Tag: fables

The fairest in the land

26 January 2012 | Children's books, Fiction

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…

For the love of fables

1 February 2009 | Authors, Reviews

Daniel Katz What do Jesus, Aesop and the writer Daniel Katz all have in common? The key to the mystery lies in the second of the three names: fables are a part of all their works. Jesus spoke famously in (animal) metaphors, and the Greek writer Aesop is regarded as the father of the genre.

Daniel Katz’s 13th book, Berberileijonan rakkaus (‘The love of the Berber lion’, WSOY, 2008), is playfully aware of its ancient roots. In fact, his (post)modern collection of stories is, on every level, a conscious non-Finnish meta-fiction depicting the very process of writing.

Fairy tales updated

30 December 2008 | Authors, Reviews

Jukka Itkonen

Jukka Itkonen. Photo: Irmeli Jung.

Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen on Jukka Itkonen’s quirky fables

In Jukka Itkonen’s collection of fables for children, Sorsa norsun räätälinä (‘The mallard as tailor to the elephant’, Otava, 2008) the plots and heroes of traditional fairy tales are turned on their heads. This kind of parody drawing on old-time folktales has been introduced to Finnish readers by translations of the British author Babette Cole and her feminist-flavoured picture books. More…

The fox and the bear

30 December 2008 | Children's books, Fiction

Illustrated by Christel Rönns

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…

The love of the Berber lion

30 December 2008 | Fiction, Prose

A short story from the novel Berberileijonan rakkaus ja muita tarinoita (‘The love of the Berber lion and other stories’, WSOY, 2008). Introduction by Janna Kantola

The lion’s name was Muthul. He was an old Berber lion from the Atlas Mountains. He had a black mane, a black tail with a bushy tip and the scars of many battles on his hide.

He had grown up as a lion cub in the royal palace at Carthage at the time when the Romans, led by Scipio the younger, destroyed the city with fire and sword. The palace was set ablaze, a bloody battle ensued in the gardens, Romans impaled on arrows lay strewn in the rose bushes, Carthaginian blood dyed the water in the fountains. Someone had let all the palace animals, wild and tame alike, out of their cages; they were running around wildly, killing each other in the grip of panic, then disappeared inexplicably. More…

Animal crackers

30 June 2004 | Children's books, Fiction

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…