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Children's Fiction Europe

My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts

by (author) Torill Kove

Firefly Books
Initial publish date
Sep 2017
Europe, Europe
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2017
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 7 to 10
  • Grade: 2 to 5


One of three new titles in the Firefly Books-National Film Board of Canada partnership.

This tall tale of Kove's Norwegian grandmother was nominated for an Academy Award when first produced as an animated short film.

Torill Kove's grandmother often told stories to Torill when she was a young girl. One in particular revolved around ironing shirts for the King of Norway.

In My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts, Kove follows a thread of family history, embroidering it with playful twists along the way, imaginatively rendering her grandmother's life and work in Oslo during World War II.

In Kove's retelling, her grandmother leads a Norwegian resistance to the invading German Army who had forced the King to flee for his safety.

When the task of ironing the King's shirts was replaced by those of the German Army officers, Kove's grandmother and her shirt pressing sisters sabotage the enemy uniforms until morale among the Germans is so low that they lose the war and head home without a thing to wear!

Full of sharp humor and myth making, My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts is a great example of how small contributions to the greater good count for a whole lot.

My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts was nominated for an Oscar in 2000 and won 17 awards in all. It has also been produced as a book in Norway.

For information on the National Film Board of Canada visit


About the author

Editorial Reviews

My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts is a fresh, quirky, and funny tall tale that purports to be the narrator's true account of her own grandmother's adventures, but which progressively leaves the realm of realism behind... Torill Kove's droll illustrations are filled with sly visual jokes throughout, such as the expressions on the faces of the candidates for "king" and the Ironing Diploma prominently displayed on the grandmother's wall, which reinforces the idea that even humble shirt pressers can exercise power against tyrannical regimes... At a time when everyone's on the lookout for the next film adaptation of a hot new book, it's a treat to see the tables turned and these short films poised for a literary encore.

Quill and Quire

A humourous picture book that tells of how Norway got a new king and how his shirts were ironed at a nearby shop... The entertaining story combines a grandmother's tales with historical events providing the message that seemingly small acts can make a big difference.

Durham Region News

Torill Kove's original animated short was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000, and this printed version of the tall tale is just as entertaining and meaningful as the film... Mixing historical fact with dry humour and a spunky heroine makes this adaptation a winner. The simple, colourful illustrations are very appealing and fun, and are so indicative of the style of many NFB productions. Combining a reading of this story with a viewing of the original animated short would be an excellent opportunity to introduce young students to World War II history, and the humanitarian efforts of those at home.

Resource Links

In this book, Torill Kove invites readers to revel in a delightful tale about her shirt-pressing grandmother turned resistance fighter.

The Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens 2018

Between the story details and Torill Kove's illustrations, which are playful yet factual as seen by the accuracy of Torill Kove's depiction of the King, My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts is a splendid side story that illuminates how a country outside of the key players could withstand and triumph during World World II. By keeping her tale absorbing while boisterous in colour and cartoon-like illustrations, Torill Kove tells history in a way that goes beyond both truth and tragedy, something few stories of WWII can achieve.

CanLit for Little Canadians Blog

The simply delightful book replicates the actual NFB 2000 Oscar nominated animated short. Starting with a photo of her grandmother, Kove ingeniously interweaves her grandmother's treasured memories with true historical events. The whimsical tale is told with great flourish, exaggeration, humour and love. As a personal interpretation of her familys history, My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts cleverly shows the ordinary citizen partaking in a side story of wartime resistance. The result is both playful, heartfelt and yet serious as it is set in a difficult time in Norway's history. The author's quirky style perfectly suits the narrative which is reflected in the colourful, spirited and comedic drawings. Highly Recommended.

Canadian Review of Materials

Other titles by Torill Kove