Monday, March 19, 2018

Hundred degrees preschool fever

Hannu Hirvonen 2012: Sadan asteen eskarikuume
Illustrated by Mika Kolehmainen

Sara is starting preschool (eskari for short, esikoulu officially), but unfortunately Api Ape has fever. Mom says, too bad, we have to go. At the preschool, Sara's friend Matilda tries to comfort her, hundred is not that bad for a stuffed animal.

Sara is having fun, and in the end the day in preschool isn't that different from daycare. For many starting something new is horrible and this book hopefully makes starting preschool not so scary.

When we read this book, we were amazed how similar Sara's day is to my boy's day. The same routines: breakfast, some school type tasks such as practicing letters or numbers, then playing outdoors, lunch, nap (or just resting), snack, playing and then home.  I like routine and I believe it creates a feeling of security for the children as well.

Few remarks: 1. Finnish kids start school at the age of 7, so preschoolers are 6. 2. Hundred degrees fever is pretty high, since we use Celsius, but kids do not now that. The normal temperature is 37. 3. The preschool and school teacher's are called by their first name, not as Mr. or Mrs. Jokinen.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

In Hedgehog's garden

Marjo Nygård 2017: Kaikessa on itua, siilin puutarhassa

Hedgehog is an eager gardener. Its work starts already, when there is still snow on the ground. Its kitchen turns into a greenhouse, there are pots and jars everywhere filled with seedlings.

In the beginning of June, it is time to take the plants outside. Hedgehog is excited and is amazed how much energy is required to grow from seed to a big plant. In hedgehog's garden something is going on all the time. The gardener plans, creates, tries, fails and ties again.

The weeds have taken over hedgehog's garden plot, but the hedgehog sees them as wild vegetables. The first harvest is ready!

Garden is also underground.
When working on turning the vegetable garden, it remembers the mole's house underground. Don't dig too deep or the roof will collapse. Mr. Mole also loves hedgehog's veggies, so if hedgehog wants something to eat in the winter, it has to come up with something to keep the mole away. 

Hedgehog builds a new vegetable garden above the ground level and lays first a fabric, then some stone, another layer of fabric, then some leaves and soil. That will keep Mr. Mole away.

There are other visitors in Hedgehog's garden: caterpillars, plant lice and mites just to name a few. Hedgehog attacks them with nettle water.

When fall comes, Hedgehog invites Mr. Mole for a garden party, where they enjoy the yammies from Hedgehog's garden.

At this time of year (end of February)  I have already had enough of winter just like our hero the Hedgehog. I have dug out my hydrangea from the garaged, where they spent the last three months.  I try not to plant any seed, because at some point I always forget to water them and they die. I rely on the local nurseries, which I raid at the end of May and beginning of June. In April I startlooking at my garden and try to remember what I planted last fall and am always surprised to see the flowers that do show up.

This book is wonderful, it covers pest conrol, underground work and all the aspects of gardening. I hope some children will get excited about plants and animals in the garden.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sleepless bunny

 Nora Surojegin 2018: Uneton Jänö

Bunny cannot sleep. It is imagining, where sleep grows. In the moon, of course! But how to get there? With a pile of bunnies! Bunny reaches moon, which looks a lot like winter. It collects lumps of sleep and uses some of it as parachute to get back to Earth.

Next question: how to get it to work? On the top of the head? Through ears? Eat it? Suddenly Bunny wakes up and it is morning. Do not try to catch sleep, it sneaks up on you through your eyes.

Cute story written in rhyme and the illustrations are detailed and the nature looks very realistic, with the summer haze and all. I never thought moon could be covered in snow like fluff. Very imaginative. 

Bunny lands back to Earth

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Wilhelmiina Won Waak hooked on computer

Marja Aho 2011: Wilhelmiina Won Waak
Princess Wilhelmiina is a regular teenage duck. She spends her day at BeakBook and posts videos on BeakTube. Her parents are starting to worry about her. She is getting into the marrying age, but she is not interested.  King Wilhelm suggest a party, but Wilhelmina doesn't want to. But then her BeakBook page starts to get friend requests and they want to meet her.  Even a Flipperball player, who looks really nice, is interested. Wilhelmiina changes her mind and a party is held.

Wilhelmiina waits for the Flipperball player all night. None of the other boys will do: one has too flat flipper, the other has a wrong shaped beak. Wilhelmiina finds fault in all and is really sad about missing the Flipperball player.  Her parents are not pleased with her behavior.  All the boys leave disappointed. Exept one, who plays the flute and makes Wilhelmiina cheer up.

Then Wilhelmiina's brother Wiktor tells her that he arranged for all the other ducks to contact Wilhelmiina, so there would be a party. Wilhelmiina gets mad.  She also decides to write to the Flipperball player and demand an explanation. He said, he was sick and they arrange to meet the next day.

Wilhelmiina waits  and waits in the park. She left her phone home, so she could focus on the Flipperball player.  Then a fox leaps from the bush and takes Wilhelmiina to his cave. He is planning to have duck soup for dinner. Wilhelmiina is in a cage, but she persuades the fox to let her out for a while to look for recipes from the Internet. When the fox is not looking, Wilhelmiina send a message to the boy, who played the flute at the party.  He comes and rescues Wilhelmiina and the marry.

Donald Duck is very popular in Finland and I bet this book was inspired by him. Even though  the book was published in 2011 the discussion about kids using too much electronic devices is still current.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Princess Ebba

Päivi Honkakoski: Prinsessa Ebba
Illustrated by Ludi Wang

Ebba Lavonius was born in Helsinki 1850, but her family lived in Oulu. She was very educated and smart. In this book, the men fear her, because she can discuss all subject and is also very interested in them.  She also spoke several languages: German; French, Russian as well as Finnish and Swedish.

The book tells about her childhood in Oulu and how she is afraid she will never meet a man, who could marry her. She travels all around Europe, which was not common among single women at that time.

Finally she meets Prince Albrecht in a spa in Germany. The
Ebba Charlotta Louisa Lavonius becamezu Solms-Braunfels as she married Albrecht zu Solms-Braunfels in 1889. In the book, she seems a young girl, but she was 39, a pretty high age at the time.
Albrecht was breeding dogs

Finland is a democracy. We were thinking about getting a German king, Friedrich Karl, but due to WW I, it didn't happen.  In any case, we keenly follow the monarchs of Sweden and I am glad I found this story of a Finnish princess, even though the royalty was through marriage. Sadly Princess Ebba died poor in Italy in 1927, because of WWI.

Pictures about Braunfeld Castle

Photos of Ebbas homes in Oulu and Braunfeld

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Pikkuli, the smallest bird

Metsämarja Aittokoski: Pikkuli
Illustrated by Elli Vuorinen

Pikkuli is a small bird. Even when it (again we do not know if Pikkuli is a boy or a girl, it is always referred as "it") hatches, it needs help. Mom and Dad hear Pikkuli saying it cannot. Pikkuli's parents are trying to entourage it to break the egg. Pikkuli's brother and sister are eagerly learning how to fly, but Pikkuli is repeating "I cannot."

Eating is a problem for Pikkuli, too. Pikkuli's beak is too small for the worm. And again Pikkuli says "I can't".

Then it is time to learn to fly. Guess what? Pikkuli says " I can't" and does not even try.

Pikkuli decides to run away. It meets a woodpecker, who is trying to find food. Finally the woodpecker finds a big bug. It was worth trying, says the woodpecker to Pikkuli.  Pikkuli sees many animals, which all can do things. Pikkuli still thinks, it cannot do anything. Finally Pikkuli meets a bird, which seems to have mismatch body parts. Its neck is stuck under the water and is about to drown. Pikkuli is looking around: isn't anybody going to help the poor bird?  Then Pikkuli dives in and untangles the long neck. The odd bird, Honkkeli, says it never learns how to catch fish. Pikkuli thinks, they should try together. Then they dive and fish. Pikkuli's family is amazed at the transformation.  But Pikkuli still can not fly. Dad says none of them fly south until Pikkuli can join them. Pikkuli is happy, it is liked even though it cannot anything. Then Pikkuli tries flying and succeeds. Then the whole family flies south. Well Pikkuli dives and does other things,

I have been substituting in comprehensive school and I have seen, how kids get discouraged, if they don't succeed immediately. They do not want to practice and it is sad. I keep telling them that is why they are in school, to learn things. Very odd! The Pikkuli story is a great lesson for all children to keep trying.

You can find learning material, coloring pages and much more at Pikkuli homepage,

Pikkuli is also an animation at YLE, Pikkuli tv-series at Yle.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Albi goes to the dentist

Mikko Kunnas, Markus Majaluoma 2017: Albi käy hammaslääkärissä

Albi want white teeth and goes to the dentist. Tbe problem is that with the white teeth nobody sees him smiling.  Luckily it was only a dream.

There he gets the idea to play dentist with his friends.

Albi is a very popular children's cartoon, if the link works you can watch it at Albi the TV-series at Yle. Albi does not talk.

This is a good book since so many people are afraid of going to the dentist. And the lesson learned: white teeth do not always work. This applies to other things people want: the desired object does not necessarily bring happiness.

Albi has a whale as a patient. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Rosemary and the magic of Christmas

Sirkka Knuutila 2007: Rosmariini ja joulun taika
illustrated by Taru Castrén

Rosemary is a small elf girl living at Korvatunturi. One Christmas morning all the children are ordered to stay indoors, because the Witch Anelma Alviina is in the village. Rosemary opens the door to the witch  and she takes Rosemary and one of her sisters with her promising to return them home. When they arrive to the witch's cabin, they realize she has no intention of returning them home.

The girls escape and continue preparing for Christmas. They spy on children and collect wish lists.  Rosemary is really tired and accidently falls asleep on Jaakko's pillow. The children are surprised and Rosemary asks them to hide her for the day.  In the evening Rosemary catches up with the other elves.

Rosemary feels tired at Anelma Alviina's
On the 19th day the elves discover that the magic of Christmas is missing. They find out that it was Witch Anelma Alviina has taken it.  Rosemary decides to get the magic powder back by herself. Rosemary gets help from Anelma Alviina's cat and head back to the witch's cabin. She promises Anelma that if she gives the magic powder back, she too can enjoy the magic of Christmas.

Lovely story about elves and witches. And the illustrations are delicate and cute.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What a Christmas!

Marjatta Kureniemi 1972: Olipa Virtasilla joulu previously published in book "Kaukana täältä"
illustrated by Virpi Pekkala

A small witch lives peacefully in a cone in a forest. Just before Christmas her tree is cut down as a Christmas tree and she and her tiny cat in her tiny cone home are taken to the Virtanen's. Usually she flys on a needle with the cat as her motor, but now the cat's motor is not purring.

She sees all lovely Christmas decorations and creates magical moments, when she turns the electric candles into live candles and makes the Christmas bird fly.

This of course makes a very special Christmas for the Virtanen's.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Star singers

illustrated by Päivi Arenius 2015

This is actually a German tradition that  came to Finland a long time ago. This is popular especially in Oulu region.  In this book you can hear the 13 songs  of the Star Boy singers play by pressing the button. I t also has a small starboy vocabulary, poems and the second chapter from the gospel of Matthew.