Two fables from Gepardi katsoo peiliin (‘The cheetah looks into the mirror’, Tammi, 2003). Illustrations by Kirsi Neuvonen. (More fables by Hannele Huovi here.)
The air rippled above the pile of stones. The lizard twitched her hip and took up an s-shaped pose like an ordinary photo model. After a moment she changed her left side to a convex curve. The movement was quick and graceful; the lizard’s tail swished through a broad arc so quickly you could hardly see it. Her thin, blistery skin pressed against the surface of the stone. The lizard felt the rough, raised patterns through the thin skin of her belly. She felt unpleasant, but otherwise the place was good, and the lizard did not have the energy to look for a better one. She looked through her eyelashes at the fissured sky and saw the golden disc shining at the centre of the dome. She was happy. Everything in her life was good, the weather was pleasantly dry, the temperature exactly suitable. More…
Extracts from the children’s book Zoo – eläimellinen tarina (‘Zoo – a bestial story’, WSOY, 2009, illustrated by Pertti Jarla)
The place: A zoo, once the property of the city, now privatised and accountable to corporate stockholders
The characters: The animals of the zoo, in particular Gandhi, a Sumatran tiger (false-teeth, poor vision, pacifist), Che, a male mandrill baboon (militant), and Mother Teresa, a hammer-headed bat (elderly); the zookeeper Sihvonen (stands up for the animals, recently fired); the new zoo director (whose main goal is to maximise profits); the shareholders’ committee (awaiting their earnings)
The action: after a demonstration in which all the animals played dead, the animals are staging a revolution to demand that Sihvonen be reinstated
The animals crowded into the foyer. The hallway was full of every kind of creature, with all of their skin, fur and feathers steaming in the warm indoor air. Che stood at the top of the the stairs, looked down at his troops, and gave the order in mime for everybody to be quiet.
‘Reconnaissance?’ he said, his voice subdued.
‘Ready!’ the leaf-tailed geckos announced.
‘Head in!’ Che commanded. More…
A story from the children’s book Sorsa norsun räätälinä (‘The mallard as tailor to the elephant’, Otava, 2008; illustrated by Christel Rönns. Introduction by Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen
Back in the days when mallard still had horns, earthworms, claws, and the bear had a long tail, a bear was trudging dejectedly along the road.
Up drove a fox in his van, studded tires crunching, for it was winter and freezing cold. The fox was coming from fishing and his van was bursting with fresh fish. When he saw the bear, the fox stopped, rolled down the window and called, ‘Why hi there, old honey snout! Where’re you coming from?’
‘I was playing cards at Badger’s. I lost all my money and now I’m starving,’ the bear replied.
‘Jump in. No need to suffer in the grip of this cold,’ the fox said. The fox and the bear were good friends. However, the fox envied the bear, because Mr Honeypaws had a much longer, more handsome tail than the fox did. The bear clambered into the fox’s car and saw the enormous catch of fish.
‘Wherever did you get such an incredible amount of fish?’ the bear marvelled.
‘The lake. That’s where you get fish,’ the fox replied. ‘Last week I caught such a big pike that I made snow shovels out of its scales.’ More…
Extracts from the children’s book Ella: Varokaa lapsia! (‘Ella: Look out for children!’, Tammi, 2006). Interview by Anna-Leena Nissilä
There was a large van in the schoolyard with a thick cable winding its way from the van into the school. It was from the TV station, and the surprise was that they wanted to do a programme about our teacher, believe it or not.
The classroom was filled with lights, cameras, and adults.
‘Are you the weird teacher?’ a young man asked. He had a funny, shaggy beard and a t-shirt that said ‘errand boy’.
‘Not nearly as weird as your beard,’ our teacher answered.
‘Can we do a little piece about you?’ the errand boy asked.
‘Of course. A big one even. I’ve been expecting you, actually. Is it some educational programme?’
‘A substantive discussion programme, though?’
‘A documentary about our contemporary educators?’
‘Not quite.’ More…
Fables from the children’s book Gepardi katsoo peiliin (‘A cheetah looks into the mirror’, Tammi, 2003). Illustrations by Kirsi Neuvonen
The rhinoceros was late. She went blundering along a green tunnel she’d thrashed through the jungle. On her way, she plucked a leaf or two between her lips and could herself hear the thundering of her own feet. Snakes’ tails flashed away from the branches and apes bounded out of the rhino’s path, screaming. The rhino had booked an afternoon appointment and the sun had already passed the zenith.
When the rhinoceros finally arrived at the beautician’s, the cosmetologist had already prepared her mud bath. The rhino was able to throw herself straight in, and mud went splattering all round the wide hollow. More…