Monday, August 31, 2015

Janne from Hämeenlinna: How Janne became Jean Sibelius

Tapani Bagge 2015: Hämeenlinnan Janne: kuinka Jannesta tuli Jean Sibelius
illustrated by Salla Savolainen

Young master Janne has a very powerful imagination. He lives with his mother, aunts and grandma in Hämeenlinna.

The story tells about Jean Sibelius's early years in Hämeenlinna, which at the time was one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Finland.

Janne tells about his childhood, which resembles Astrid Lindgren's Emil i Lönneberga. Among other things, he tells his aunts piano student not to come to lessons so often that they obeyed. Janne had an absolute pitch and the practising kids really hurt him.

The Russian soldiers at Hämeenlinna.
In Jean Sibelius's childhood, most people he knew, spoke Swedish. He started at a Swedish school, but changed to a Finnish school.

Janne and his friends live for music. The book ends, when on his grandmothers orders, Janne moves to Helsinki to study law.

The illustrations are very lifelike. The sadness of Janne's death is portrayed with a black swan the magnitude of Janne's imagination by a giant cat fish.

Map of Hämeenlinna when Jean Sibelius was a child.
All important places of Jean Sibelius in Hämeelinna.
This year i a jubilee of  150 years of Jean Sibelius's birth.  I really enjoyed Katri Kirkkopelto's Melody Forest, which was very artistic and had fabulous illustrations. This book is about the same topic, but focuses only in the childhood of Jean Sibelius. My six year old son was not interested in Melody Forest, but this book he wanted to read.

The book even tells where the name Jean came from. Very informative, I learned a lot about the 1860s in Hämeenlinna, different instruments and Jean Sibelius. I guess to Finnish children Jean Sibelius is a serious person, but this book makes him more approachable. More books like this, please.

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