In a nutshell: The protagonist Niels Holgersson turns a dwarf into a dwarf, and the boy makes a fascinating journey on a gus from Sweden to Lapland and back. On the way to Lapland, he meets a flock of wild geese flying along the Gulf of Bothnia, and with them peeks into remote areas of Scandinavia. As a result, Niels visits all the provinces of Sweden, falls into various adventures and learns a lot of the new geography, history and culture of each province of his homeland.
In a small farmhouse in the south of Sweden, there is a fourteen-year-old Nils Holgersson who brings only troubles to his parents, because he is lazy and angry by nature. Once, in late March, for another evil trick the kind dwarf who lived in Nils’s house turns him into a dwarf. Husak Martin intends to join the caravan of wild geese who are going to fly to Lapland. Nils is going to prevent this, but he does not get out, because he’s a baby: a gander just puts him on his back.
After Niels helped
several animals in trouble, the pack leader, the old and wise Goekey of Akka, decides that it is time for Nils to return home to their parents and that he can again become a man. But Niels wants to continue his journey with the geese in Sweden, than to turn back. Now our hero continues to travel with the geese, and learns the nature of his country, its history, culture and cities. At the same time, he is experiencing many dangerous adventures, during which he has to make a moral choice.
In parallel, the story of a peasant girl Aza and her little brother Mats is described. They are friends of Niels, who often guarded the geese together. Suddenly their mother and all brothers and sisters die. Many people think that this is the curse of one gypsy woman. Father Aza and Mats left their children for want and becomes a miner in Malmberga, in the north of Sweden. One day, Aza and Mats learn that their mother and brothers and sisters did not die from a gypsy curse, but in consequence of tuberculosis. They go to their father to tell him about it. During the journey, they will learn what TB is and how to deal with it.
Soon, Aza and Mats arrive in Malmberg, where Mats dies as a result of an accident. After burying his brother, Aza meets his father: now they are together again!
In autumn, Nils returns to the wild geese from Lapland. Before continuing on its way across the Baltic Sea to Pomerania, the gander Martin slips Niels in the courtyard of his parents, who are already worried about the loss of their son. They catch a gander and already want to kill him, but Nils does not allow them this, because with Martin they became real friends. At this point, he again turns into a man.