Monday, October 27, 2014

Marjaliisa Pitkäranta's animals

text by Ester Ahokainen, illustrations Marjaliisa Pitkäranta
1983: Metsänväen kesäkisat
test by Heli Karjalainen, illustrations by Marjaliisa Pitkäranta 1990: Metsänväen tarinoita
Marjaliisa Pitkäranta 1999: Lasten oma metsäkirja

The Summergames of the Forest folks
(Metsänväen kesäkisat)

I got this as a birthday present when I was a child. It was the first poem book I had read and it is still fantastic, which is amazing becaus I do not like poems and I do not like sporst. But this book combines both and adds a animals to the mix.

Swimming contest of otters and frog
All the animals have a sport that their are good at: the frogs swim, boxers box, reindeer run. All animals are having fun.

Forest animal stories (Metsän eläinten tarinoita)

This book combines stories of animals and elfs, who try to help them.  The main message is that the animals do not always understand the human actions: the pollutions, the littering and selfishness.

The animals are singing to catch the attention of humans.

The Children's own forest book
(Lasten oma metsäkirja)

This book introduces different plants and animals that live in the Finnish forests. There are few stories about forest creaturs such as a mice helping a bear. The book also teaches what mushrooms and berries not to eat.
Children's own forest book .cover

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The strange delay of Anna Winter

Sinikka Nopola 2008: Anna Talven outu viivytys
Illustrated by: Linda Bondestam

All the city has been waiting for two months. Anna Winter, where is she? The city people are wondering, what’s keeping her? She should be here by now. Anna Winter had always been conscientious. Sometimes she has been late for few weeks but thats nothing.

Anna’s sister Hydrangea Autumn is tired and angry: all she hears is complaints. The world is ugly, gray and dark, autum has ruined people’s lives. Miss Autumn is weapy and people think that autumn is making their lives miserable. All of a sudden Miss Autumn sees Anna Winter in a milkshake bar with Mr. Summer. Why is he still here? He is supposed to be at Gran Canaria already. Miss Autumn sees that the two are smitten.

Mr. Summer is complaining to Anna: he doesn’t seem to do his job right, people think its too hot or too rainy. Anna understands him. She is considered too cool, even though winter is supposed to be cold. Mr. Summer asks Anna a favor, his cat needs to be taken care of.

Anna promises to take care of the matter and leaves to ask her mother. Anna’s and Hydrangea’s mother is Mrs. Spring. Her artist name is Primavera, it sounds better. Mrs. Primavera is too busy, she can’t take care of the cat. She has to prepare for her performance. In the last week of spring, she appears in glittering gown. Mrs. Primavera is wondering, why she has such pale daughters. Anna defends herself and her sister. Autumn is wistful, oblique light with amazing colors and she herself knows all the shades of white. Anna says that she opens up only to those who have time. Mrs. Primavera suggest that Anna should ask her sister.

Hydrangea doesn’t want the cat. She is so tired. She tells Anna that she is the only one who brings out the truth: she undresses the trees from leaves and isn’t afraid of anything, not even darkness or death. Hydrangea hates Mr. Summer and refuses to take the cat.
Anna sits in the park bench and wonders, what she should do, when Mr. Mud and Mr. Slush drive by with their bikes. The children love them, but adults do not care too much about them. Both men are infatuated with Anna and promise to take the cat. Anna hurries back to the milk shake bar only to find out that Mr. Summer has left her a note. Anna starts to cry and it starts snowing outdoors. Miss Autumn arrives and apologizes. She is not surprised that Mr. Summer has left. Summer comes and goes and always someone pines over him. Mr. Summer had wooed Miss Autumn, too. He had told her that she has an exiting personality and had offered her cotton candy. In the end Mr. Summer had locked Miss Autumn to the beach locker room, because he wanted still in September be admired by people. Miss Autumn tells Anna that Mr. Summer has a fiancée, Doris Heatwave. She lives at Canary Islands. She is a giggling air head in bikinis. Both of them are superficial, which Miss Autumn and Miss Winter aren’t.
Mrs. Primavera is a real diva.

Mr. Slush and Mr. Mud come running and tell the girls that the cat has climbed in a tree. The fire department tries to get the cat down. Anna Winter and Hydrangea Autumn leave to get Mr. Wind. Mr. Wind is having a day off and is reading poems at the attic. Miss Autumn asks him to help. Mr. Wind agrees and starts buffing and soon the cat is down. Mr. Wind promises to take the cat in his care. Mr. Wind feels a little heavy hearted. He tries to catch a glimpse of Miss Winter through the window. He misses the decorative snowflakes and is surprised. He is an independent soul after all. He also notices that the city without Miss Winter’s touch is very empty.

Miss Autumn dreams about a vacation to England. She has heard that people like Autumns there. At her sisters guestroom she hears from the radio that the Canary Islands has had an exceptional heat wave that has dried out Summer. Miss Autumn is pleased, they should scorch together.

Miss Winter notices that she does not miss Mr. Summer any more. It starts to snow. People are happy and Miss Winter goes to the ice rink, where Mr. Wind joins her. Mr. Summer writes the letter he promised and explained that Summer and Winter cannot be together long, because they confuse each other and people too much.

I love that seasons change. How boring would it be, if it was always summer? This story highlights how people react to the seasons. Last winter we had no snow and it felt awful. Intresting in this book is that it empfasize that is it admirable to be serious (like Miss Autumn and Miss Winter). In my mind the book also warns about charming cheaters. Very cute.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Finnish children's castle book

Raili Mikkanen 2011: Suomen lasten linnakirja
kuvitus: Laura Valojärvi

This book gives information about the different castle types: hill fort, fortress, castle and manor castle. The reader gets to see the life in the castle, its history, rulers and inhabitants. The different periods of the castles, the every day life and the festivities as well the wars become very familiar through the stories in the book.

Every castle has short story to illustrate even more the life in the Castle. In Raasepori the story is a real ghost story, the Caslte of Turku burns. A carefully guarded prisoner escapes from Olavinlinna through a shooting hole using a rope or the reader can admire the Polish princess Isabella.

The ghost at the castle of Raasepori
Raili Mikkanen points out that the Finnish castles differ from the castles of Central Europe. The Finnish castles were built as a defense rather than living quarters. Laura Valosaari’s illustrations are nice and dramatic, you’d wish there were more pictures.
Locations of the places in the book

The nine castles in this book are:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The folks of Maple Cottage

Riikka Jäntti:
Nokikätkön ritarit ja Kuuhiisi 2005
Vaahteratuvan väki ja vaarallinen peto 2008
Toivo ja hirveä hämähäkki 2009
Vaahteratuvan väki ja Kivihovin kirous 2010

The Maplecottage folk remind me of Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem. But instead of English rosegarden pastels this book series is colored more in Finnish dirt road tones. Some illustrations in the books are printed in sepia. These tones fit well into the adventures of Toivo, a hedgehog, Nökö, a squirrel and Iiris, a mouse. Toivo means Hope in Finnish.

What does it say about the cultural differences that hope is female in the English speaking world and masculine in Finland?

Toivo and Nökö fetch water
for Mrs. Rabbit

Nokikätkön ritarit ja Kuuhiisi

(The knights of Sootcache and the Moon demon)
Nökö the squirrel and Toivo the hedgehog are ordered by Nökö’s big brother to remodel the kitchen of the Maple cottage. Iiris the mouse is hired as help and she finds a cave at end of the wood burning oven. In the cave, there is a strange bundle full of maps. The three friends form a knighthood to solve its mysteries.

The knights ask help from Old Mrs. Rabbit and she tells them to go ask the tenant of Ratt Manor (Rottalan kartano). They also learn about the legend of Mouse Mountain and the Moon demon.

The story is exciting and here is a plot spoiler: someone dies.  I couldn’t believe it. In children’s book someone dies! In the next book is the funeral so I had to. The events happen in August, when the nights get darker but still is warm.

Vaahteratuvan väki ja vaarallinen peto

(The folks of Maple cottage and a dangerous beast)
Nökö and Toivo ground a headquarters to the tower of Maple Cottage. They do not have much time to spend there, since Nökö’s brother orders them to collect mountain ash berries and mashrooms. IIris is acting in a play.

When the snow finally falls the three of them have time they fix a boat at Rat Manor’s shed.  In the big forest has been seen the footsteps of a big beast.

The beast
The Mouse Mountain Newspaper doesn’t write about anything else but the beast. The town council sets a curfew in the night time. Since it is winter, the folks cannot get out much.

Everyone tries to capture the beast and in the process the shed burns down.

The story is about how rumors get the best of people and mass hysteria isn’t always that far away. The book also teatches about Media reading skills. About how to interpret the somewhat dramatic headlines that are supposed to sell more magazines.

Toivo ja hirveä hämähäkki

(Toivo and horrible spider)
Spring is comming and Maple Cottage is full of action. Nökö, Toivo and Iiris are sewing a hot air balloon to see the world. They have enough fabric, but they are running out of thread. Tovio finds incredibly large cob web in the attic and he finds the sewer itself. Toivo has nightmares about the creature. It has to go, but nobody knows how and the creature won’t negotiate.  Then Nökö has the idea that maybe the spider can help them.

Toivo has nightmare's about the spider in the attic.
This book is smaller in size and has bigger illustrations than the other books in the series. In this book perticularly the earthy tones work well. Early spring is quite brown, when nothing is not yet growing and the snow is melting away.

Vaahteratuvan väki ja Kivihovin kirous

(The folks from Maple Cottage and the curse of Stone Palace)
Nökö, Toivo and Iiris have finished the hot air balloon and travel all the way to Stone Palace. Toivo picks up a rose and unintentionally gets cursed: “You get lost, vanish, disappear, are forgotten and never get back home.”. Everyone is trying to undo the curse.

Maple Cottage

Monday, October 6, 2014

Nursery rhymes

Edited by Ismo Loivamaa
Illustrated by Rudolf Koivu
Kas kuusen latvassa -Suomen lasten runolipas 2012
Jos sul lysti on -Suomen lasten leikkirunot 2014

Unen sinistä maata päin -Suomen lasten tuutulaulut ja iltarunot 2014

Three different collections of nursery rhymes and poems. The illustrations to all three books are made by Rudolf Koivu (1890-1946), one of the most beloved childrens illustrators in Finland

At the top of the spruce (Kas kuusen latvassa) 

- The poems of Finnish children
This collection  tells what the Finnish childhood is made of: good mood, home, warm arms to hold, games and nature. The poets of this book are familiar to Finns: Sakari Topelius and Immi Hellen just to name few.  Many of the poems are more known as childrens songs: Such as "Kas kuusen latvassa" and "Maan korvessa kulkevi".

Jos sul lysti on (If you' re happy)

- the playing poems of Finnish children
These poems were used in children's games. The poems take the reader to summery beatches and wintery hills. The poems are familiar to many generations.

Olle, dolle, doff

In the book is also an american poem that still is sung in Finland "Jos sul lysti on". Some of the rhymes are from Sweden and they haven't even been translated. An example  is "olle, dolle, dof", which at leas in our games is used to deciding who's turn is it.

Unen sinistä maata päin (Toward the blue land of sleep)

-Finnish Children's lullabies and evening poems

Again these lullabies are sung from generation to generation.  These poems are written by Immi Hellen, Kirsi Kunnas, Martti Haavio and Hannele Huovi.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pompom of Kumpulaakso

Pompom meets a friend cover
Nina Pirhonen:
Kumpulaakson Pompom löytää ystävän 2007
Kumpulaakson Pompom lähtee merille 2008

Pompom of Kumpulaakso finds a friend

Little bunny Pompom lives in small cottage next to Mossforest. He (or she, we do not know) has heard that in the forest lives ghosts.

Pompom decides to go and find out about the ghosts. He takes some cotton candy with him as snack. The cotton candy grows in bushes at Kumpulaakso. 
Pompom is brave enough to sleep in the Mossforest

It is an exciting trip and best of all,  Pompom finds a friend.

Pompom travels to sea -cover

Pompom travels to sea

Pompom and his (her) friend Viuviu have never seen the sea. They build a raft and take a parrot as their guide, since they do not know where the ocean is.

Pompom dives to meet the sea creatures.
At the sea Pompom dives with the sealions, wonders about the oddlooking sear creatures. Viuviu swims with an octopus. At night fall the waves rise and they are taken further away from the shore. Soon the storm breaks but luckily whale Valle helps them to a nearby island.

 The island is coverd with jungle and there are again strange creatures. Pompom and Viuviu want to go back home and when then they get there, they are greeted with a party.

There are other books about Pompom: simplified image books for smaller kids and hidden image books full of details to find.