Rapscallions wanted
April 9, 2011 10:02 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for new books in the same category as Le Petit Nicolas, Gian Burrasca, and, kind of, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

I spent some time in Europe growing up and my family loved reading the 'Le Petit Nicolas' series by Goscinny and Sempe. The books are about a little boy names Nicolas and his mad cap adventures. They are written in the first person. In Italy we met discovered 'In Giornalino Di Gian Burrasca', the diary of a naughty little boy who has lots of madcap adventures. This is a classic Italian kid's story that seems to be totally unknown in the US (partial translation here).

Does every culture have an iconic naughty, clever little boy? The English equivalent must be Tom Sawyer (although it's not written in a diary format, Tom's adventures are definitely the same flavor). Are there other examples of similar works that I don't know about? I'd love to read a Gianburrasca from Germany or Sweden or India.
posted by bq to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The iconic naughty, clever little boy in India is young Krishna. He's mischievous but also revered, so the stories don't have quite the same tone as your examples. See this, this, or this source material.

Other than that, Molesworth leaps to mind.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:33 PM on April 9, 2011

For Sweden, Astrid Lindgren, especially her Pippi Longstocking series (which is well-known in the US) and Karlsson-on-the-Roof series (which is not). I assume stories about rambunctious little girls and little people with propellers on their backs fall into the category you're looking for.

Lindgren also wrote a number of young children's novels that have elements of heroic fantasy: Mio, My Mio and Brothers Lionheart come to mind. They're much more melancholy, though.
posted by Nomyte at 10:37 PM on April 9, 2011

In the UK Richmal Crompton's William is probably more the iconic figure in this vein than Tom Sawyer.

Germany has Struwwelpeter.
posted by lollusc at 10:38 PM on April 9, 2011

Astrid Lindgren also wrote about a lovable little rascal called Emil of Lönneberga; precisely the kind of character you're looking for, and well known in Scandinavia (although not as famous internationally as Pippi). A little googling should even yield you snippets of the film adaptations from the 1970s.
posted by sively at 11:12 PM on April 9, 2011

Incidentally, your link about Il Giornalino di Gian Burrasca mentions that A Bad Boy's Diary by Metta Victoria Fuller Victor was the uncredited source for Gian Burrasca. Although I don't see that available online, A Good Boy's Diary, by the author of "A Bad Boy's Diary" is (other formats), and the title is intended ironically. It seems to be a close fit for your requirements.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:13 PM on April 9, 2011

The Great Brain
posted by brujita at 11:29 PM on April 9, 2011

It is worth seeking out the EC Spykman series A lemon and a star, Terrible horrible Edie, the Wild angel and Edie on the warpath - these are books of an American family of intelligent, naughty but well-meaning kids in the early 20th century and the character Edie in particular, although a girl, is the type you are looking for I think. They may be hard to find though, they are not nearly well known enough.
posted by k_tron at 2:14 AM on April 10, 2011

More risque than the titles you mentioned, but I'm gonna suggest Youth In Revolt. The recent film sucks but the book is fantastic.
posted by dobbs at 10:05 AM on April 10, 2011

Is this like Till Eulenspiegel in German? He's not necessarily a boy, though.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:01 PM on April 11, 2011

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