Read also Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen’s article on families in Finnish children’s literature 2020:
Books in plain language and easy-to-read books
Translations and books in different languages
Influencing by the power of role model
Let us together protect the environment
Death plays also part in the life of children and adolescent
All kinds of diversity
Puck-boys and horse-girls
In Kirjakori of the year 2020 there are altogether 1203 books. The amount of books remains much the same as during the previous year, when there were 1255 books. The literature for children and young people is still strongly keeping up with the times.
In 2020 the highlighting themes in children’s and youth books are the environmental issues, climate change, and the possibilities of children and youth to have an influence. Heroic stories and role models are still strongly presented in books targeted to children of various ages. Several books dealing with death were published.
Diversity is becoming stronger in the children’s and youth literature, but there is still more demand for books offering possibilities for identification for children and young people of diverse families and ethnic backgrounds, and also books paying attention to dissimilar capabilities, sexual orientation, and manifoldness of sexes. The domestic children’s novels were exceptionally much dealing with disturbances of the family dynamics and even patent child abuse. The article by Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen is more closely dealing with this subject.
To global pandemic in 2020 spreading COVID-19 virus or corona is dealt with in Jyri Paretskoi’s youth novel K15 – Pornoa ja sirkushuveja, the sixth book of the series K15. Roni and his friends are distance learning at home, and he is not able to control his management of time but is driven to watch porn videos day in day out. Also various viruses of flu and how to avoid them is dealt with i.a. in the children’s non-fiction book Virus: Tarina Minna Mittarimadosta sekä viruksista ja muista taudinaiheuttajista (BoD) by Susanne Bohne; in children’s novel Pekka, virus ja Varis (BoD) by
Matti Vuento; and in the picture book Villimieli ja hurja virus (BoD) by Anu Pensola and Rasaliina Seppälä. Eläinhoitola Pehmo ja pumpulirutto (WSOY) written by Vuokko Hurme and illustrated by Tiina Konttila tells about the contagious disease and quarantine of the plush toys. The phenomena of the exceptional time are surely becoming more abundant in the book publishing during the coming years.
The Finlandia prize of the year 2020 was awarded to Anja Portin for her book Radio Popov (S&S, illustrated by Miila Westin), which tells of the children neglected by their parents. The protagonist is the 9 year old Alfred, whose father is often absent and leaves his son to cope on his own. Fortunately the Keen-eared ones hear the sighs of the forgotten children, and the life of Alfred and other lonesome children is changing.
The nominees for Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize are Linda Bodestam’s picture book Mitt bottenliv (Förlaget, Finnish translation Elämäni pohjalla, Teos/Förlaget), and Siiri Enoranta’s youth novel Kesämyrsky (WSOY). The nominee of Åland is Nattexpressen (Schildts & Söderströms, Finnish translation Yöjuna, S&S) written by Karin Erlandsson and illustrated by Peter Bergting. The book was also awarded Runeberg Junior Prize.
Topelius Prize for praiseworthy youth novel was given to Meri Luttinen for her first book Myrskynsilmä (WSOY). Arvid Lydecken Prize was awarded to children’s novel Täältä minä karkaan (RanRan) by Sari Peltoniemi.
The amount of picture books in Kirjakori 2020 is 437. Of those 190 are domestic and 247 translated. Among the translated picture books there are altogether 104 pasteboard toy books intended to the smallest readers, fifteen toy books are domestic. When toy books are excluded, there are more domestic picture books than translations. Total amount of picture books was a little more than during the year 2019, when there were 24 books less in Kirjakori. Explicitly the amount of domestic picture book was growing.
The protagonists of picture books were mostly animals (151), the children come as second (94). The gender balance between children was more even than during the previous years: the protagonists were girls in 76 picture books and boys in 73 books. The amount of fantasy characters was 34, among them for example a unicorn, a full stop, Moomins, the tooth fairy, Father Christmas, and a dragon.
The picture books are mostly dealing with everyday situations in the child’s life. Sleepover is the theme of several picture books, among them Katri Kirkkopelto’s Mollin iltahepuli (Lasten Keskus), in which Molli and Sisu are becoming unruly fighting with pillows and laughing to fart jokes. In Lauri Hirvonen’s book Inka ja unikerttu (Mäkelä) Inka goes to grandma’s for sleepover, but becomes worried about dear teddy staying overnight in a tree outside.
In Johanna Lestelä’s book Tuikku ja pimeän mörkö (Otava) Tuikku should already go to sleep, but because she is tired the evening chores change into fretting. When Tuikku finally is in bed the darkness starts to frighten her. The frights and courage of the child are also dealt with in Anna Tommola and Pete Revonkorpi’s picture book Säpsy uhmaa kohtaloa (WSOY). Timid Säpsy is spending summer at grandparents’ cottage and would like to be as brave as grandfather.
The everyday books have often elements from fantasy, and they are dealing with the child’s world of imagination, plays, and adventures in which the toys become alive. In Sanna Sofia Vuori and Cara Knuutinen’s picture book Grävling borta (Förlaget) a child takes the dear badger plush toy to kindergarten and the toy gets lost during the journey. The book follows the badger’s adventures in the park, when it is searching for the child.
The most common milieu of the picture books is the everyday at home, home yard, kindergarten, or grandma’s. In approximately 20 domestic picture books the locale is nature, mostly woods, and in a few books for example an island or the sea. In Emilia Erfving’s picture book Kasa (Lasten Keskus) in the middle of the forest Kasa, formed of twigs, cones, and acorns, is changing with seasons and observing the animals.
Emotional skills and emotion control are still strongly coming to the fore. In Riikka Riihonen and Kaisla Suokas’ book Aada ja kiukkuleijona (Kumma, illustr. Mira Piitulainen) mother tells about anger lion to Aada. When Aada becomes really angry, she has to learn how to tame her anger lion.
Two books are dealing with an over-sensitive child. In Minna Lindberg and Malin Ahlsved’s book Tillsammans ska det vara vi två (Förlaget) the over-sensitive child does not want to play with other children in the kindergarten and is wishing for a dog. The child is escaping the rules of the kindergarten into fantasy and imagines about looking for a dog in the streets of Vyborg. In Miikka Pörsti and Anne Vasko’s book Gorilla (S&S) the over-sensitive Eino is reacting very strongly to even little things and goes easily into pieces. Eino’s feelings are taking shape in the book’s illustration.
Kirjakori of the year 2020 contains altogether 281 books for children. There are 173 domestic children’s books and 108 translated ones. The amount is close to the number of previous year’s books.
The serialism of the children’s books is much discussed. A large number of children’s novels are parts of book series. Of domestic children’s books 85 are volumes in a series of books, on top of that 13 books are parts of some publisher series (such as easy-to-read Lukupalat of WSOY or Kirjakärpänen of Karisto) and 11 of these are forming a series of their own inside the publisher’s series. When the versions of children’s books in different languages and the new editions are excluded, 61 % of domestic children’s books belong into book series or publisher’s series.
The protagonist may follow the reader, who is improving his literacy skills, from a easy-to-read book to a longer and more demanding book. Of Roope Lipasti’s books about Lätkä-Lauri, four are published in WSOY’s series Lukupalat 2017–2020, and also an ice-hockey non-fiction book about Lätkä-Lauri in 2019. The most recent, longer story Lätkä-Lauri ja räpylän henki (WSOY) was the first one in the series Lätkä-Lauri outside Lukupalat. Miina Supinen’s Kokkiklubi was also becoming separated from Lukupalat, when Mättömadon salaisuus (WSOY, illustration by Anni Nykänen) about the same protagonists was the first book in the cartoonish Rosmariini series. Timo Parvela’s book series Ella received already its third illustrator after Markus Majaluoma and Mervi Lindman, when Anni Nykänen illustrated the new Ella ja kaverit vihdoin kolmannella (2020). In the book Ella’s class is finally becoming thirdgraders.
Of translated children’s books 46 are parts of some series, in addition 43 were published in publisher series, in other words 87 percent of the books (excluding language versions and new editions) are parts in book series. As for the translated books the publisher series include Mäkelä’s easy-to-read series, like Kirjatiikeri and Lukupiraatti. For instance, inside the series Lukuavain the books by Magnus Ljunggren are forming a series of their own called Ritarikoulu, in which eight books were published in 2020. Also in the series Pikku lukuavain there were eight Eeli ja Omar books by Helena Bross in 2020.
On top of the children’s novels also the fairytale collections and other story anthologies for children are included in this category. Of traditional fairytale collections altogether 14 were published, most of them domestic. Ville Nummenpää’s Hölmöjä iltasatuja (Mäkelä) contains 13 humorous fairytales. Marketta Pyysalo’s Tunteellinen krokotiili ja muita tarinoita baobab-puun juurelta (Lasten Keskus) contains the stories of animals gathered by the watering pond of the savannah. The stories originate from the project of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in order to offer educational material for the preschool teachers trained in Swaziland. Of the picture books an anthology of new versions of Grimm’s fairytales, Lasten satuaarteet (Gummerus), and also Anni Swan’s fairytale Lumolinna (Kangasniemen kirjasto) retold by Anna Pölkki were published.
The protagonists in the children’s books are mostly children (in domestic ones 122, in translations 83), in addition some books have animals, adults, or fantasy characters as protagonists. There are slightly more girl protagonists than boys.
There is adventuring with plush toys in Elina Hirvonen’s book Julia ja pehmolelujen maailmanneuvosto (Tammi, illustr. Nadja Sarell) in and Leena Parkkinen’s book Ensio ja päätön tarina (Teos, illustr. Jussi Karjalainen). In both books wild mysteries of the innocent looking plush toys are revealed, and they are taking the child into exciting adventure.
Private detective and plainclothesman stories are still offered in abundance. Antti Ala-Jokimäki’s book Armas Karviainen (Avain) cocker spaniel Armas Karviainen acts as detective with his friends Simon, the former police hound, and Leivoska, the little bird. In the series Etsiväkaksikko by Norwegian Jørn Lier Horst two new books were published: Operaatio kesäsaari and Operaatio tuulenpuuska (Otava). On top of suspense there are also books of horror in the children’s books, for example Anu Holopainen’s Nuku nuku leluseni (Myllylahti), in which the children notice how the jackdaw they burried in the yard of an old church in the woods, is coming to life again.
There are a little less youth novels than in 2019, altogether 156 books. Of these 89 are domestic and 67 translations.
Among the domestic youth novels there are more realistic (53) books than fantasy (30). In the translated youth novels the other way around: slightly more fantasy (32) than realism (22). Among the realistic youth novels for example Laura Suomela’s Ilmatilaloukkaus (Karisto) describes the difficulties a young girl has with her vocational selection and the blended family. In fantasy the youth novels are featuring the alternative history for instance in Briitta Hepo-oja’s novel Sydämiä seireeneille (Otava) and in Anniina Mikama’s last book of the trilogy Tinasotamiehet (WSOY).
Drugs have not, even though their consumption is on the increase, been much as topic in the youth literature during the last years. In Emma Sofianna Söderholm’s first book Edes hetken elossa (Otava) 18 year old Elsi ends up after her older brother into experimenting with cannabis and amphetamine. Elsi’s family is falling apart because of the mother having mental disorders and leaving home. Elsi, who is preparing for the matriculation examination is starting to spend more time with the drug addict friends of Topias.
The spirit of #Me too campaign and the right of the girls to their own body are still strongly featured in the youth novels. In Elina Kilkku’s youth novel Ihana tyttö (Bazar) Reetta, who dream’s about acting is admitted to the youth musical of the senior high school students. Reetta falls for the theatre director Jarmo and ends up in sexual relationship with the man. The book has two alternative endings. Juno Dawson’s Mallikappale (Gummerus) is about the 16 year old Jana’s rapid rise to the top of the fashion model world. There the drugs, eating disorders, and sexual harassment are everyday features.
In the last years some verse novels for young people have been published. J.S. Meresmaa’s Dodo (Myllylahti) is about Iina, who is taking care of her depressed boyfriend Tuukka. The story is expanding into magical realism by the mystical pet dodo of the young. Sarah Crossan’s Kuunnousu (S&S) tells about a boy, whose brother is sentenced to death. Aura Nurmi’s Leijonapatsailla (Otava) work can be classified as prose poem while containing both prose and verse. The book tells of a young girl’s development into grown-up. In the disadvantaged family of a single mother the child welfare authorities and police are a familiar sight. Also Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s Soitan veljilleni (Johnny Kniga) resembles verse novel. In the book young student Amor calls to his friends warning them about the consequences of exploding car bombs in Stockholm. The book contains copious dialogue on the phone.
Artificial intelligence, technology, and hackers are dealt with in several youth novels. Johanna Hulkko’s Harmaa Hakkeri: Glasier vastaan Hopea (Karisto) is the first book of a new series. In the book a hacker makes a hit into a private school and tampers with the monitors of the school and changes times of the clocks. In I. I. Davidson’s series The Ghost Network two new books were published, Käynnistä and Järjestelmävirhe (Otava). The series is about the mystical school Sudenpesä, where young hackers are trained. In Mikko Toiviainen’s collection of short stories Pimeä peili ja muita urbaaneja kauhutarinoita (Otava) the people often meet a scary artificial intelligence or some other form of technology.
The internationally popular series are receiving sequences after a few years, when in Stephenie Meyer’s series Houkutus (Twilight) the fifth book Keskiyön aurinko (WSOY) and in Suzanne Collins’ series Nälkäpeli (Hunger Games) a new book Nälkäpeli Balladi laululinnuista ja käärmeistä (WSOY) were published. At the same time, re-editions of the previous books in the series Houkutus were published.
In plain language both books adapted for plain language as well as books written originally in plain language were published. Martti Lintunen’s plain language non-fiction Puolen maailman lapset (Pieni Karhu) describes the children of the developing countries and the everyday in the extreme poverty. Nora Lehtinen’s plain language book Ainon ja Matiaksen iltakirja (Pieni Karhu) is illustrated by Anne Muhonen and tells of the evening adventures i.a. at the summer cottage of the uncle and in the winter beneath the starry sky. Tapani Bagge’s youth novel Jäätävää kyytiä (Avain, illustrated by Hannamari Ruohonen) in plain language is about 15 year old Tanja and Archie from Korso and their car theft. On the back-seat of the stolen car there is a body of an old woman, and soon they are chased by both police and the criminals.
Maiju Mäki’s five novels for the children, among them Salainen ihailija: Sa-lai-nen i-hai-li-ja (Kehitysvammaliitto, illustration by Saara Tuomela) are turnaround books, in which the plain language story is printed twice and the story from other direction is syllabified.
As adapted for plain language among others, Aleksis Kivi’s Nummisuutarit; Seitsemän veljestä (Avain, plain language version by Pertti Rajala and Helvi Ollikainen), Juuli Niemi’s Et kävele yksin (Avain, plain language version by Mirjami Häkkinen), J. S. Meresmaa’s Naakkamestari (Reuna) and Paula Noronen’s Supermarsu lentää Intiaan (Kehitysvammaliitto, plain language version by Riikka Tuohimetsä) were published.
For children learning to read easy-to-read, in Mäkelä’s easy-to-read book series from Kirjatiikeri (capital letters, syllabified) to Lukuavain and Lukupiraatti were published. Kirjakori includes altogether 36 of those books. Villasukkavoron arvoitus (Lasten Keskus) written by Reetta Niemelä and illustrated by Katri Kirkkopelto, and Anneli Kanto’s Aamos ja jälkien arvoitus (Sanoma Pro, illustrated by Tuire Siiriäinen) are syllabified, too. There are easy-to-read books with four colour illustration for children learning to read in WSOY’s series Lukupalat and Karisto’s series Kirjakärpänen. Joonas Tolvanen’s Jademiekan arvoitus (Otava, illustr. Janne Kukkonen) is in the series Lue itse.
In the category children’s and youth books among others, Johanna Hulkko’s Geoetsivät ja jäätävä mysteeri (Karisto) and Kalle Veirto’s Etsivätoimisto Henkka & Kivimutka ja hitonmoinen lohisoppa (Karisto) are classified as easy-to-reads because of the explicit layout and large character size of the books.
Especially the boys are lured to read by easy to read children’s and youth novels, of which many contain cartoon-like illustration, or they have speedy activity and humour, and particularly awkward situations. Arttu Unkuri’s and Kai Vaalio’s first book of a new series Isämies ja räjähtävä kakka (Otava) has both flatulence humour and mishaps as well as a stern old woman, who forbids reading that book. In Yoko Tanaka’s series Mestarietsivä Peppunen (Nemo), translated from Japanese, three new books were published. In the series the detective has a backside in the place of face, and he is solving the cases not only using his power of deduction but also stinking farts.
Jyri Paretskoi’s easy-to-read series K15 for young received two new books in 2020. Leprankukka (WSOY), written by Roope Lipasti and illustrated by Anton Lipasti continues the series Oskari Onniston uskomattomat vastoinkäymiset. Oskari and his friend Antti are spending summer at the cottage and end up into many awkward situations. Embarassment is the mainline theme also in Vilu Varento’s youth book Be cool (Karisto), which won the competition Sytytä lukemisen vimma of Karisto and the Finnish Institute for Children’s Literature.
Kirjakori has also 25 collections of poems, of those 24 domestic and one translated.
Nelli Heinimo’s first collection of poems Kaivurin raivari (WSOY) is featuring various vehicles and machines. Raisa Jäntti’s Neppari: väärään suuntaan (Puru-kollektiivi) is continuing the fairytale poem about spaceship Neppari. Jukka Itkonen is toying with fairytale classics in Seitsemän kääpiön rytmiorkesteri (Lasten Keskus). Dan Brown’s book of pictures and rhymes Villi sinfonia (WSOY), translated from English, introduces animal voices and their characteristics.
Sami Yaffa’s first book Punkin seikkailut: taistelu Plastimiestä vastaan (Like) is the only domestic graphic novel for children. The story tells about the boy called Punkki, who in an online lottery wins a holiday trip to Miayaland for his family. At the destination Punkki discovers the ocean is full of plastics waste. The fight against the notorious major consumer Plastimies is started. Among the translated graphic novels there is the fourth part in Dav Pilkey’s series Koiramies, Koiramies ja Kisulii (Tammi) for children.
Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen’s Tatu ja Patu: kovaa menoa kiskoilla (Otava) is the first entirely in the form of a graphic novel published book of Tatu ja Patu. It is also one of the nominees of Sarjakuva-Finlandia Prize. In Kirjakori the book is in the category of picture books.
Rainbow Rowell’s Viimeinen ilta: pumpkinheads (Karisto) is a graphic novel for the adolescents. The best friends Deja and Josie have been spending three autumns as seasonal workers at the local pumpkin farm. In the dusk the twosome is walking through the carnival site searching for the girl who works at the taffy booth, and on whom Josie has a crush.
The first graphic novel Kadonneet (Suuri kurpitsa) by Emilia Laatikainen introduces 49 one page long descriptions of lost Finns. The graphical non-fiction Naiset: 150 vuotta vapauden, sisaruuden ja tasa-arvon puolesta (Sitruuna kustannus) deals with the journey of women towards the more equal world. Sarjakuvaterapiaa ja muita kertomuksia hulluudesta (Suuri kurpitsa) by Viivi Rintanen contains 12 realistic graphic novels about various problems of mental health.
Kirjakori has 232 non-fiction books, of them 126 domestic and 106 translations. The up to year 2019 continued growth in the amount of non-fiction is breaking off, because there are 61 books less than in the previous year.
The topics in the non-fiction for children are diversified. Mitenniinmuka (Lasten Keskus) written by Marketta Pyysalo and illustrated by Carlos da Cruz tells about famous philosophers, different beliefs, and speculates on big questions. Karoliina Suoniemi’s Tehdaskaupungin lapset (Avain) describes the children’s life in the working-class towns of the 19th century. As example town is Tampere with the factories of Finlayson. Päivä maapallolla: poliisit (Karisto) by Anniina Mikama and Carlos da Cruz tells about the working day of 12 policemen living in different countries.
Mental skills of children are dealt with also in non-fiction. Hyvä tyyppi: Supervoimien käsikirja (Lasten Keskus), written by Merja Kalm and illustrated by Mira Mallius encourages to develop good qualities with the help of knowledge and stories. The virtues mentioned in the book are for instance perseverance and fairness.
Janne Haikari and Carlos da Cruz tell in the illustrated non-fiction Suomalaiset tutkimusmatkailijat (S&S, in Swedish Upptäckare och äventyrare, Schildts & Söderströms) about the achievements of the Finnish explorers and their route. There are a few biographic books for children and youth, among others Teemu Pukki baby (Arktinen banaani) by Mika Wickström and Arto Nyyssönen tells the story of the Finnish footballer from his homeyard games to the national team and international fields. Karo Hämäläinen’s Tampereen Linna (Tammi, illustr. Ilpo Koskela) is about the novelist and his home town Tampere.
In the book Kadonneet eläimet (Minerva) Aura Koivisto and Anu Vanas introduce different extinct prehistoric animals to the reader. Mia Rönkä and Thomas have done a storificated non-fiction Lepakon vuosi (Sammakko, illustr. Nadja Sarell). In the book the adventuring children can go to a bat trip and they find a Daubenton’s bat colony inside of the cottage set to be demolished.
Flatulence humour can be found in the nonfiction, too. Kakkamatiikan työkirja (Nemo), translated from Japanese, has excrements as subjects of the mathematic problems for students.
Two vegan cookbooks for families with children were published; Elina Innanen and Suvi Auvinen’s Lapsiperheen vegaanikeittokirja (Kosmos) and Tittamari Marttinen’s Vegekeittokirja (Avain, illustr. Emmi Kyytsönen).
In the non-fiction for adolescents there are books dealing with influence and climate change as well as Meri Lindholm’s NEO: matkalla itsenäiseen elämään (Tietosanoma), which guides the young among other things to responsible use of money and living on his own. Birley Shane’s Vloggaajan käsikirja (Lasten Keskus) teaches how to make a vlog of your own: shooting a video, the lighting, recording, and how to cut and edit the video.
In Kirjakori, there are 18 Finnish-Swedish books written in Swedish. The epic poem by Kristina Sigunsdotter and Clara Dackenberg, Landet som icke är (Förlaget), is based on the life of poet Edith Södergran. Wilma Möller’s youth novel Allt att vinna (Schildts & Söderströms) is about the summer holiday of the 15 year old Nora and a derby with threatening letters and disappearance.
There are nine books in Sámi language, including Lina Maria Viitala’s two books translated into Northern Sámi about a girl called Ingá: Inggá geassi and Inggá giòòabeaivi. Lilli, áddjá ja guovssahas (Ndio kultur & kommunikation), written by Ingá Elin Marakatt and illustrated by Anita Midbjer has texts in Northern Sámi and English. The first part of the series Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney was published in Skolt Sámi and Northern Sámi.
In the picture book Mie leekaan, leekaaks sie? in Torne Valley Finnish Ulla tells about her everyday life. The book is written by Kerstin Tuomas Larsson and illustrated by Eva Lantto.
Into Finnish, books were translated from fewer languages than in 2019 – there are only ten languages, when in 2019 the number was 15. The most books translated into Finnish were English, all in all 353 books. The next ones are from Swedish, 78 books, and 62 books from German. 10 books were translated from Japanese, nine from French and nine from Norwegian, and five from Italian. Other translated languages were Latvian, Lithuanian, and Polish.
The children’s novel Rasan kesä (Paperiporo), by Juris Zvirgzdinši, illustrated by Lina Dudaite was translated from Latvian language. The book was published at the same time in Finland and Latvia as slightly different versions. The book describes the summer of 7 year old Rasa with her grandmother in the country. From Italian among others Barbara Cantini’s two books in the series about zombie girl Mortina, Mortina ja ällöttävä serkku and Mortina ja aavepoikakaveri (Tammi) were translated. Two parts of the picture series Oliver & kaverit, Oliverin syntymäpäivä and Oliver ja suuri mäenlaskukisa (Etana Editions) by Astrid Desbordes and Marc Boutavant were translated from French.
Kirjakori includes altogether 40 translations from Finnish language into other languages. The amount of the translated books is not complete, because the foreign publishers do not deliver all the translated books to the library of the Institute and the information of them often is delayed. Among the translations there are, among others, books from Magdalena Hai’s series Painajaispuoti translated into several different languages, such as in Swedish, German, Dutch, and Czech. Three books of Riikka Jäntti’s series Pikku hiiri were translated into French.
In the children’s literature the children are traditionally taking up the action and solving the problems, when the grown-ups are incapable, when it comes to solving the crimes or fighting against some evil. The possibilities of children to have an influence were strongly pointed out especially in the non-fiction meant for children and youth in 2020. Even in the little children’s picture books the possibilities of influencing are coming out – in Sanna Pelliccioni’s book Onni-poika osoittaa mieltä (Etana Editions) Onni’s family is participating in demonstration in order to defend the park in their neighbourhood.
Influencing the matters concerning climate are discussed in two non-fiction for young people: Marjo Heiskanen’s Yhteen hiileen (Tammi, illustrated by Jussi Kaakinen) acquaints the reader with the causes and consequences of the climate change. The book introduces researchers working with the matters concerning the changes in climate. Kaisa Happonen and Karri Miettinen tell in their book Ilmastotekokirja (WSOY, illustrated by Riikka Turkulainen), what is the meaning of the climate crisis and what to do about it. The book takes a stand on the happenings of the 2010’s and advises, which is the best way to talk about the climate change in the social media. In 2019 several books about the climate activist Greta Thunberg were published. Last year they were followed by Jeanette Winter’s picture-book biography Kotimme on tulessa: Greta Thunbergin ilmastokapina (Karisto).
In the books about influencing, the activity often starts with the help of role models. The collections of heroic stories came up in 2018 as a phenomenon emphasizing expressly the possibilities of the girls to have an influence. After that the selection of the anthologies has expanded. Sankaritarinoita nuorilta nuorille: tarinoita urheista edelläkävijöistä Gutenbergistä Greta Thunbergiin (Into) contains texts written by the students in Kallio senior about the role models of the young people. Included are prominent persons in history and many young opinion leaders born in the 1990’s and 21st century. Leijonatarinoita erityisille lapsille (Otava) written by Mia Malm and illustrated by Anja Reponen tells about 50 persons diagnosed with for example autism spectrum disorder or physical disability.
Eveliina Koskiranta and Mari Uusivirta’s book Vaikuta! Maailmanparantajan kirja (S&S, illustration Jolanda Kerttuli) introduces young activists. In the interviews the young tell, how they have exercised influence over matters important to them. Likewise, the nonfiction of Silja Annila, Sanna Pekkonen and Kaisa Uusitalo Tekoja nyt! Maailmanpelastajan käsikirja (Otava, illustrated by Tiia Javanainen) deals with topical issues, as equality, sustainable development, and human rights. The book tells about young activists and what they have done in order to have an influence over matters. At the same time the advice is given how everyone can take part and promote the matters that are important to oneself.
The female point of view and the abilities of the women to break the glass roof are still emphasized, among others Ellen Bailey’s Ihmenaisia (Stabenfelt) introduces 60 influential women from different sides of the world from Simone de Beauvoir to Michelle Obama. The fairytales can offer different role models, too, such as Rohkeiden tyttöjen satukirja (Kids.fi) with eight fairy tales of brave girls, who have not stayed to wait for the prince coming to rescue. Leena Virtanen and Sanna Pelliccioni’s Eeva! Kirjailija Eeva Kilven polut, muistot ja viisaat sanat (Teos) is in the series Suomen supernaisia, which tells the biographies of noted Finnish women in a shape of a picture non-fiction.
Environment protection, ecocritisism, and animal rights are, like in a few previous years, emphasised in the literature for children and youth. On top of the non-fiction dealing with climate change and its effects these matters are dealt with in stories.
In the stories the children find out something concerning the climate and having an effect on the lives of their own, and thus they become interested about the climate change. After discovering defects the children take up fast action in order to prevent the climate change. The issues linked with climate are dealt with in the form of a fairytale for example in the book Pikkis ja talvensiemenet (Lasten Keskus) by Katja Lahti, illustration by Annukka Palmén. Mörökölliland is waiting for the winter, but the autumn just continues. The winter is not coming, before Pikkis has done a dangerous journey and taken the seeds of winter far away to the north.
In Tiina Nygård’s book Hulivili ja oikutteleva ilmasto (Mäkelä) Hulivili or Hilda plants eagerly all kinds in her garden in the spring. The plants are not starting to grow because of the capricious weather. In the vegetable garden she finds a snail, which tells the changing weather is caused by the climate change. The animals are acting as communicators also in Meren maha on kipeä (Lasten Keskus) written by Pirjo Havia and illustrated by Viktor Amoussou. The twins Afi and Kofi meet a sea turtle, which tells them the plastics waste is floating in the sea. The children decide to do their own part in order to protect the ocean and sew cloth bags. In the beach, a waste sorting area is also erected.
Littering is also dealt with in the picture book Yksi sinne tai tänne (Mäkelä) by Tracey Corderoy. The animals living in Onnela are satisfied with their life, but a trash thrown by a rhino makes other animals to do the same. Soon the town is full of litter, the flower arrangements are ripped, and everybody is making noise in competition with each other. The inhabitants understand that everybody’s little deed matters. Tiina Sarja, Mikko Posio and Henna Ryynänen are guiding in sorting waste and recycling in their non-fiction stories Kuka vei roskat? (Mäkelä).
Herkko plays Agatha Christie’s detectives with his friend Marta in Joanna Heinonen’s novel for children Herkko ja kukoistavien kukkien kysymys (Myllylahti). The detectives have to solve the mystery of the heat wave – who is watering the flowers and lawns of the neighbourhood, when people are advised to save the water? The mystery makes Herkko to get acquainted with climate change. Anja Kulovesi’s Susanna ja pienten tekojen kerho tells about friends, who in their club are discovering small deeds for helping the climate. In the picture book Mulu: lapsi joka toi metsän takaisin (Puukenkki) by Marko Laihinen and Elina Jasu the forest machines cut down the nearby forest. Because of the logging the sunshine and erosion caused by the wind make cultivation impossible. Mulu does not want to give up but gets small seedlings and gets all the others with in the forest protection.
One of the ways in environment protection is recycling. In the picture book Elsa ja Lauri kierrättävät (Mäkelä) written by Kerttu Rahikka and illustrated by Nadja Sarell the sisters receive rooms of their own. The old bunk bed is sold in the nets and the missing furniture is bought from the recycling center. The book has also a non-fiction part about recycling. In Liisa Lauerma and Aija Saukkonen’s book Elina ja mummin kierrätyspäivä: tilkkutarinoita (Warelia) the grandmother wants to recycle old clothes. Elina, her mother and aunt are looking at the clothing collected into a suitcase and linked with various memories. In the book Mekon matka (Sitruuna, illustr. Kristiina Haapalainen and Sami Vähä-aho) by Elina Komulainen and Mirka Tuovinen the dress made of an old tablecloth for Vuokko ends up in Italy and there after years onwards into a doll’s dress and a kite in the sky.
Sara ja kadonneet sateet (Karisto) written Tuula Korolainen and illustrated by Meria Palin is describing the home village of Sara in Africa, and the lack of water. The drought forces Sara and her mother to walk through the desert after water. Sara finally is able to get to safety at the camp, where people suffering from water and food shortage get help. In the end of the book there is information about the effects of climate change on water problems of the world. The authors of the book and the publisher are donating part of the proceeds to the Disaster Relief Fund of the Red Cross.
The effect of the climate change on the water system is dealt with in the book Muumipeikko majakkasaarella: retki meriluontoon! (Tammi) written by Katariina Heilala and illustrated by Riina and Sami Kaarla. The joyful trip of Moomin family turns gloomy, when they hear from the lighthouse keeper, what kind of effect the climate change and littering have on the marine biodiversity. The book belongs into Our Sea -campaign, which collects funds for protection of the Baltic Sea. Tiitiäisen metsä (WSOY) is a collection of nature poems of Kirsi Kunnas. The book is illustrated by Silja-Maria Vihersaari. From each book one euro is donated for the protection of primeval forests.
In Linda Bondestam’s picture book Mitt bottenliv (Förlaget, Finnish translation Elämäni pohjalla, Teos) the narrator is a small aksolotl. The aksolotl is an extremely endangered species of animal. The aksolotl lives in the bottom of the lake, collects the things people throw into water and feels the effects of pollution and fires raging on the land. The towns of the people are falling under water, but the life of the aksolotl goes on, and for the first time the aksolotl meets a conspecific.
The relations between the human and animal are dealt with in Reetta Niemelä and Sanna Pelliccioni’s book Älä vihaa minua (Karisto). In the book the commonly as dangerous and harmful seen animal and plant species are called upon to speak, such as the rat, tick, and dandelion, and the book is a collection of their letters to human beings. Also Sophie Corrigan’s non-fiction book Ihanan iljettävät eläimet (Lasten Keskus) acquaints with animals taken for scary as well as ugly. Both of the books are telling, why the species have their place in the nature in spite of the frights of the human beings.
Kurkistus hyönteisten maailmaan (Pieni Karhu) written by Seija Niinistö-Samela and illustrated by Juha Samela is a plain language non-fiction book about insects. The book tells also about the effects the climate change has on the insect species.
Anne-Maija Aalto’s youth novel Korento (Otava) is a dystopia of Japan, which after the sea level rise has become a small island. The people are confined into labour camps after genocide and concentration camps.
In 2020 a reprint was published of Inari Krohn’s book Vihreä vallankumous (Tammi), which for the first time was bringing up the environment matters in the picture book when was published 50 years ago.
Death is not a new subject in the literature for children. Numerous books dealing with the death of the sibling, pet, parent, or grandparent have been published over the years. Among the books published in 2020 there are several books with the death theme. A new trend is that the viewpoint of death in different cultures is dealt with and the child’s way of mourning, which is overlooked by the mourning of an adult. In the youth books the death acts as starting point of a detective plot, but in the mind of the young also as the possible escape in the middle of the difficulties.
The beliefs and customs of various cultures are dealt with in Kirsi Alaniva and Marjo Nygård’s non-fiction book Luutarhan tarinoita (Karisto). The book comprises of 15 stories about how the people living in different culture circles are remembered after their death; where they are believed to be after death, and how they are buried.
The viewpoints of various cultures concerning to death are brought out in Sanna Pelliccioni, Maami Snellman, and Kiti Szalai’s picture book Muistan sinua rakkaudella (Teos). The book tells about Alma, whose grandmother has died. Alma is talking about sorrow at school with Diego. Diego’s abuel, grandfather also recently died. Diego tells about the Mexican Day of the Dead, and Alma can go with her family to Diego and celebrate the Day of the Dead. During the celebration the families together reminiscence their loved ones. The manner of approach of the other culture concerning to death is helping Alma’s family to talk about the sorrow and to change the memories and missing into joy of the mutual moments.
The death of a relative is also dealt with in the picture Milli, Mölli ja surunmaalaaja (Myllylahti) by Jenna Kostet and Kaisu Sandberg. When Milli’s great-aunt dies, the painter of sorrows paints the whole landscape grey and toneless. In the children’s novel Eeva ja harmaakaapu (Karisto) written by Maria Lassila, illustrated by Maria Vilja, Eeva starts to see at night a grey being, which covers everything with sorrow. Eeva’s uncle has committed suicide. The parents have in the middle of their mourning difficult to see, how the sorrow and matters hidden from children are making confused. Eeve hears parts of the parents’ conversations, and she wonders especially the talk about cutting down the tree that was important to uncle. The grown-up understands the uncle has hung himself from that tree, but the matter has to be explained to the child reader. In Mari Kujanpää’s novel for children Akselin suru (Otava) Akseli’s dear and intimate grandmother dies. Grandmother has already earlier suffered from memory disorder and moved into a sheltered home. The sorrow makes Akseli reticent, but his family and friends are helping him to get over.
In the picture book Kuun valossa/Under månen (S&S/Schildts & Söderströms) by Aki-Pekka Sinikoski and Ilja Karsikas the lonely child ends up via bathtub to an island where former seamen live. In the philosophical book the child is carrying on conversations about death and meaning of life, the child misses mother, who is accidentally shot into moon with a gun. The child gets a phone call from God advising the child to return home. The gloomy thoughts of the child and reasoning concerning death are also dealt with in the picture book Min svarta hund (Shilcdts & Söderströms) written by Sanna Tahvanainen and illustrated by Jenny Lucander. Leonard has lots of great feelings, which make him hit and break things. He has appointments with a therapist, who advises him to imagine about having a dog.
In Veera Salmi’s youth novel Kaunis ilma kuolla (Otava) the death is present in many various ways. Isra wants to die, because relations with the best friend are severed and Isra is linked in an unpleasant way into the accident causing the death of a schoolmate. Isra ends up drifting with Leo, who has moved from a foster home to another, towards Ähtäri. During the road trip of the young people the thoughts of death are strongly focused.
In the life of young people, who were meeting in the closed unit of the hospital, dying is also present in the second book Sekasin: Vitun hyvin menee (Otava) of the series Sekasin by Jani Pösö and Teemu Nikki. Hyde’s difficult situation when the bipolar disorder and other problems are culminating leads him to a suicide attempt, the meaning of which is actually to get him back into the mental hospital.
Death is also dealt with in the sequence of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy Nälkäpeli Balladi laululinnuista ja käärmeistä (WSOY), in which 18 year old Coriolanus Snow as the director of the game has to witness the cruel deaths of his fellow students as well as of the young people coming from other zones. As the same way as Nälkäpeli, Kim Liggetti’s Armonvuosi is a cruel description of young people, who have to meet the cruelty of other young people and death. In the book young women dominated by men are sent to spend a year in the desert in a camp, where life is violent fight of power and the meaning is to provoke the women into killing each other by scaring them with the black magic.
The plots of detective books for young are intertwining death at least in Karen McManus’ Yksi meistä on seuraava (WSOY), in Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch’s The magpie society: salaseura (WSOY) and in the whodunit Ystävä: katoaminen yhdeksännellä luokalla (Karisto) by L. K. Valmu. Already the beginning of the book Lukitut (Tammi) by Salla Simukka reveals one of the persons is going to die.
The meaning of diversity is that the human being is belonging various groups by his characteristics and roles. When the diversity is taken into account, the differences belonging to the identity of different people are respected, whether physical characteristics, appearance, language, sex, religion, or differences of culture. It is very important to pay attention to this multiplicity and offer the possibilities of identification to all the children and young ones.
Quite a number of books dealing with physical difference, for example disability, has been published for the children in various years, but they are mostly non-fiction stories made by organizations. For instance the book Rasti ja Rauha kaverileirillä (Näkövammaiset lapset ry) by Leena Honkanen tells about Rasti, who goes to the camp with her visually impaired cousin Rauha and finds out the chores in the camp are going nicely, even though everybody can not see well. In some picture books the physical disability of the child or other characteristic is described unforced as a part of the story. The book Kielo loikoilee (Enostone) written by Riina Katajavuori and illustrated by Hannamari Ruohonen describes the amiable evening chores of Kielo and her mother. The illustration is implying Kielo is a Down syndrome child, but the book does not mention that. Rose Robbins’ picture book Puhuminen ei ole minun juttuni (Mäkelä) tells about an autistic girl, who does not speak. The communication with the family is fluent without words, too.
The multiplicity of the families is also an important theme in the children’s books. Large amount of the families in the children’s and youth books is still the nuclear family. Of the picture books 52 books have nuclear families, of children’s novels 66 books. In the picture books the second most are the families with single parent, the carer is the father in only one book, in five books the mother. Keltaisen talon ketut (Perhehoitoliitto) written by Annemari Karjalainen, Emilia Säles and Minna Ahokas, illustrated by Jonna Markkula tells about a foster family. In the book the family of Pörrö, the fox, gets two foster-children. In the books for young people there are more various family patterns than in the books for children, for instance families with one parent are in altogether 17 youth novels. Rainbow families are in nine books, of which five are books for young people.
Minä ja uusi vauva (Lasten Keskus) by Maria Frensborg and Maija Hurme tells about Misa, whose multicultural family is getting a baby. As the story goes on one meets all kinds of families, for example Misa’s adopted cousin Iisa and next door’s Hilma, who has two mothers. There are more and more picture books about children with undefined sex – in 2020 Kirjakori contained altogether 37 of those books.
The multiplicity of sex is pointed out among others in the youth novel Amiraali (Otava) by Mila Teräs. The protagonist of the book is 17 year old Niilo, who feels the traditional role of a man is narrow. Niilo’s friend Mara does him a make-up and gives a dress for trying on. Niilo understands he has found a stuff of his own, but the grandparents find it difficult to understand Niilo’s behaviour playing with the sex boundaries. The comic book Kuutamo ja muita kertomuksia (Suuri kurpitsa) by Tuisku Hiltunen comprises of three graphic novels dealing with human relations and love in different surroundings, and the description of the human relations is diverse.
Children with various ethnic backgrounds are found in several picture books especially as minor characters slightly in the background. As protagonists there are only a few non-white children in the domestic picture books, in the books of the year 2020 only in three books. In Veera Salmi and Elina Warsta’s series Päiväkoti Heippakamu the protagonist of separate book is a different child. In the book Hung ja pantteripako (Otava) the protagonist is Hung, who has Asian features. The lively and temperamental Hung starts running as soon as he is able to get off from the daycare, but he himself gets scared after running outside of the yard.
The various ethnic backgrounds of the children are also visible in the illustration of the picture book Tam-Tam menee päiväkotiin (Otava) by Johanna Sundström and Mervi Lindman. In the children’s novels illustrated by the same way children with various ethnic features can be found, for example in the pictures by Tuire Siiriäinen in the books Häntähoiva (WSOY) by Anneli Kanto and in Terese Bast’s illustration for the easy-to-read book Aino, Onni ja höpsähtänyt ope (WSOY) by Jyri Paretskoi
In Tuula Kallioniemi’s book Liukas lätkä (Otava) the topics are the multi-culture as well as inequality. FC Wannaplay is a team in Rupula suburb with players from different culture background, but also from families, who are not able to get the newest equipment for the children. When FC Wannaplay gets Hippola’s team for its opponent, the juxtaposition between children is culminating. The pointing accent and incorrect attitude towards other cultures is the topic in Kalle Veirto’s book Köntykset vastaan Kanada Cup (Karisto), when the Chinese members of the opposing team are called Chinks. The matter is not at all criticized in the story.
In the youth novel Mun vuoro (Otava) by Angie Thomas the protagonist Bri or Brianna is a gifted rapper. Soon she has to find out that because she is a black girl from a poor region she is branded as a criminal and she is meeting ethnic profiling even at school.
In Veera Salmi’s youth novel Kaunis ilma kuolla (Otava) the other protagonist Isra has Moroccan background. Her family is not religious, but when a video showing Isra and shirtless Ocean on the back-seat of the school is circulating in the school, her reputation and honour are lost in the eyes of family.
In Marja-Leena Tiainen’s plain language book Aateveljet (Avain) the big brother Pete of 15 year old Aapo starts hanging with a pro-nazi group. Aapo’s class at school is multicultural, and he does not understand the mocking at the immigrants, but he is unwilling to stand against her big brother. In the crowd of demonstrators Aapo is drifting into the lines of group opposing the immigrants, but when the action changes violent, he has to choose his side.
In Salla Simukka’s youth novel Lukitut (Tammi) the protagonists, five young people, have highly different family backgrounds. Androgyne Vega is transgender, Meea is adapted from China. The mother of the black Kaspian is Somali, born in Finland, and his father a professor, who has moved from London. The young people are also different when it comes to their sex identity and sexual orientation. When they become parts of a weird human tests and are barred in the prison, they become friends or start to suspect each other regardless of backgrounds.
Hobbies are important in the life of children and young. Physical exercise and especially team sport, for instance football and ice-hockey have been more introduced in the novels for children and young people than any other hobby. In the books for children and young people football and ice-hockey are mainly played by boys, the girls are more often taking interest in ballet, cheerleading, and horses.
In Johanna Venho’s children’s novel Opossumi ja pompattava sydän (WSOY) Paju’s opossum becomes interested in football and is taken with into a team of children. Totti ja futiskoira (WSOY) by Mika Wickström and Mari Ahokoivu tells about football camp, where Totti tries to smuggle his dog. In the second book of the series FC Wannaplay by Tuula Kallioniemi the football team of Rupula is switching to ice-hockey when the winter comes, even though the field is not keeping frozen. Lauri’s interest in ice-hockey goes on in the books Lätkä-Lauri ja kaukalon kovis (WSOY) and Lätkä-Lauri ja räpylän henki. Ice-hockey is also played in the book Mörkökiekkoilua (Lector) by Harri István Mäki . Kalle Veirto’s youth novels Kuin kettu kanalassa (Karisto) and Täältä tullaan, Kärpät! are continuing the series Tähtiketju about young ice-hockey players. Kalle Veirto’s sixth book Köntykset vastaan Kanada Cup in the book series Sählymestarit tells about the journey of Sähly-Köntys floorball team to Canada Cup.
Henna Helmi’s turnaround book has two books about figure-skating Miisa: Älä luovuta, Miisa! And Entä sitten, Miisa? (Tammi). Marja Aho’s S niin kuin salaisuus (Myllylahti) tells about sevent-grader friends, who are interested in cheerleading. Teija Huusko’s novel for children Balettia, Alina! (Myllylahti) tells about Alina, who takes part in ballet dancing and about the ballet group’s roles in the ballet Snow-queen and rehearsals of the ballet.
Riding and interest in horses has already for decades been the main theme of the books for children and young people.Maria Riikonen’s Hevostytöt: mikä saa ihmisen raahautumaan tallille vuodesta toiseen (Art House) is a non-fiction book, for which the author has interviewed girls and women of different ages, who are defining themselves as horse-girls. The book debates upon what the horse-girlishness is, and the dear horses are remembered. Riding is also practised in Malin Eriksson Sjögård’s book Näytön paikka (Stabenfeldt). The mother of 9 year old Flora is afraid of Flora falling from the horse back, even though Flora has been riding already for couple of years. Reetta Niemelä and Emmi Jormalainen’s Uljas ja vauhdikas varsakevät (Otava) is the fourth book in the series about Tikkumäki’s poni club. Asta Ikonen’s youth novel Kiira ottaa ohjat (Reuna) tells about 14 year old Kiiras, who is interested in riding. Kiira’s new neighbour Irina is also interested in riding, but Kiira finds it hard to accept the friendly and glad Irina at the stable, especially when she is taken interest in the colt of the horse Kiira is caring for. Merja ja Marvi Jalo’s book Karkurikoira (WSOY) is the continuation of series Onnenkepparit about the girls interested in hobby-hoses.
Juho Kaitakorpi’s novel for children Gen, karateka (Books on Demand) tells, how panda boy Chun starts practising karate. By means of Chun and his friends’ exercises and competitions plenty of information of karate as a hobby is given. The sevent-grader Arsi takes an interest in karate in Päivi Lukkarila’s book Kuinka saavutetaan zanshin (Nokkahiiri).
The children’s novels tell also about more unsual hobbies. In Tapani Bagge’s novel for children Polkupyörävarkaat (Karisto) the protagonist Elsa is interested in wrestling. The interest is also useful in the work of detective. In Mika Keränen’s novel for children Aavepyöräilijä (Lector) the secret society Divari is having a meeting in the skating park and with them are also off-road sport-cyclists. In the novel Kukkavoro of the same book series Mari is taken with into a team of football players, but she has to deliberate upon the question, if it is possible to have both football and ballet as hobby.
The hobbies dealing with culture are not present in the children’s books as much as the physical exercise. In Neil Patrick Harris’ book Taikajengi ja viekas vatsastapuhuja (Aula) Theo plays violin as his hobby. Tapani Bagge and Jusa Hämäläinen’s book Kultaisen ukulelen arvoitus (Aviador) is about a music competition. Satu Heimonen’s youth novel Soinnut solmussa (Mäkelä) tells about a youth orchestra.
The 11 year old Tippi is transferred into the group of young in the acting club in the children’s novel Rooli päällä, Tippi! (Myllylahti) by Heidi Silvan. Tippi is younger than the other club members and feeling self-conscious. In Elina Kilkku’s youth novel Ihana tyttö (Bazar) the ninth-grader protagonist Reetta is enthusiastic when she is accepted to the new youth musical.
Jengi vuodenaikojen lumoissa( Etana Editions) by Jenni Tuominen and Jukka Pylväs is a picturebook pondering on, what to take as a hobby in different seasons.In Niina Hakalahti’s book Mitä kuuluu, Tuukka-Omar (Myllylahti) Tuukka-Omar and his friends go to the chess-club. In the 11. part of the series Geoetsivät by Johanna Hulkko: Geoetsivät ja jäätävä mysteeri (Karisto) Raparperi and the friend have the chance to get acquainted with ice swimming, while the search for the newest geocache is demanding going into icy water. In Eveliina Hokkanen’s book Naavalla kiedottu (Aikamedia) the 15 year old Julia is interested in hunting, and she has the chance to look into it with her father.
Translation: Yrsa Rekola