Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pikkuli's birthday

Metsämarja Aittokoskski 2017: Pikkulin sytymäpäivä

Pikkuli's birthay is coming and Mom ask what he/she wants as a gift. Would he like a red car? Pikkuli starts to imagine: crayons, ball, binoculars, bike, fins and a bear. Suddenly there is a long list. Mom and Dad sigh deep. Pikkuli decides to draw a picture of everything he wants. Then he draws an invitation to all with a picture of a gift he wants.

Pikkuli delivers the invitations. He says to frog, he is allowed to come to Pikkuli's birthday and he may bring a skate board.
Then Pikkuli reaches the Hazel Hen house, where he delivers seven invitations to the chicks. The chicks know, that their mother can't buy seven presents, so they are figure out only one of them gets to go. Oh the sorrow!

I love a map of locations.
The others get a similar invitation. Pikkuli is excited, this is going to be the best birthday party ever! Pikkuli's sister thinks Pikkuli cannot force the others to bring him presents. Mother says they'll come up with something. Mom adn Dad decide to go talk with the invited guests.

On his birthay Pikkuli wakes up, but nobody is home.  He can't find any one. Soon the others show up as well carrying treats and flowers.  The spider spins a trampoline for Pikkuli. The birthday lasts all day. In the evening Pikkuli says, this was the best birthday ever.

Pikkuli wants a present from all hazel hen chicks.
He learned his lesson.  Great message: what is the real reason for inviting guests? My youngest still thinks it is getting gifts. After this, maybe not any more. Pikkuli learns.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Little Mouse helps out

Riikka Jäntti 2017
English translation Lola Rogers

Little Mouse is big enough to do things himself. At breakfast he wants to pour juice himself: it spills on the table. He puts his dirty clothes on the wash machine. He wants to mop the floor, NOW.  He wants to clean the toilet.  He wants to make pasta bake and wash the dishes.

His friend Pip comes to visit and together they build a fort.  Pip wants to play with Little Mouse's bear, so does Little Mouse. It turns into a fight. Mom has to step in and make them share.  Finally they play tag together and watch the thunderstorm outside.

Even though Little Mouse is not really helpful, only by participating the small learn. Many times I want to do the house chore myself, because the Little Helpers cause more chore, when they help me. But I am learning to let go, too. Having kids is great, you learn all kinds of things.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Otso and Karhunkierros

Jukka Parkkinen 2008: Karhumäen Otso ja Karhunkierros
Illustrator: Pia Westerholm

Aunt Amalia has a birthday and constable Oiva Karhunen gives her  and Otso a camping trip to Karhunkierros. Aunt Amalia loves nature, but is at her best in a well groomed park. She is not very excited to sleep in the cold damp forest.

The drive to the starting point of the round, even then Aunt Amalia tries to persuade the others to stay in a hotel. Constable Karhunen refuses and the start the round.

Evening falls and they start to set up camp. Unfortunately constable Karhunen forgot the tent poles. Aunt Amalia finds great poles from sign posts that forbid making fire and littering. They do not forbid their use of tent poles.

I especially like the pikes and fish sticks
waiting for a submarine
When they reach a river, with a suspension brigde hanging over it.  Aunt Amalia is afraid of the brigde and freezes, when they reach the mid point. The bridge starts swinging and the bears fall into the river. Constable Karhunen loses his bag and the bears build a raft to go after the bag.  And of course there is white water.  But they find the backpack!

In summer time, there is always something to eat in the forest.
They build a campfire with hay and sticks, since their matches got wet. Their food got lost, when they took a dive to the river, so they have to find something else.  Constable Karhunen and Otso pick up berries, Aunt Amalia wants to go fishing, which the others find odd, since she does not have anything to fish with. But she is a resourceful one, she has yarn and a bobby pin in her purse.

She gets fish, Otso and constable Karhunen find not only berries but mushrooms as well.  The leftover porridge is used as pan cakes the next morning. Constable Karhunen finds honey and the bees find him. Soon he is running as fast as he can.

They have spend a week in the forest and they lost the trail, when they fell into the river. Constable Karhunen claims that he knows exactly where they are. He has a map. Of the Bearhill not Karhunkierros. Aunt Amalia is getting bored and is tired of porridge, she wants ice cream. She orders the others to follow her. Suddenly the forest starts to thin out, there is a road and an ice cream van. Aunt Amalia thanks constable Karhunen for a lovely experience.

I have wanted to go to Karhunkierros for a while now. But like Aunt Amalia, I am more of a hotel than a tent person.  Usually the camping/ hiking trips are very romanticized, but this book gives a glimpse of what might happen. Maybe I'll just stick to the day trips in Southern Finland.

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.