Search results for "Mauri Kunnas"

They believe in Father Christmas

31 December 1982 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

Mauri Kunnas

Mauri Kunnas. Photo: Otava / Katja Lösönen

Mauri Kunnas, 32, says he believes in Father Christmas more than ever before. His wife Tarja agrees; she and her husband work together in their studio in Turku on the illustrated children’s books that have won them fame in Finland and abroad. It is easy to believe the truth of the young artists’ protestations: the success of their book Joulupukki, or Santa Claus, must have seemed like a gift from Father Christmas. It appeared in the early autumn of 1981 and was taken to the Frankfurt Book Fair by its publishers, Otava, where it attracted more attention than any Finnish book had done previously. Rights immediately went to ten countries, from Japan to Canada, and four more contracts have since been concluded. Arto Seppälä intervews Mauri and Tarja Kunnas

Mauri Kunnas says he has drawn all his life. He intended to study law, but his sister persuaded him to go to art school instead. Towards the end of his course, short of money, Kunnas began to draw a strip cartoon for a Helsinki evening paper. He progressed to cartoons – but at present his plans for new books keep him too busy to contemplate anything else.

Mauri Kunnas’s first book was Suomalainen tonttukirja (‘The book of Finnish fairies’, 1979). ‘I never thought I would write children’s books until the fairy idea came into my head,’ he says. ‘At that time I was unhappily employed in an advertising agency, and life wasn’t living up to my expectations. I wanted to splash out, try something new. The fairy idea came to me as the result of a chance conversation about the Finnish world of faerie – elves, gnomes, guardian spirits and so on. More…

Minä, Mauri Kunnas [I, Mauri Kunnas]

4 March 2010 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Minä, Mauri Kunnas
[I, Mauri Kunnas]
Muistiin merkitsi [As told to] Lotta Sonninen
Helsinki: Otava, 2009. 182 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-1-23186-8
€ 40, hardback

Mauri Kunnas (born 1950) is a cartoonist and graphic artist. His children’s books have been translated into 28 languages; the translations have sold approximately 2,5 million copies. His anthropomorphic canine characters from Koiramäki, Doghill, are well known for their adventures in historical milieus; researching these settings is one of Kunnas’ passions. His reinterpretations of Finnish literary classics are also popular: The Canine Kalevala and Seven Dog Brothers offer affectionately humorous homages to the Kalevala, the Finnish folk epic, and the classic novel by Aleksis Kivi. Joulupukki (1981), published in English as Santa Claus, is arguably the world’s best-known Finnish children’s book. In this book, Kunnas gives a lively account of his childhood and youth, as well as his influences and the different phases of his career as an illustrator. The text is complemented by photos from Kunnas’ family album and his own archives, from adventure stories he illustrated as a boy to a pair of hippy bell-bottomed jeans adorned with doodles.

It’s (virtually) Christmas!

28 November 2009 | This 'n' that

Father Christmas / Santa Claus by mauri Kunnas

Father Christmas / Santa Claus by Mauri Kunnas

What to give the man who has everything? In prizewinning children’s author and illustrator Mauri Kunnas’s Twelve Gifts for Santa, Zac, one of Father Christmas’s little helpers, decides to give him twelve good deeds. Doing so is not as easy as it looks, however, and you can follow the twists and turns of the story on the Kidzone Finland advent calendar from Tuesday, 1 December, with one window opening each day until Christmas Eve.

Mauri Kunnas (born 1950) published the first of his popular picture books for children in 1980; entitled Koiramäen talossa (‘Doghill Farm’), it describes – with the accuracy of a treatise on folklore studies – life in a country farmhouse at the end of the 19th century. His hilarious canine characters, in more than forty books, have now found readers in almost thirty languages. More…

Best-selling books in September

18 October 2012 | In the news

Number one on the September list of best-selling Finnish fiction titles, compiled by the Finnish Booksellers’ Association, is Sofi Oksanen’s new novel Kun kyyhkyset katosivat (‘When the doves disappeared’, Like): which shot straight to the top of the list on its publication in August.

The huge national and international success of her previous novel, Puhdistus – in English, Purge – published in 2008 and also set in Estonia, has paved the way for Kun kyyhkyset katosivat; translation rights have been sold to several countries already.

Number two on the list was Riikka Pulkkinen’s third novel, Vieras (‘The stranger’, Otava). In third and fourth places were two new thrillers, Paholaisen pennut (‘The devil’s cubs’, Tammi), by Leena Lehtolainen, and Ylösnousemus (‘Resurrection’, WSOY), by Ilkka Remes.

In fifth place was Sirpa Kähkönen’s novel Hietakehto (‘Sand cradle’, Otava): number six in her series set in the Kuopio region of eastern Finland, during the Second World War.

The non-fiction (translated foreign as well as Finnish) list was topped by Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14 (in North Korea; Gummerus). The variety of subjects on this list can be surprising: number two is about angels (Lorna Byrne’s A Message of Hope from the Angels, Otava), number three a biography of a Finnish ex-con turned surgeon (Veitsen terällä, ‘On knife’s edge’, by Arno Kotro & Christer Lybäck, Otava), number four about the Cold War in Finland (Jukka Tarkka: Karhun kainalossa, ‘Under the arm of the bear’, Otava) and number five about cupcakes (by Angela Drake, Otava)…

Mauri Kunnas: Aarresaari

The three best-selling children’s books were by seasoned Finnish authors: illustrator-writer Mauri Kunnas, with his tribute to R.L Stevenson, Aarresaari (‘Treasure island’, Otava), Aino Havukainen & Sami Toivonen, with Tatu ja Patu pihalla (‘Tatu and Patu outdoors’, Otava) and Sinikka Nopola & Tiina Nopola, with their Risto Räppääjä ja nukkavieru Nelli (‘Risto Rapper and Threadbare Nelly’, Tammi).

All my loving

15 February 2013 | This 'n' that

Early days in Hamburg

(Early days in Hamburg) Even John behaved himself in the photo sessions, at least almost. This is how the famous photos of the young Beatles were taken.
–Should I take one more? (Astrid the photographer)

One day in the antediluvian times of dawning Beatlemania, a schoolboy in a Finnish small town found himself smitten head over heels by the new pop songs by (probably) the most famous band in the world ever (so far). Like some two billion other teenagers, he learnt by heart every single song the Beatles recorded. Yeah!

The schoolboy grew up and became the illustrator and writer Mauri Kunnas (born 1950), whose storybooks, mostly for children, have now been translated into 30 languages.

But his interest in the Fab Four never left him, and last year he published his illustrated history of John, Paul, George and Ringo, from the day they were born to the day when Please, Please Me / Ask Me Why became number one in the British Top 20 in 1962. As the book is partly written in his native local dialect, its title is Piitles. Tarina erään rockbändin alkutaipaleesta (‘Beatles. The story of the first stage of a rock band’, Otava, 2012).

At last the boys came home from Germany, and in June 1962 they left for London with high hopes. But John, Paul, George, Pete and Neil had the same problems that tourists experience even today: The Abbey Road studio is hard to find because it doesn’t look like a recording studio. – It ought to be around here somewhere. – What are you staring at, we’re not famous yet!

At last the boys came home from Germany, and in June 1962 they left for London with high hopes. But John, Paul, George, Pete and Neil had the same problems that tourists experience even today: The Abbey Road studio is hard to find because it doesn’t look like a recording studio. – It ought to be around here somewhere. – What are you staring at, we’re not famous yet!

In this 77-page graphic story the Beatles grow from babies into celebrities. The large number of hilarious visual details keeps the reader vigilant: for example, in their early days on Hamburg’s Reeperbahn John, Paul, George and Pete (Best) stay in lodgings behind a cinema that are less than hygienic, so on closer examination the lads turn out to be wearing underpants with yellow spots.

 –To Eppy! –To my boys!

–To Eppy! –To my boys!

Julia Lennon, Klaus Voormann, Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, Cynthia, Brian Epstein, George Martin: the faces in the gallery of characters are instantly recognisable. Piitles illustrates how Beatlemania was born, and it is truly the work of a faithful fan.

The books that sold

21 February 2013 | In the news

JaaThe winner of the Finlandia Prize for Fiction 2012, Ulla-Lena Lundberg’s novel Is (‘Ice’), also turned out to be the winner of the ‘Shadow Finlandia’ prize of the Academic Bookstore in Helsinki. The novel, set on the Åland islands in postwar years, was simultaneously published in Finnish as Jää. This book trade prize is awarded to the best-selling title of the six finalists on the Finlandia Prize list.

The best-selling Finnish debut work in the Academic Bookstore was Nälkävuosi (‘The hunger year’, Siltala) by Aki Ollikainen.

Also number one on the December list of best-selling Finnish fiction titles compiled by the Finnish Booksellers’ Association was Lundberg’s novel – in its Finnish translation; the original Swedish-language book came number ten on the same list.

Number two was Sofi Oksanen’s new novel set in Estonia, Kun kyyhkyset katosivat (‘When the doves disappeared’, Like), and number three the hilarious graphic story, Piitles. Tarina erään rockbändin alkutaipaleesta (‘Beatles. The story of the first stage of a rock band’, Otava), by Mauri Kunnas who has written and illustrated dozens of children’s books.

In first and second place on the translated fiction list were J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien (The Casual Vacancy, The Hobbit or There and Back Again).

Children chose Finnish books in December – or rather their parents did, buying them as Christmas presents – for the first four places were taken by popular writers such as Sinikka and Tiina Nopola, Aino Havukainen & Sami Toivonen, Mauri Kunnas (Piitles is for mums and dads, not kids!) and Timo Parvela.

On the non-fiction list there was a selection of world record books, cookbooks and biographies – not unusual, considering the season – but number one was Kaiken käsikirja (‘Handbook of everything’) by astronomer and popular writer Esko Valtaoja. A present for all occasions, then?

How much did Finland read?

30 January 2014 | In the news

hirvisaariThe book year 2013 showed an overall decrease – again: now for the fifth time – in book sales: 2.3 per cent less than in 2012. Fiction for adults and children as well as non-fiction sold 3–5 per cent less, whereas textbooks sold 4 per cent more, as did paperbacks, 2 per cent. The results were published by the Finnish Book Publishers’ Association on 28 January.

The overall best-seller on the Finnish fiction list in 2013 was Me, Keisarinna (‘We, tsarina’, Otava), a novel about Catherine the Great by Laila Hirvisaari. Hirvisaari is a queen of editions with her historical novels mainly focusing on women’s lives and Karelia: her 40 novels have sold four million copies.

However, her latest book sold less well than usual, with 62,800 copies. This was much less than the two best-selling novels of 2012: both the Finlandia Prize winner, Is, Jää (‘Ice’) by Ulla-Lena Lundberg, and the latest book by Sofi Oksanen, Kun kyyhkyset katosivat (‘When the doves disappeared’), sold more than 100,000 copies.

The winner of the 2013 Finlandia Prize for Fiction, Riikka Pelo’s Jokapäiväinen elämämme (‘Our everyday life’, Teos) sold 45,300 copies and was at fourth place on the list. Pauliina Rauhala’s first novel, Taivaslaulu (‘Heaven song’, Gummerus), about the problems of a young couple within a religious revivalist movement that bans family planning was, slightly surprisingly, number nine with almost 30,000 copies.

The best-selling translated fiction list was – not surprisingly – dominated by crime literature: number one was Dan Brown’s Inferno, with 60,400 copies.

Number one on the non-fiction list was, also not surprisingly, Guinness World Records with 35,700 copies. Next came a biography of Nokia man Jorma Ollila. The winner of the Finlandia Prize for Non-Fiction, Murtuneet mielet (‘Broken minds’, WSOY), sold 22,600 copies and was number seven on the list.

Eight books by the illustrator and comics writer Mauri Kunnas featured on the list of best-selling books for children and young people, with 105,000 copies sold. At 19th place was an Angry Birds book by Rovio Enterntainment. The winner of the Finlandia Junior Prize, Poika joka menetti muistinsa (‘The boy who lost his memory’, Otava), was at fifth place.

Kunnas was also number one on the Finnish comic books list – with his version of a 1960s rock band suspiciously reminiscent of the Rolling Stones – which added 12,400 copies to the figure of 105,000.

The best-selling e-book turned was a Fingerpori series comic book by Pertti Jarla: 13,700 copies. The sales of e-books are still very modest in Finland, despite the fact that the number of ten best-selling e-books, 87,000, grew from 2012 by 35,000 copies.

The cold fact is that Finns are buying fewer printed books. What can be done? Writing and publishing better and/or more interesting books and selling them more efficiently? Or is this just something we will have to accept in an era when books will have less and less significance in our lives?

Best-selling books in September

15 October 2010 | In the news

In September, Finns read crime novels. Matti Yrjänä Joensuu’s latest book featuring his police protagonist Timo Harjunpää, Harjunpää ja rautahuone (‘Harjunpää and the iron room’, Otava), topped the Booksellers’ Association of Finland’s best-seller list.

Joensuu’s Harjunpää ja pahan pappi was published in English in 2006 and reissued in 2008 under the title Priest of Evil. A film adaptation will be released in Finland in late October, directed by Olli Saarela and starring Peter Franzén in the title role.

Number two was the latest thriller from the pseudonymous Ilkka Remes,  Shokkiaalto (‘Shock wave’, WSOY), and number three was Leena Lehtolainen’s Minne tytöt kadonneet (‘Where have all the young girls gone’, Tammi).

Sofi Oksanen’s record-breaking seller and critical success Puhdistus (WSOY; English edition: Purge, Atlantic Books) held strong in fourth place.

In translated fiction, Paul Auster, Diana Gabaldon ja Paulo Coelho headed the list.

The non-fiction list was topped by a study of sociability and social skills by Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen (Sosiaalisuus ja sosiaaliset taidot, WSOY). Readers seem to be interested in survival, as the number two book was in a similar vein, Lilli Loiri-Seppä’s Selviämistarinoita (‘Stories of coping’ – also translatable as ‘Stories about getting sober’, Gummerus), about how to stop drinking.

Walt Disney was missing again from the top of the children’s list, the number one and number two spots being taken by Finnish picture books, Tatu ja Patu supersankareina (‘Tatu and Patu as superheroes’, Otava) by Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen, and Hurja-Harri ja pullon henki (‘Scary Harry and the genie in the bottle’, Otava) by the veteran graphic artist and children’s book author Mauri Kunnas. A new installment of the Ella storybook series by Timo Parvela, Ella ja Yön ritarit (‘Ella and the Knights of the Night’, Tammi) held the number three spot. In September, Finns read crime novels. Matti Yrjänä Joensuu’s latest book featuring his police protagonist Timo Harjunpää, Harjunpää ja rautahuone (‘Harjunpää and the iron room’, Otava), topped the Booksellers’ Association of Finland’s best-seller list.

Happy birthday to us!

13 February 2014 | Letter from the Editors

Picture: Wikipedia

Picture: Wikipedia

It’s been five years since Books from Finland went online, and we’re celebrating with a little bit of good news.

In the past year, the number of visits to the Books from Finland website has grown by 11 per cent. The number of US and UK readers grew by 29 per cent, while the number of readers in Germany – stimulated perhaps by the publicity Finnish literature is attracting as a result of its Guest Country status at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair – increased by an astonishing 59 per cent.

We’re chuffed, to put it mildly – and very thankful to you, dear readers, old and new. More…

Translation prize

20 August 2009 | In the news

Ljudmila Braude and Anna Sidorova

Left: Ljudmila Braude; right: Anna Sidorova. Photos: Irmeli Jung

This year the Finnish Government Prize for Translation of Finnish Literature, worth €10,000, was divided between two Russian translators. Lyudmila Braude and Anna Sidorova received their awards in Helsinki on 12 August from the minister of culture and sports, Stefan Wallin.

Braude was born in Leningrad in 1927, Sidorova half a century later in Vyborg, in 1978.

Dr Lyudmila Braude specialised in the translation of German and Nordic literature. Since 1991 she has translated Finland-Swedish fiction, Tove Jansson’s works in particular; all Jansson’s Moomin books as well as a selection of her novels and stories for adults are available to Russian readers. Books by the classic children’s writer Zachris Topelius as well as Finland-Swedish poetry by classic and contemporary poets have also been among her translations. Braude has received various international prizes for her work. More…

The books that sold

11 March 2011 | In the news

-Today we're off to the Middle Ages Fair. – Oh, right. - Welcome! I'm Knight Orgulf. – I'm a noblewoman. -Who are you? – The plague. *From Fingerpori by Pertti Jarla

Among the ten best-selling Finnish fiction books in 2010, according statistics compiled by the Booksellers’ Association of Finland, were three crime novels.

Number one on the list was the latest thriller by Ilkka Remes, Shokkiaalto (‘Shock wave‘, WSOY). It sold 72,600 copies. Second came a new family novel Totta (‘True’, Otava) by Riikka Pulkkinen, 59,100 copies.

Number three was a new thriller by Reijo Mäki (Kolmijalkainen mies, ‘The three-legged man’, Otava), and a new police novel by Matti Yrjänä Joensuu, Harjunpää ja rautahuone (‘Harjunpää and the iron room’, Otava), was number six.

The Finlandia Fiction Prize winner 2010, Nenäpäivä (‘Nose day’, Teos) by Mikko Rimminen, sold almost 54,000 copies and was fourth on the list. Sofi Oksanen’s record-breaking, prize-winning Puhdistus (Purge, WSOY; first published in 2008) was still in fifth place, with 52,000 copies sold.

Among translated fiction books were, as usual, names like Patricia Cornwell, Dan Brown and Liza Marklund.

In non-fiction, the weather, fickle and fierce, seems to be a subject of endless interest to Finns; the list was topped by Sääpäiväkirja 2011 (‘Weather book 2011’, Otava), with a whopping 140,000 copies. Number two was the Guinness World Records 2011, but with just 43,000 copies. Books on wine, cookery and garden were popular. A book on Finnish history after the civil war, Vihan ja rakkauden liekit (‘Flames of hate and love’, Otava) by Sirpa Kähkönen, made it to number 8 on the list.

The Finnish children’s books best-sellers’ list was topped by the latest picture book by Mauri Kunnas, Hurja-Harri ja pullon henki (‘Wild Harry and the genie’, Otava), selling almost 66,000 copies. As usual, Walt Disney ruled the roost in the translated fiction list.

The Finnish comics list was dominated by Pertti Jarla (his Fingerpori series books sold more than 70,000 copies, almost as much as Remes’ Shokkiaalto!) and Juba Tuomola (Viivi and Wagner series; both mostly published by Arktinen Banaani): between them, they grabbed 14 places out of 20!

What Finland read in November

16 December 2011 | In the news

The latest thriller, Teräsleijona (‘Steel lion’, WSOY), by Ilkka Remes (his 15th) was at the top of the November list of best-selling fiction titles in Finland, compiled by the Finnish Booksellers’ Association.

The second place was occupied by Jari Tervo’s Layla, the third by  Minä Katariina (‘I, Catherine’, Otava), a Finlandia Prize -listed historical novel by Laila Hirvisaari. Tuomas Kyrö occupied both the fourth and the tenth place with his novels Kerjäläinen ja jänis (‘The beggar and the hare’, Siltala – a pastiche-style story inspired by Jäniksen vuosi / The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna) and Mielensäpahoittaja (‘Taking offence’, WSOY). Strangely, we think, the Finlandia-winning novel by Rosa Liksom, Hytti no 6 (‘Compartment no 6’, WSOY), was not yet on the list – the day of the awarding was 1 December.

The best-selling list of translated fiction didn’t contain any surprises – Liza Marklund, Jens Lapidus, Paulo Coelho, Henning Mankell, Stephen King – except perhaps for the tenth book, a selection of stories entitled Hyvää joulua, Jeeves! (‘Happy Christmas, Jeeves!’, Teos), by good old P.G. Wodehouse: some of the stories have not been translated into Finnish earlier, hence the delight of local Wodehouse fans.

Among the best-selling books for children and young people were just two foreign names (Thorbjörn Egner, Lisa Jane Smith) and the three at the top were works by very well-known authors: Aino Havukainen & Sami Toivonen, Sinikka Nopola & Tiina Nopola and Mauri Kunnas. (The list is available, in Finnish, here.)

The life and deeds of the late Steve Jobs interested a lot of readers, in Finland as elsewhere, and Walter Isaacson’s translated biography topped the non-fiction list.