Archive for December, 1983

Mary Bloom

Issue 4/1983 | Archives online, Drama, Fiction

Introduction by Väinö Vainio

‘Is Mary Bloom about a revivalist religious meeting, a party political conference at which a new leader is born, or a rock concert? These are among the things that have been suggested. I don’t know. I don’t hope for restraint in the imaginations of those who interpret my work, although I observe it myself. The work of a writer is a part of life, it is an individual and collective experience that seeks, finds, takes and uses its materials like a motor machine. For those who create it the drama is real, as in the theatre, for the duration of the performance.’ Jussi Kylätasku


Mary Bloom
Martha, a doctor
Otto, a preacher
Disabled veteran
Serenity, his wife
Cold Cal, a prisoner
Blind man, Deaf Wife More…

A modern mystery play

Issue 4/1983 | Archives online, Authors

Jussi Kylätasku

Jussi Kylätasku. Photo: Pertti Nisonen.

Jussi Kylätasku (born 1943) is a prolific writer of poetry, plays – stage and radio – film scripts and novels. Iconoclastically he casts aside the realism that is so characteristic of Finnish drama and so beloved by Finns; but at the same time Kylätasku is very Finnish: paradox is, indeed, characteristic of this infuriating writer, who has delighted critics and public alike. Perhaps the best-known of his plays is Runar ja Kyllikki (‘Runar and Kyllikki’), which was first performed in 1974; his newest work is a novel, published in November by Werner Söderström. One of his most revolutionary plays, however, is Maaria Blomma (‘Mary Bloom’), which might be called an extraordinary modern version of a mediaeval mystery play. What follows is a personal view of the director of the first performance of the play, in 1980, Väinö Vainio.


There are drama scripts, technically assured texts addressing themselves to the burning issues of the day, that inspire one at first reading to predict fruitful interpretations and lasting recognition. Unfortunately, in the Finnish theatre world such forecasts seldom come true. Almost without exception, even those plays whose first performances are successful fall into the jaws of Moloch and rapidly pass into obscurity on dim and dusty archive shelves. More…

Howl came upon Mr Boo

Issue 4/1983 | Archives online, Children's books, Drama, Fiction

The first Mr Boo book was published in 1973. Mr Boo has also made his appearance on stage this year; his theatrical companions are the children Mike and Jenny, who are not easily frightened – Mr Boo’s courage is a different matter, as can be seen in the extract from the stage play that follows overleaf.

Hannu Mäkelä describes the birth of Mr Boo:

To be honest, Mr Boo has long been my other self. The first time I drew a character who looked like him, without naming it Boo, I was really thinking of my fifteen­ year-old self.

The years went by and the Mr Boo drawing was forgotten for a time. It hadn’t occurred to me to write for children; I seemed to have enough to do coping with myself. Then I met Mr Boo, whom I had not yet linked up with my old drawing. My son was about six years old and we had been invited out. There were several children present. As I recall it it was a wet Sunday afternoon. I had entrenched myself with the other grown-ups in the kitchen to drink beer. The noise of the children grew worse and worse (in other words they were enjoying themselves). At last the women could bear it no longer and demanded that I, too, get to work. Really, what right had I always to be sprawled at a table with a beer glass in my hand? None. So I rose and went into the sitting-room. I shouted at the children to form a circle around me. At that time I had a motto: ‘Mäkelä – friend to children and dogs’. The reverse was true of course. The name Mr Boo occurred to me, probably as a result of some obscure private (and possibly even erotic) pun and I begun to tell a story about him. In telling it I paused dramatically and accelerated just as primary school teachers are taught to do: that part of my training, after all, wasn’t wasted. I was astonished; the children listened in complete silence. And if my memory doesn’t fail me (or even if it does, this is the way I wish to remember it), at the end of the story the smallest of the children said, rolling his r’s awkwardly, ‘Hurrrrah’. I was hooked.

The children themselves asked me to tell the same stories again. They still enjoyed them. It wasn’t long before I began to think seriously of writing a whole book about Mr Boo. For the first time in my life I really wanted to write for children. Every day after work I wrote a new Mr Boo story. Then in the evening I read it to my son. That is how the stories grew into a book.

The child likes right to triumph; he likes the good and the moral. The child is the kind of person we adults try in vain to be. It was only through Mr Boo that I began to see children in a totally new way and above all to become seriously interested in them.


Pekka the brave

Issue 4/1983 | Archives online, Children's books, Fiction

An extract from Pekka Peloton (‘Pekka the brave’, 1982). Introduction by Leena Kirstinä

The other ghost was now very close to the Bear. The inhabitants of the Green Woods had pulled back out of its way in terror but the poor Bear couldn’t even get himself to budge. Miserable, he had covered his eyes and slumped down in his own fur.

‘Psst,’ the ghost whispered. ‘Hi, Bear, it’s only me.’ And the ghost poked the Bear in the ribs. ‘It’s me, Pekka. Come on, open your eyes!

But the Bear didn’t make a move to do what Pekka had asked and Pekka began to get worried. He knew the Wolf wouldn’t stay put for a very long time and little by little would start to wonder what this was all about. ‘Dear Bear,’ Pekka said in a louder voice, and punched him as hard as he could. ‘Get up! We haven’t much time … ‘ Pekka’s voice was trembling. ‘Look! I’ve got the key to your courage right here … ‘ More…

Journeys to friendship

Issue 4/1983 | Archives online, Authors

Hannu Mäkelä

Hannu Mäkelä. Photo: Hannes Heikura

Hannu Mäkelä (born 1943) is known primarily in Finland as a noteworthy prose-writer, poet and dramatist; he also works as a department head for Otava, one of the leading publising houses. When, in 1973, Hannu Mäkelä published his first children’s book, Herra Huu (‘Mr Boo’), it came as a surprise to many people.

Luckily for Finnish children’s literature that was only the start; the book had two sequels. In 1974 Herra Huu saa naapurin (‘Mr Boo gets a neighbour’) appeared, followed in 1975 by Herra Huu muuttaa (‘Mr Boo moves house’). After that Mr Boo left his new flat to go on a long journey with a witch called Ernestiina, and hasn’t been heard of since. Hannu Mäkelä’s next books for children were Hevonen joka hukkasi silmälasinsa (‘The horse who lost his glasses’, 1977), Kalle-Juhani ja kaverit (‘Kalle-Juhani and the gang’, 1981) and Pekka Peloton (‘Pekka the brave’, 1982). With these six books, Hannu Mäkelä has come to be regarded as a classic children’s writer.