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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas
by Nora Surojegin
Age Range: 6-8
When Otto finds a postcard on the seashore showing a beautiful picture of a sparkling star-filled sky with the words ‘The light of Christmas’ he wonders what Christmas might be. Winter on the coast of Finland is dark and dismal and Otto thinks this ‘Christmas’ might just brighten it up so he resolves to set out the next day in search of the secret light of Christmas. As Otto traipses through the forest he encounters a badger “Have you ever heard of Christmas?” he asks. Badger thought this Christmas sounded nice. “Might it be something tasty to eat?” He was imagining a soft, slow-baked kind of Christmas with earthworm frosting.
Otto heads north, trudging through dark forests and skiing towards the fells of Lapland. Along the way he meets a variety of creatures from the mighty Kekri, king of the forest, the endearing woodland Mupples, Niiu, a beautiful leaf fairy, the Frosted Bear and the infamous Ironworm. Will Otto ever find the mysterious light he’s looking for, and will Christmas brighten his winter?
This is an enchanting large format storybook with an unquestioning Scandinavian feel that has been created by a mother and daughter team from Finland. Nora Surojegin is a writer and graphic designer and Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin is a well-known Finnish illustrator, renowned for her delicate and precise illustration style.
The poetic narrative encapsulates the essence of a Finnish winter, beautifully translated by Jill Timbers. The story is full of wildlife and mythical creatures and the entrancing illustrations capture perfectly the winter landscapes and folklore of Finland. An ideal book for the festive season.