Library Journal SLJ, 2021 Translated Books for Kids, 2021 Easy Book and Early Chapter Titles

      A heartfelt story that never feels cloying.

    2. Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids 2021

      A remarkably sweet story, funny and moving by turns.

    3. School Librarian Magazine UK

      Stark’s partnership with illustrator Anna Höglund combines the light-hearted narrative and unsentimental realism that Swedish authors and illustrators accomplish with such finesse in books for the younger child.

    4. IBBY UK

      A book that demands to be shared and enjoyed.

    5. CBCA Reading Time

      It’s a heart-warming story of the interaction between members of two generations, all of whom are the richer for the experience … It’s a great introduction for children to gain an understanding of old age and death.

    6. Read Plus

      An enchanting and thought-provoking story that challenges you to reflect and ponder the importance of the relationships that we create and foster. Delightful illustrations throughout the book by Anna Hoglund compliment the storyline and bring further enjoyment to the story.

    7. Good Reading

      This book is an international award winner and classic in many countries of the world. Once you have read it, it is unforgettable. So cleverly written and the most poignant book I have read for a long time. But so true to life.

    8. Kids Book Buzz – Neela aged 12

      extremely funny even when dealing with serious topics like mortality and senior loneliness. … it teaches the valuable lesson that time is precious

    9. The School Reading List

      astounding, profound, moving and permanent…I want to avoid using the words ‘charming’ and ‘touching’ when writing about this astounding story. It is both of these, but it is also, I think, a profound and moving meditation on the things that remain constant and permanent throughout our lives.

    10. Red Reading Hub

      a book from Swedish author Ulf Stark that will surely touch your heart…We see how this special relationship has enriched the lives of both Berra and Ned, and that’s what shines through this sensitively told story despite the boys’ loss. Equally moving are Anna Höglund’s wonderful droll illustrations that support the text splendidly.

    11. NetGalley-Reviewer

      a heartwarming and emotional tale of human connection, and its importance at any age.

    12. Kirkus Reviews

      Starred review. A sweet, tender, never maudlin evocation of an intergenerational friendship.

    13. Youth Services Book Review

      5+. One of those rare perfect ones.

Available worldwide from your local bookstore or online.

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