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
Christmas
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.




Saturday, November 18, 2017

Princess Daredevil's winter magic

Elina Hirvonen 2017: Prinsessa Rämäpään talvitaika
illustrated by Mervi Lindman

Princess Daredevil has many crowns: the golden is for Important Thoughts, yellow is for Fun Thoughts, Pink is for Great Adventures and the silver is for Calm Sleep. She wears her crowns when the need calls for them.  But her most important treasure is her Great-Grandmother's ring and it is magical.

Right now Mom is calling Princess Daredevil to get dressed and go outside.  Princess Daredevil is still looking for her pearls: the amber pearls are for superpower and the white are for occasions when you want to cry but you absolutely do not want to. Princess Daredevil decides to put on princess gown, golden crown, turquoise ring and the fairy wings. You never know, you may want to fly when sledding.

I can so relate to the mother's mood.
 Mom's really getting angry and already counting down.  Princess Daredevil rushes to the door. Mom asks, who is going sledding in a princess dress?  Princess Daredevil tells her that something might happen. Mom orders her to take off the glitter and dress and put on overalls. Her brother is already dressed and getting hot.

 Mom is not always angry, she can be fun, too. In Princess Daredevil's opinion she just doesn't understand the Princess Daredevil has something important going on, which can't be dropped just because it's bed time or time to go out.

Besides Mom is wrong: princess dress can be under the overalls. The dress gets caught between the zipper. Mom  gets angrier and then Daredevil's brother poops so that it comes out of the neckline of his overalls. Mom tells Daredevil to be ready when they get back from the clean up.

Instead of getting dresses, Princess Daredevil puts on the crown of Important Thoughts. She makes the living room a sunny beach and creates ice cream portions for her and her mom.

At first Mom gets really mad. Then she sees the ice cream. She realizes that Daredevil only wanted to make her glad. She also sees the magic and together they spend a day on the beach instead of going sledding.  Mom apologizes for yelling at her and together they dance on the warm beach.

Sometimes parents and children do not understand each other at all. Grown-ups think its all about schedules and order. Kids on the other hand see things adults do no. Some times it is good to stop and put on the Imagination Crown.



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Emotional skills in a fun way

Anna-Maria Kuusela: Sisu Kettu ei anna periksi, Räyhä-Ravun kiukunpuuska, Kiva Kirahvin kannustus
illustraded by Matias Teittinen
expert: Maija Nuorteva

New concept for teaching kids to understand their feelings. Three books about Rounders, animals drawn in round shapes. Similar to Angry Birds. Very important lessons to be learned even for adults. The books include questions, which you can ask your kids. Such as "How does it feel to get a compliment?" "Why was Piggy so upset, when Crab yelled at her?" Again I am making up the gender specific pronouns, since the Finnish language does not recognize genders. The books are suitable for boys and girls.

Giraffe's pep talk.
The Rounders do not know what to do. They came up with creating a show. Everyone performs with the skills they have. Shy Penguin does not know what to do. Giraffe helps them all.
Look at those round flamingos!

The skills learned here are the power of positive words, overcoming fear and finding own strengths.








Brawling Crabs anger burst
Crab is almost always in crappy mood. He snaps (In my mind, it's a he, it could be as well a she) at everyone and makes the gentler animals cry. Then he feels bad. Luckily Smart Elephant gives him advice so he still has friends.

Skills learned here: empathy, considering other's feelings, apologizing and forgiving.


Crab makes Puspus the Fish cry.














Sisu, the Fox, does not give up
Sisu (The Finnish word for guts, resilience and toughness) finds a treasure map and all the Rounders want to go and find it. On the way, there are many set back, but toghether they continue. At one point most get tired and want to give up, but not Sisu. 

The skills learned here: helping others, sharing and recilience


Sisu does not let the blizzard stop him.


Monday, September 18, 2017

How to create games

Elina Lappalainen 2017: Nyt pelittää! Miten pelejä tehdään
illustrated by Jussi Kaakinen

Sofia and Oliver go to work with Sofia's programmer mother to see how games are made.  The meet a game designer, programmer, music composer and graphic designer and learn step by step how games are made.

The book has great illustrations about how different sound effects are made, what kind of storyboards are needed and much more. At least my boys were facinated about this book and all its details. And it also showed that you do not need to be a programmer in order to work in the gaming industry.
The book also has tasks: help the frog to get all the bugs.
At the bottom: basics of programming, true or false and loop.


Monday, September 11, 2017

A, said Agricola

Tytti Issakainen, Katja Häkkinen & Maisa Tonteri 2017: A, sanoi Agricola
illustrations Pekka Rahkonen

Mikael Agricola was the first to write down Finnish language. This book is about him telling his son, what it was like to learn to read, when there were no books written in Finnish.

This book is about Mikael Agricola's life, studies and work.  He was truly a  remarkable person. He made religion more reachable for the ordinary Finns, who from then on could follow church events easier.

This book was written with humor and in a style that is easy for the kids to understand and relate.

The royal Swedes  wanted the talented boys to study in Sweden.
Agricola wanted them to stay in Finland.

Agricola studied in Wittemberg under
Martin Luther.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Maltti & Valtti in Trafic

Jerry Mikkelinen & Jussi Ollila 2017: Maltti & Valtti liikenteessä
Illustrations by Teemu Åke

My favourite traffic park police officers are back! This time they fumble in traffic. Their old pal Riku Rikesakko ( Rikesakko = traffic fee) is riding his bike on the sidewalk. That is not allowed and the traffic park policeofficers are on his case. Can Maltti and Valtti teach him the traffic rules in time, before any accidents happen.

This book has small tasks, problems for the reader to solve: how many traffic signs can you recognise, how to sit in a car. And my favourite: the dangers of using a phone in the traffic. Even all the adults do not know these. You can try yourself  by enlarging the image below.


Find out all the possible accidents about to happen,
because of the use of mobile phones.

 In my mind the Finnish police has a good reputation, people trust the police and rely on them.

The other Maltti & Valtti books published so far are:

Maltti & Valtti misson at Grandma's
Maltti  & Valtti on an almost deserted island

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The saunaflamingo

Lauri Hirvonen 2016: Inka ja saunaflamingo

Inka is a small girl and now she is vacationing at the summer house. Grandma and Grandpa come also to the summer house and together with Grandma Inka explores the nature and hears stories about Grandma's parents and childhood. Inka questions some information she hears: for example that the waterstriders can  run on water, because of the hair in their feet. Inka has seen the hair in her father's legs and he has to swim like the rest of us.

The title was intriguing: I could not imagine, what a saunaflamingo is (for information that is also the same in Finnish).  Spoiler, stop reading if you do not want to know what it is.  Inka and Grandma are in sauna and are planning what to play next day. Grandma is looking kind of pink and she decides to be a saunaflamingo.


I like the illustrations of this book. Well I guess you knew that because I only choose books, which illustrations are pleasing.  But also the text was smart and kind. Cutest was refering dad's leg hairs to those of waterstriders'. And again the book emphasized the importance of Grandmothers.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The island of lost animals

Pasi Pitkänen 2017: Kadonneiden eläinten saari

Matias and his sister Jenni are in circus. All of a sudden a lion cub and Jenni are snatched.

Matias and Dad lion start looking for them and find an island full of odd creatures.

Spoiler alert!
They are all extinct animals: Megatherium, Glyptodon, Dodo, Megaladapis and the almost extinct Barbary lion.

The illustrations are comic style and very cute. And the lesson to be learned is to save the animals from extinction. For some it is too late. But how? And all these hairy animals are very cute (well most of them), what about the insects and fish that are not so cute? Some how some animals are more worth saving then others.