Monday, January 27, 2014

Adalmina's pearl

Illustration by Lena Frölander-Ulf 2012
Adalminas pärla, Finnish: Adalmiinan helmi 1853
Another fairytale from Topelius. Written in 1878-1896

When Princess Adalmina is born, two fairy godmothers give her gifts. The first gift is a pearl that makes Adalmina wise, rich and beautiful. The other godmother gives her a humble heart if the Princess ever loses the pearl. The King makes a diadem for the pearl and Adalmina wears it all the time. Adalmina grows up, but instead of her beauty and wisdom, she is very arrogant. She is forbidden to leave the palace garden and she is furious.

Adalmina loses the diadem
She leaves the castle and walks to the nearby forest. There she sees a pond and she stops to admire herself. The diadem and the pearl with it falls into the pond. All at once Adalmina forgets who she is. She is poor, dumb and ugly. She wonders around the forest and finds a small cottage, where an old woman lives. She is happy there.

Meanwhile the king and queen are devastated: they look for Adalmina all over. They even promise to give her hand in marriage if someone finds her. One day a prince rides in the forest. First he finds the diadem at the pond and then the cottage and meets Adalmina. He wonders why the girl is so endearing and moves his heart even though she is ugly. He asks if the ladies have seen Adalmina. They say no.

The prince takes the diadem to the King. The diadem fits only Adalmina and the King as he still remembers the second fairy godmother’s gift, orders all the girls of 18 to come and try the diadem on. At the end of the day they look at the road if there still were someone coming.

Finally Adalmina comes and tries on the diadem. It fits and then she remembers everything. She also remembers how arrogant and gruel she was before. But now she also remembers what it was like living in the cottage. She has learned a lesson and now she can live happily ever after with her prince.
Albert Edelfelt
Adalmina's pearl by Albert Edelfelt, 1903 Cover of Läsning för barn -illustrerad ac finska och svenska konstnär. (Lukemisia lapsille,  translated in Finnish  1906-1907)
Illustration by Alf Danning

Rudolf Koivu's Adalmina's pearl
Adalmina by Maija Karma

Illustration by Maija Karma

Illustration by Maija Karma

Friday, January 24, 2014

Kiekumarallaa - Folksongs for children

Folksongs for children
editor Leena Järvenpää 2007

This book comes with cd, which is nice, if you are not familiar with the songs before.  The songs are performed by Freija.

Oldfashioned songs that atleast baby's love to listen.  My favourite is "Ololonkos", in which the words are twisted so that the letter l is repeated with the first vowel in the word.  onkos=ololonkos, teillä=teleleillä, kissan=kilililissan.
It is amazing that even small Finnish speaking children (big enough to speak and understand speach) understand the words. How long would you have to study a language, before you can do that ?

Here is the list of songs in the book and cd:

Alotan minä laulamaan
Kukkuu kukkuu
Kettu ja korppi
Mitkä nuo merelllä uivat?
Oli ennen onnimanni
Huis sika metsään
 Miu mau Martin kello
 Älä itkelele
 Ison härän polska
 Pyykit nyyttiin
 Sano sano 
Ukolla, akalla
Tiu vou vou
Elli keitti vellii
Rup rup rullaa
Jos voisin laulaa
Souva sorsa, lieku lintu

The stolen princess: a fairy tale from Persia

Zacharias Topelius 1848
told in Finnish Irja Lappalainen and Antonia Ringbom 1986
Illustrations Antonia Ringblom

The old Persian king has only one daughter. The daughter is very blond (hence the name Kultakutri = Goldilocks in Finnish), which is rare in Persia. Her mother was stolen from North and sold to the King. One day there is a animal festival where a tiger is killed. The curious princess goes closer to see. But the tiger is a witch from Lapland, whose mission is to rob the princess. The mission was given by Bom-Bali, the old King’s enemy. Bom-Bali is so low that the King doesn’t even want to cut his beard not to mention his throat.

Instead of taking the princess to Bom-Bali, the witch takes Kultakutri to his home and wants her to marry his son. The Princess refuses and the witch tries to break her by closing her into a cave. He gives her only 30 cloud berries to eat and 30 drops of morning dew to drink. He diminishes the portion every day. He also gives her company: mosquitos. The witch’s wife and son give the Princess some reindeer meet to eat. The witch is furious and fnally he turns the Princess into heather. Soon there will be frost and the princess will die.

Alas there is a prince who has been looking for the Princess. From a bird he hears that the Princess is in Lapland. Prince finds the witch, who dies. The witch’s wife and son tell the prince that the Princess is heather and tell him how to reverse the spell. The Princess is rescued. The Princess and the Prince promise the two a palace in Persia, but they refuse. What would they do in Persia? Lapland is the best place on earth.

Illustration by Alf Danning
 The story was written in Swedish, the original name is Prinsessa Lindagull, in Finish the name is Prinsessa Kultakutri (note that princess is the same in Swedish and Finnish). Kultakutri is also the translation for Goldilocks (and the three bears) so it is a bit confusing. It shouldn’t be: there are lots of Johns out there, but in fairy tales it is disturbing.

 The other names in the Finnish version of the fairy tale are odd: the witch is Hirmu, his wife’s name is Pimpendora and his son’s name is Pompenpaturi. But then again it adds a little more mystique to the fairytale than if the names were Jane and Jim.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Metsänväen suojatti

Virkkunen, Elsa 1977
Illustrator Martta Wendelin

Little Sami is spending summer at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house in the country. With them lives also Granpa’s dad. Grandma is baking bread indoors and tells Sami not to go anywhere from the front yard. Sami forgets this soon and walks into the forest.  Grandma notices this and panics. She looks for Sami in the well, the lake shore and then continues the search in the forest. 
She meets all forest animals and they help her, because she has always taken care of the injured animals. She also meets the daughters of Ahti, the god of water. She meets Tapio, the god of forest. Finally Tapio’s son shows her were Sami is. He is well, but he is sorry that he caused so much worries to his Grandma. All is well.

At first I thought the protégé is the boy, but maybe it is the grandma. She’s been so kind to the forest animals that the forest king wants to be kind to her by protecting her grandson. The illustrations are made by Martta Wendelin, who is one of the most respected illustrator of the 20th century.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Seven dogbrothers

being a doggerel version of The seven brothers, Aleksis Kivi's classic novel from 1870
Mauri Kunnas 2002, English translation 2003

I admit, I am a bad Finn: I have not read Aleksis Kivi’s Seven brothers.

Here is my explanation why:  I lived in Nurmijärvi (Aleksis Kivi’s home community) all through comprehensive school and high school. Every year in October ( The national Aleksis Kivi day is October 10th) we read extracts from Seven Brothers –book. Every single year. The same extracts. So I have never read the entire book, only these extracts. So I know how the brothers went to school, escaped the bulls to a giant rock, were picked on the other village boys and so on.  To my defense I must say that I have seen Aleksis Kivi’s play Nummisuutarit at least twice in Taborinvuori, I remember poems written by Aleksis Kivi (Some of them is part of Seven Brothers). 

This image could be exhibited in a museum.
Back to the book, Aleksis Kivi’s Seven Brothers was written in 1873 and  is one of  the first novels written in Finnish. Runeberg and the others wrote in Swedish. So the book is notable. 

Mauri Kunnas has told the story again and illustrated it very nicely. The book is about seven boys who for one thing do not wish to learn to read. Since we do not have cliff notes in Finland, but this children’s version is a lighter version of the book. 

This is written at the back of the book: 
"Learning simply will not penetrate the thick skulls of the canine Jukola brothers. Should the young dogs live free in the wilds or in the community, adhering to the civilised ways of men? This is the constant wrestling match that occupies the minds of Juhani, Tuomas, Aapo, Simeon, Timo, Lauri, and little Eero. The original novel of The Seven Brothers is the masterpiece by Finlands national writer Aleksis Kivi, a work still entirely topical some 130 years after its first appearance. Mauri Kunnass canine version of this much-loved Finnish classic will delight both children and older readers."