Friday, February 27, 2015


Suvi Vehmanen: Lapsen oma petokirja 2010
Illustrated by Laila Nevakivi

Little troll Ylli gets lost in the forest.Miihkali and Virve Forest elves are making a snow forest, when Ylli finds them. Miihkali and Virve ask him to stay with them.

 A wolwerine Hanna is making a nest for her offspring. She invites Miihkali, Virve and Ylli to her new home, and the cubs are born into the snowcave.

One night Miihkali hears the wolves. He and Virve go visit them. The wolves are starving and are worried about the trolls, who are after them. Miihkali and Virve tell Ylli about the wolves’ problems with the trolls.

The wolves gather to discuss what to do: there is an injured elk and the wolves smell the trolls, they too are somewhere near. The wolves debate whether to run or hunt. They decide to get some food.

The trolls hear the wolves and they fight among themselves if they should hunt for the elk or go after the wolves. The elk hear the troll’s bickering and leave.

 The wolves catch the injured elk and everyone gets to eat. On their way home, the trolls attack and capture small cub, Hermanni. Ylli arrives just in time to defend Hermanni. The trolls blame the wolves for stealing their food. It turns out that the trolls have been making up stories about the wolves. Miihkali and Virve arrive with the wolf pack. The wolves and the trolls make a deal: the wolves will teach the trolls how to hunt and the trolls stop chasing the wolves.

Playing hide and seek with weasel and stoate.
Spring arrives and the nature blooms, birds are singing. In June the wolf cubs investigate their environment as do the wolverine cubs. Wolf mother tells about bears and foxes. Miihkali promised in winter to weasel and stoate that he’ll play hide and seek with them in the summer. In the winter he thought that it was too easy for them to hide. It is not easier to find them in the summer either, because they change color. Ylli is hiding with lynx at the top of the tree. Ylli returns to his family and the leader wolf promises that he can take Hermanni with him. Hermanni is domesticated and his offspring will be dogs.

At the end of the book is a menu for predators: the appetizers, main courses and deserts. There is also pictures of the tracks and droppings of different animals, so even if you do not see the animal itself, you can see witch animal has been walking in the forest.

Basically this book is about wolves. The other beasts are described briefly. The illustrations of the book show also other forest animals and vegetation.

In some parts of Finland the wolves are feared greatly. I live in so in densely populated area (in Finnish scale) that I have no reason to fear them and I can easily say: “Live the wolves alone!” But I understand that in the northern and eastern parts of Finland the wolves come so close and have killed sheep and even dogs that they are considered troubling.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dance of forest mouse

Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin 1990: Metsähiiren tanssi

 The forest animals have benn picking up mushrooms and now they are planning to have a party.

The forest mouse has been on a foul mood all day: he/she hasn't picked any mushrooms and does not want to attend the party. The others try to persuade it to join them, but then leave it alone.

The forest mouse lies on the ground feeling small. Suddenly the wind blows leaves on top of it. The mouse starts to chase them, jumping, bouncing. It looks like dancing. The rabbit admires mouse's dance, it has returned to get the mouse to the party. The mouse joins the others.

The rabbit shows the others how the mouse was dancing. And soon all the animals are dancing. The forest mouse is feeling light and happy. It eats soup as much as it can from all the laughing.

Dancing is something that Finns are not comfortable doing. But dancing is the only way to get real close to another person. The Finnish tango is in my mind the most romantic dance there is. You must not confuse it with the Argentinian tango, since the Finnish tango resembles slightly the German march. Any way the magic of Finnsh tango can only be experinced with the right person. And that is the hardest part in dancing.

Picking up mushrooms is something very Finnish, too. The forest are full of these super food, the only down side is that you really have to look for them. The mushrooms are not jumping to your basket, but you really have to look for them. But it is also very rewarding, when you first see a small yellow spot between the straws and suddenly you see the whole ground covered with golden chantarelles.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Where are you going, mitten?

Suvi-Tuuli Junttila 2014: Minne matka, lapanen?

 Mitten gets lost. He/she wonders around and first finds an acorn. Together they have an adventure in the winter wonderland and find a cork. They are scared by a big dog, almost drowned before they end up at wasteland.

There is another mitten and many other friends. Acorn is not happy and continues to look for a place to settle.

This book is illustrated by photographs taken from miniature worlds. The details create a fantastic feel of getting lost in the big world. And sometimes the snow resembles wool tassels.

Of course the Finnish melancholy is present.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hidden Valley

Cover of Hidden Valley book
Pamela Mandart 2007: Piilolaakso
Pamela Mandart 2008: Piilolaakson talvi
Illustrated by Cara-Maria Knuutinen

Hidden Valley

Emma and Eino are siblings and they have recently moved to a new home. Luckily they have each other. One day they are playing with a ball and the ball vanishes inside a tree. The children see a bottomless pit in the tree and they fall in.

Emma and the animals look for Eino.
They find themselves in a strange forest with odd plants. Then they see a creature that looks like a hippo. Other strange animals appear and Emma asks them, who they are. All of their last name is Moeritherium, firstnames are Moorit, Meerit and Beerit . Emma realizes that they are prehistorical animals.

The animals get excited about the ball and soon they are playing together. Again the ball is nowhere to be found and they start looking for it. Eino gets lost and Emma is worried. Moorit suggest that they ask the trees. The trees help them find Eino and the ball.

The animals through a party to Emma and Eino, but soon they have to get back home. Emma’s and Eino’s parents do not believe them, but the children decide that when they grow up, they will become scientists and prove that Hidden Valley exists.

The winter of Hidden Valley book cover

Winter of Hidden Valley

It’s almost Christmas and Emma and Eino decides to take some Christmas spirit to the Hidden Valley. they pack elf caps, scarfs and decorations. The slippery tree is almost impossible to climb into.

Dad Dino sees the caps in the children’s heads and wonders, if they have grown tails in their heads. Emma explains the caps and gives everyone a cap. The children ask the animals to come and see the snow.

Animals from Hidden Valley enjoy winter -for a while.
Animals of Hidden Valley
The animals have never seen snow and are amazed. Eino gives them scarfs and soon they are playing in the snow: tobogganing, building snowmen. Then the cold gets to the animals and they return to the Hidden Valley. Emma shows them the decorations and they decorate a Wollemi pine. The children return home and still the parents do not believe them.

In Finland the grown ups are dull, too. They do not belive all what their children say, but that doesn't stop the children from imagining things.

I guess the second book tries to prove that snow can be fun, if you are dressed properly. There is no such thing as bad weather, just wrong attire.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The winter of ringed seal

Pekka Hänninen 2005
illustrated by Laura Tuominen

It is the seals first winter alone. All summer its mother had taken care of him and taughtaught it that best place to catch fish is by the shoal. She also told that the seal pup to take care of the breathing holes in the ice and never to swim far away from them.

In the winter the seal pup is afraid in his cave. The ice makes strange noises and when he goes fishing, he does not catch anything. Then he meets another seal. The female pup does not want anything to do with him, winter is hard enough alone. The seal pup thinks she is Pretty and names her so.

Soon the seal pup gets used to the darkness. He prowls fishes behind a large stone and investigates the neighborhood. He even catches a large pike. One day he sees a school of perches and follows them. Pretty has also seen them and together they follow the fish. They get lost and do not see any breathing holes. The seal pup sees an image of his father, which had been caught in the fishing net and died. The seal pup does not give up and realizes there a lot of light. That means that ice has become thinned. He accelerates and smashes a hole in the ice. They are saved.

At the end of the book several ringed seals are introduced: Saimaa, Ladoga and the Baltic sea has their own ringed seals and all of them are endangered. The Saimaa ringed sea is very endangered mainly because of fishing nets and snowless winters. Volunteers have been making banks of snow, so the seals could have nesting places.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Icebreaker Sisu

Sisu and mission in the Baltic Sea
Teemu Leppälä 2013: Jäänmurtaja Sisu ja tehtävä Suomenlahdella and Jäänmurjata Sisu ja Hailuodon arvoitus
illustrated by Petri Kantoniemi

Icebreaker Sisu and mission in the Baltic Sea 

Icebreaker Sisu is anxiously waiting to rescue ships from the ice. He and other Icebreakers Voima, Urho, Kontio amd Otso are waiting to be called to the rescue. Voima is the eldest, most respected icebreaker and Otso and Kontio are the juniors (built in 1986 and 1987 respectively) In comparison to Disney/Pixar Cars, the icebreakers are slow moving. However their jobs are very important at least to Finland. Many goods come to Finland via the Baltic Sea.

We finns take icebreaking very seriously. There are only few things we can be proud of and this is one of them. The book describes very clearly how the ice that to us civilians seem to be standing still can actually take ships miles away, to places they do not wish to be in.

Icebreakers waiting for an assignment.
This book opened my eyes in many ways: I definately am a country girl. In the book the location of the icebreakers are in Katajanokka, near the city. I thought Katajanokka is at the city center. Little do I know! But that is correct: the city center of Helsinki is right next to Katajanokka.

 The other geographical issue that had me guessing is the name of the most northern harbor of Bothnian Bay. Is it Töre in Sweden or Tornio in Finland? I guess these are just details.

Cover of the second book

Icebreaker Sisu and the mystery in Hailuoto

This book takes place in Hailuoto, a small island in front of Oulu. Sisu is taking three ships to north. He hears that Kontio is coming south toward him with two ships. They plan to meet and then switch their customers.

Lighthouse Ms. Marjaniemi ( The name of the Hailuoto Lighthouse) sees something odd at the north side of Hailuoto. She alerts hydrocopter Harri to check it out. The Bay of Bothnia is busy in winter and it is important that the routes are planned carefully and everyone knows where they are supposed to be. These surprises can be dangerous.

Harri the hydrocopter is loud.
Harri cannot see anything, but the ice starts to break and an old wreck pops from the ice. The pack ice has loosened it from the bottom. Now it has to be removed from the passage. Otso, Sisu and Kontio come and help remove the wreck.

This second book is much more exciting. I was sure that the odd shape was a Russian submarine. The writer's solution was much better. This book also proves that I know nothing of Oulu region, so I cannot say about the geography of this book. I found it also fabulous, that Ms. Marjaniemi, the light house was wearing a military helmet and a fur collar. Nice touch.
Sisu and his colleagues.

The real life fleet at the Baltic Sea.

The significance of the icebreakers can also be heard in the Finnish version of the yellow submarine by the Beatles: Keltainen jäänsärkijä sung by Simo Salminen and Spede Pasanen.