HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Dear Papa
Author: Thyra Ferre Bjorn
Publisher: Jove Publications, republished in 1979
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 15 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Bjorn, Thyra Ferre. Dear Papa (published in 1963 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York City, NY). Three books by Thyra Ferre Bjorn were recommended to us by several people: Papa’s Wife, Papa’s Daughter, and Mama’s Way. Papa’s Wife is the story of a young woman named Maria Skogberg who comes to work at a small-town parsonage in Lapland, Sweden, and marries an older Swedish minister, Pontus Franzon; they have eight children and eventually emigrate to the United States. The plot is loosely based on the experiences of the author’s own parents and family. Papa’s Daughter continues with the life of their oldest daughter, Charlotta, known as Button, who marries, has a family, and becomes a noted speaker and author. It appears that the novel is semi-autobiographical. Mama’s Way is a collection of incidents that occurred during Mrs. Bjorn’s experiences of speaking and writing in which she applied the philosophy that she learned from Mama to help others with their problems. The three books have been published together as a Trilogy.
However, we recently learned that there was a fourth book in the series which we found at a used book sale. In Dear Papa, the children are all grown up with families of their own, and Mama is now a widow living in Miami, FL. Recovering from a heart attack, she decides to write Papa a letter, describing all that has happened to the family since his death and reminiscing about various humorous events from the days that are past. The Prologue brings the reader up to date by reviewing Mama’s proposal to Papa, the births of the children, and their life in America. The author says, “Although my stories are always based on fact, I don’t want my readers to take them too literally….I take so much fact and so much fiction and mix them long and carefully together in imagination’s big mixing bowl, until I myself cannot tell one from the other.” Delightful reading, it is sad at the end, yet there is a triumphant feeling.