Mrs Pepperpot’s Christmas taken from Mrs Pepperpot’s Year written by Alf Prøysen (1914-1970) and illustrated by Björn Berg (translated by Marianne Helweg). Published by Puffin Books 1981 (Hutchinson 1973).
As I am sure many of you know, Mrs Pepperpot is the woman from Norway who has the tendency to shrink to the size of a pepperpot at very inconvenient moments. In this story, true to form, she shrank just when she was planning to go Christmas shopping:
‘She wanted to buy a sheaf of corn for the birds’ dinner, and she wanted to get them a little bird-house where she could fee them every day. The other thing she wanted was a wreath of mistletoe to hang over the door, so that she could wish Mr Pepperpot a “Happy Christmas” with a kiss. But Mr Pepperpot thought this was a silly idea.
“Quite unnecessary!” he said.’
So of course Mrs Pepperpot had to find a way to make her husband buy exactly what she wanted at the market. To that end she hid in his knapsack as he headed out of the house.
‘At one stall stood a farmer selling beautiful golden sheaves of corn. As her husband walked past the stall Mrs Pepperpot climbed out from the knapsack pocket and disappeared inside the biggest sheaf of all.
“Hullo, Mr Pepperpot,” said the farmer, “how about some corn for the birds this Christmas?”
“Too dear!” answered Mr Pepperpot gruffly.
“Oh no, it’s not!” squeaked the little voice of Mrs Pepperpot.
“If you don’t buy this sheaf of corn I’ll tell everyone you’re married to the woman who shrinks”.’
Of course the poor man had no choice but to buy the best sheaf of corn. By the time Mrs Pepperpot had finished, her husband had bought a fine bird house and even a mistletoe wreath. After an adventure with a red balloon, Mrs Pepperpot returned home and grew back to her normal size.
I enjoyed the Mrs Pepperpot tales when I was a child and so it is nice to see that she is going strong, with several stories still in print. Though I must admit that all of our editions are rather battered second-hand copies from the 1970s and 80s. But no less loved for all that…