Red or white cap? The hardest decision of the year

Red or white cap? The hardest decision of the year

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is about the lazy and mean boy Nils from Västra Vemmenhög who is transformed into an elf by a house elf and who then accidentally joins a journey up in the air on the back of the tame goose Mårten. During the journey, he gets to know both Sweden and himself, and gradually transforms into a kind and thoughtful boy.

One thing that may seem like a small detail (and maybe it is) but that I thought about for a long time while working on The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Map was whether Nils should have a red or white cap. The image I had of Nils earlier was that he had a red cap, and it is also most common that he is depicted that way, but in the Swedish original text, it is actually white. "For Nils Holgersson was now standing upright on Rosenbom’s bald head. No longer afraid, he raised his white cap ..."

The painter and illustrator John Bauer (1882-1918) gives the boy a red cap in the first Swedish edition, but the American artist Mary Hamilton Frye (1890-1951) followed the text more accurately and illustrated Nils with a white cap.

I have made illustrations of Nils before and have then drawn the cap red as on the left Nils in the image above (in a beautiful book about train journeys in the Nordic countries from the publisher Wrede Förlag). But, for this literary map (Nils on the right), I decided in the end to make the cap...white!

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