Thursday, December 19, 2019

Toppatakin alla on sydän - Tuija Hannula

Toppatakin alla on sydän - Tuija Hannula

Culture. History Manners.

SUBJECT:  In this non-fiction book, different segments of Finnish society, culture, history and manners are broken down into short texts.  This book is ideal for newcomers to Finland  to learn and understand about Finland.

LANGUAGE:  Each section is about 3-5 pages in length. A broad range of topics are covered and discussion questions are found in the back of the book. The text itself is just over 100 pages. While the topics are beneficial to any language level, most of the texts contain grammar and vocabulary suited towards B2 levels. Despite this, I recommend this book to B1 language learners, who will benefit highly from the content with a little bit of extra study.

CONTENT:  This book discusses Finns and non-native Finns who live in Finland. There is much stereotyping of Finns, but in a positive or in a self-deprecating way. At the same time, there is much discussion of people who live in Finland who don't have a Finnish last name and who have traditions and customs other than those traditionally found in Finland - and it welcomes and celebrates these too.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK:  This book is a joy to read. While in integration courses, most of the hours are (needfully) devoted to grammar and vocabulary, topics such as culture, society and manners are just as essential to newcomers to Finland. Since there's not enough time to pack this information into an already packed language course, a book like this is absolutely essential reading. It allows readers to learn about Finland and Finns, answers those burning questions in the back of their heads, and gives answers to questions they haven't even formed.

It's this reader's opinion that if you are a newcomer to Finland, you should own: a dictionary, a grammar book and this book. And if you follow up this book by doing the discussion questions, visiting/watching the subjects mentioned throughout the book, then you'll have a well-rounded study in Finland/Finnish and be well prepared to go out into the world - be it to a job, an appointment or even just to the local market.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Seesam (Open Sesame) Award 2019 - Tuija Takala - Review of 2 books - Hyvä päivä and Lauralle oikea #sponsored

The Seesam (Open Sesame!) award is given by Selkokeskus every year since 1992 to a person or company who furthers, advances the development of Finnish selkokirjat and selko-literature. Recipients in the past have been authors, illustrators, translators, publishing houses, libraries and more.

This year's award was awarded in October 2019 at the Turku book fair to Tuija Takala. She is a Finnish language instructor and has written and selko-translated many books in various genres, including classics, poetry, romance and novellas.

In this post, I'll be reviewing two books from Tuija Takala, Hyvä päivä and Lauralle oikea.

Hyvä päivä - Tuija Takala
Anecdotal. Positivity. Thin book.

STORY: This collection of super short stories reflect daily life in Finland and the small moments that count in each day.

LANGUAGE:  Each story is 2 pages in length, as little as 6 paragraphs and are individually packed with thoughts and ponderings that will leave the read with a feeling of comfort and contentment. Since there are such a wide range of stories (28 in all), the ideal language level is anywhere from an A1.2 to a C. An A language learner could pick any story and tackle it in a single sitting and understand it with little grammar and vocab check-up, while a C learner, or even a native Finnish speaker would enjoy simply picking up and reading a story here and there, drawing the enjoyment of the book out. This book has great re-readability, making it easy to go back and find favorite stories and read them again and again.

CHARACTERS:  Every story has a different narrator. They very from a person waiting at a train or bus station, a woman who received a postcard in the mail, to an older man and woman who chat in the yarn. Many stories are genderless and ageless. While this book is aimed at adults, I believe anyone from YA plus would appreciate these stories.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK:  Who wouldn't want to read a book, that when you are done reading from it, you are left smiling and feeling good? This book is great for any read, any tiem of the day, any time of the year and has excellent re-readability, making it a great book to own and keep on the bookshelf for years. The short stories are great, can be read quickly, and as a thin book (just over 60 pages), it's great to carry around with you. The book also includes pencil illustrations which add a softness to an already light, enjoyable read. It's always worth reading books by award winners, and this is a great book to start with from Tuija Takala's collection!

Highly recommend!

Thanks to Opike for generously providing this book for review.
You can purchase this book and many more from their website.
You can also find excerpts from the book, discussion questions and exercises on Opike's website!

Lauralle oikea - Tuija Takala
Romance. New adult. Self-discovery.

STORY:  Laura sits at a table with her mother. She tells her mother that she has found "the one." Her mother is reluctant to believe her, considering Laura has had crushes often int he past. On her walk home, Laura thinks about her life from childhood to the present.

LANGUAGE:  Told in first person from Laura's perspective. Set in the near present, 2018, with flashbacks to childhood, school years and working life.

This is a new adult book. In general, it is accessible to a young adult reader, but as Laura grows older into her 20's and focuses on finding a career and her own first apartment, it steps firmly into new adult.

While there is some puhekieli throughout the book, I rate this book as B1.1+. The chapters are short and overall the grammar and vocabulary are accessible to those that have advanced beyond beginner's Finnish but are not yet at a fluent level.

CHARACTERS:  Laura is a regular, average, normal girl and always has been. Her childhood and school years are spent with her mother and two best friends. Laura struggles to find what she's good at, what kind of job is right for her and she is always on the lookout for "the one."

WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK:  This is a welcome genre romance book to the selkokirja world! If you already read and enjoy romance books in your own native language, this is an excellent transition into selkokirjat. It's great for the new age audience - wondering about potential relationships, experiencing bad relationships, considering whether to continue in school or not, watching as all your friends finish school with you and all go off in different directions, wondering if you'll still see each other and stay friends, trying out living on your own for the first time, wondering what you want to do for a job for the rest of your life, or even the near future. If you are asking yourself these questions now, or if you have ever experienced these in your past, you will most certainly enjoy this book! This is a fun book, a light fluffy read with some modern touches.

Congratulations to Tuija Takala for winning the Seesam award and we look forward to her future selkokirjat!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Reidar Särestöniemen Maailma / Särestöniemi-museo

Rediar Särestäniemen Maailma / Särestöniemi-museo

Non-fiction. Art. Lapland.


Reidar Särestöniemi ((1925 - 1981) was an artist from a small village in Lapland whose art is internationally recognized. The Särestöniemi Museum is located in his family home and studio in Lapland, near Kittilä. A local children's instructor for special needs children contacted the museum and following the idea that "art is for everyone," asked how the museum could be brought to the children. The result is this selkokirja about the artist and his art, so that everyone can learn about him and see his works, even if they can't visit the museum in person.


The language in this book is from A1 - C. 

At just over 100 pages, the book is filled with full page and dual-pages images with chapters on various subjects, including direct quotes from Reidar Särestöniemi. It also includes a small brochure which includes much of the text from the book without the images.

A - In the spirit of art is for everyone, anyone can look through the pages of the book and see Särestöniemi's art and pictures of him, his family and Lapland. Many of the images have bolded text next to them, with questions for the reader to think about the art or topics such as seasons and animals.

B - In addition to the art and images, the book includes short chapters with large font text on various topics, such as Reidar's studies and nature. At just 1-3 pages (containing 1-5 paragraphs), these texts are very accessible to a B level reader.

C - This book contains many direct quotations from Reidar Särestöniemi and he speaks in a heavy dialect. While speaking his quotes out loud may help in understanding better, understanding various dialects requires more upper level knowledge and experience.


Reidar Särestöniemi was born and lived in a small village in Lapland. While the rest of his family were farmers, Reidar was often found shirking his chores and drawing instead. His family supported him and he went on to study art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki and went on to tour the world, sharing his art with people around the world in Europe, Africa and Asia. Even President Kekkonen came to visit his studio in Lapland in 1975 and they shared a sauna together. These are just the facts about Reidar Särestöniemi and much more about his life, beliefs and art can be found in this selkokirja.


This book is for everyone. Art is for everyone and for those who don't have a chance to visit museums, near or far, this is an excellent way to step inside a museum from the comfort of your own living room. This is a good way to learn more about who's who from Finland, and especially northern Finland. The book speaks a lot of nature, especially from Lapland, and contains excellent art and descriptions of nature throughout the year. Art, nature, love, sorrow, homesickness, these are themes that anyone can understand and find within the pages of this book. 

Thanks to the Särestöniemi museum for making this book possible.

The website for the museum can be found here

Särestöntie 880
99110 Kaukonen 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Yösyöttö - Eve Hietamies / Hanna Männikkölähti

Yösyöttö / Eve Hietamies / Hanna Männikkökahti

STORY: Six days after Antti's wife Pia gives birth, she flees in a taxi, leaving Antti helpless and clueless to take care of their baby. Having no choice but to leave his job and take care of his son full-time, Antti's life changes completely as he learns about childcare and life.

This book is a selko-translation of the popular fiction book of the same name by Eve Hietamies, published in 2010. It is the first in a trilogy and can be read as a standalone. Yösyöttö has been turned into a movie, directed by Marja Pyykkö and starring Petteri Summanen. 

LANGUAGE: This contemporary book set in Helsinki is told in first person from Antti's perspective. While a thick book at 148 pages, the chapter length is quite short with each chapter around 3-6 pages and full page illustrations throughout. Much of the book is dialogue, both conversation and Antti's inner thoughts. Themes include father-son relationships, family, joys and hardships in child raising with humor running throughout.

The joy of a selkokirja is that it doesn't have the same appearance and structure of a standard novel. In this case, the full-page black and white illustrations by Ina Majaniemi bring an extra element to the story, enhancing the story to the reader and providing insight into's Antti's world and Finnish daily life. Small details such as socks on a radiator and well-recognizable plaid slippers alongside Antti's expressions and the growth of his son will delight readers and have them flipping ahead to find out when the next illustration will come in the story.

As far as language levels, I rate this a solid B1+. Although it is over 100 pages, the chapter length, vocabulary and grammar make it very accessible to any B level reader. 

CHARACTERS: Antti is 40 years old and successful in his job as a journalist. He is used to a busy work life, travelling around Finland and the globe doing interviews and office work. When he learns that his wife, Pia, is pregnant, he expects that she will stay home and raise the baby while he continues working. While he is knowledgeable in his work, he is clueless when it comes to child raising and everything that comes with it. The adjustment to being a stay-at-home dad is huge and Antti takes help from wherever he can find it. At the beginning of the book, Pia is a mysterious character, simply running off. It is only as the book progresses that the reader learns more about her story and role in the family. The side characters in the book are well developed, many providing a jolt of reality and others bringing humor and hope.

A character list is provided in the front, with names and short descriptions of the main characters and the heavily featured side characters. 

WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK:  A new trend in Finnish selkokirjat is the selko-translations of many contemporary popular fiction books. This book is just one of many, and is especially timely, considering the release of the movie based on the second book, Tarhapäivä, in November 2019. Because it is popular fiction, it is not uncommon to see native Finns reading the original series on the bus or in the city, and now selko readers can join in alongside them and keep up to date with current Finnish literature and popular culture and provide an element of integration to all. This is a fun book to read, and because it is B accessible, it doesn't require constant dictionary searching. The story will appeal to readers of all types - women, men, parents, and readers of popular fiction in general. 5/5 stars.

Bonus: The author provides vocabulary cards and reading comprehension questions on her website, Random Finnish Lesson and information about her other books here, including a sample of Yösyöttö.