Monday, December 23, 2019

24 days till Christmas

Carlos Da Cruz 2019: 24 päivää jouluun

24 stories about Christmas traditions: making gingerbreadhouses, elfs, having candels burning by the window.

Many of our traditions have come from abroad: mostly Sweden and Germany.

Himmeli, decoration made of straws (hay).

Carelian cuckoo made of one peace of wood.

The scary Nuuti buck that takes christmas away on January 13th.

Candelabra by the window, nowadays electric.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Christmas dog

Henna Ryynänen 2019: Jouluinen Myry

Myry is Santa's loyal dog, who helps Santa in his work.
On Christmas eve Santa is off to deliver presents. All of a sudden a present falls off the sleigh. Myry is on it and an adventure starts.
Myry finds a new friend, a magpie, and together they start following Santa's trail.

A story of resilience and courage. When duty calls, nothing is too difficult.

Do they dare go through the dark forrest?

Santa's "office" shirt is a traditional Ostrobotnian pullover. Cute.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Christmas at Moomin Valley

Based on tove Jansson's story of Christmastree in the book Invisible Child.
Written by Alex Haridi and Cecilia Davidsson 2018
Illustrated by  Filippa Widlund.

Usually Moomins sleep through winter, but this time they are awakened by Hemulen making noise. They see all neighbors waiting for Christmas. Must be a very important visitor with all the fuzzing and buzzing. At first they are a little bit scared, but then they start waiting for Christmas, too, making all kinds of preparations.

The Moomins are practical and dressing up the tree confuses Moomin Mamma for awhile, since she does not have such big clothing.

The Moomins desire to give joy to others shine through. As always they are generous even to strangers.  Story of Christmas spirit.

Moomins get a Christmas tree.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Small big story about Christmas

Réka Király 2019: Pieni suuri tarina joulusta

Hedgehog, Mouse, Bunny and Fox are preparing for Christmas. Two days before Christmas they realize that they do not have a Christmas tree.  The best trees are at the Bear's house. But none of them has met the Bear. They have only heard he is big and scary.

Together they take the challenge on and begin their journey to the Bear's house. Soon Fox remembers that he left soup on the stone and runs back home.  Mouse and Bunny also invent an excuse and Hedgehog is left alone to fetch the tree. Hedgehog meets the Bear, which is not that scary after all.

In the end all animals celebrate Christmas together. Bear must have been pretty lonely, when everyone has been afraid of him

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Cardbord games

Vuokko Hurme & Suvi-Tuuli Junttila 2019: Leikkimään, pahvi!

Recycling is very much in. This book shows, all kinds of things you can do from cardboard: chairs, planes even a city.
Leila is a bit bored, luckily there is cardboard, so she lets her imagination run wild and creates new worlds.

The book also includes instrunctions on how to make all these lovely things.

I think its wonderful, how kids are encouraged to use all kinds of materials. In my experience that is what they do in preschool and even in lower grades in school. At least I have been asked to bring milk carton, toilet paper shells and other materials for the boys to do crafts.

This is fabulous!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Stones in pocket

Salla Saarni 2019: Kiviä taskussa, koko perheen kivikirja

The history of our bedrock. Fachinating book about stones. Granite is the most common stone in Finland, but there is more: we all know about Scandinavian mountains, which also spread to the north of Finland, but Finland once had own mountain region (1800 million years ago) Svekofennids.

All kinds of other interesting facts about the surface of earth and the history of our planet.  I thought the Finnish bedrock is boring, since we do not have any volcanoes, but that is not the case.  We had ice age,  we might have dinosaurs, but there is a reason why we do not have any fossils: basically it has all been erased by ice.

The book also gives advice on how to start your own stone collection, which I do not encourage my boys to do.  It also suggests  locations for interesting stone related sights. And I agree, even some of the bedrock that was blown away to build roads is very impressive.

Finland traveled even in the equator
My younger son actually read the whole book.  And he is a very picky reader. I'd like to think that the steady bedrock that we live on has some part of us being reliable Finns. We are solid as a rock, no drama (well for most of us).

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Small book about emotions

Anne-Maria Kuusela 2019: Pieni kirja tunteista
Illustrations by Matias Teittinen

I previously wrote about Rounders, which teach kids about emotions.

This small book collects all the animals we read about before.  The Angry Crab, frightened penguin, nice giraffe. My personal favourite: zen flamingos.

As I so many times repeat myself: all humans need to word the emotions, so they can understand themselves and others. For example: if you encounter an angry person, do not let them suck you into their anger. Recognize their anger and realize there might be other reasons than you, which make them angry.  Fear is another important emotion to be recognized. Many time fear creates anger. 

I heard that the Finnish hockey team won the world championship, because the learned how to talk about their emotions.  Now we need to teach the parents by the hockey rink to do the same and not to rage to the referees and opponents.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The handbook of a young archaeologist

Ilari Aalto 2019: Jatulintarhoja ja hiidenkiukaita : nuoren arkeologin käsikirja
Illustrated by Elina Helkala

This book is fascinating! I even learned a few new Finnish words. All the things you learn, when you read. And  I couldn't decide, which picture to have here, so I took several.

The book is a guide in seeing things under our feet. Why is the medieval outhouse a treasure trove to the archaeologists?  The Egyptians weren't the only to use the shape of the pyramid. Of course, ours is much smaller and modest, but the burial of the dead was a ritual here in the  North as well. And they were not called pyramids, but hiidenkiuas (the stove in sauna). Very interesting. The book goes backward in time all the way to the stone age. Just keep digging.

Nature is very much present in the diggings, the Ukonkivi island in Lapland was a sacred place for Sami people.  And many other natural formations were important to people in the past. And they should be in the present.

Medieval Cities in Finland (as a province of Sweden)
One thing that bothers me is that as Finland was part of Sweden for hundreds of years, the name of the country is Sweden-Finland in all the study books. Why? There never was such a country: there was only Sweden and Finland was only its province, like Skåne. We never hear about a country called Sweden-Skåne.  Are we so petty that we need to exaggerate our importance?

Pyramids of the North

Stone of Ukko

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Monster Tournament

Pasi Pitkänen: Hirviöturnajaiset 2019

Princess Rola has a monster tournament every year. Eren is big fan of the monsters and tournaments.
One day Eren finds an egg on the beach. Eren hopes it will be the most horrific monster ever.  But the creature is nothing like that.
Princess Rolan challenges Eren to the tournament against her Storm Snail. Eren and Pomelo (the creature) start practising.

In my family is raging a huge Pokemon Go fever and this book is very much in the spirit of the game. I enjoyed the illustrations, but I couldn't stop wondering, why would Eren want the princess, she seemed like a bully and very competitive person. But maybe the status of marrying a princess is important and maybe I did not understand the true nature of Rola. Cute book any way.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sandman and the midnight sun

Minna Kurttila 2018: Nukkumatti ja yötön yö
illustration: Carolina Morera.

Sandman is very frustrated, the sun is shining the whole night through and people do not sleep. He doesn't have time to put every one to sleep. What to do? Luckily there is an elderly gentleman in Lapland who gives Sandman magical powder (unihiekka in Finnish) to make people sleep. Can you guess who the gentleman could be? Santa.

Sun shining through the night can make people just as nutty as the sun not rising at all in the winter.

The next sunset in Utsjoki (the most northern part of Finland) in in July 28th at 00.50 am and the next sun rise is July 28th at 1.48 am.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Discoverer of Northeast Passage: Explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld in North Sea

Markku Löytönen 2005: Koillisväylän löytäjä : tutkimusmatkaaja Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld Jäämerellä
Illustrated by Riikka Jäntti

This is the story of Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld, who was born in 1832 in Helsinki. His father was a Nils Nordenskiöld who's nickname was the farther of mineralogy. Adolf Erik was the third eldest child of seven and he was very curious and interested in finding things out.

He dropped out of school, when he was sixteen, because his principal J.L.Runeberg (a famous Finnish poet) was too strict. Adolf Erik continued school, graduated from high school and studied mineralogy, mathematics, physics and chemistry at the Helsinki University.

Nordenskiöld explored  Ural with his father, Greenland and Spitsbergen, before he shipped off northeast. He bought Vega, a ship with 60 horsepower steam engine and sails. The crew had 21 members and six scientists.

The exploration had many set backs not only ice but a heavy fog as well. At the  Taimyr peninsula Nordenskiöld noticed that they were sailing on dry land, because the maps had been drawn wrong. Finally in September  1878 Vega got stuck in ice, the expedition continued in 10 months, in June 1879.  When they finally reached Japan, they stayed there eight months.  They returned home April 10th 1880 sailing around Eurasia for 2 years and 10 months.
Map of the exploration

Remarkable story and the illustrations in this book support the historical value of the expedition.

 Nordenskiöld also wrote about his expeditions even for common people, which were translated into several languages.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Birds of Small Island

Eppu Nuotio: Pirkko Punarinta ja kadonnut polkupyörä and Kauko Kivitasku ja kadonnut onnenkivi Illustrated by Saara Vallineva

Two books about Small Island (Pikkusaari) and their habitats.

First, Pirkko Punarinta is a robin, who looses her bike. She puts up a sign promising the person, who took the bike pancakes. All the islanders show up for the pancakes and Pirkko throws a great party. But no bike. In the end the bike is found.

The second book is about Kauko Kivitasku, a wheater, looses his lucky stone. Kauko tracks back to all the places he visited that morning and luckily the stone is found

The illustrations are photos of miniatures made by Saara Vallineva. The details are remarkable. The books have very little text so they are suitable for kids who just learned to read.  You don't even need to read, the photos have so many details that capture your eyes. You can actually feel you are on the island.

Pirkko posts a notice promising pancakes for the bike

Pirkko's cotage

Kauko offers coffee for Eero Erakkorapu (hermit)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Easter traditions

Anneli Kanto 2017 : Vilma Virtanen virpomassa
illustrated by Noora Katto

The five Virtanens are back! Or actually they never left. There has been a steady flow of books . This time Easter is just around the corner and on Palm Sunday it is tradition (at least in some parts of Finland, I know that in Ostrobotnia this tradion takes place on Maundy Thursday) for children to go ask for candy. Just like they go Trick or Treating for Halloween in the US. Only on Easter the kids dress up as witches and now cats and bunnies. They also decorate willow branches which they give in return for the candy.

The Virtanen's have planned to do the branches during the week, but all of sudden it is Saturday and it is snowing. The kids have very low motivation to get the branches. But they do. All the children decorate with their own style, even the boys are motivated, due to the chocolate they will get as payment.

Decorating willow branches for Easter
The youngest, Kastehelmi, wants to dress as a princess, which is ok. The first lady they want to wish good health tells them not to mix the western tradition of Easter witches to the Easter branch tradition of the east. Vilma, who is a bit shy and introvert, wants to go home. Luckily the younger kids encourage her to come along.

In the next house, Vilma forgets the rhyme! She panics, but Kastehelmi knows a rhyme, but it is not the right one. The lady in that house helps the children with a start and then Vilma remembers the rhyme too: "virvon, varvon, tuoreeks terveeks..."

When you are on a Easter tour, you have to be brave, thankful and polite. A lot for small children. When you read this book, as a parent, you also understad that not everything has to go by the plan. And let the children learn by doing. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Where did electricity go?

Text by Tiina Sarja 2018: Minne sähkö meni?
Story developed by Tiina Sarja, Mikko Posio and Henna Ryynänen
Illustrated by  Henna Ryynänen

The whole city is blacked out! Twins Akseli, Anni and their dog Voltti (a dog with a PhD)  start looking where does electricity come from. They meet a nutty professor and find out about power plants, nuclear power and even poop power in a farm.

The illustrations are great and there is so much information about energy that  (hopefully) kids have no more questions to ask. Except: what kind of tablet did the kids have, when its battery ran out so fast?

This book starts a series Anni and Akseli investigate. Can't wait for more!

Renewable energy and fossil fuels 

Wind power

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Take a subway to forest

Elli Keisteri-Sipilä 2018: Metrolla metsään
pictures from Kalasatama east Miikka Nevalainen
pictures from Kalasatama west Hanna Nikula

The book title is catchy, but misleading: there is no forest at the center of Helsinki and even in Kamppi nature is limited to the Natural History Museum (although it is worth visiting). But none the less, this is a great book! I learned that if you want to see nature in Helsinki it is more than just coastal vegetation.

And at the center of Helsinki, you can always walk around the Töölö bay. In the summertime you can rent a bike in Espoo and you can ride the bike to shore and then rent a boat! Terrific!

The book has maps, but read carefully, some locations may be a few kilometers away from the subway station. But since you are willing to walk in nature, this should not be a problem.
Metro map, very simple. 
The cows in Helsinki
At Herttoniemi is a wetland, which is protected for the birds to nest. The routes, where you can walk are marked and there are plenty of paths to follow. You can also visit some bird watching towers.  The Vanhankaupunginlahti (Old City Bay), Viikki and the Vantaanjoki area create a unique nature experience. The book mentions that from Herttoniemi you can walk all the way to Kalasatama and depending on which routes you choose, you can walk 10-12 km.

Coast can be reached with Metro. Different kind of nature
Matinkylä is in Espoo by the Gulf of Finland. When I think of nature and forest in Espoo, I think of Nuuksio national park. But there you cannot go by subway, yet. This book shows other places where you can enjoy fresh air. From Matinkylä station is a 30 minute walk to Nokkala, where you can take the coastal boats to the islands near by.  Check out Iso Vasikkasaari!

The new destinations I am going to visit with my boys are at least the Kivikko army style obstacle course and Mustavuori Grove.  On the list is already visit to the Espoo archipelago. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Ricky the Rapper in traffic

Sinikka Nopola and Tiina Nopola: Risto Räppääjä liikenteessä
illustrated by Christel Rönns

I am glad kids are taught how to behave in traffic, since so many adults do not. This book is makes adults look silly and it is always a big hit with the kids.

The book teaches the basic traffic signs, the rules who goes first. But at least I tell my boys that in a match between a car and a pedestrian, the pedestrian always looses. The same goes for bikes. So I cannot emphasize enough that boys should be careful. You can never be sure that the drivers see the kids.

One thing that is missing from this book and is driving me nuts is in trains: people start pushing in the train even before the other people have come out! Come on.  Where are the manner schools for adults?

Visualization of Risto without reflector in
  the first picture, and below with reflectors
 and a head lamp.
In winter time  two things should be remembered: it is dark and slippery. Some how people always forget that and come November many accidents happen.

So, keep your reflectors and even lamps when you walk out side. Even in cities the street lamps only light a limited area and the people blend in the shadows.

Sometimes we get snow and the snowplow truck keep the streets clean.  In the country side, where there are no sidewalks, change sides when the truck approaches, or you'll end up like Aunt Rauha at the bottom picture.

Also the streets are very slippery, so be prepared that the cars may not stop as fast as in summer time.  So when you are walking, keep that in mind.

My favorite advice in traffic: no sudden moves! That eliminates some accidents.

Watch out for the snow plow truck!
Now, what can you do?