[review] Iiro Küttner: Tree Tales – The Seafarer

Küttner, IiroMerenkulkija_etukansi_
Illustrations Ville Tietäväinen
Puiden tarinoita – Merenkulkija [’Tree Tales – The Seafarer’]
Books North
IBSN: 978-9527125-00-7

The Seafarer is the third independent part of the Tree Tales series, with the two previous parts being The Carpenter and The Knight. Iiro Küttner, who has written the epic story of the book, is a screenwriter, which reveals itself in the visuality of the text. The illustrator Ville Tietäväinen is a graphic designer, illustrator and a comic book artist.

The book tells the story of a prince who lives in a village surrounded by the desert and the sea. He longs for the sea where his mother disappeared a long time ago. The prince wants to buy a ship and sail far away. At a nearby village he finds mineral amber, which is banned from being used for trading. The prince and his equally power-hungry brother break the rule and buy ship seeds with the mineral amber. This act has unpredictable consequences, since greedy people realize how easy it is to steal the amber from the unguarded village.

The ship seeds do not act as expected. After years of watering, there are three grand trees growing in the desert, but even the prince understands that they are not enough to build a ship. When he buries his brother, who has died in a battle, under one of the trees, the secret of the ship seeds is revealed. The shovel hits something hard and a ship is found buried in the sand: the three beautiful trees are its masts. Finally, the prince gets to the sea. The multi-layered, poetical story is also for adults to enjoy.

The illustration affects the senses: it describes the skin of the bark, the cracking of the drought-ridden earth and a plant growing from the sand. The colours are earthy and almost ascetic. The richness of the textures is the most striking when there are no bright colours to steal the reader’s attention. The big tree is like a silhouette and the human figure under it is minuscule. The ship sails in a colour of dark blue; one can almost hear the treetop masts rustle. The line is generally dynamic and strong with rhythm, while the lines between colours are foggier. Some of the pictures are reminiscent of metal graphic prints.

When you pick up the book, it sparkles with dignity and meticulousness. It is different from the A4 format in a good way. The hard book covers, the silk ribbons to mark the reading place and the cream-colored thick paper reminds the reader of the storybooks of old. The layout is peaceful, leaning upon horizontal and vertical lines. The covers of all the books in the series are almost identical – only the face in the tree trunk is different in all of them. Between the beautiful covers is a timeless story.

Kaisa Torkki

Also by Ville Tietäväinen:
Ville Tietäväinen together with Aino Tietäväinen, Vain pahaa unta (WSOY 2013)
Iiro Küttner together with Ville Tietäväinen, Puiden tarinoita – Puuseppä (Books North 2014)


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