Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Ollikainen, Antti 2018: Tsuuum!

Robots Valtteri and Tappi are building a something. While doing it, they make all  kinds of funny sounds.  There are no words, only the sounds written out.

This book has also been published in Swedish. Funny that Tsuum is Vroom in Swedish.  Go figure.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Glider - the flying squirrel

Elina Kynsijärvi 2013: Liituri
Photographs: Benjam Pönttinen

Glider's son wants to see the world. His mother thinks, it is too soon. The book is written is rhyme and the photos tell the story of the life of the flying squirrel.

Flying squirrel is probably the most hated animal in Finland if you ask any developer or constration worker. Many building projects have been iced, because some flying squirrel dropping have been found on the site. I have heard that these droppings have been found even in the middle of a field, where the flying squirrels do not live. People are using it as as scapegoat, when they do not want  new buildings near them. Stupid people!

Glider's family ready to see the world. 
The flying squirrel is endangered and its in habitat is to be reserved.  The book is beautiful and since the flying squirrel is really hard to see, it makes the species visible and familiar.

At YLE Areena you can see a film about the flying squirrel in Finland. At least in Spring 2018.

YLE also wrote about making flying squirrel crossing in Helsinki. I really want to see that traffic sign.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Small naturebook

Mauri Kunnas 2018: Pieni luontokirja

Aaah! Spring! Well not winter any way. My favourite children's author has made a nature book.

The book starts with birds, because the summer isn't here until the swallows have arrived. There are many others that come sooner like larks, finches and cranes.

Then comes bugs, plants, trees get their own section since we are know for our forests. Berries are next, I don't think people utilize enough the berries we have.

Animals are the last section (I know: bugs are animals, too). This section covers mammals, reptiles (we have two: snakes and salamanders) and frogs.

The bugs have gain a new appreciation due to research showing
we need them, if we want to eat.
This is great book and it does not bother me one bit that the pictures are drawn. Even the photos are not always accurate. It is really hard to recognize a bird.  I have lived most of my life in the countryside and I have spent many hours watching the birds and plants. My dad even quizzes me about the 30 different type of trees he has on his land.

It would be sad if the kids in the cities never learned to tell the difference between different birds.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Crafts by Tanhupallo

Kiti Kokkonen 2018: Tanhupallon askartelukirja

I adore this book!

Ms. Kiti Kokkonen is a comedienne, who created a character for the tv-show "Putous" this year.  The Character's name is Tanhupallo (Squaredance-ball) and she is five or six years old.  I love this character, she is so funny and clever taking like a grown up and not making any sense. Ms. Kokkonen is about 150 cm (5 ft) and next to the Putous host, who is 190 cm (6 ft 3 inch) the contrast is remarkable.

This book is about the crafts that Tanhupallo makes. It has also stories about Tanhupallo's parents, grandparents and the neighbor girl.

The crafts are categorized in three sections: super super easy, pretty easy and might get frustrated. All are easy to make with kids and with materials you have at home.

Might get frustrated section starts here.
I love crafts, but I don't think I am very good at. Now I have made peace with this and I settle in making Christmas cards and nothing else, because my crafts look like they were made by a five-year old.

Puppet theater with paper figures. Lovely!
In Finland the high class craft show is called Strömsö. We even have a saying that something did not go as in Strömsö (ei mennyt niin kuin Strömsössä). Meaning that the result is far from perfect.  At Strömsö everything looks easy, but when I do it, it is not. Now Tanhupallo's book I can imagine that I actually could make my crafts look like hers.

I added a clip from Putous this spring, where Tanhupallo is taking a vacation and is suggesting all kinds of destinations and activities to the host. But when the host suggests that they should go to New York, Tanhupallo makes a face indicating that the host has lost his mind. This imagination game isn't for grownups! I wish I could make the same face, when people make absurd suggestions at work or just act stupid.

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