Three Estonian children’s books among the 2020 best list

The Munich-based International Youth Library released The White Ravens 2020 catalogue that contains information about the 200 best children’s books in the world; this year, the selection includes books from three Estonian authors: Aidi Vallik, Jaanus Vaiksoo and Piret Jaaks.

The catalogue is published by the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany. This year it lists books from 56 countries written in 36 languages. From Estonia, the selection includes “Soapy’s World” by Aidi Vallik (illustrated by Lumimari); “Mommy’s Dragon” by Piret Jaaks (illustrated by Marju Tammik) and “Shoe no 39” by Jaanus Vaiksoo (illustrated by Katrin Kaev).

The catalogue helps publishers with trading publishing and translation rights, as well as librarians and other professionals with keeping up to date with most recent international book releases.

Unique stories

“Mommy’s Dragon” is a heartfelt story about a dragon that lives inside mummy and can be awaken by a cup of cocoa spilled on bedsheets, or a hole cut into mommy’s favourite dress. The book’s author, Piret Jaaks, said the international recognition was a real surprise for her, since it was only her second children’s book. “When I started writing it, I didn’t imagine there are so many dragons that live inside mummies and that so many kids try to understand them. Half of the recognition belongs to the illustrator Marju Tammik who made the mummy, the dragon, and the child come to life,” the author said in a statement.

According to the catalogue publishers, the secret to the success of Jaanus Vaiksoo’s “Shoe no 39” lies in its multi-layered text full of inexplicable elements and in the relatable protagonist. The author said he carried the idea of the book (a man buys one pair of shoes every single day from a tiny shoe store in Nõmme) with him for a long time. He tried to write a story that is adventurous and fun – and would be nice to read for 10 to 12-year-olds. He liked working with the characters of the book a lot and they will continue their adventures in the sequel. “I would like to thank the illustrator Katrin Kaev who put her heart into the visual side of the book,” Vaiksoo said.

“Soapy’s World” by Aidi Vallik deals with the rough topic with elegance. The story is about a girl whose world crumbles with her parents’ divorce, but she is able to rebuild it with the help of dreams. “It is the most serious book that I have ever written for kids. It is unique, personal and dreamy. It really made me wonder how it was going to be received,” Vallik said. “I am very grateful for Lumimari who understood the atmosphere of the book very deeply and personally, and created extraordinary illustrations for the book.”

COVID-19 conditions permitting, the International Youth Library hopes to display all the catalogue’s books at the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair in 2021.

Cover: Three Estonian children’s books are among the White Ravens 2020 best list.

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