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Flemming Quist Møller
 
By Tove Roed
 
In 1967 a quaint little figure came cycling into Danish nurseries. Egon the bike Gnat was born! And ever since then children have loved him – and all the other strange kinds of creature who have accompanied him. Flemming Quist Møller has a special gift for telling and drawing fabulous stories, which are also credible. The animal characters he creates all have a child's point of view: they have inquisitive and creative ideas – and on Flemming Quist Møller's pen they set out on fantastic adventures. His style is closely related to the oral tale-telling tradition, full of action and cunningly humorous. Both aspects are supported and extended in the picture books he has illustrated himself. Flemming Quist Møller's imaginary world is both true to nature and fantastic.

Egon the bike Gnat (1967) is not just any old mosquito – he emerges from the water on a fine racing bike. At first Egon's curiosity leads him into a catastrophe. Like all Flemming Quist Møller's characters, Egon insists on being himself, even if this breaks with every tradition. The picture pages are detailed and full of movement, heralding the film versions which later became Flemming Quist Møller's chosen art form.

The Flemming Quist Møller figures of Egon the bike Gnat, The Snout and Hugo the Jungle Beast, all have in common the gift of curiosity – and they have no wish to be like everyone else. Instead they are possessed of a longing for adventure which gives rise to unexpected happenings.

Egon the bike Gnat figures in a picture book, whereas we meet The Snout (1980) and Hugo The Jungle Beast (1988) in read-aloud books with a few illustrations.

"The Snout is the most peaceful and secretive animal in the world. That's why you never hear about them at school. Nor are there any stuffed snouts in museums, and you never see them at the zoo." (p.5)

"Hugo lived deep in the juicy green jungle. For Hugo was a jungle animal. A really really rare jungle animal, at that, who had never been discovered by any human being. Hugo himself had never seen a human being." (p.6)

They are both so rare that we humans have never seen them – before Flemming Quist Møller allows them to leave their usual surroundings, spurred on by wanderlust, which their friends find hard to understand. Both of them make a break with their safe world and go out on voyages of discovery into a world full of exciting experiences and dangerous people.

Everything that happens to The Snout and Hugo takes place at child's height, and the innocence with which they meet everything helps to soften impact with the artificiality of human big city life. As in all good tales, the moral is clear: Treasure your own true friends and look after the natural world!

In Seven True Tales (1999)Flemming Quist Møller plays with words and the actual form of the tale. The adventures are narrated with the well-known cast of characters, but the idea of a happy ending is turned upside down. The tales are told in modern language and are full of grotesque humour.

A number of Flemming Quist Møller's stories have been made into animated films with great success, full of good visual material. Flemming Quist Møller is a story-teller and fabulist for our time, and all his stories grow out of the oral tradition of tale-telling. Perhaps that is the reason for several generations of children regarding him as their very own author.

(2001)

Translated by Anne Born