The chairman of the Union of Finnish Writers, Tuula-Liina Varis, claims in an interview that Finnish writers are not benefiting from there being too many books published. Tuula Korolainen considers this matter from the point of view of children’s literature and concludes that, among about 1600 books published annually, there are especially many low quality translated books. Publishers could be much stricter when selecting books for translation.
Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen’s essay deals with Petri Tamminen’s novel for adults Mitä onni on, which depicts a middle-aged man’s unrealistic pursuit of happiness. She wonders: why dream up such a muddled odyssey when the answer is there on the children’s book shelf? Many children’s books, such as Ivan Gantschev’s Wo das Glück wohnt, show that happiness is just around the corner.
Seija Haapakoski analyses humour in Tuula Kallioniemi’s Vili-books aimed at 7 to 12-year-old readers. These books about dogs offer readers e.g. wordplay, carnivalesque joy, situation comedy and parody. The humour changes as the series progresses and the readers grow older. Humorous tension is, to begin with, created with letters, syllables and words and then further developed in the multitude of events presented. In Haapakoski’s opinion, Kallioniemi’s books offer the joy of comprehension, which is characteristic of high level humour. Haapakoski also notes that a good children’s book also works as a guide to different texts and ways of expression.
Myry Voipio discusses the history of girls’ books through the study of girl characters. Girls in fiction are part of historical and contextual girl culture, representations of girlhood and the girl continuum (compare with Adrienne Rich’s notion of a lesbian continuum). Over the years girl protagonists have changed from being bourgeois girls raised to become wives into madcaps and tomboys. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a new breed that combines enormous physical strength and disobedience with a blond, bimbo-like, girlish appearance. Voipio wonders who the powerful girl really is and why. Are only tomboys allowed to be strong and courageous – or are we too single-minded in defining what power is?
Maria Lassén-Seger gives an over-view of Finland-Swedish fantasy literature written for children and young people during the 21st century. She concludes e.g. that the fantastic tradition is still strong and multifaceted, but that there is a surprising lack of closed (mythical) world fantasy and fantasy for teenagers.
Sisko Ylimartimo writes about the last tragic years of L. M. Montgomery. Ylimartimo bases her essay on Montgomery’s diaries and on new information from the author’s granddaughter who has revealed that Montgomery died of an overdose of medicine.
SNI’s Onnimanni-award has been given to the art historian and children’s
literature researcher and teacher Sisko Ylimartimo for her dedicated
work in the field of children’s literature. Jukka Parkkinen has
received the Union of Finnish Writers’ Tirlittan Prize for his entire literary
production, and the Finlandia Junior -award has been given to Esko-Pekka
Tiitinen for his novel Villapäät (Tammi, 2008).
Translation: Maria Lassén-Seger