The Virtanen Family in Amusement Park
Illustrated by Noora Katto
Every three years IBBY Finland has the joy and privilege to hand out the Anni Swan-medal. In spring 2018, this reputable literary award was given to Anneli Kanto for her The Five Wild Virtanen children picture books, illustrated by Noora Katto. The award’s slogan “metsien kaukainen sini” (the distant blue of the forest) reminds of the power of imagination and nature, of memories and wishes that have come true and those which still wait to be fulfilled. The tenth volume in the Virtanen children book series was published as a part of the celebration.
Three-year-old Kastehelmi is the youngest of the Virtanen children. In order to get to the amusement park, the children need to do their chores conscientiously for two weeks. Even Kastehelmi has to do her part; she has made a great effort to act kind, get dressed, not to bite, eat her food and not call it icky. When the long-awaited day arrives, Kastehelmi has to face a series of disappointments, because she is too short for most drives she has desired to go on – something many young readers can easily relate to. As is customary in the Five Wild Virtanen Children books, the child’s problem gets resolved in three faces: first, the child expresses his or her feelings, then the other children help their sibling to deal with those feelings and, finally, the find a solution together. Anneli Kanto has been resolute to minimize the parents’ role in the books; they are sometimes heard but never shown in the illustrations. The children work their problems out by themselves, as a team.
After Kastehelmi’s disappointment is dealt with, the family enjoys a lovely day at the park, even though hamburgers and spinning drives lead to
Noora Katto has illustrated the book with bright and happy colours and expresses the children’s’ feelings vividly, even dramatically. Humour is also an essential part of both the text and illustration.