[review] Katri Tapola: Oiva´s Ball

Katri Tapola
Oivan pallo
Oiva’s Ball
Kuvittanut Karoliina Pertamo
S&S 2017
ISBN 978-951-52-4123-8


Katri Tapola has written and Karoliina Pertamo illustrated a lovely little picture book about a boy called Oiva. He is a little boy enjoying spring. He’s playing in a sandbox, says ’bird’ and ’no’ and ’thank you’. He likes his yellow balloon very much. When the balloon escapes from Oiva’s grip, he starts to cry. Luckily, an older boy called Niilo catches the balloon and saves Oiva’s day.

The text is scarce, repetitive and consists of easy words and short and clear sentences. ’Oiva had a big cry. Mom took Oiva into her arms.’ (’Tuli iso itku. Äiti otti Oivan syliin.’) The repetition is child-like, just like textual analogies, such as ’The bird flew away. The balloon flew away.’ (’ Lintu karkasi lentoon. Ilmapallo karkasi lentoon.’)

Oiva’s Ball is a small book, but its illustrations are deeply expressive. Its colours shine in the shades of Finnish spring and nature when birch trees have delicate leaves, ’mouse ears’, and wagtails fly about. The reader can almost sense the cool, spring wind on their skin.

Perspectives and picture sizes vary from one spread to another. Sometimes the picture is “shot” from a treetop, sometimes mother and Oiva seem to be very close.

Oiva’s Ball is a book about life’s little joys and sorrows, but it is also a representation of close and loving relationship between mother and child. Judging from Oiva’s dark hair, brown eyes and skin colour combined with his Finnish name, it is very likely that Oiva is adopted. His mother has red hair and blue eyes. Books with different-looking family members are needed, in adoptive families in particular, but also in general. Especially important are books like these, which do not highlight the fact that one of the family members looks different from the others.

Delightful Oiva. And delightful Oiva’s Ball.

Jutta Setälä


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