One afternoon Akka from Kebnekaise and her flock alighted on the shore of a forest lake. Spring was backward -- as it always is in the mountain districts. Ice covered all the lake save a narrow strip next the land. The geese at once plunged into the water to bathe and hunt for food. In the morning Nils Holgersson had dropped one of his wooden shoes, so he went down by the elms and birches that grew along the shore, to look for something to bind around his foot. The boy walked quite a distance before he found anything that he could use. He glanced about nervously, for he did not fancy being in the forest. "Give me the plains and the lakes!" he thought. "There you can see what you are likely to meet. Now, if this were a grove of little birches, it would be well enough, for then the ground would be almost bare; but how people can like these wild, pathless forests is incomprehensible to me. If I owned this land I would chop down every tree."
On Selma Lagerlof: "She devoted three years to Nature study and to familiarizing herself with animal and bird life. She has sought out hitherto unpublished folklore and legends of the different provinces. These she has ingeniously woven into her story." (From translator Velma Swanston Howard's introduction.)
The background for publication was a commission from the National Teachers Association in 1902 to write a geography reader for the public schools.