Archive for February, 2011

Laura Lähteenmäki: Aleksandra Suuri [Alexandra the Great]

1 February 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Aleksandra Suuri
[Alexandra the Great]
Helsinki: Tammi, 2010. 180 p.
ISBN 978-951-0-36522-9
€18, hardback

Laura Lähteenmäki’s novel for young people is a rare, rollicking tale of independence whose treatment of even heavy topics is guaranteed to make readers laugh, sometimes through their tears. Tim, a Dutch exchange student, shakes things up in 16-year-old Alexandra’s family when he comes to stay. She is used to being the centre of attention in her family and circle of friends, but self-confident Tim brings Alexandra’s status into question. As in her previous novels for young people, Laura Lähteenmäki presents a briskly paced drama of interpersonal relationships. Events are filtered through Alexandra’s eyes as the first-person narrator. Readers can easily get behind her point of view: Tim is truly a jerk. The portrayal of complex family relationships following a traumatic divorce makes this book worthwhile reading for adults as well, even if Lähteenmäki does resort to somewhat clichéd solutions in her portrayal of minor adult characters.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Petra Heikkilä: Pikku Nunuun löytöretki [Little Nunuu’s treasure hunt]

1 February 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Pikku Nunuun löytöretki
[Little Nunuu’s treasure hunt]
Helsinki: Lasten keskus, 2010. 32 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-627-829-5
€23.50, hardback

Petra Heikkilä (born 1976) is a visual artist and author. Her debut title, an illustrated children’s book entitled Mikko Kettusen pupupöksyt (‘Micky Fox’s bunny pants’, 2001), was nominated for the Finlandia Junior prize in 2001. Heikkilä’s practice of portraying children as animal characters is based on their facial expressions – particularly their luminous eyes. Typical features of all eight of her picture books  published so far include a warm sense of humour, wordplay and the use of collage techniques in the illustrations. At the centre of this tale set in Africa is a kanga cloth, which can be twisted and wound in a variety of ways, and Nunuu, a little lion girl who learns about the inventive uses for kanga. The rich image textures utilise collage and photographs, as well as characters painted on Ugandan barkcloth.
Translated by Ruth Urbom