Monday, December 19, 2016

Hisse's Christmas

 Sari Kanala 2016: Hissen joulu
Illustrated by Daga Ulv

Hisse is a small mouse has a job to do: get a Christmas tree. Usually his dad is with him, but this year his dad has broken his leg and cannot walk.

On his way, he sees animals from the forest needing help. Mice children need help with building a snowman, a mouse girl has lost his boots and is freezing.  Hisse gives his wool socks to warm her feet.  He sees Grandpa wandering around, lost.  Hisse gives him his lantern, so he can find his way back home.

Then he meets a small bat, who fell from his home Hisse gives him his scarf to keep him warm and holds him in his arms. Soon the bat thinks he can start calling for his mother.  And his continues to look for the perfect Christmas tree.

He finds the tree and returns home. Mom had left him a sandwich. He is so tired that he cannot think of Christmas presents. Hisse falls asleep sad.

When he wakes up, cinnamon and the tree. The tree sparkling in the candlelight.  Hisse had slept long and everyone had let him sleep. All mice were admiring the tree. It was the best tree ever. Hisse was happy, he had given the best present ever.

I especially loved that there was a bat in the story. We do not have that many bat species in Finland and I think people are still too afraid of them. This book is definitely about giving immaterial presents (exept the tree). Let's have Christmas spirit through out the year and help each other.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Elf Toljanteri and the secret misson from Santa

Annukka Kiuru 2016: Tonttu Toljanteri ja joulupukin salainen tehtävä
illustrated by Sirkku Linnea

Elf Toljanteri is a beloved character from Christmas calendar (Joulukalenteri) broadcasted by YLE between 1998-2013.  Now we can enjoy Toljanteri's life in a book.  The example link is from 2007, when Toljanteri is taking over Mrs. Clauses activities, because she has caught the sleep bug and only sleeps.

The book is written by the scriptwriter of the series and the plot of this book is from the last season of Toljanteri's adventures, where Toljanteri takes over the tasks of the elves' elf, which means he has to write down, which elf is naughty and which is nice. Meanwhile Christmas is coming, but Santa's sled is worryingly empty. Trouble is caused by inspector elf Irmeli, who thinks all the toys are too dangerous to be given to children.

Toljanteri helps Juuli, the elves' elf.

In the tv-series Elf Toljanteri is played by Kunto Ojansivu in all nine seasons of Joulukalenteri. I do not think any body else can ever play the role of Elf Toljanteri. Toljanteri is a very lovable character, because he is silly, makes mistakes, but learns from them. In the book he thinks about what to write to the naughty or nice list and make astute observations about, what actually happend and what is actually his interpretation of the situation.

I appologize for the fuzziness of the images.

Toljanteri's masterpiece: a frankfurter cake.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas of Topelius

told by Kirsti Mäkinen 2015: Topeliuksen joulu
illustrations by Rudolf Koivu

Zacharias Topelius (1818–1898) was no doubt the one of the most influential person in our culture and society. He also enjoyed writing to children. In this book Kirsti Mäkinen has collected the poems and Christmas stories written by Zacharias Topelius.  She also writes about Christmas in 19th century Finland in the farms, cities and even in Zacharias Topelius' home.  We learn about the traditions that we still have: the potato and carrot casseroles, feeding birds and giving gifts.

The stories and poems are some what sad. The poems are familiar to me through Christmas songs: Sylvian joululaulu  or Varpunen jouluaamuna (Sparrowon a Christmas Eve), where the younger brother dies. The translations are at the end of this post.

Talk about Finnish melancholy. Luckily we do have some more up beat songs as well, thanks to our long history with Sweden.  If the  songs of Topelius makes me cry, here is a Christmas song that makes me smile: Nisse-polkka.

Lyrics of Chistmas Song of Sylvia
(Sylvian joululaulu)
The illustrations are from another master: Rudolf Koivu. His illustrations are familiar to all Finns.

Sylvia's Christmas Song 
And now it is Christmas in my loved north,
Is it Christmas as well, in the heart?
And bright Christmas candles do spread their light forth,
To each little cabin and hearth.
But up in the rafters there hangs high above,
The cage that imprisons my soul's turtledove;
And quiet are now all the prisoners' groans,
But oh, who pays heed to a prisoner's moans?
 Oh shine you, the brightest of stars in the sky,
On my Finland so far, far from here;
When finally your light in the darkness doth die,
Oh, bless you that land, oh so dear!
I never will find one of equal worth,
My dearest will always be my land of birth;
My country to praise, I sing Sylvia's song;
It e'er will remain as a song pure and strong.

Sparrow on a Christmas Eve

Snow has already covered the flowers in a valley,
the comber of a lake frozen in the winter freeze,
 A sparrow, little one, has eaten the summertime food,
the comber of a lake has frozen in the winter freeze.
 On the stairs of a little cabin there was a dear girl,
come, sparrow, with joy, take a seed from me!
It is Christmas, homeless my sparrow, miserable,
come here with joy, take a seed from me!
 To the girl the dear sparrow flew joyously:
with gratitude I do take the seed from you.
The God will want to reward you sometime.
With gratitude I do take the seed from you!
 I am not, my child, a bird from this land,
I am your small brother, I came from the Heavens.
 The tiny seed, that you gave to the poor,
the small brother of yours, from the land of the angels, got.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The most beautiful Christmas

Ilona Pietiläinen 2016: Kaunein joulu

This isn't exactly a children's book, but there are many instructions for crafts and baking, which you can make with kids.  Such as make frozen soap bubbles, ice lanterns and different kind of decorations from branches and pine cones.

This is really an inspirational and feel good book. It reminds me of the Scandinavian interior books, but with a Finnish touch. The Scandinavians can be a little too minimalistic and urban. This book truely brings Christmas to you house.

You can read more (or just look at the pictures. It is OK to do just that.) at the authors blog Valkoinen Puutalokoti.

I'm pretty sure, my icy flowers
would not look like this.

How peaceful!

Christmas sweet roll wreath made with sugar and butter

Christmas decorations outside. A bit different from
the colored lights you see in the city