This issue of Onnimanni focuses on non-fiction for children and young adults in honour of the Year of research-based knowledge 2021.
In the editorial, Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen demands more respect for illustrators of non-fiction. The approach and imagery of recent Finnish non-fiction books for young people also attract grown-up readers. In addition, some children are – from a very young age – more attracted to measured facts than fairy tales and fiction.
Ulla Lehtinen has interviewed non-fiction writers Laura Ertimo and Reetta Niemelä, as well as illustrators Nadja Sarell and Jussi Kaakinen. They share their thoughts on e.g. children as receivers of knowledge and reveal how they gather material for various non-fiction projects.
Mira Piitulainen has looked into graphic characteristics – such as choice of materials, endpapers, layout and appearance – of Finnish picturebooks from 2020. Well-planned books live longer and, for a young audience, multi-sensory experiences are especially important. At its best, a picturebook’s material, narrative, imagery and layout come together into a work of art. Piitulainen observes that last year’s picturebooks contained many beautiful, delicately wallpaper-like, nature-themed endpapers.
The Institute’s Kirjakori-statistics show that 1203 books for children and young adults were published in Finland in 2020. Of these, 53% were Finnish originals. Translations into Finnish were made from fewer languages than before.
Ancient myths are still part of contemporary society. Terhi Jälänne-Kupias has interviewed translator Arto Kivimäki, who is specialised in classical antiquity. Kivimäki has adapted Homer’s epic poem The Iliad, originally written in ancient Greek, for children. Kivimäki has toned down the violent contents somewhat, but points out that the undertone of the epic is essentially anti-war.
Anna Pölkki’s article deals with the pastoral depiction of nature, as well as the strong connection between protagonist and nature in L.M. Montgomery’s girls’ classic Anne of Green Gables-series (1908–). Pölkki discovers influences of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s anthropocentric thinking, which perceives nature mainly as a source for the human need and desire for beauty. Anne has a special gift for seeing and enjoying the beauty of nature.
Kia Raevaara’s article presents ways in which non-fiction for children can be used to inspire primary school teaching. Many picturebooks and non-fiction books for children correspond with school subjects within the curriculum.
The Puntari appendix mainly reviews new non-fiction books for young people.
Translation: Maria Lassén-Seger