|Helsingin Alla - Maria Turtschaninoff, selkomukautus Leena Kaivosoja-Jukkola
Fantasy. Middle grade. Hidden city.
STORY: Alva is a young girl living in Helsinki. She was adopted when as a young child and doesn't remember her parents. One day she begins receiving messages, telling her to "remember." She tries as hard as she can, but she cannot figure out what she is meant to remember. One day, she comes across a strange man on the street who tells her about a city underneath Helsinki, called Alistadi (ali = under, Stadi = slang for Helsinki; the book's title is a more grammatically formal way to say the same). Alva is forced to make a choice to stay in normal Helsinki and continue her summer vacation plans or to run away to this mysterious hidden city that could be full of danger and adventure. When her classmate Joel follows along behind, the three begin an adventure of good vs evil.
This is a fantastic fantasy book and a welcome genre addition to the selkokirja world. Full of glitter and magic and fairies and creatures will tails and attitude, palaces and kings and traps and adventure.
LANGUAGE: 126 pages, 28 chapters and a cast of characters list at the front of the book. Contemporary time and setting, with the addition of a magical city beneath Helsinki. The book uses a lot of repeated words, mostly related to magic, so the learning and comprehension curve is light, making this book accessible to as low as an A1.3 reader.
The original book is 493 pages, so clearly a lot of editing had to be done to cut it down to 126 pages and with selko-language updates. I have not read the original, but I did not notice any major gaps where I felt anything important was missing. My local library considers both editions of the books to be young adult books. While there is some romance in the book, it's very light, so I would consider this edition appropriate for mature middle grade readers.
CHARACTERS: Alva is a school aged girl getting ready for summer vacation. Nide is a handsome troll with a leather jacket and a tail. Joel is Alva's classmate and practices parkour in his free time. Maybe this summer he will dare to ask Alva out on a date to the local cafe.
Other characters include a king, guards and other magical creatures.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK: This book is great for any fantasy read in their own native language. While a bit more mature than the first few Harry Potter books, this book will suit well to fans of The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Alice in Wonderland (not the Disney version), and readers of Holly Black or Francesca Lia Block. One of Maria Turtschaninoff's other fantasy novels, Maresi, was released as a selkokirja in 2018 and if you like one, then you'll quite likely enjoy the other. As a bonus, the cover of the book is gorgeous, especially when you open in so the front and back cover are both visible. Make sure to read this one in public, while holding it up, people will want to know what you are reading!
Thanks to Opike for generously providing this book for review! You can purchase this book and more from their website. #sponsored