Thursday, February 27, 2014

Canine Kalevala

Mauri Kunnas 1992

Finland celebrates Kalevala  day on February 28th. Many versions have been made of Kalevala, but my favourite is the Canine Kalevala. The pictures are funny and the story is not so dead serious as the original. Some of the images are versions of the national treasures made by Akseli Gallen-Kallela.

In short, Kalevala is an adventure epic of Väinämöinen. He has a little bit of woman trouble and he bumps heads with many younger men.

This book has also been published in English.

Väinämöinen meets Antero Vipunen, a giant
More pictures of the book.  The book's background by Finnish Literature Society. There is also a synopsis of the story.

 If you are in real rush, watch this video made by Scott Sandwich about the Kalevala, sounds a little like the Game of Thrones.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pictures from Finnish Children's lives

Rudlof Waldemar Åkerblom 1983: Kuvia suomen lasten elämästä
first edition printed in 1882
rhymes Juhani H. (=P.J. Hannikainen)

Ten drawings about the children's lives in Finland in 19th century. This book was the first picture book written in Finnish and printed in four colors. P.J Hannikainen (1854-1924) was a famous finnish music educator and composer. At the same time this book was published in Swedish by the name Finsk bilderbook.


The pictures are delicate and it amazes me that even today the children ride their hobby horses and sled during the winter. The equipment for playing have changed. In the book is also a drawing of a child in Lappland. He takes care of the reindeer. In another picture the children are fishing with a trident in a near by river. You can see the white water. To me it looked scary.

Finnish picturebook

Venny SoldanBrofeldt and Juhani Aho 1983,
first edition 1894

Artist couple writer Juhani Aho and his painter wife Venny Soldan-Brofeldt made this book over hundred years ago. The drawings portray the lives of ordinary people. Every drawing has a kalevala type of rhyme.

This book was an accomplishment in time when picture books were not yet set as a type of literature.

This book was printed again in 2009 to celebrate WSOY's 125 anniversery.

The images are very delicate. Needless to say that my boys  were not interested in this book at all. The title says this was meant for children and youths. I cannot imagine any teenager reading this book today, exept for studying the drawing style or rhymes. Did they read it in the late 1890s? What did they get out of it?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Onneli and Anneli

Marjatta Kurenniemi 1966

Marjatta Kurenniemi wrote four books about Onneli and Anneli. The first book was published in 1966. In 2003 a book that had all four stories was published.

The first book, the House of Onneli and Anneli (Onnelin ja Annelin talo), tells a story of two girls, best friends tha find a sum of money and buy a house. Anneli lives part time with her mother, part time with her dad. Onneli is the middle child of nine children. No one notices that they are not there anymore.

The house that they buy is made for little girls. Mrs. Ruusupuu (Rosetree), who sells the house, cannot live there herself. The neighbours are two ladies Tingelstiina and Tangelstiina, who have chickens that lay easter eggs and have balloons growing in their garden. The other neighbour is a widow, who has a cupboard full of piggy banks and is a bit grumpy. (Luckily Onneli and Anneli fix that).

Onneli and Anneli find a house
Second book tells about the first winter the girls stay in their house "Winter with Onneli and Anneli" (Onnelin ja Annelin talvi). They receive guest, the tiny family of Vaaksanheimo (Vaaksa is the distance between the thumb and the middle finger, heimo means tribe or family). The family moves into Onneli's and Anneli's doll house. All kinds of adventure awaits.

The third book, Onneli, Anneli and the orphans (Onneli, Anneli ja orpolapset) start with an orphanage moving across the street from Onneli and Anneli. The director of the orphanage is an old acquaintance of the girls. Happy ending, the girls and the adults in the street fix the orphanage to be a happy place.

The fourth book about Onneli and Anneli (Onneli, Anneli ja nukutuskello) tells about Tingelstiina's and Tangelstiina's brother. He is an inventor and invented a sleeping clock. It is like an alarmclock but reverse: everyone falls a sleep when the clock rings. A factory owner wants to make a high way near Onneli's and Anneli's house. He also wants the clock. Needless to say there is a happy ending.

Family Vaaksanheimo moves in.
The drawings in the book are made by Maija Karma (She also illustrated Adalmina's pearl.)The drawings fit the book very well.

In January 2014 was made a movie of the first book. Even a house was built according to the story.

The stories are very optimistic with some sad nuances: the fact that no one misses the girls, the sad orphanage, homeless tiny people and gready business man. Despite all of these the tone is very optimistic and every story has a happy ending. Real good mood books.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Three books from Mimmit:
Pakkasherra ja Kylmänhuokuja 2012,
Mimmit ja ketunpoikanen 2013 and
Mimmit ja luolan salaisuus 2013

All written by Pauliina Lerche and illustratred by Meri Mort.

Mimmit is an animation that is part of Mimmikoto children’s program. In the show, Mimmit creat all kinds of crafts, cook and play traditional games. In every episode there is an animated short story. Actually they could be seen as music videos. The stories in the animations are based on Finnish mythology. The music is influenced by the Karelian traditional folksongs. What I like about them is that the animation is so clear. The colors used are bright, the music resembles old folk songs.
Mimmit and Ketunpoikanen

The first book published was Pakkaherra and Kylmänhuokuja. Mimmit (the girls in Finnish) are waiting for winter, but it is not coming. Mimmit travel way up north and meet all kinds of creatures. Finally the find Pakkasherra (Mr. Frost) fighting with Kylmänhuokuja (Coldbreath,). In mythology Pakkasherra froze the land and brought snow and Kylmänhuokuja chilled the air and froze the lakes. Mimmit get the two to reconcile and finally there is snow.

Mimmit fly to find out, what happend to winter in Pakkasherra ...
Second book, Mimmit ja ketunpoikanen, is a story about a fox cub, which hurts his leg in glass. It is spring and underneath the snow, all kinds of trash show up. Mimmit take care of the fox and the old tree in the yard rewards them and turns them into foxes. The girls run in the forest with the fox and they meet all kinds of creatures.

The third book, Mimmit ja luolansalaisuus, takes place in the fall. Mimmit are harvesting the crop and then they hear a strange sound from the forest. It comes out of a cave. What is in the cave? The book is filled with mythological creatures like maahinen (=gnome, but the Finnish gnomes aren't cute garden gnomes). In all the books the colors are bright and clear cut.