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.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Spikeball outside

Tuula Nyström 2017: Piikkipallo ihan pihalla
Illustrations by Laila Nevakivi

Very educational book about hedgehogs. The book shows how to build a winterhouse for hedgehogs, what to feed them.

Hedgehogs are rare to bee seen, mostly because they move after sunset. The only time I have seen a hedgehog, is when they have been hit by a car. I wonder, if I make a a winter house, will the hedgehogs come? And even if I follow instructions, will the houses be safe for them? Will my eagerness to help hedgehogs some way harm hedgehogs, because I cannot think of all scenarios, what could happen?

Different types of spiked animals and
also hedgehogs without spikes

Hedgehogs can swim, eat snakes and lots of other things.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Folksong book with sound

edited by Maija Karhinen-Ilo, Leena Järvenpää and Katariina Heilala: Soiva kansanlaulukirja
played by Freija
illustrated by Päivi Arenius

Can a six-year old be nostalgic? That is the feel I get, when my youngest son listens to this book. I remember that I used sing these songs to him, when he was a baby. The songs a are traditional songs.  I guess they are hard coded to all Finns and most of them have a melancholy tones. Except those originating from Sweden.

The song in the picture "Ololonkos" is about asking, if the other has kittens in a bag. I have always thought that as a horrible thing, but now I see that they meant the willow flowers that are called "pajunkissa", a willow cat.  They are the kittens in a bag. What a relief!


Kittens in bags.  The willow's flowers are so soft
that they are called cats, pajunkissa


Monday, June 5, 2017

Long way home

Hanna Karoliina 2016: Pitkä matka kotiin
illustrated by Pirita Tolvanen

A small Kemp's Ridley Turtle, the smallest turtle of all is trying to way his way home.

On his way he meets many animals: polar bears, monkeys and pelicans. At the end there is information about the rare animals we met in the book.



I like the pastel colors of this book. Of course the coloring follows he different environments: polar bear and th mole live in darker places and the monkey in lovely green environment. The turtules home is very turqoise.  The book has very little text, so children can read it themselves.



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hike destination

edited by Antti Huttunen and Touko Kauppinen: Retkipaikka 2015

Destinations collected from the website Retkipaikka.fi.  Fantastic photographs about the miraculous wonders of nature.  Many of the destinations are quite near Helsinki.
The website has the exact locations of these destinations.

I guess all the places listed in this book and on the website are remarkable. The one closest to my heart is Rokokallio, in Vihti. My mother was born near it and we used to walk to the top of the "rock" often.

Now is good time to plan the hinking destination for the summer. This is a good guide and the boys are motivated to walk to see these "exotic" sites, when they know before hand what kind of scenery is waiting for them. And some of these places look like they came from a fairytale book.
Rock maze at Rokokallio, Vihti

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Pea soup fog

Tapani Bage 2010: Tahvo ja Bella hernerokkasumussa
illustrated by Salla Savolainen

Tahvo is a cat, who thinks he is a siberian tiger, Bella is a dog, who live on an island. One autumn day the fog is so thick, we Finns would call it pea soup fog. Tahvo and Bella collect drift wood from the shore.  The fog is cold and Tahvo wants to catch it and taste it. Does it taste like pea soup?

Suddenly they catch a penguin! He is Pablo and he wants to go back home to the Antarctic. Tahvo and Bella help him to find a vessel to get there.

The weather is always a good toppic to talk about. Usually the weather is too cold or rainy. On some rare occation we complain about the heat. The peasoup fog is where I live quite rare.  What I like about this book, is the cat who thinks he is something he is not and everyone else is ok with it and the mystique the fog brings and finally the helping others.

Tahvo is trying to get some of that pea suop.






Thursday, April 27, 2017

Little Darling and Star Bear

Inkeri Karvonen: Pikku-kulta ja Tähtikarhu
illustrated by Kati Vuorento

Story for every month. In January Little Darling wakes up in the middle of hibernation and meets another little bear from the stars, Star Bear.  Little Darling admires the beauty of winter and then falls back to sleep. In February the forest elf meets freezing fox and gives him a job in keeping the paths in the forest clear from snow. In return the elf gives him warm socks, mittens and scarf.

March is the time for the Blue Cat calls Kitty Lavender for dinner. They fish up gold fish from the frozen pond. They have a magical night as cats in March do.  In April the Moss- men are cleaning up their apple tree house.  In May vole Höntynen is waiting for the meadow elf to wake up the meadow. Mrs. Mouse knows that meadow elf has been frozen in and he cannot get out. Höntynen helps him out and soon the meadow is in bloom.


The bugs will rest with  flower bulbs. 
In June the elf of water plays her flute all through the night and in July the cloud plays with a small boy for many days. In August we learn about the secrets of the river.  In September the catebillar is exhausted about getting ready for winter.  He has found a sleeping place from a fence pole, which guards its sleep.

In October the sleepwhisperer has been fluffing the dirt and ironing the poppy petals for the flower bulbs. Soon the small bugs are welcome to spend the winter. In Novermber the snow lilies decorate the ponds. The book ends with December and the elfs serving animals with food.


Stories about animals and elves and the illustrations are as delicate as the wings of fairies.  I must say Kati Vuorento is one of my favourite illustrators.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nepi the corgi

Tittamari Marttinen: Nepi ja paras koiravahti 2009
and  Nepi onnenkoira 2010
illustrated by Christel Rönns



Nepi and the best dog sitter ever
Nepi is a corgi, whose owner is very busy.  When the owner goes to work, Nepi is taken to the neighbors. One is too lazy, just eats junk. The other is too active, Nepi is exhausted.  The third one dresses Nepi up, so that he feels the other dogs are laughing at him. Finally there is  Alma, the girl upstairs. Together they go to the dog park, take naps and have fun. The best dog sitter ever!





Nepi meets Alma.
Nepi, the lucky dog
Alma is taking Nepi to a field trip to a summer camp for schoolchildren. There they meet other kids and their dog, a Saint Bernard named Pyry. The Saint Bernard is a hero, it used to live in Lapland and it saved people from the avalanches. And he is huge. Nepi feels himself a little small. He had never saved any lives. Everyone loves Pyry. Nepi wants someone to tell that they love him, too.





Nepi the lucky dog
The next day Alma takes Nepi to the beach. There they meet Enska, a  pug. His owner says he is a champion and Nepi feels jealous. He picks on Enska, who gets really sad.  Nepi feels awful and appologizes.  They find a common note and start playing with each other.  At home Nepi tells his owner that he wants to be something special. His owner keeps telling him, he is special. In any case, Nepi decides he can do heroic acts himself.  He helps the old lady next door to open the trash and a young mother to catch her toddler.  Later he saves Alma, or he thinks so, Alma is only doing somersaults in the water.  Alma says that Nepi saved her from boredom and loneliness.

Cute stories about a dog. Which could easily be identified as a child. I do not know, how children relate to these stories, but as an adult I see the great lessons in both of these books.  And corgis are cute too



Nepi and Alma at the camp with Pyry




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mystical Birds of Finland

Eero Ojanen 2015: Suomen myyttiset linnut
illustraded by Daga Ulv


Spring is definetly here, when people brag about seeing larks, starlings,  wagtails and fiches. As the old Finnish saying says. The summer comes here with the swallows.

This book is divided into different sections. The first section is about creation of earth. In Kalevala is a story where the land and the sea came from a wild ducks egg. Other birds in this section are crane, tit, eagle and hazel hen. The crane is respected, even the ridgepole is called a "kurkihirsi". The crane was also considered as an all mighty sorcerer.

The next section is titled as between two worlds. The birds here are swan, loon, red-throated diver and nurmilintu, which isn't a real bird, but the bird of Underworld. It is strange that a children's lulluby is about this bird. The singer wished the children would sleep as peacefully as the dead. As I have mentioned before, we are not a cheerful folk.

Siberian Jay is a curious bird.
Here with kuksa, a wooden cup and a knife.
The third section is about holy creatures: osprey, swallow, starling and dove. 17 lakes are named after opsrey (Sääksjärvi), because the bird was seen there.Other places are Sääskmäki, Sääksniemi.

Then come the helpers of witches and the devil: the capercallie,black grouse, crow and the raven. No wonder Hitchcock hit a nerve with his film. Some people fear birds to death.  The capercallie was the king of the forest and it carried the forest folk in him. When an capercallie came to the yard, it meant something bad was to happen.

The fifth section is about bird that bring luck or bad luck. They are cocoo, jay, wagtail, dipper, bunting and corncrake.  The wagtail brings good mood where ever it comes. My mom still thinks the wagtail that nest in their home birch greets her, when he arrives. The wagtail is also very eager to tease the cat.




Starling as a jewellery
Then come the restless souls: jackdaw, Siberian jay, willow grouse, black woodpecker and snipe. The Siberian jay is curious and often comes to the fireplace to see what the humans are up to. It may even be the soul of a wise man. The hunters usually leave this bird alone.

The eight section is for the unpleasant guests: sparrow, magpie and redstart. In the old days the sparrows were considered bad news. They brought bad luck. As do the magpies, which steal all shiny objects they can find. If the magpie laughs, when you are going to take a trip, you should cancel.

And the last section informs us about the scary prophets: woodpecker, horned owl, owl and hawk. The story tells that on fall 1939 the horned owl cried so hard that the people knew it meant war, which then happened.  Even before that seeing the horned owl meant death


It's amazing that people had time to observe and make stories, but then again they did not have social media. Today nobody makes up stories about birds, when they read about all the silly things people do. But I do know that the belief die hard, I remember counting the first cuckoos of the summer, because it meant how many years before I would get married. I stopped counting after ten.



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Seven coal brothers

Jussi Akkanen 2011: Seitsemän hiiliveljestä
illustrated by Kati Vuorento

The seven coal brothers are coal molecules and every now and then they return to the sky after circulating from plants to many places.  The brothers get into the tree, when there is no frost and the sun is shining.

Now they want to compete. They decide the winner is the one, who returns last to the sky. They choose different pines and then wait.

The first brother's tree was cut down and it was taken to the cardboard box factory. In the end the cardboard box was burned and he returned to the sky.

The tree of the second brother was made into a chair and it too was finally burned.

The fourth brother in the primeval forest,
where people hike.

The third brother ended up as fuel chips creating heat and electricity for the city.


The tree, where the fourth brother lived happend to be primeval forest. The brother stayed there until the tree fell and decayed.

The fifth tree was used to make a house. The fifth brother stayed there for a long time. The tree of the sixth brother was made into biodiesel. We do not know when we are going to see him.  The seventh brother chose a tree in the swamp. The tree fell and sank and is still there.
Photosynthesis

The book also gives examples of other coal brothers, which have been in cows, steam engines and volcanoes. I guess, when the competition was who stayed the longest, it means the longer the coal is tied the better.  Very cute approach to



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Grandma's memory runs away

Riitta-Liisa Heikkinen 2010: Mummin muisti karkuteillä
illustrated by Kati Vuorento

Anni and Topi are on summer vacation and they are going to spend it at Grandma's. She is supposed to come and meet them at the bus station, but she is not there.  The kids find their way to her house and she is surprised to see them.

The kids enjoy their first day with Grandma and her dog. The next day Grandma forgets to feed the dog. Later that week Grandma asks the children if she remembered to go to the store or get the mail. The last day Grandma bakes a blueberry pie, but forgets it in the oven.

The kids wonder what is wrong with Grandma, why she remember. Anni suggests that they get her a memory stick, but Topi knows it is for computers. They decide they ask Mom to buy Grandma a notebook and if she asks why, then they tell her.

We all are getting older. In my opinion this book nicely tells about how the kids see the changes in loved ones.  I was a teenager, when my Grandpa started to loose his memory. But he also became jollier, where as my Grandma remembered everything and became bitter. Which one is better?


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Early Ghost catches the worm

edited by Tuula Korolainen 2010: Haamuhetki kullan kallis
Illustrations Anne Vasko

For person who does not like poems, I read awfully lot poem books. The Finnish title of the is book is an adaption of the Finnish saying "Aamuhetki kullan kallis" which is direct translations of the Swedish and German proverbs: "Morgon stund har guld i mund/ Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund". The meaning being the same as in "Early bird catches the worm."   Again these saying show how similar Swedish and German are. In my brain they get mixed alot especially if I am speaking German and all of sudden have to say something is Swedish. It is as if they were in the same box, when English is in another box.

Any way back to the book. Cute poems about Ghosts, boogeyman and vampires. One story is about a ghost who is unemployed because of the light nights in the summer. I never thought about it, but the vampires must also have difficult time in the summer, when the sun never sets. They don't have it easy in the winter either, because even though the sun never rises, people are covered with scarfs and wool, so no skin is available.

This book also made me think how difficult it is for vegetarian vampires. Talk about outcasts. My husband and I were watching one vampire show (must have been True blood), when I asked, if it is common knowledge that vampires must be invited, before they can enter. My husband answered that he thought it was common knowledge vampires do not exist.  He keeps me down to earth.

One poem tells about a ghost that goes to sauna and leaves its "rags" on the fence. One boogeyman is afraid of ghosts and it waits anxiously for morning while the ghost is afraid of the boogeyman. One ghost child wants to be a vampire when he grows up.

I guess most of the children aren't afraid of ghosts or vampires any more, but after reading this book they most certainly are not.











Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Water book

Marketta Vaismaa 2016: Vesikirja
Illustrations by Carlos da Cruz

It has been raining for four days and everyone is cranky. Most of all Granpa, who dropped his dentures in the toilet.  Pasi has been reading about Waterman and suddenly he appears and takes Pasi to an adventure to see the different forms of water, how it circles on earth and how it gets from the sewers back to nature.

The book tells that Finland is called a land of thousand lakes. Pasi and Waterman visit a watertower (and Waterman tells how it works). The book has short comic strips to tell about Pasi and Waterman.  But mainly the purpose of this book is to inform. We also learn what not to throw in toilet, how to spare water and how unique the Baltic sea is.


The unique Baltic sea
We even learn that the water we are drinking now, was also drunk by Julius Cesar and how the aqueducts worked and how people used to look for water with magic twigs.

The book ends in latin:  "Navigare necesse est, vivere no est necesse".  Of which I don't agree with, since I am such a farm girl.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Day at the National Museum of Finland

Katariina Heilala & Maiju Tuisku 2016: Päivä Kansallismuseossa
Drawings by Päivi Arenius

The bear statue at the front of the National Museum is the main character in this book.  The statue has been there since 1918 and it is made of gray granite, which is one of the most common rock type in Finland.


The bear enters the museums and notices the frescoes at ceiling painted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela.







Mamsellikello looks really like this

Bear is joined by Mamsellikello, a floor clock shaped like a woman and a large moose, who is there to see a painting of his ancestor. Together they admire archaeological items, such as a wooden moose head.







Jakkarila drawing room in the museum

The 18th century Rococo drawing room from Jakkarila looks very nice even from the book. The whole room is braught there from Jakkarila Manor, near Porvoo.

Quite a contrast is a Savupirtti from the same era. The name comes from the heating method: the smoke came freely into the room.





Can you smell the smoke just by looking at these pictures?
More glamour can be seen in the throne of the emperor, which was brought to Finland in 1808. This is the only imperial throne outside Russia.


The museum also has many practical items like skates made of bones, shingles and fishing nets.



Finally the group reaches the attic, where you can get to know the Finnish history by doing. There you can build a log house, vote in 1907 election or weave a rug. The attic is meant for over 7-year old and there is no upper limit.