Denmark is an inspiration for the Imagination!
“Crickets!” declared Pete. “We’ve been in Denmark only a few minutes and we’re right in the middle of a mystery!” The Hollister family finds themselves embroiled in an international adventure involving the theft of a priceless mermaid figurine in The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Little Mermaid by Jerry West. But while they track down the treasure and follow the trail of a mysterious man, Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly, Sue, and their parents still have plenty of time to enjoy the sights—and snacks—of Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city in Denmark, a northern European country on the Scandinavian Peninsula, which also includes parts of Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Denmark is known for being one of the happiest countries in the world, its hundreds of islands, and for being the original home of The Little Mermaid. The iconic fairy tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) provided author Andrew Svenson (aka Jerry West) with a swell setting for The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Little Mermaid and also inspired many other works of art, from the 1913 statue by Edvard Eriksen to the popular Disney film.
The Hollisters’ adventures in search of the missing mermaid figurine give them the chance to see firsthand what makes Copenhagen so unique. One place they visit during their Danish vacation is Tivoli Gardens. First opened in 1843, Tivoli Gardens is the world’s second-oldest theme park; the oldest, Dyrehavsbakken, is also near Copenhagen. Visitors to Tivoli Gardens enjoy traditional amusement park delights like carousels and a Ferris wheel, as they stroll among the glorious gardens. Tivoli Gardens also features symphony performances, boat rides, and a museum dedicated to Hans Christian Andersen. Known for being both exciting and cozy, Tivoli Gardens may have even inspired Walt Disney to open his famous theme parks.
Another popular Danish destination is Kronborg Castle. This imposing castle sits in a geographically important position at the head of the Øresund Sound; this location has been an important stronghold of Denmark’s defense since the 1400s. Enjoying its Renaissance architecture, spooky catacombs, and rich decorations, visitors to Kronborg Castle can step back into time and learn about Denmark’s history. The castle also served as the inspiration for Elsinore, the setting of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
While in Denmark, the Hollister family also visits Christiansborg Palace, which was the primary home of the Danish king until it was damaged by fire in 1794. The exquisitely rebuilt palace now hosts Denmark’s parliament and other government functions. Pam is particularly taken with the royal stables at the palace, which has housed horses since 1740. In an homage to Christiansborg Palace’s extravagant baroque style, the Queen of Denmark holds an annual banquet at the palace, arriving in grand style in a coach adorned with 24-carat gold leaf and pulled by a team of the gleaming white horses.
The Hollisters also have the chance to sample some traditional Danish cuisine during their trip. The children are particularly intrigued by the open-faced sandwiches, called smørrebrød. Smørrebrød is typically made with a slice of thick and hearty rye bread, slathered with butter or goose fat, and then stacked with additional layers—anything from pickled herring to plums. They are eaten with a fork and knife, a helpful lesson that Holly quickly learns when she tries to pick up her sandwich and it goes flying off her plate. When presented with a variety of smørrebrød, tradition dictates that sandwiches topped with fish are eaten first, followed by other meats and cheeses.
Other Danish delicacies include stegt flæsk, a pork dish garnished with parsley sauce and potatoes, and Danish meatballs, which usually consist of beef and pork. Pastries are also a common treat in Denmark, though the term “Danish pastry” is actually misleading: pastries were actually introduced into Denmark by Austrian bakers, though they’ve quickly become a staple of Danish coffee breaks.
While the Hollisters spend most of their time in Copenhagen chasing thieves and treasure, they’re still lucky enough to get to experience some of the beauty of Denmark. To join in their adventure and take a virtual vacation to Copenhagen, visit the Happy Hollisters’ Trading Post Store to order your copy of The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Little Mermaid.
by Libby Svenson Kennedy
Research notes, Andrew Svenson Archives of The Hollister Family Properties Trust