Kirjakori 2021 – Finnish Children’s and Youth Literature

Kirjakori 2021 Statistics. (PDF)

Vuoden 2021 lasten- ja nuortenkirjoja.

Kirjakori survey is outlining the offerings of the books for children and young adults in 2021. The survey deals with developments of the children’s and young adults books in genres and also through the themes they are covering.

Picture books
Children’s books
Youth novels
Books in plain language
Graphic novels
Translations, and books in different languages

Mothers, Fathers, babies, and the family
Multiplicity as a part of everyday
Environment, and global improvement

Kirjakori 2021 comprises altogether 1222 books. This is very close to the total amount of two previous years. There are 644 domestic books, in other words 53% of all the books. The share of the  domestic books is the same as in 2020. When it comes to the translations the amount from English has increased, and from other languages in proportion decreased. This becomes apparent also in the contextual narrowing of what the translated books are offering. The supply of translated books consists more and more of commercial, brand-associating literature connected with TV series, films, or new versions of previous familiar books.

The books for children and young adults are staying close to the key topics of the previous years. Environmental awareness and influencing the environment have expanded to encompass the books encouraging to global improvement. The description of multiplicity continues to become stronger, and on the other hand it has even more natural part of the stories and illustration of the books. The picture books are gripping the paternity and maternity in a new-fashioned way.

During the year 2021 the global pandemic of COVID-19 still had a strong influence on people’s life. But the pandemic and illness were not much dealt with in children’s and youth books. The time of corona is lived in Veera Salmi’s verse novel Olin niinku aurinko paistais (Otava), when Gabriel’s mother is self-isolating in her room because of the virus. Gabriel has to take care of himself and his little sister, who is in distance education. In Timo Parvela’s book Ella ja kaverit etäkoulussa (Tammi, ill. Anni Nykänen) Ella’s class is in distance education because of the virus, and safe distance, hand sanitizers, and masks become familiar. In some books, for example in Jessica Townsend’s fantasy novel Onttorokko (Otava), and Siri Kolu’s dystopic novel for young adults Iltasatuja maailmanpalosta (Otava) various viruses have important role in the plot, although the virus is not explicitly corona.

By the end of the year 2021 the first books by Kustannus Z publishing the children and young people’s own texts were issued promoting stories written by young people. Emmi Köykkä’s Näkinkenkätyttö (Kustannus Z) tells about anorectic Keiju and connects history and experiences of hunger of the past into the story of Keiju. The youngest author of Kirjakori is the four-year-old Leo Humina, who in his book Maailman viimeinen varvas (Books on Demand) tells about a toe seeking for its family.

The Finlandia Prize of the year 2021 for books of children and young adults was awarded to Anne-Maija Aalto’s youth novel Mistä valo pääsee sisään (Otava). The dystopic story based in Japan is describing the totalitarian society and control, the significance of memories and humanity.

The nominees for Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize are the picture book Om du möter en björn (Förlaget, Finnish transl. Jos kohtaat karhun, Teos) by Malin Kivelä, Martin Glaz Serup, and Linda Bondestam; and Oravien sota (Tammi) written by Riina Katajavuori,  illustrated by German Martin Baltscheit. Oravien sota is a story of a conflict between two squirrel brothers, and description of the Finnish Civil War.

Topelius Prize for praiseworthy youth novel was given to Anniina Mikama for her novel Myrrys (WSOY). Arvid Lydecken Prize for children’s book was awarded to Mustan kuun majatalo (Lasten Keskus), a fantasy novel for children written by Reetta Niemelä and illustrated by Katri Kirkkopelto. Runeberg Junior Prize was awarded to the illustrated children’s novel Elppu matkalla kotiin (Minerva) by Edu Kettunen. Rudolf Koivu Prize for illustration was given to Maria Sann for her book Bokstavsvärldar (Förlaget). The book was written by Henrika Andersson. Tieto-Lauri award of Lauri Jäntti’s Foundation for children’s non-fiction was awarded to Laura Ertimo and  Mari Ahokoivu for their book Aika matka! (Into).


Kuvakirjat Kirjakori-näyttelyssä.

Picture books

There are altogether 449 picture books in Kirjakori. Of those 188 are domestic and 261 are translations. The amount is near to level of the previous years. Of translated picture books 91 are so-called toy books or board books for little children and 14 toy books are domestic. If toy books are excluded, the amount of domestic picture books is slightly more than of translations.

In many picture books there is a first-person narrator, who is describing what is happening. This is especially emphasized in Finnish-Swedish picture books. For example Lena Frölander-Ulf’s picture book Fidel och jag i storstan (Förlaget, Finnish translation Minä ja Muru metropolissa, Teos) is describing the visit to a big sister in a big city through the eyes and words of a small child. In the book Hymykuopat (Tammi) written by Maarit Lalli and illustrated by Sanna Mander the narrator is four-year-old Tiitus. Tiitus and his twin sister Tilda are puzzled by their father’s grief after the death of their grandmother.

Eating is the topic in several picture books. In the book Hirveä Nälkä (Into) written by Vuokko Hurme and illustrated by Noora Katto, Hirveä Nälkä (Terrible Hunger) living in Viima’s stomach is shown as a figure getting larger when the feeling of hunger is growing. In Katri Kirkkopelto’s book Molli ja hirveä herne (Lasten Keskus) Molli does not want to eat anything green. Ruu ravintolassa (Otava) by Anna-Karin Garhamn tells about Ruu’s first restaurant visit. Food is dealt with also in the picture book Heitä minulle hyvä haju (Karisto) by Kirsti Kuronen and Karoliina Pertamo. In the book Jaakko decides to go and search for good smells, because at home the parents have become interested in making cabbage food and it smells bad at home.

Next to the everyday topics of the picture books new matters and humorous stories are coming up. Tuomas Kärkkäinen’s Suomen ämminkäiset värikuvina (S&S) introduces “ämminkäiset” in the manner of a species determination guide. Ämminkäiset are various creatures having an effect on and in the townscape and leaving small signs of themselves there. Also Malin Kivelä, Martin Glaz Serup and Linda Bondestam’s picture book Om du möter en björn / Jos kohtaat karhun (Förlaget/Teos) has a humorous attitude. The book is giving advice to a child going into the woods in case he meets a bear. Tötterman (Enostone) written by Ville Hytönen and illustrated by Ulla Saar is about a foolish Tötterman, who is going to sweeten the casseroles. The narrator is observing the activities of Tötterman like in a child’s play, and this gives the story a light humorous attitude. Humour caused by small blunders and plays is also found in Gunilla Bergström’s three books of Mikko Mallikas published together in Mikko Mallikas hassuttelee: kolme yllättävää tarinaa (Tammi).

Kotimaisia lastenkirjoja Kirjakori-näyttelyssä.     Käännettyjä lastenkirjoja Kirjakori-näyttelyssä.

Children’s books

In Kirjakori the books for children include novels for children and various fairytale and story collections. Kirjakori of 2021 contains altogether 312 books of those. The total amount consists of 195 in native language and of 117 translated books. The amount of children’s books is the largest one during the time of Kirjakori’s statistics comparison made since year 2001. Compared with year 2020 there are even 30 books more.

Of domestic books for children altogether 83 or about 43% are parts in a series of books. The number of publishers of domestic books for children has gone up by 13 publishers since previous year. In addition, many publishers have released more children’s books than before, for example in 2020 Kumma-kustannus published one domestic children’s book and seven books in 2021.

In 2021 a large number of various kinds of fairytale collections were published. The traditional fairytale collections include Isoäitien iltasadut (Otava, ill. Paula Mela), into which the Finnish grandmothers have chosen their favourite stories; and the anthology Nuku hyvin (Otava), edited by Sanna Jaatinen, containing new domestic evening stories by different authors. Ville Nummenpää’s Entistä hölmömpiä iltasatuja (Mäkelä), as well as Paula Noronen and Minna Kivelä’s Hulluja satuja (Tammi) contain humoristic fairy-tales. Ville Hytönen’s Kiukkumielen ihmeellinen satukirja (Kumma) has a frame story of Kiukkumieli (Angry mind), who does not want to go to sleep and gets to hear more and more funny stories of the inhabitants of the town Kiukkumieli.

Making a motion picture or filming for television are dealt with in several novels for children. In Mike Pohjola’s book Maailman hauskin (Tammi, ill. Tuisku Hiltunen) the 11-year-old Vilho becomes, because of a misunderstanding, an actor in a sketch show Vitsivitsi. In Jukka-Pekka Palviainen’s book Jugi ja majakkasaaren aarre (Myllylahti) Jugi’s family is moving to a lighthouse island, where the run-down hotel is renovated in a program Murjusta palatsiksi. In Kaisa Paasto’s book Anni kaverinkesyttäjä punaisella matolla (Tammi, ill. Mari Ahokoivu) Anni wants to make a film in order to collect help for the victims of a typhoon. Heidi Silvan’s novel for children Operaatio Hardcore ysäri (Myllylahti) is not about film-making, but three 12-year-old boys are challenged to be without technology of the 21st century for one week.

In particular the translated novels for children of the year 2021 are abundantly describing adventures featuring peculiar animals. Matt Haig’s Eevin eläinmaailma (Aula & co, ill. Emily Gravett) tells about Eevi, who can talk with the animals. In Aaron Reynolds’ book Rex Dexter ja älyttömän kuolleet eläimet (Art House) Rex wishes for a dog, but receives a hen as a birthday present. The hen dies soon and begins then to appear to Rex, just like many other dead animals.

Detective adventures have been a favoured topic in children’s books for a long time. Altogether 19 domestic  novels for children are about detectives, detective clubs, or solving the mysteries by the help of group of children. Setvijäkerhon salakokous (Karisto) written by Pilke Salo and illustrated by Emmi Jormalainen is the first volume in a new series, in which everybody in Sohvi’s classroom have super powers. Those are needed, when teacher’s note book disappears.

Kotimaisa nuortenkirjoja Kirjakori-näyttelyssä.   Käännettyjä nuortenkirjoja Kirjakori-näyttelyssä.

Youth novels

Kirjakori contains altogether 166 books for young people. The amount of translated books has slightly gone up when compared to the previous year, and Kirjakori includes 91 books. The number of books in native language kept on going down instead: 75 books, in other words 14 books less than during the previous year. When some of the books for young are rather for pre-teenagers, suitable for 11–12-years old, the amount of YA books stays disturbingly small. When there is a constant concern for the reading skills of the young people, the question arises, if there is enough diverse new literature specifically written to them.

The issues of mental health are still dealt with in books for young people. Anu Holopainen‘s book Filigraanityttö (Karisto) tells about Enni, whose obsessive movements are getting stronger during the summer. She is anxiously washing her hands and arranging her plush toys into a certain order, so that nothing bad would happen. In Riina Mattila’s book Silmät avatessa on edelleen pimeää (WSOY) Vilja’s friend Joel is diagnosed having bipolar disorder. Joel finally commits suicide, but Vilja has to go on with her life.

Laura Suomela’s Minä vastaan marraskuu (Karisto) deals with the situational choices in the life young people and the meaning of the communality. Emmi has moved into a new town after her boy friend in order to study and changed her place of studies, and when the boyfriend is leaving her,

Emmi has to find other means to brighten up her November. The everyday matters, such as friendships and summer jobs are also dealt with in Mikko With’s first book Saakelin satanen (Myllylahti). In the book the everyday is abruptly changed into a drama of suspense, when the protagonist gets a strange banknote into his hand.

The series by well-known authors are dominating the translated literature for young people, most of those are fantasy. Alongside the thick fantasy novels became the shorter illustrated book series, such as Åsa Larsson and Ingela Korsell’s Pax-series (Otava), of which already in 2021 three parts were published. In Oskar Källner’s Imperiumin perilliset (Tammi) -series siblings Alice and Elias are carried away into a space adventure in the books Tähtiin temmatut and Rautaruusu. Among the books there are also many versions based on films or well-known fairytales, such as the Disney publications of Star Wars -stories by Tammi. Juno Dawson’s novel Ihmemaa (Gummerus) tells of transgirl Alice after Lewis Carroll’s classic book.

Books in plain language

Kirjakori contains 21 books in plain language, of which 16 are fiction and 5 non-fiction books.

Among the books there are books written in plain language only, for example Mimmu Tihinen’s novel for children Kalevin kesätarina (Karisto). The book tells about Kalevi, who hates water and does not want to go swimming. In plain language also Elina Karjalainen’s Uppo-Nalle (Avain), adapted into plain language by Silja Vuorikuru; and Siri Kolu’s Me Rosvolat (Avain), plain language adaption by Hanna Männikkölahti, were published. Marja-Leena Tiainen’s youth novel Musta enkeli (Avain) is a plain language version by the author of her novel Rakas Mikael.

The non-fiction books in plain language among others include Laura Ertimo’s Ilmastonmuutos selkokielellä (Opike), Silja Vuorikuru’s Titanic: maailman suurin laiva (Avain) as well as Mervi Heikkilä’s Ähtärin eläinpuiston asukit (Avain).


There are altogether 17 anthologies in Kirjakori, all of them in native language. Kaupunki Kukaties (WSOY) written by Pia Krutsin and illustrated by Jani Ikonen updates the tradition of poetry for children by bringing the phenomena of present day into the familiar form of children’s poem. Nora Lehtinen and Jenni Skyttä-Forssell’s Hattaratuuli (Karisto, ill. Reetta Niemensivu) guides into drawing the poems on the child’s skin during the shared moment of reading. Jukka Itkonen’s last collection of poems Terveiset ulapalta (Lasten Keskus, ill. Camilla Pentti) is about seafarers and sea-dwellers. Of Itkonen’s poems also anthology Kultapallo (Lasten Keskus, ill. Matti Pikkujämsä) was published.

Graphic novels

Kirjakori has altogether 36 graphic novels, of which 22 are domestic and 14 are translations. The library of the institute only selectively stores translated graphic novels, therefore Kirjakori has just some of the graphic novels translated in 2021.

Again very few domestic graphic novels for children were published. Mari Luoma’s Romeo & Hirviöt (WSOY) tells about a private school in Addison mansion. The teaching staff of the weird school consists of different monsters, zombies, and werevolwes. Pauli Kallio and Juliana Hyrri’s  Kalle, Kaneli ja kipsi (Suuri Kurpitsa) continues the story of Kalle, who has football and cello playing as his hobbies.

Anne Muhonen’s graphic novel Älä unohda minua (Avain) tells of Eero’s practical training in a flower shop but also of the juvenile dreams of the florist and the loneliness of the youngster. Sarjakuva-Finlandia was awarded to Suvi Ermilä’s Vastaanottokeskus (Suuri Kurpitsa) describing an asylum centre from the staff’s point of view.

Many graphic novels are nowadays based on comics introduced in the nets at first. For example Riina Tanskanen’s Tympeät tytöt has acquired a great popularity in Instagram. Tympeät tytöt: aikuistumisriittejä (Into) -graphic novel tells nine stories of how you grow into a girl.


The share of the domestic books has gone up when compared to the previous years. There are altogether 217 non-fiction books. Of those 139 are books in native language and 78 are translations. A large number of translated non-fiction books are various Lego books, comprehensive books of general knowledge or lift-the-flab and pop-up books. There are some exceptions, for example Dara McAnulty’s Nuoren luonnontutkijan päiväkirja (Karisto), in which the nature observations are told from the view point of an autistic teenage boy.

The topics of domestic non-fiction for children are diverse. Anne Hakulinen and Anne Muhonen’s  Eläinten ennätyskirja (Minerva) is comparing the qualities of animal species by the means of their records. Ilpo Rybatzki and Otto Tähkäpää’s Telin tutkimusmatka tulevaisuuksiin (Tammi) is a fairytale-like non-fiction about space research. Salla Savolainen’s book Asfalttia! (WSOY) familiarizes with making asphalt and the machinery connected with the production. Karoliina Suoniemi’s Ameriikan lapset (Avain) takes to the traces of Finnish immigrant children to America. Pasi Lönn and Pirita Tolvanen’s Rallitalli (Tammi) acquaints with the world of auto-sport and qualities of race-cars.

WSOY started a new series of non-fiction books for children, Tietopalat, in which 4 parts were published in 2021. In the books of the series there is a reasonable amount of text and clear four-colour-illustration. In the series are among others Salaperäinen kissa, written by Sara Lumme and illustrated by Reetta Niemensivu; and Ihmeellinen jääkausi written by Roope Lipasti and illustrated by Juha Harju.

Joona Leppälä is a popular YouTuber ZoneVD. His book ZoneVD kiehtovan tiedon jäljillä (Tammi) is among others dealing with the development of man, history, and the wonders of world. Non-fiction targeted to young people are among others Lukiolaisen selviytymisopas (PS-Kustannus) by Minna Huotilainen, Taimi Huotilainen, and Helmi Uusitalo; and Oman elämäsi jedi: itsenäistyjän kirja (Kirjapaja) by Laura Huovinen, Heli Pruuki, and Antti Vesivalo.

Translations, and books in different languages

The majority of the books translated into Finnish, 396 (71%) are translations from English. The next most translated are from Swedish 58, from German 47, from Japanese 12, and from Norwegian 10 books. From Icelandic Gerður Kristnỳ’s horror book for young people Hautausmaa (Enostone) was translated. In the book a strange illness starts to bother the father of a family, which has moved near to a cemetery. The book Hirviöt: vinksahtanut valikoima (Lasten Keskus) by Grégoire Kocjan and Mateo Dineen was translated from French. The book introduces sympathetic monsters who have   peculiar names.

There are 12 translations of native languages into other languages in Kirjakori. The translations in 2021 are not systematically requested into the collections of the library, so there are some books by way of example.

In Kirjakori there are 19 Finland-Swedish books in Swedish, and of those 7 has also a Finnish edition in Kirjakori. Sebastian Nyberg’s first book Rigelstenen (Schildts & Söderström) is a fantasy novel for young people: in the book three youngsters have to meet evil powers.

Books published in other languages are among others the altogether 6 books in Sámi language. Sirpa Sironen-Hänninen’s first book Ilo pisaroi! (Sanoma Pro) was published besides the Finnish and Swedish editions also as bilingual versions in Skolt Sámi – Finnish, and Northern Sámi – Inari Sámi. Katerina Paalamo and Sanna Hukkanen’s graphic novel Adaman gruunu: sarjakuvasanakniiga (Karjalan Sivistysseura) was published in three Karelian languages: Livvi Karelian, South Karelian, and Viena Karelian. Anna Mämmi and Inga-Wiktoria Påve’s book for children, Marja ja Pohjoistuuli (Lumio) was published both in Northern Sámi and in Torne Valley Finnish.


Mothers, Fathers, babies, and the family

Especially the picture books are depicting the mothers and fathers in a new way as individuals. For example, in the book Fakta om pappor (Förlaget), written by  Oskar Kroon and illustrated by Jenny Lucander, the character of the father is described from the child’s point of view. The picture book in verse Isi joka partaansa katosi ja muutama muu isi (Capuchina Kustannus) written by Jukka Behm and illustrated by Markku Metso tells humorously, how there can be many kinds of fathers.

In Katarina von Numers-Ekman and Lotta Fors’ book En underbar mamma (Schildts & Söderströms) Ebba notices, how the mother of her new friend completely differs from Ebba’s own mother. Ebba wishes that there were as nice atmosphere at her home, and that the mother would do more something with her. Mother has a crucial role also in the book Ni är inte min mamma (Förlaget, suom. Mutta te ette ole äiti, Etana Editions) by Frank Furu and Linda Bondestam, in which the protagonist has come into a new country without her mother and misses her so much. The other grown-ups cannot comfort the child and replace the mother of her own.

Kom hit då (Rabén & Sjögren), written by Klara Persson and illustrated by Marika Maijala describes the expectation for a baby from the point of view of three older sisters. The sisters are addressing the baby in a we-form and envisioning her as an individual, who has to make herself ready in mother’s stomach before the birth. Sinä yönä tuli talvi (WSOY) written by Anna Elina Isoaro and illustrated by Mira Mallius tells about a family, whose baby dies before birth. The first-person narrator is a child and there is a strong viewpoint of a child, but the book also tells of parenthood. The child’s selfhood and individuality are also depicted in Onko se minä? / Är det jag? (Tammi/Förlaget) written by Sanna Sofia Vuori and illustrated by Anne Vasko; in the book the preschooler first-person narrator is making observations of the surroundings and pondering the selfhood. Vuokko Hurme and Suvi-Tuuli Junttilan’s first book Maailman napa (S&S) is concentrating on the baby and nonsense-talking with him.

Tittamari Marttinen and Johanna Ilander’s Bonussisko (Mäkelä) tells of Jusa, who receives a brisk bonus sister alongside her/his mother’s new spouse. Kirsikka brings some new kind of speed and colour into the peaceful home. Minna Lindeberg’s youth novel Norrsken i skallet (Förlaget) describes, besides the love between young girls, also the carefree teenage parenthood, in which the small child is in the young parents’ everyday life taken care of by this or that person belonging to the family circle. In Maija Niinimäki’s book Nolointa ikinä (Reuna) Viljami’s parents are not able to take care of him any more, so he goes to a substitute family in the country. To Viljami many of the habits of the substitute family seem really awkward.

In the books for children and young adults the meaning of family and family background are brought up. The second part of the series Värikkäät by Vuokko Hurme, Kirjava kartano (S&S, ill. Reetta Niemensivu) is about travelling to the family reunion of Värikkäät. The members of the Värikkäät family are able to move the objects according to their own colours, but there are also secrets and danger connected with the family. Eva Frantz’ Hemligheten i Helmersbruk (Schildts & Söderströms, ill. Elin Sandström, Finnish translation Ruukin salaisuus, S&S) tells about 12-year-old Frida, who with her mother goes to spend December at a small gatekeeper cottage of an old mansion. Soon Frida finds out, that the place has a connection with her father’s family. Suvi Nurmi’s Unissamatkaaja (Myllylahti), which is the first book in Routala-series, tells of sisters, who  realize there is a distinctive characteristic in the family of the old ancestral home, also inherited by the sisters. In Thomas Aiden’s youth novel Hautausmaan pojat (Karisto) the protagonist Yadriel is transsexual. His family and society are able to communicate with the dead, and the family ties and traditions are strong. Siri Pettersen’s fantasy novel Rautasusi (Jalava) for young adults is dealing with the family secret and the profession of a blood reader or soothsayer descending the family.

Hereditary taint is also found in robber families. In Roope Lipasti’s novel for children Rudolf Rosvo ja hirveä suku (Gummerus) the protagonist is Rudolf, who is shamed of his robbing and ill-mannered mother and grandmother, and he himself wants to go to school. Murtautuja Mauri (WSOY) written by Heli Rantala and illustrated by Netta Lehtola tells about Mauri who was born into the notorious family of Murtautujat, but he is able to change his bad deeds into good ones and never becomes a decent crook.

Multiplicity as a part of everyday

Recognition of multiplicity is shown as a more natural part in text as well as in illustration than before. In the illustrations of the books there are people, who have for example varied physical features and looks; on the other hand the stories are about different cultures, family models, sexual orientation, and sexes.  Also taking account the different languages belongs into the multiplicity. Amanda Gorman and Long Loren’s picture book in verse Muutos soi (Tammi) tells about a black, guitar playing girl, who builds a bridge between people and brings out, that all the people are equal.

Tiina Lehtoranta and Lauri Otonkoski have collected stories from different countries into the book Krokotiili joka kadotti kielensä (Aviador, ill. Anna Helminen). In the book the stories of ten different countries are in the original language and in Finnish. Tervetuloa! (Karisto) written by Katri Tapola and illustrated by Sanna Pelliccioni is a picture book in five languages: Finnish, Italian, Kurdish,  Farsi, and Somali. In the book there is on the middle of an ocean a house, where the books and stories are wishing everybody welcome.

The protagonist Julle in the illustrated children’s novel Kuminakujan Julle ja Kauri hiipparijahdissa (Arktinen banaani) by Essi Raekoski and Mira Piitulainen is sitting in a wheelchair. That does not stop him from tracing a secret sneaker with his friend. There is also a child sitting in a wheelchair for example in the picture book Pikkuisen pihan porukka (S&S) by Saara Obele. In the picture book in verse the small yard holds all kinds of children.

Kielo miettii (Enostone), written by Riina Katajavuori and illustrated by Hannamari Ruohonen relates the thoughts of the girl Kielo. In the illustration Kielo seems to have features of a Down syndrome child, but this is not mentioned in the text. Hannamari Ruohonen has also illustrated the book Pussel by Karin Erlandsson, published by Ålands handikappförbund. In the book the animals are searching for the pieces of a puzzle. Each piece forms an important part of the whole, even though each animal is different, for example physically handicapped, deaf, or blind.

The picture book Poika ja hame (Otava) by Jani Toivola and Saara Obele brings up the suppositions connected with sex. The book is about a dark-skinned Roni, who does not understand, why the world is divided into things for girls and boys. Mother does not allow Roni to let his hair grow long or use a skirt. When Roni secretly takes mother’s red skirt to the school, he feels like flying free.

In B. B. Alston’s fantasy book for children Amari ja yön veljet (Otava) the protagonist is a black girl, who had grown in poor circumstances and who has all her life been forced to fight because of her rights. Therefore she is also doing alright when she is carried away into a supernatural  world.

The multiplicity in the youth novels is also brought out for example in Khimaira (Myllylahti), J. S. Meresmaa’s verse novel, in which the protagonist Sara has not dared to tell about her lesbianism to her parents. And especially not that her girlfriend also has a boyfriend. In addition of the polyamory there is also the issue of Russian Finns.The same themes are found in the verse novel Ihana (WSOY) by Dess Terentjeva, in which the protagonist has a crush on a non-binary youngster, who does not dare to reveal his/her identity to his/her Russian Finnish mother. Also Jacqueline Woodson’s biographical novel in verse Ruskea tyttö unelmoi (S&S), which received Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2018 and tells what it is like to grow up as a brown girl in the 1960’s and 1970’s in the United States, was published in Finnish.

Marja-Leena Tiainen’s Hotelli Desperado (Icasos) is the story of young refugee boy Daniel. Daniel has fled war from his home country. He is trying to get from Greece to his brother in Finland, but he loses his money and has to live as undocumented.

Environment, and global improvement

Environment, environment protection, and influence have in the last years been a central theme in the literature for children and young people of all ages. In the books of the year the theme has widened into global improvement.

In the book Mia Molina, maailman parantaja (Aula & Co) written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts Mia and her grandfather are going to help their neighbours. When the grandfather hurts his foot on the plot used as a dump, Mia takes action to get a cosy park replace the dump. Maija Hurme and Lina Laurent’s non-fiction Plats på jorden (Schildts & Söderströms, Finnish translation Piilopalstan tarhurit, S&S) tells about children, who start to make a vegetable garden on a deserted plot by their home.

Rose Hall and Parko Polo’s non-fiction book 100 asiaa maapallon pelastamisesta (Lasten Keskus) is introducing hundred ways the people can work together in order to save the globe. Kosa ja Muka muuttavat maailmaa (Avain) written by Aija and Janne Salovaara and illustrated by Tuomas Kärkkäinen is a fairytale-like non-fiction book, in which the cousins are pondering, where the water is coming from. They go on an expedition during which they get acquainted with sustainable development and how everyone everyday can have an influence on his own environment. Pinja Meretoja’s non-fiction picture book Pullervo (Tammi) tells about Pullervo, Saimaa ringed seal, which was made familiar by WWF’s norppalive (ringed seal live). At the same time the book is describing ways how everybody can influence saving the ringed seals and stop the climate change.

In the YA novels the environmental awareness is called forth by dystopic adventures in the world where the to us familiar environment has already been destroyed. Joonas Riekkola’s first book Silkkomaahan kadonneet (Karisto) is set into the world after the ecocatastrophe in which one encounters weird mutations of various animal species and a robot-like girl, who is misprogrammed. In Lee Bacon’s book Viimeinen ihminen (WSOY) the humans have disappeared from the globe and it is inhabited by robots with precisely defined task and purpose.

Translation: Yrsa Rekola