Every year, the internationally recognised recommendation list The White Ravens presents outstanding new releases of the international children's and youth book production. This year, among thousands of books, 200 titles in 37 languages and from 56 countries were selected by the children’s literature experts of the International Youth Library and featured in the annotated English-language catalogue.
The children's books published in Finnish that received The White Ravens 2023 accolade were Last and Found (original title Kaikki löytämäni viimeiset) written and illustrated by Maija Hurme, and The Absurd Alphabet (Absurdit aakkoset) written by Harri Hertell, illustrated by Laura Merz and composed by Pentti Luomakangas, both published by Etana Editions in 2022.
The books included in this unique selection cover a highly diverse range of voices. The selection team focuses on titles that are of interest to an international audience due to their literary and visual quality and/or the universal relevance of the topics they address, or their innovative approaches or design.
The White Ravens catalogue is thus a treasure trove for literary discoveries, aiming to promote quality in children’s book publishing. It has become an increasingly useful tool for anyone interested in looking beyond national borders, serving as a compass through the vast children's book market for publishers, libraries, literary festivals, international bookstores and agencies, as well as anyone interested in international children's books.
For a writer, illustrator and publisher, The White Ravens accolade is a valued recognition, which can also help accelerate the international sales.
The White Ravens catalogue on Kaikki löytämäni viimeiset:
Childhood and youth are commonly associated with many »first times«. Hence, it is all the more charming that Maija Hurme came up with the idea to describe the »last time« and the »last one«. What the narrator then collects are not, as one might first suspect, necessarily associated with death and decay. Instead, these are often exciting and new experiences.
»Jännittäviä viimeisiä« (Exciting last ones), for example, deals with taking a final deep breath before jumping from a three-metre diving board, or the nervousness of the moment just before the stage curtain rises. »Kauan odotettuja viimeisiä« (The long-awaited last), in turn, is the night before a birthday, and »Viimeinen puuttuva asia« (The last thing missing) is the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. While we know here that the last piece is missing, that is not always the case. Can you really be sure that you have just caught the last snowflake of winter? These questions and the surprising changes of perspective are the highlight of this book, which is illustrated in watercolours and coloured pencil. Simply great!
Kaikki löytämäni viimeiset (Last and Found) is the second children's book both written and illustrated by Maija Hurme, and it is also nominated for the Nordic Council's Children's and Young People's Literature Prize 2023.
For Laura Merz, this is the second White Raven: Tuhat ja yksi otusta (Etana Editions 2016), illustrated by her and written by Aino Järvinen, the debut book for both authors, was selected for the White Ravens collection in 2017.
The White Ravens catalogue on Absurdit aakkoset:
»An alphabet of absurdities«: the title says it all. This book of poems is a true grab bag! Each letter is attached to a sparkling verse. C, for example, runs riot at the swimming pool; F sails on a frigate; I hates the humming noise of the vacuum cleaner; and Å is enraptured by the elf ’s cap on its head. Meanwhile Ä und Ö get into all kinds of mischief at the end of the alphabet.
Laura Merz has illustrated Harri Hertell’s rhymes in witty collages, which are reminiscent of modernist poster art. Her playful use of typography and abstract shapes and figures not only capture the poems’ nonsense, but even sometimes carry it to the extreme. At times the humour is subtle, at other times crude. In any case, there is lots to discover and laugh about. As icing on the cake, there are QR codes, which give access to a recitation of the poems, accompanied by an original soundtrack by the Finnish composer Pentti Luomakangas.