Stories in the Making

Dreams come true! In March 2017, at the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair we got to know the fantastic work of the Direção-Geral do Livro, dos Arquivos e das Bibliotecas de Portugal Livro (DGLAB), particularly thanks to the unsurpassed input of Assunção Azevedo de Quintanilha e Mendonça. It was she who suggested in October 2017 a threesome of authors/illustrators to invite to Kollibrí Festivaali 2018. For various reasons, our choice fell upon the illustrator Yara Kono, recipient of the National Illustration Award of Portugal, Brazilian by birth and part of the team of the spectacular Portuguese publishing house, Planeta Tangerina. Inviting a prominent Ibero-American author or illustrator of children’s literature to be part of the programme of Kolibri complements our project to promote artists and creators of Ibero-American origin living in Finland, that we have been conducting since 2015. Yara came to Kolibri to run creative illustration workshops for children and their families and to have an exhibition in the main program of the festival. In addition she gave a masterclass for students of the Aalto University, an an internal training workshop with Finnish professional illustrators. These 2 activities we organized thanks to a cooperation we have had with the Finnish Illustrators’ Association, Kuvittajat ry.

With this new challenge, Kolibrí proposes, on one hand, to encourage the exchange of experiences between professional Finnish artists and Iberoamerican ones. On the other hand we also promote the work of renowned Iberoamerican authors and illustrators amongst families in Finland and give them a concrete interface to their roots through art. We see these activities as key contributors to a multicultural Finland, to the raising of the profile of Iberoamerican artists who also live here, and of course to the upbringing of our families.

With the help of many, very many volunteers and of various Finnish and Ibero-American institutions and organizations, we are working towards these goals. In 2016 we invited Isol Misenta (Argentina) and in 2017 Isidro Ferrer (Spain) as our guests of honour. When Isidro came we also organized a retrospective exhibition of his work. At his suggestion we sold prints of the pieces to support the continuity of Kolibrí. A great gesture on his part as well as a great joy for everybody! The exhibitions have been a great success. Our curator Ina Fiebig (Germany) and her exhibition team have done a great job. Moreover our artist Yväpuru Samaniego (Paraguay) has designed a fantastic modular structure to exhibit the illustrations.

Since Isol’s visit we have also been trying to sweet talk Finnish publishers to have their books translated into Finnish, as they are already available in every other language spoken around the Baltic Sea. Finnish editions of them are still missing from the list. Until now, no matter how wonderful books there are we have not succeeded in this endeavour. However, this year during the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, while we were joining forces with DGLAB in order to fine-tune the program of our 2018 guest, Yara Kono (Brazil/Portugal), we also met the brave editors of Etana Editions. This is an independent Finnish publishing house ran by two creative women designers, pioneers in exhibiting their books in Bologna, an area which is not what Finland is most known for. From them we heard that Etana was going to publish one of Yara Kono’s book and that it could be launched in Kolibri 2018. This is truly remarkable since, in the history of children’s literature in Finland, it is the fourth book ever to be translated from Portuguese into Finnish!

  • Amado, Jorge: Kirjava Kissa ja Tytti Pääskynen: rakkauskertomus. “O Gato Malhado e a Andorinha Sinhá”, suom. Hilkka Mäki, Otava, 1984.
  • Bojunga Nunes, Lygia: Seitsenlokeroinen laukku. “A bolsa amarela”, suom. Kaija Löytty ; kuv. Reinhard Michl. WSOY, 1987.
  • Pepetela: Koiran tarina. “O cão e os calús”, suom. Jarna Piippo, Like, 1992.
  • Minhós Martins, Isabel & Kono, Yara : Sata siementä, jotka lensivät pois. “Cem sementes que voaram”, suom Antero Tiittula, Etana Editions, 2018.
  • Lucas, Ana: Valaan kertomuksia. Crónicas de uma Baleia” suom. Antero Tiittula, Into, 2018.

A triple jackpot! “Cem sementes que voaram”, by the writer Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Yara Kono, translated into Finnish as “Sata siementä, jotka lensivät pois” was presented on October 1st, at the grand opening of Kolibrí, at the same time with the inauguration of “Sementes”, our exhibition on Yara’s work (made possible thanks to the support of the City of Espoo and the Centro Cultural Brazil-Finlândia). Etana also contributed to the Kolibrí Festivaali program. with a workshop for children. Furthermore, on the 4th of October we organized a seminar discussing the importance of children’s books, the work of independent publishers and what it means to make the world a better place through children’s’ culture.

Congratulations to all of you, congratulations Kolibrí Festivaali volunteers!!

Lau Gazzotti

Traduction into English: Paula Hecq
Illustration: Etana Edition