Monday, August 31, 2015

Janne from Hämeenlinna: How Janne became Jean Sibelius

Tapani Bagge 2015: Hämeenlinnan Janne: kuinka Jannesta tuli Jean Sibelius
illustrated by Salla Savolainen

Young master Janne has a very powerful imagination. He lives with his mother, aunts and grandma in Hämeenlinna.

The story tells about Jean Sibelius's early years in Hämeenlinna, which at the time was one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Finland.

Janne tells about his childhood, which resembles Astrid Lindgren's Emil i Lönneberga. Among other things, he tells his aunts piano student not to come to lessons so often that they obeyed. Janne had an absolute pitch and the practising kids really hurt him.

The Russian soldiers at Hämeenlinna.
In Jean Sibelius's childhood, most people he knew, spoke Swedish. He started at a Swedish school, but changed to a Finnish school.

Janne and his friends live for music. The book ends, when on his grandmothers orders, Janne moves to Helsinki to study law.

The illustrations are very lifelike. The sadness of Janne's death is portrayed with a black swan the magnitude of Janne's imagination by a giant cat fish.

Map of Hämeenlinna when Jean Sibelius was a child.
All important places of Jean Sibelius in Hämeelinna.
This year i a jubilee of  150 years of Jean Sibelius's birth.  I really enjoyed Katri Kirkkopelto's Melody Forest, which was very artistic and had fabulous illustrations. This book is about the same topic, but focuses only in the childhood of Jean Sibelius. My six year old son was not interested in Melody Forest, but this book he wanted to read.

The book even tells where the name Jean came from. Very informative, I learned a lot about the 1860s in Hämeenlinna, different instruments and Jean Sibelius. I guess to Finnish children Jean Sibelius is a serious person, but this book makes him more approachable. More books like this, please.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hello Ruby - adventures in coding

Linda Liukas 2015

Book about programming. Ruby is a little girl with a massive imagination. She is somewhat cheeky: she leaves the pajamas on, when dad tells her to put on school clothes: he did not tell her to take off the pajamas first. (Lucky dad, who wouldn't want  a kid who needs specific instructions to do every day chores?)

One day dad hides Ruby five treasures. She is all excited. But first she has to find the clues. The clues tell that snow leopard lives in the mountains, penguins do not live in houses, foxes live 100 x 4 steps away from the snow leopard. Ruby draws a map and off she goes.

Programming can be seen throughout the book: in Ruby's hints to find the treasures as well as Ruby directing the foxes to be more efficient in their garden.

The kids may like it, but the target audience are the adults: the resistance to program does not come from the kids, but from their parents.  The book has great examples of how repeating something can create larger entities.

The book also includes exercises that help children to think in programming mode. It is not hard if you practice it.

Programming is taught in Finnish comprehensive school, but there is again a heated discussion, why girls are not interested in programming. Programming is considered a mathematical skill. But why? Aren't they programming LANGUAGES? A smart marketing person should take this and redo the programming image. Kids shouldn't be labeled with mathematical skills and language skills. Anybody can learn anything if they just put time and effort to it. Just make it interesting.