Summary 2/2016

In the editorial, librarian Päivi Nordling writes about working for 25 years at the Institute’s library and about the tasks, the development, and future possibilities of the library.

Jyrki Liikka has interviewed actor Pirkka-Pekka Petelius, who tells fairy tales for children on Finnish television. Petelius thinks that bedtime stories are important, also on television, because they promote listening, speaking and social skills. All aspects of life are condensed in the fairy tale, says Petelius, who draws strength from the stories and from the child audience.

Paula Halkola presents the Finnish fairy tale illustrator Maija-Kaarina Nenonen whose work is on display in a touring exhibition and in a series of postcards produced by the Institute.

Kindergarten teacher Sini Alén writes about how fairy tales are used in nursery schools. She claims that children get excited about fairy tales when their teacher is excited. Fairy tales generate excitement and laughter, but Alén also uses them for teaching everything from native language skills to ethics and mathematics. The fairy tales are read, told, drawn and performed for adults.

Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen has interviewed Marjo Nygård, who has illustrated children’s books, nonfiction books, textbooks, and magazines. Nygård likens illustrators to roustabouts and picture machines. Sometimes you have to take risks and be creative, sometimes – and especially when illustrating textbooks – you have to follow instructions. Disciplining yourself can at times be difficult for the impulsive artist, but perseverance is needed in order to make a living. According to Nygård, illustrating for textbooks is both demanding and underrated.

With her children’s book illustrations Nygård wants to offer an alternative to the vast amount of digital imagery provided by computer programmes and games. She wants children to be able to imagine themselves within her pictures. She uses digital techniques occasionally, but favours painting and mixing techniques which are more demanding.

Päivi Nordling presents the Institute’s Kirjakori-exhibition about Finnish children’s and young adult books published in 2015. Over 1000 books were published last year with a varied range that appeals also to adult readers. One trend is the blending of humorous and serious subject matter. Popular themes are e.g. family life, self-image, and – among young adult books – dystopias. Easy-to-read books are available, children’s poetry abounds, and alongside picturebooks there are graphic novels. Children’s books are published in Finnish, Swedish and Sami and the book export in other languages is increasing.

Sara Kokkonen writes about L. M. Montgomery’s diaries, which are topical because of Vappu Kannas’s recent doctoral dissertation. Kannas defended her thesis The Forlorn Heroine of A Terribly Sad Life Story – Romance in the Journals of L. M. Montgomery at the University of Helsinki in December 2015. Kannas explores Montgomery’s diaries as literature, whereas previous researchers have tended to study them for biographical information about the author. According to Kannas, Montgomery’s diaries are part of her creative oeuvre, which she edited for publication throughout her life.

In the news section, we learn e.g. that the Finnish candidates for the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize are Tomi Kontio and Elina Warsta’s picturebook Koira nimeltään kissa (Teos 2015) and Sanna Tahvanainen and Jenny Lucander’s picturebook Dröm om drakar (S & S 2015).