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  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.

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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Smile of Louhi

Tellervo and her friends
Riikka Juvonen 2013: Louhen hymy

Kalevala has been interpreted  mostly from the male perspective. But in this book Riikka Juvonen brings out the strong women in Kalevala.

The ladies in this book are:
Aino's mother
Maiden of the North
Lemminkäinen's mother
Louhi's daughteer

Ilmatar is the daughter of air. When she gets bored she descends to see and gets pregnant. The pregnancy last long and she swims and floats. A duck lays eggs on her leg. She moves and the eggs break creating the sun, moon, the stars and the clouds.  When she is swimming, where ever her hands point, form peninsulas and that is how the world was created. The pregnancy lasts thirty years and finally the boy, Väinämöinen claws his way out of the womb.


Aino is a young girl, care free and pretty. Her brother is Joukahainen, who wants to beet Väinämöinen and challenges him into duel. Joukahainen is no match to Väinämöinen and he promises his sister to Väinämöinen.  Aino would rather drown then marry him and so she does.

Aino's mother was happy, when Väinämöinen wanted to marry her daughter and then devastated when she hears that Aino drowned herself. Only then she understands that she had been too hard and selfish ordering her daughter to marry the old guy. She then advises other parents not to raise their children to fill the parents wishes. Joukahainen is angry and since Aino's mother is his mother too, she tries to calm him down. She does not want any more bad things to happen. She is heartbroken, but she is not angry and takes responsibility of her actions.

Louhi the Ruler of the North
Louhi rules the North, a far away land. She is not a kind woman, instead she as become used to endure difficulties, biting her lip and making it work. Aino's death has wounded Väinämönen, but his mother, Ilmatar, tells him to go North and ask the Northern maiden's hand, Louhi's daughter. Väinämöinen's trip isn't easy, he is hurt and finally he wails in Louhi's shore. Louhi tells him to get a grip, welcomes him and heals him. He is a famous shaman after all. Väinämöinen is home sick and wants to get back. Louhi asks, what she will get, if she helps him. Väinämöinen promises Sampo a wonderous machine, which grinds gold and fortune. Louhi promises to get Väinämöinen safely home and her daughter's hand in marriage, if she gets Sampo.  But Väinämöinen can't make Sampo, but he knows smith Ilmarinen, who could do it. Louhi promises Väinämöinen gear and Ilmarinen will get her daughter, Väinämöinen will talk to Ilmarinen to make Sampo. Both Väinämöinen and Louhi are happy. When Louhi gets Sampo, she refuses to give her daughter to the dirty Ilmarinen. She arranges a feast to the disappointed suitor. She is only concerned about her family's well being.

Pohjan neiti
The maiden of North meets Väinämöinen on his way back home. Her clothing is snow as white and of course Väinämöinen wants her to come with him. What for, asks the maiden. To brew bear, bake bread. He has a large farm. The maiden tells him that marriage is a dog's shackle, when a woman is married, she is her husband's slave. Väinämöinen naturally disagrees, a girl is a child until she is married. Only a wife is a real woman!

Kyllikki is the beauty of the country. Her hand has been asked even by the stars, sun and moon.  But Kyllikki does not want to twinkle in the sky, nor burn during the day or shine a pale light. She has suitors from near and far, but none have to offer what she wants. She doesn't know that herself.  Lemminkäinen, the womanizer from Kaukoniemi, hears about her and gets obsessed by her. His mother tries to stop him, but in vain.  Kyllikki is not impressed by him. She sees him the player he is, she wants someone steady. Lemminkäinen steels her. Kyllikki is not happy. Lemminkäinen has to stop getting into fights, Kyllikki refuses to wait at home and then stitch her husband up. When they arrive to Kaukoniemi, Lemminkäinen's mother embraces Kyllikki.  She urges Lemminkäinen to enlarge the house.  At first everything goes well, but then Lemminkäinen heads out fishing and does not come back for the night. Kyllikki is not one of those girls who stay at home waiting and goes to the near village for a feast. Lemminkäinen is furious and swears he will find a war to fight in. Kyllikki begs him not to go. To Lemminkäinen, Kyllikki was a price, a token of his capabilities and when she goes to the village without his approval that is an insult to his pride.  Lemminkäinen knows he will find a good fight in the North and he heads there. Kyllikki stays home.

Lemminkäinen's mother
Lemminkäinen's mother is devastated when his son leaves his young wife and heads North. He had thrown his comb made of bone to the wall and says when it bleeds, he is dead. His mother thinks about him constantly.  One day the comb bleeds.  Both Kyllikki and Lemminkäinen's mother grieve him. Soon Lemminkäinen's mother packs her bag and heads North to find out what happe
ned.  She asks Louhi nicely where her son is. Louhi twists and turns.  After a while Lemminkäinen's mother threatens to kill Louhi, if she does not tell. Louhi finally reveals that she got upset, when Lemminkäinen, a married man, wooed her daughter. She sent him to shoot the black swan of underworld. She hasn't seen him since. Lemminkäinen's mother is hopeful. She starts looking and finally hears that Lemminkäinen is in underworld. The sun tells her that her son is at the bottom of the underworld river. Lemminkäinen's mother starts crying, but then asks Ilamrinen to forge a rake for her. She starts raking the bottom of the river and collects all pieces of her son. Finally she sits on the riverbank and starts sewing. When Lemminkäinen is complete, he is not breathing. Lemminkäinen's mother asks a bee to get the honey of the forest flowers. That does not help either.  Lemminkäinen asks the bee to fly to heaven to get honey from God's cellar.  It works and finally Lemminkäinen is breathing again.  Lemminkäinen thinks he has been sleeping.  His mother is pretty upset, tells her son to stop scruple after Louhi's daughter and come back home. Kyllikki is a woman enough for him.

Annikki is Ilmarinen's sister. She works hard and she enjoys doing everyday chores. One day she sees Väinämöinen rowing by. Väinämöinen is reluctant to tell her, what he is doing. He lures Annikki to join him Annikki gets mad and demands to know where Väinämöinen is going. When Väinämöinen tells her that he is going to propose Louhi's daughter, who was promised for Ilmarinen. Annikki runs to Ilmarinen and tells him, what Väinämöinen is up to. Annikki urges Ilmarinen to go North to woo Louhi's daughter. Ilmarinen is not sure. Annikki heats up sauna and makes a fresh vihta (bush of birch branches) and gets the water from the love spring to through on the stones. Annikki knows that her brother needs all the confidence he can get.  When Ilmarinen has bathed, he is ready to go North.

Louhi's daughter is the fairest of them all. She has turned down Ilmarinen, but she keeps thinking about him. He was very committed to his work, talks little and was shy to show affection.  Obviously Ilmarinen is no empty speaker.  When he was forging Sampo, Louhi's daughter used to sneak to watch him in secret.  Maybe it would be good to live with him.  Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen return to compete for Louhi's daughter. Väinämöinen has a boat full of gold, Imarinen has improved his appearance. Louhi recommends her daughter to take Väinämöinen, but she wants Ilmarinen.  Louhi is not happy and demands that Ilmarinen proves himself with few tasks. First he has to plow a field of vipers. Louhi's daughter helps him, she tells him to get the golden plow and shield his feet with steel gaiters. Ilmarinen succeeds. Next task is to kill a bear and not  just any bear, but the bear of underworld. Louhi's daughter helps Ilmarinen again. The third task is to fish a giant pike from the under world river.  When Ilmarinen brings the pike, Louhi sees his worth and agrees to marriage. She throws a wedding never seen before.  When the newly weds are leaving, Louhi tries to stall, she can't let go.  Louhi's daughter knows she is going to miss her mother, but Ilmarinen by her side, she is ready. They are happy together. Ilmarinen remembers to praise his wife and both work hard for their home.

Tellervo is the daughter of Tapio, the king  and ruler of forest. She is very playful elf princess, who cherishes wolves and foxes, nurses fallen bird chicks. She also looks after the cattle pasturing in the forest. Kullervo, a  Sheppard for Ilmarinen's and his wife's cattle. Kullervo is bitter and withdrawn. He doesn't trust other people. Herding is beneath him. Ilmarinen's wife has baked a bread for him. When he starts to carve it, the treasured knife he got from his farther breaks.  Kullervo starts crying, it was all he had. He gets mad and chases the cows to the moor.  Even Tellervo cannot prevent that. Kullervo's hatred is over. He summons all wolves and bears and then takes them to Ilmarinen's house. The beasts kill Ilmarinen's wife. In the forest Tellervo is crying.

Mielikki is the wife of Tapio. She is in charge of the green of trees, flowers, forest paddies, wild animals and cattle. The forest is Mielikki's garden. People turn to Mielikki when they need good luck in hunting, or wish to find the most mushrooms or berries. She runs her kingdom kindly and knows how to turn her husband's head.  One story tells about Lieto Lemmi's son, who turned to Mielikki, when he was hunting the Moose of the devil. Without Mielikki's help, he would have not succeeded. Even Väinämöinen needs Mielikki, when he fights the bear Louhi sent after him. The people in Kalevala know that they can enter a forest like a treasure-trove.  But they have to respect the gifts tehy recieve. The forest only gives to those who respect them. Greed and arrogance insult the fores folk.  Mielikki also offers safety, when Lemminkäinen in anger accidently kills Louhi's husband, war starts. Louhi attacks Kalevala and burns Lemminkäinen's house. The people are safe in the forest.

Lessons the women teach us:

Aino's mother wanted best for her daughter, but couldn't see that her daughter is very different. Did she raise her daughter to be too nice? If Aino had rebelled earlier, had her mother seen her differently.

Louhi is too manlike and that people do not like. She does not seek for approval and certainly does not want to please everybody.  She loves her children above all. Louhi is the opposite force to Väinämöinen.

From the maiden of the North we learn that it is good to respect yourself and not to take seriously all kinds of offers.

Kyllikki refuses just to be a price to be won.  She is skeptical about Lemminkkäinen, but learns to love him. She gave up when she settled to live in a fisherman's cottage, but that is commitment.

Lemminkäinen's mother does everything for her son. Fear and terror turn into anger, when her son is finally safe. She also shows that nothing is hopeless.

Annikki is a good sister, she stands up to her brother. Together they support one another.

Louhi's daughter is firs very arrogant, but soon realizes what a good man is really like.

Tellervo is kind, but even she cannot do anything about the evil of humans. Kullervo's revenge is over sized. There is never a justification for revenge.

Mielikki represents the Finnish mentality. Deep down we still are forest folk. Just like Mielikki, we cannot stand greed or arrogance. Something we maybe should start exporting. Nature shouldn't be taken for granted. We need to care for it and respect it.

Kalevala is story between to tribes, the people of Kalevala and the North, but it can also be seen as the battle between men and women: Väinämöinen against Louhi. In the end Marjatta a girl pure and innocent gets pregnant by lingon berry, every one treats her cold. She gives birth to her son alone. Even Väinämöinen thinks the boy must be killed. The boy is wonderful and mightier than Väinämöinen. New era has begun.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Elina Hirvonen 2016: Näkymätön
illustrated by Ville Tietäväinen

Captain cannot sleep, her real name is Flower, but she wants everyone call her Captain.  She wants to be an astronaut. At the moment she leads the Space Dudes, who can save the universe from Bad Guys.

Usually she falls asleep easily, but now she is thing about day care tomorrow. If she wishes hard enough, could everything be totally different?

In the morning she departs with the Space Dudes and finishes her porrige and gets dressed real fast. Mother is surprised and Captain says the day care kids have to be brave and fast. She decides Everything Changes Now.

Captain asks the Space Dudes to fix the situation.

Mom leaves her in the day care and Captain smile. If she smiles enough everything will be fine. But the other kids don't want to play with Captain.  The other girls turn their backs on her and boys tell her, they don't want to play with girls.  Captain swings hard when the others play together.

When Mom picks her up and ask did she have a good day, Captain smiles and lies, yes. Together with her Mom and Dad Captain go swimming and visits the library. For supper they have pan cakes, but Captain belly hurts as if someone is pressing it with a stone. In the evening she repeats the days events. In the morning her belly still hurts. Mom doesn't listen, she is in a hurry. The Space Dudes have vanished too. Captain tries not to cry, not now, when the other kids can see. Again she plays alone and in the night she has nightmares.

In the morning Mom and Dad want to talk to her. Captain cannot tell them, they will only be upset and what if her parents find out there is something wrong with her. Then no one will like her. Her mother takes her to the day care and talks with the day care manager.  After nap time there is a sign: "Everyone is welcome to play".  The grownups ask kids to a ring and ask them what happens when they fall with their bikes. The kids know: it hurts.  Then the grown ups ask, how does it feel, when you are left outside of play. It hurts too and there is no band aid for it.

Later the teacher asks Captain, what she would like to play. She says she is good at space. She starts to build a space station and a curly headed boy builds a rocket in it. A girl decorates is with leaves and sticks. When Mom comes to pick Captain, she does not want to leave.

This is a very current book: everyone should be let to play. In adult world that means that everyone should be at least tolerated. This book almost makes me cry, which is a bad thing, because this is an important issue and should be read. As parents we often are so proud, when our kids read well and can calculate difficult mathematical equations. When can we say we are proud that our kids are the social wizards: they get along with every one and that they never hurt anybody?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Stories from music

Silja Sillanpää 2016: Tenho ja Ryske
illustrated by Kati Vuorento

Tenho is a seven year old boy who wanted an instrument for his birthday. He gets a mp3 player (soitin in Finnish means a player or an instrument). Luckily Ryske an elk comes along and takes him to nature to see the instruments people used to make: The shepards clarinet, Liru
Pitkähuilu (from 1 minute on)
Bag pipe
luikku (at 1:43 minute)

Most of the instruments were used to scare bears and wolves when shepherding in the woods.  This book had new information to me: I did not know that we had a kind of bag pipe already in the Middle Ages.  What I do not understand is, why all the old songs are so sad.  The Swedish traditional songs are much more up beat and cheerful. I wonder, why that cheerfulness never landed on our side of the Gulf of Bothnia? Is it the Finnish stubborness, since the rulers are so happy, we will never be just to spite them?

Kantele was made of Pike's jaw bone according to Kalevala

If you yet haven't heard enough sad Finnish music, here is one more Alhaal' on Allin mieli.

Finnish melancholy at best, even the
long tailed duck (alli in Finish) is felling low.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Overly helpful Sandman

Harri Tarkka 2005: Liian innokas nukkumatti

 Nestori the platipus is ready to go to sleep, when all of a sudden his room is filled with noise:his friend Pystyhylje, the seal is playing sandman and wants to get Nestori to sleep.

The effect is quite the opposite. The sandman wannabe offers Nestori a sleep menu, where he can choose what kind of dream he would like to see: maybe arriving to the daycare naked? Or be a hero or food?

Pystyhylje and Buffen argue
 When Nestori is almost falling asleep his buddy makes some noise so he can't. Bluffen, Nestori's pelican friend arrive and he and Pystyhylje start to argue what kind of sand is the best for falling a sleep (in Finnish we use unihiekka, sleep sand to get children to sleep). Finally Nestori falls asleep listening to them argue.

Sleep is very important and falling asleep is difficult to some children (and adults). This sandman does not help.

Menu for dreams: naked in daycare, getting strong, flying,
being a lizard, being food
Finally the two sleep professionals understand to leave
and let Nestori 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mur alias bear

Kaisa Happonen 2016: Mur eli karhu
illustrated by Anne Vasko

Mur is not like other bears. He is not sleepy, when bears are supposed to hibernate. And when the others are, s/he gets bored. He starts to think he is not a real bear. He has a brown fur, but he still feels funny.

A lovely picture book about bears and identity. What actually defines us?  I think at some point all of us ask this question. We are defined by so many things: gender, nationality, appearance.

Others hibernate except Mur

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sad cheeks

Anna Härmälä 2016: Suruposki (Swedish original Burman)

Heimo is sad. His grandmother Kimmelstiina has died.  Grandmother's appartment is full of furniture and things, which she has collected during her life. But it has to be emptied for the new tenants. Heimo stores the most valuable items in his cheeks. Ther is a golden ball of wool, wooden fork, favourite shoes and a red rubber ball.

Heimo is really upset, he runs out side. Then he finds a circus. All the performers are frantically looking for things, the show is about to start. The clown has lost his nose, the ropedancer can't find her rope. The circus horse has lost its shoe and so on.

 Heimo would like to help, but he cannot talk, because of all the stuff in his mouth. He cannot let the memories of Grandma get lost. He is tired and lonely, his cheeks hurt. He thinks Grandma would not be happy to see him like this. He digs his cheeks and finds Grandma's shoe. He remembers the circus horse missing a shoe. He returns to the circus and gives  his Grandmother's items to the circus.

How to talk to kids about grieving? It is hard for adults, but sometimes the kids simple reasoning can be the answer. Most Finnish parents try to protect their children from any negative feelings, but it is part of life. I believe this book could be helpful to read in families dealing with death.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lyyli and the horrible Paperwolf

Pipsa Pentti 2016: Lyyli ja Hurja Paperi-Hukka

Lyyli is a girl who is afraid of almost everything. Just in case she stays indoors. She enjoys drawing brave and fearless paper princesses. The kind she wishes to be herself.

Lyyli spends her days with the paper princesses and hears about their exciting day: coffee is dangerous, because a coffee stain is an eternal bruise. Candle light dinner gets most all covered in coal (hiiltyä in Finnish literally  means to be covered in coal, but figuratively loose your temper). Also the princesses need to look important otherwise they might go to the recycling bin.

Lyyli faces the terrible Paperwolf.
One day the Paperwolf (Hukka is poetic word for Wolf, but it also means something is wasted or lost). is threatening the princesses with a stapler. The Paper-Wolf used to live in the waste bin, but people were throwing trash to the ground, so he had no reason to stay in the bin. The Paperwolf kidnaped the princesses. Lyyli gets help from Mrs. Filterbag and together they start a rescue mission to save the princesses. They borrow a A4 from Mr. Paperknife of Parquet. They first glide with it and then Lyyli folds it into a boat.

After many events they reach Paperwolf and the princesses. Lyyli gets an idea and traps the Paperwolf to a stickerpaper trap. They pack him in an envelope and ship him to desert, where there is no paper. Lyyli is celebrated for saving the princesses. Soon Lyyli's room is empty: she is outside. You never know how brave you are, if you do not at least give adventure a chance.

I really enjoyed this book, it had many clever word plays. A4 in my mind is a direct reference to Audi A4 . Mr. Paperknife of Parquet refers to the Finnish term Razorknife of Parquet, which means some one is a really good danser. I believe we Finns have a special bond with paper, the heavy industry in Finland is basically built on paper. I mean the paper industry was a major influence on the economic growth of the Finland. Also the story emphasizes the importance of keeping our surroundings clean.