75 years ago, Tove Jansson published her first book about the Moomins. Lately, in addition to Jansson’s original books – which are still in print – works featuring Jansson’s fantasy world written and illustrated by others have appeared. Milena Komulainen looks at this growing number of “new” Moomin books. She finds Moomin-themed baby books, picturebooks, non-fiction, as well as fairy tale books that serve as introductions to the Moomin world. Komulainen discovers that the new depictions of the Moomintroll are very one-dimensional, especially since he – unlike the other inhabitants of the Moominvalley – develops throughout the book series. She wishes that the new Moomin books were better at preserving Jansson’s original, unique fantasy world.
Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen has interviewed the people behind the new Moomin books and learns that depicting the Moomins’ body language and postures has been most challenging. Moomin Characters Oy Ltd supervises all Moomin-related copyright issues. The company’s principal shareholder and Creative Director is Tove Jansson’s niece Sophia Jansson.
Leena Laakso raises the Christmas spirit by looking at children’s classics in which Christmas is celebrated at boarding school. Whereas the holidays are miserably spent away from home in Susan Coolidge’s and Jean Webster’s girls’ books, Christmas celebrations at Hogwarts in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are outright lavish.
Katri Karasma has interviewed Briitta Hepo-oja, who received this year’s Topelius Prize for her fantasy novel for young adults Suomea lohikäärmeille (Otava 2019).
Juhani Niemi presents the posthumously published scrapbook birgittas bilderbok by Finland-Swedish modernist poet Elmer Diktonius. The book was initially a hand-made gift for Rabbe Enckell’s daughter Birgitta and Niemi contends that Diktonius knew how to write for children.
The Institute’s Onnimanni Prize goes, for the first time, to a child; specifically to 12-year-old Hertta, who promotes books and gives reading tips on social media. Such digital reading promotion has been especially valuable during this exceptional year, and the jury wanted to pay tribute to children’s own opinions about their reading matter.
Ilta-Kanerva Kankaanrinta has looked at children’s books from all over the world featuring the coronavirus pandemic. Most of them are e-books and, so far, there are no Finnish examples.
In the Lukutikku-column for teachers, Jaana Ristimäki deals with the metafictive traits in Kaisa Happonen and Joonas Utti’s picturebooks about Piste (WSOY 2018 and 2019). These books are excellent to read with children in kindergarten, but teenagers at secondary school may also profit from exploring the concepts of narrator, narrative, intertext and parody through these books.
The news section presents numerous prizes and award nominations for children’s and young adult literature at home and abroad. Publisher Etana Editions specialising in picturebooks has received the State Prize for Children’s Culture. Their picturebooks have received attention also abroad and made their way on to this year’s White Ravens- and DPictus-lists.
Translation: Maria Lassén-Seger