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Karlsson on the Roof

Chapter 1 - Karlsson-on-the-Roof

On a perfectly ordinary street in Stockholm, in a perfectly ordinary house, lives a perfectly ordinary family called Ericson. There is a perfectly ordinary Daddy and a perfectly ordinary Mommy and three perfectly ordinary children—Bobby, Betty, and Eric.

“I’m not at all an ordinary Eric,” says Eric. But he is wrong there. Of course he is ordinary. The world is full of boys of seven with blue eyes and pug noses—boys who have not washed behind their ears and who are forever wearing holes in their trousers. So, of course, Eric is perfectly ordinary—there can be no doubt about that.

Bobby is fifteen and is fond of football and does not do extra well at school, so he is perfectly ordinary too. Betty is fourteen and wears her hair in a long bob, exactly like other perfectly ordinary girls.

There is only one person in the entire house who is not ordinary—and that is Karlsson-on-the-Roof. He lives on the roof, Karlsson does. This alone is out of the ordinary. Things may be different in other parts of the world, but in Stockholm people hardly ever live in a little house of their own on top of a roof. But Karlsson does. He is a very small, very round, and very self-possessed gentleman—and he can fly! Anybody can fly by airplane or helicopter, but only Karlsson can fly all by himself. He simply turns a button in the middle of his tummy and, presto, the cunning little engine on his back starts up. Karlsson waits for a moment or two to let the engine warm up; then he accelerates, takes off, and glides on his way with all the dignity and poise of a statesman; that is, if you can picture a statesman with a motor on his back.

Karlsson is very contented in his little house on top of the roof. In the evenings he sits on his front doorstep, smoking a pipe and watching the stars. Naturally, you can see the stars much better from the roof than from anywhere else in the house, so it is really surprising that more people do not live on roofs. But the occupants of the house don’t know that you can live on a roof; they don’t even know that Karlsson has a cottage up there, it is so well hidden behind the big chimney.

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