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.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Elf Tojanteri and the strange Christmas guest

Annukka Kiuru 2017: Tonttu Toljanteri ja outo jouluvieras
illustrated by Sirkku Linnea

Elf Toljanteri is bitten by Grum-bee and it makes him act strangely. He snaps at everybody and refuses to do his chores. Naturally he tries to hide his condition so Santa will give him presents.

Luckily Elf Niilo, who looks just like Toljanteri comes and agrees to play Toljanteri's double. This creates all kinds of silly situations.

The Treat department is busy before
I have been reading this to the boys and now I can see that they are listening. Every time a grown-up snaps or shows temper they say he (notice it usually is a he) is bitten by a grump-bee.  I also like the colorful language that is used. We also learn about tuhmaikä (a version of uhmaikä which children get in the age between 1-5, when they learn independence and defy all orders given to them.)

Grump-bee aka Äkäampiainen

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Finnish mythical creatures

Eero Ojanen 2017: Suomalaiset taruolennot
illustrated by Sirkku Linnea

The Finnish folklore has a sprite for everything in nature. Through these creatures people explained, how the world was created and why the different phenomena appeared.

This book is divided into sections of different creature types. First come the giants, then the dwarfs (such as gnomes, elves, fairies and leprechauns).

 One section is given to the creatures from Kalevala, one for Forest folks, one for the protectors of plants. There are creatures that live underwater, those who help and care for people and animals. Then there are those, who are plain weird and those whose only purpose is to make life difficult.  The last section is describes different mythical animals in the stories.

Hiisi, a kind of devil likes to build from stones
Some of the names of these creatures live in the Finnish language: hitto is used like a swearword "damn", just like "hiisi vieköön" (may the devil take...).  To this day, children play "Hippa" (tag), which was a creature that chased animals in the forest so the hunters could catch them.

Some of the locations got its name from a creature like Kouvola. Kouvo is a messenger of death and was widely feared.

Some of the less known creatures are:
Ägräs, the god of agriculture
Kiputyttö, the maid of underworld, reliever of pain
Rahko, the painter of moon
Madderakka, the saami protecor of women
Liekkiö, dead child that haunts people
Aarni, the protector of hidden treasures
Para, secure the milk production, later on protect sheep and grains
Nyrkes, the force that makes things happen

The gnomes like to live in peace in the forest

Wikipedia gives a great list of Finnish mythology. Godchecker also lists some of Finnish gods. Even though, joulupukki is never written with a Y.