“Palle-Alene I Verden” – AKA “Paul Is Alone in the World” – A Classic Young Children’s Novel
“Paul Is Alone in the World” (1942) by Jens Sigsgaard is a much-loved and also critically acclaimed book for young children aged 6-9. It has been translated into around thirty languages and is often used in schools and universities. In 1949, Danish filmmaker Astrid Henning-Jensen even made a wonderful film of it. Her very charming young son, Lars, was Paul and his big black eyes spoke volumes in this story of a child who somehow is left all alone. As for the novel itself, the wonderful illustrations by Arne Ungermann which played a vital role in the success of the book were updated in 1974. In the 1974 edition there is for example no trams, because now there are buses. Paul changed his look because his hair is much longer than in the 1942 edition.
The story is about this very young boy Paul who is rather fed up with all these adults mingling. However, one day, he wakes up very early in the morning and finds himself all alone. Not only is he alone at home, but he is quite alone in the world. This may be something many children have dreamed of from time to time and at first Paul relishes this new situation. He travels to the deserted capital of Denmark, i.e. Copenhagen, and has a lot of fun eating tons of otherwise strictly rationed sweets. He also visits a bank and has bags of coins which he cannot use because there is no one to receive the money. .There is no one to forbid him to take the tram, not even to drive it himself, which he does and he also finds this experience very amusing. In fact, everything he does is meant to break some rules and enjoy the freedom to do so without getting involved with the adults who scold him.
He really enjoys himself, but at the end of the day he feels his loneliness because he misses his parents and especially his mother. He has now discovered that being quite alone gives new opportunities, but it also deprives one of family and friends. The evening Paul is very different from the morning Paul who loved the situation of being a free soul with no one to scold him. In fact, this scolding of children is one of the key questions for author Jens Sigsgaard, who is also a well-known teacher and lecturer. He fought for the welfare of children at different levels in the adult world.