When Mischief Came to Town

Written by Katrina Nannestad
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

In 1911, Inge Maria finds herself shipped from her beloved city of Copenhagen, where she lived with her mother, to the small island of Bornholm, an isolated spot of land in the Baltic Sea. She has never met her grandmother before – not in all her eight years – and here she is, alone with Grandmother for the first time, in a strange place without her mother to comfort her. Instead of the laughing citizens of Copenhagen, Inge must contend with Levi, the cantankerous donkey, and Henry, the trouble-prone turkey. Nothing is as it should be as Inge learns to adapt to her new, sometimes frightening, surroundings.

This middle-grade story is charmingly told from Inge’s point of view in the present tense, which gives a sense of immediacy to the events as they occur. She is a girl with an abundant imagination, who treasures the stories of Hans Christian Andersen, which she shares with her grandmother.  Though years separate them, both are creative and full of life. Inge, in spite of the trouble she causes, brings a lively spirit back into her grandmother’s life.

Readers will laugh as Inge learns to love the old woman who seems so stern at first; and they will cry because Inge must deal with the grief of losing her mother. Together, granddaughter and grandmother find love in this heartwarming tale.