Thursday, August 28, 2014

Father's son

Leevi Lemmitty: Isän poika 2010
Illustrations: Jukka Lemmetty
based on a 3d computer animation.

Mouse family lives in a leg of a grand piano. Father has been a boxer in his youth, now he tunes pianos. His son wants to be a ballet dancer and his father is a bit dissapointed.

One day a huge black cat captures Father Mouse and Son Mouse has to do something about it. It turns out that ballet and boxing have something in common.

Cute story about how parents want to fullfill their dream through their kids and how it always pays off to be true to your self, which isn't always easy.   And I guess every child wants to make their parent proud. I haven't seen the animation, but at least as a book the story works.

More about Isän poika.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Little Owl

Nora Surojegin 2013: Pikkupöllö
Illustrated by Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin

Little owl decides to go out in the world to find out, who he is. He meets a long eared owl, who eats bud of leaves. Little owl does not want to do that.

Next the little owl meets a long clawd gigantic owl, and an owl with a long furry tail. Owl can not be like either of them and he returns home. There his mother shows him that owls fly and the little owl learns to be himself.

 The animal that the little owl thinks is a long eared owl is a rabbit, the others are a bear and a squirrel. Nice story about how to be true to yourself. The illustrations are very natural and life like.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Penguin with a wolly hat

Leevi Lemmetty 2012: Pipopingviini
Illustrations: Leevi Lemmetty, Jukka Lemmetty

Penguin with a wolly hat lives at the South Pole. He likes to sit on the ice and fish. All of a sudden another penguin with a tie comes along and starts to talk to the other penguins about getting more fish, more ties and more everything.

The penguin with the tie brings a machine that fishes much more than the penguins can eat. What should be done?

A good lesson to be learned about greedy people. The penguins get the point, when do people?

Jukka Lemmetty has been illustrating Urpo and Turpo and Histamiini among many other books. His style is modern and simplified. It works well with the story

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ella and Aleksi

Ella & Aleksi with a professor Mole
Ella and Aleksi started as a music project of Markku Koskinen ja Sampo Haapaniemi. The first album "Lenni Lokinpoikanen" was released in 2004. The songs were rapped by two 4-year-olds (Ella and Aleksi are not their real names). The topics were about environment and the album received a reward for environmental education.

In 2011 was released an animated movie Surprise Birthday about the siblings.

Several books have been published about the siblings. Here is a few.

Ella and Aleksi go to see professor Mole for advice
 Katri Manninen: Myy, myy myyrä 2011

Ella and Aleksi cultivate flowers, but they do not grow. Inspector Dog tell them to go see Professor Mole. The Professor can make special dirt that will make the flowers grow.

The special dirt needs different ingredients that Ella and Aleksi will have to get: banana skins, egg shells and manure.

Inspector dog gives advice on cutivating flowers

The book is based on the song: "Myy myy myyrä".
The lyrics of the song:

"Myy myy myyrä multaa mulle
Käymään tuun sun luukulle
Myy myy myyrä multaa mulle
Sen vien kukkaruukulle

Mullassapa piilee taika
jonka voi vain aavistaa
Nyt on tullut meidän aika
kukat ruukuun istuttaa
Ensin täytyy saada multaa
Ella kanankakkaa tuo
Myyrällä on mustaa kultaa
Siispä matkaan myyrän luo"

Lenni the seagull chick
 Katri Manninen: Lenni Lokinpoikanen 2011
Aleksi is very good at riding his bike. Ella not so much, which makes her mad. She wants to be able to ride her bike without stabilisers.

Ella meets a seagul chick that doesn't know how to fly. Together they begin the learning path, which is not always easy.

Ella and Lenni share a problem and treats.

The  lyrics to the song "Lenni Lokinpoikanen":

"On Lenni pieni naurulokki,
Lenni äidin jalkaa nokki,
hae mulle lisää ruokaa,
silakoita, vatsa huokaa.
Lenni kuoriutui tää vasta,
munasta ja nyt parasta,
on alla äidin hellän siiven,
nukahtaa on hyvää siihen.

 Lenni nauttii kesästä ja kotipesästä
 Meille huutaa pystypäin ja se menee näin;
on Lenni lokinpoikanen, harmaavalkoinen
Lenni lokinpoikanen, on meri koti sen on
Lenni lokinpoikanen, harmaavalkoinen
Lenni lokinpoikanen, on meri koti sen"

Heidi Laine: Touhukkaat sisarukset 2012
Cartboard book with only few words introduce the characters from the Ella & Aleksi songs.

Ella & Aleksi and firends
Heidi Laine: Eläinystävät 2011
Another cardboard book about Ella & Aleksi animals. Very cute and note worthy is that a mole used to be "myyrä" at the time of the album release but then the name of the animal was change to "kontiainen". This is mentioned in the book. Let's talk about animals with their right names. The song does not sound as good if it had been kon-kon-kontiainen.

Ella & Aleksi's bugs

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Viljami's adventure at the market place
Aulikki Miettinen
Kettusten koulukirja 1991
Kettuset Majakkasaarella 1989 
Kaisa-mummin yövieraat 1988
Kettusen perheen juhlakirja 1986
Kaarlo Kettunen kutsuu kylään 1985
Viljamin toriretki 1895

Books about a small fox boy, Viljami, who lives with his father. At the other end of their house lives his grandmother. It isn’t told what has happened to the mother.

Viljami at the market place
Viljamin toriretki
(Viljami at the marketplace)

Viljami goes to the market place and gets lost. The market place is packed with different stands and Viljami has a nice adventure.

Kaarlo Kettunen's invitation

Kaarlo Kettunen kutsuu kylään
(Kaarlo Kettunen’s invitation)

Kaarlo lives in a forest and is snowed in. He uses his window to get out of the house. Viljami and his father are coming to visit him. Kaarlo goes ice fishing and prepared for the visit. When Viljami and his father arrive, it turns out that father cannot fir through the window. Kaarlo asks his neighbours for help and all of them dig out the door. Kaarlo prepares a feast for his guests.

Kaarlo Kettunen is ice fishing.
The Kettunen celebration book

 Kettusen perheen juhlakirja
(The Family Kettunen celebration book )

The different holidays and their traditions are illustrated in this book. Shrovetide, Easter, May day, Mid summer and Christmas. Kettunen’s also have a wedding, grandma’s birthday and a christening of a baby.

Midsummer at Kettunens
Grandma Kaisa is having a sleep over
 Kaisa-mummi yövieraat
(Spending the night at Grandma Kaisa)

Viljami and his friend Siiri-Sofia spend the night at Viljami’s grandmother and have so much fun.

Grandma Kaisa takes her guests skating.

The Kettunens at the Lighthouse island

Kettuset Majakkasaarella
(The Kettunens at the Lighthouse island)

Grandma Kaisa wants to visit her old friend at the Lighthouse island. Viljami and Siiri-Sofia get to fish and swim.

Grandma Kaisa to the rescue at the Lighthouse island.

Kettunens' school book

Kettusten koulukirja (The schoolbook of Kettunens)
Viljami goes to school. The book tells the story about ordinary school days.

Kettunen is a fairly common last name in Finland. In English it means little fox. I my mind and traditional Finnish fairytales foxes are always sly and sneaky. The characters in these books are soft and fluffy. I do not understand why I am so fascinated by roundness and I am attracted to these characters. Is it because I rear these type of books that I still like round characters or did I read these, because I have always liked round characters. 

Viljami at school

Monday, August 11, 2014

Princess Wilhelmina and the Coin of Destiny

Wilhelmina with her dragon, the book cover
Laura Valojärvi: Prinsessa Wilhelmiina ja kohtalon lantti
Illustrated by Emilia Lehtinen

Princess Wilhelmina is like other princesses. She dresses for three hours, her ladies in waiting are a pajama dresser, nose wiper, two corset tighteners and three cheer-uppers: a juggler, a choir and a reader of admirer letters.

Finally, when the princess is all dressed up an authorized match-maker check hers. The match maker has been authorized by the king: the king has to think about administrative issues: the court does not expand if the princess does not marry.

Princesses have several suitors, but the princesses are picky and often reject their suitors. While the princes think their are noble, but they can be stiff as marble pillars and they do not even know how to disco. The only dance minuets in their wigs and their faces are powdered white. What if all princes are dorks?

Princess Wilhelmina decides to take a walk to a near by meadow, where she meets an ordinary boy. They play together and the next day Wilhelmina can only think of the boy. She talkes to her father, the king, that she would like to marry that boy. The king says it is out of the question.

Now the king has a problem: how to stop the loving? He also sees how unhappy Wilhelmina is. He asks for fortune tellers, who tell him that if the princess chooses the boy, they will end up in dragon's belly. They suggest other suitors: a nuclear physicist, a rock star and an athlete. They all have courts of their own.

Wilhelmina discovers science with the physicist.
The king decides to have a ball, where the suitors are invited. The physicist takes the princess dancing. (Now the reader can toss a coin: if it is tales, the princess chooses the physicist and the reader can read about their lives. If the coin is heads, princess does not choose him and the reader is directed to continue with the story)

The dragon takes over the kingdom.
The princess chooses the physicist and she gets excited about science. Together they experiment in their lab and marry at the age of 70.

If the result of the toss of the coin is heads, we read on... The next suitor is the rock star. Again with the toss of a dice we get to read, what happens, if Wilhelmina chooses him. With the rock star, Wilhelmina becomes a key board player and together they have concerts in many countries.

The third suitor is the athelete. If Wilhelmina chooses him, she will cheer her husband in all sports events and has six children. On Sundays they all go for a walk in identical track suits.

If the coin toss leads to the ordinary boy, the king wants to train him. The king sends for a stylist and soon the boy looks like a prince. The boy gets scared and runs off. Wilhelmina has enough and locks herself in a tower. The royal gardener brings a seedling to the king and tells him it is a chili, but if the thought of the breeder is in a bad mood... the king won't listen and takes the plant to Wilhelmina.

Wilhelmina takes the plant and waters it. Soon she realizes, she is raising a dragon.

Wilhelmina and the ordinary boy live happily ever after.
Wilhelmina sets the dragon free and soon the whole castle is running around like madmen. The dragon eats everything in his way. Even Wilhelmina flees to the ordinary boy's house. The boy wants to slay the dragon and takes off with a Swiss army knife. The dragon eats the boy. Wilhelmina doesn't think twice and follows the boy into the dragons mouth. They fall into the dragons belly, where already is half the kingdom. Wilhelmina's comfortable princess life can continue. They live happily ever after in the dragons belly. Only the king cries outside for his lost daughter.

My son chose this book by its cover. He is fascinated by dragons, so he loved the cover of this dramatic book. He is very visual type: he refused to see Disney’s Hercules for a long time, because he saw the dvd cover and thought Hercules was a girl. (If I was paranoid, I’d be a little worried: did he see a resemblance between me and Hercules? Since the women in Finland aren’t as masculine as Hercules! Let’s hope, it was only the hair that made him think of Hercules was a girl.)

I like the new ideas of this book: the modern day princes, rock stars and athletes, have entourages. I also like that the stories for girls tell that girls can do anything they want (in real world they have to follow the boys’ rules, but that is another story). I am also intrigued by the idea that someone might be able to outline the future: if you choose A, this will happen. If you choose B that will happen. What if someone showed the future’s with every possible spouse you meet? Then you could choose the best. Maybe that wouldn’t work, since people tend to grow and what they want in their 20s may be something totally different from what they want in their 40s.

What caught my attention in this story is that Wilhelmina got to have a career of her own with all other suitors except the athlete: then she had to be the stay at home mother. There is nothing wrong of being a stay at home mothers, I am sure many women will enjoy that. To me it just was the worst choice and I wonder if the writer chose the athlete intentionally to be the traditional one. Or is it just that you cannot be a top athlete, if you haven’t been training since birth?

Then I began to think that everything nowadays is possible for girls as it is for Wilhelmina (except that the girl has to follow the rules of masculine world) but what if a boy wants to be a stay at home dad? I have read that at least in Sweden, it t is totally acceptable that the dads stay at home for longer periods. What if a young boy announces that when he grows up, he is going to marry a wealthy woman and stay at home? How would his parents react? Finally I started to think about the ending with the ordinary boy: even though they lived in the dragon’s belly, Wilhelmina’s life changed only a little. That is something new as well: in the traditional fairytales the princess’s life changes, when she meets her prince and decides to live with him. Is here a reflection of the modern life? Do the women define nowadays how the family life turns out? Previously the bride moved in with the groom’s family and they taught the bride the manners of the house and she had to adjust.

The only one who loses in the book, is the king. That'll teach parents not to push too much or then they'll lose their kids forever. But what is too much? How much is enough that the child will make the right choices for himself?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mandy and Andy

Mandy and Andy in daycare -cover
Teuvo "Teutori" Koskinen 1982-

Satukustannus, a publishing house wanted to publis a new ABC book and asked artist Teuvo "Teutori" Koskinen to illustrate it. As inspiration Teutori used his father in laws kittens named Miina and Manu (Mandy and Andy).

Mandy was a red kitten, who is witty and smart. Andy is a grey kitten that is a little bit clumsy. The kittens live in a 1950s style farm. They also have Uncle Sulo to guide them. Each book has a single theme. The theme can be something very ordinary, such as daycare, visiting a doctor or something imaginary: dragons den, fairytales and pirates. Mandy and Andy also travel a lot: they are in Lapland, China and Africa.

Each book also has a lesson to learn. Usually it is Andy that learns the lesson.  Some of the books are hyphenated so children can read the stories themselves.

Mandy and Andy in daycare
Teutori wrote 47 Mandy and Andy stories before he passed away in 2000. After that Mandy and Andy anu have been drawn by Jari Koivisto and Tuomas Mäkelä. The stories have been written by several writers.

Mandy and Andy are also stars of a CD-ROM game.

Mandy's and Andy's Christmas eve
This is not a complete list of Mandy's and Andy's books
Mandy and Andy enjoy nature
 Mandy and Andy in Fairytalelands
Mandy and Andy as detectives
Mandy’s and Andy’s adventure in Lapland
 Mandy and Andy –the story of a Mill
Mandy and Andy in China
Mandy’s and Andy’s Christmas eve
Mandy and Andy at the dentist
Mandy and Andy fishing
Mandy and Andy at theater 
Mandy and Andy at preschool
Mandy and Andy at Farm
Mandy’s and Andy’s hobbies
Mandy and Andy at Santa Park
Mandy and Andy timetravel
Mandy and Andy ABC
Mandy and Andy math
Mandy and Andy on vacation

Mandy, Andy and Finnish Christmas traditions
Mandy’s and Andy’s joyride
Mandy and Andy temper tantrums
Mandy and Andy travel
Mandy and Andy The secret of an old castle
Mandy’s and Andy’s summer
Mandy and Andy hot air balloon
Mandy and Andy at swimming school
Mandy and Andy at riding school
Mandy and Andy rhymes and jingles
Mandy and Andy at daycare
 Mandy and Andy at the market

Mandy and Andy rhymes
Mandy and Andy at a hospital
Mandy and Andy on a pirate ship
Mandy and Andy at the land of the gnomes
Mandy and Andy teach manners
Mandy and Andy learn to tell time
Mandy and Andy at the doctor’s
 Mandy and Andy get lost
Mandy and Andy in Africa
Mandy and Andy at a dragon’s den
Mandy and Andy as bakers
Mandy and Andy visit wild boars
Mandy and Andy at a zoo

Mandy and Andy rhymes

Monday, August 4, 2014

Urpo and Turpo

Hannele Hovi 2013: 
Urpo, Turpo ja hirveä irvisaurus 
Illustrated by Jukka Lemmetty

Urpo and Turpo are teddybears that live in a children's roon in a green house. Urpo is a grey teddy with a wide behind. Turpo is brown bear, a daredevil and an adventurer. Toghether they cause mayhem.

The charachters are based on Ms. Hovi's son's teddybears. One day the boy introduced them as Urpo and Turpo and that inspired Ms. Hovi to write about their adventures.

The first Urpo and Turpo adventure was publised in 1987. Later on came several other books that dealt with temper tantrums, philosophy about the universe, tolerating difference and the beginning of life with delicate humor.

Urpo and Turpo want to tame the fierce Saurus

In this book a new creature: some kind of saurus that makes faces joins the crew in the children's room. Urpo and Turpo want to make friends withe the newcomer, who is not very co-operative. Urpo and Turpo decide to take a new approach: tendernerss. And what happens? The grimacesaurus becomes their defender and friend.

Urpo and Turpo were also seen as doll animation in tv.