Friday, July 31, 2015

How the elk got its antlers

Sari Kanala: Kuinka hirvi sai sarvensa
photos by Hannu Ahonen
water color illustrations Iida Pihl

Story about elk, bear and a fairy.

Elk and bear are good friends. One day a fairy comes with large antlers and offers them to the elk and the bear. The bear wants them. He is the king of the forest after all. The elk doesn't mind.

Summer passes along and the antlers give bear a lot of trouble: he cannot eat berries or catch fish with them. He is almost starving and he calls for the elk and offers the antlers to him. The fairy takes the antlers off the bear and gives them to the elk.

The lesson of this story is that you don't have to have everything. Sometimes you are better off without gigantic antlers. Let the elk have them.

The book is illustrated by photographs and watercolors. The photos have be "photoshopped" so that the elk, the girl (ie the fairy) and the bear can all be peacefully side by side. This book also has the text both in Finnish and in English.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fabulous Light houses

The cover demonstrates the diversity
of the lighthouses
Mika Myllyneva 2012: Mainiot majakat

I have never visited any of the lighthouses in this book. I have seen the Suomenlinna Chuch, which is used as a lighthouse. But the names of the light houses I have heard many times in the radio, where they tell the marine weather. 

A few summers back, my parents spend a night at the Bengtskär lighthouse. It looks nice, but my father was complaining that there was nothing to do.

 In the map (the picture below), you can see that Märket is really close to Sweden. It is actually divided by the boarder between Sweden and Finland.

 The beginning of the book confused me a little, when they talked about valomajakka (literal translation light-lighthouse). I was thinking can there be a light house without a light. Actually there can, the early lighthouses were ID lighthouses without light.  I learned something new again by reading a "kids book".

The lighthouses on a map
The content of the book:

Early lighthouses
Finnish lighthouses
Bogaskär hard luck light house
Jussarö wreck cemetary
Many turns of Tiiskeri
Tankar the light house of oddities
Gustavsvärn from fortress ruins into a lighthouse
Bengtskär the mother of all light houses
Isokari almost got blown up
The light houses of Helsinki
Utö the first  light lighthouse
Märket between two countries

Bengtskär the mother of all lighthouses

Pekka Väisänen also wrote about the Finnish lighthouses for the Finnish Embassy in London.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tales from the old church

Sari Kanala 2007
English translation Tony Melville
watercolor illustrations by Iida Pihl
Photographs by Ismo Hannula and Simo Peteri

Tales from the Old Church of Petäjävesi.
The stories tell about an elf, who rings the bells at night, micshievous crows that learn a lesson and the church getting ready for Christmas.

The illustrations are photograhps that have watercolor elements in it. Sometimes it is really hard to tell apart the watercolor from the actual photo. The old church has a fairy tale charm to it.

We Finns take our wood seriously.  Stones were used scaresly since they were so expensive. And so we made our churches from wood. This wooden church is part of the World Heritage Covention.

When I visit the grand churches of Europe, I always wonder how much money was spent on them. How many people could have been fed or educated with that money? On the other hand, I admire them and am very glad that they still exist and that they are not torn down because of some idealism.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Day of magic

Kaisa Järnefelt 2014: Taikapäivä
illustrated by Riikka Jäntti

Maaria is spending time with her grandparents' house. She has imaginery friends: a horse named Rhubarb. With it Maaria attends summer wedding where many couples get married, also a frog marries a mouse.

It is magical to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma is baking pastries and Grandpa can be mistaken for a sleuth, but he also takes Maaria fishing.

Grandma's red cottage

The book also includes short poems, including an ode to Grandma's cottage and the sleuth lying in the hammock.

My Grandma used to live in a red cottage like here in this book and she always had some pastries, such as the korvapuusti for us kids.  My mother makes the best korvapuusti in the world and my boys love them (as do their dad and everyone, who has ever tasted them).

Grandma baking lots and lots of sweet rolls.

I never had such an imagination as Maaria here in this book. But just a while ago my father came indoors with a spoon. He had found it near a big stone. I admitted that it must have been mine, because as a child I had thought that stone was a sacrificial stone and I had wanted to dig around it. (At the time I wanted to be an archaeologist.) Needless to say, my concentration was lost before I got through the weeds.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Melody forest : in the footsteps of Jean Sibelius

Katri Kirkkopelto 2015: Soiva metsä Sibeliuksen matkassa

"Music is like a butterfly. If you hold it in the palm of your hand, turning it this way and that, inspecting it, its wings will lose their shine. It will still fly, but will no longer shimmer as it did before."

Jean Sibelius tells this to his grandchild, who is visiting him and Aino Sibelius.

Aino Sibelius tells the child about Jean or familiarly Janne. The book is beautifully illustrated. Most illustrations are from Finnish nature.

Jean Sibelius in Ainola with his grandchild
The book comes with a CD, which was recorded in Ainola by cellist Jussi Makkonen and pianist Nazig Azezian. The play some of Sibelius' most universally loved compositions, my favorites Finlandia and Valse Triste.   Finlandia gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.

Aino and Jean Sibelius on their honeymoon in Pielijärvi

Jean Sibelius was born 150 years ago and he is buried in Ainola, his home. Ainola is still open for visits.

This book has been published in Finnish, Swedish and English.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pirate of Fog Island

Riina Katajavuori 2015: Sumusaaren merirosvo
illustrated by Christer Nuutinen

The story start, when the leading character tells us that his/her mother is a pirate: she has a golden tooth and she sings pirate songs and dances in high boots. There is also a curvy sword on the wall of his/her house.

The book is written in "I" perspective and the name of the child is never given. In my mind it is a small boy, but my sons think she is a girl. Fantastic Finnish language!

The child  studies the sea. She/he tells about the odd things, such as the blood of a crawfish is colorless, but when it is in contact with air, it turns blue.

One day the fishermen are dumping dead fish to the sea. They must be stopped: everything is getting sick.

The book has fantastic illustrations and the message is very important. Save the seas! Especially in Finland we are worried about the health of the Baltic sea.  It needs to be looked after.