Lars Klinting had his studio on Södermalm in central Stockholm, where he made drawings and illustrations of animals and plants. In the window, there would often be a stuffed bird or insects that could give a hint about what was going on in there.
Lars had always been interested in drawing, but he was not a professionally trained illustrator. Instead he was a furniture carpenter, and his plan was to continue his studies to become a teacher of crafts. But he did not pass the entry exam, so he started working as an illustrator of technical objects. Lars soon tired of this job, and in the seventies he became a school teacher. After four years of this, he decided it was time for something new so he sat down to write and draw the book “Regal the Golden Eagle” (in Swedish: “Örjan den höjdrädda örnen”). This was the story about an eagle who was afraid to fly and of a very small bird who helped him overcome his fear. Some years earlier, Lars had met the real “Regal” on an island close to Lofoten in Norway. ”Regal” lived there with his mate on a rock, and Lars passed them every day. He named the eagles “Örjan” and “Ebba”, and the story started to take shape. The book was published 1982 and became a classic. He worked with children’s books ever since. ”Regal the Golden Eagle” later became an animated film, which premiered in 1999 and was nominated for the Swedish equivalent of an Oscar, the Golden Bug (“Guldbagge”).
Lars’ next book was “Pärlsork” (not available in English), a story about a small field mouse that wants to travel to the far-away mountains. Lars again used his interest in and knowledge of nature to describe the mouse’s journey. By the time he had written his third book, “Vårdträdet”, which describes the life on a farm through several generations, commissions for illustrating other writers’ books started trickling in. Among them were four of Kipling’s fables, a cook-book for beginners and a book about weather. He was now an established author, and in 1987 he received the Elsa Beskow Award for his collective work.
When Lars returned to create a book of his own, the topic he chose was again birds. His own interest in birds began in the sixties when he was working in a cemetery where there were many birds and two colleagues who shared his interest. The book “My First Bird Book” is a field book for children and beginners, with text and illustrations of the 40 most common birds in Sweden. The choice of species was based on what kind of birds a child is most likely to see in the city, in parks and in gardens. In 1986, the book was selected as “Panda Book of the Year” by the WWF in Sweden. He then went on to illustrate Selma Lagerlöf’s classic “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils”, before continuing his nature book series with “My First Tree Book”, “My First Insect Book” and “My First Animal Book”. Lars felt that if you show how amazing nature is, you will be inspired to take care of it.
He continued this vision with “Harvey” the beaver. In 1995 the book “Harvey the Carpenter” was published, and it was nominated to one of the most prestigious book awards in Sweden (name of the Award). It was important to Lars to respect animals even when you make them human, and he has said that you cross the line “when you put pants on them”. Harvey continued, together with his friend Chip, to show children how to sew, bake, grow, paint and fix a puncture. The Handy Harvey series became Lars’ most successful, and they have been published in over 25 different languages all over the world. Between the “Harvey” books, he also illustrated a new edition of “Christmas in the stable” by Astrid Lindgren.