The main character of the book is little Vasels with his somewhat bohemian family - mummy, dad and his younger brother Jonass who is only "half past two". Vasels shows and tells us how they read, write, and draw, play, eat, tell horror stories, argue, wait for dwarfs, drive a car, play football, welcome guests and forget many things. Anyone can compare the everyday life of Vasel's family with his own; besides it will be interesting for both children and grown-ups.
From the point of view of Vasels the naivety and egocentrism of a child is joined with sensitivity and love for his family; it is real and at the same time interwoven with fantasy. The boy is trying to understand and interpret what is going on, to find the right words; while telling he also explores how the language works and how to use it to express his thoughts. For instance, things do not walk and do not go anywhere, yet Vasels has heard grown-ups talking like that and the wrong expression provokes his imagination.
The style of Anti Saar is understandable for children, dynamic and humorous. The illustrations of Estonian artist Alvar Jaakson rouse child's fantasy. The playful, witty style of Alvar Jaakson is well-known from the edition "Children's book" by Peter Sauter (liels un mazs, 2007, in Latvian).
The publishing of the book is supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation of Estonia.
The work of the folklore researcher Sanita Reinsone has arisen from author’s conversations with her kids spending summers in the North of Latvia close to the boarder of Estonia and from time to time visiting the neighbouring country. The book is written as a tale where reality is interpreted in a fairy tale like manner freely combining knowledge and imagination. Estonia and also Latvia where many events of the plot take place are lands where the worlds of dolls and humans exist alongside. Describing Estonia as a “land of dolls” the author introduces children to the regions, language and traditions of Estonia.
Only the kids and animals can see that the dolls are alive. They move and talk but at the presence of adults they pretend to be lifeless objects. The narrative expresses an epic happening: Estonian “ordinary dolls”- various traditional toys - have unbearably taken offence because the kids have gone in for “the special ones” – modern wonders powered by batteries. The dolls decide to flee away from Estonia to Latvia. Tīmo-Nīmo – a knitted doll wearing a traditional Estonian costume – encourages the rest with an emotive slogan “Kus mul patarei!” – “Look, here are the batteries!” Thousands of Estonian dolls are heading for Latvia along various paths.
The author chooses a few brilliant characters who become the main heroes of the tale. When creating the illustrations the artist Kristīne Jurjāne has invited to “pose” many interesting toys belonging to her friends and relatives.
The children listen to dolls’ furious anger against “the specials”, but when suddenly an old Barbie appears and dances with a robot who has run out of power, it turns out that “the specials” can be as free as “the ordinary ones” if they are not powered by mechanisms or stereotypes but by children’s imagination.
The Estonian writer Andrus Kivirähk is already well-known in Latvia for a long time and has received The International Jānis Baltvilks Award in Riga twice. We read his books about the dog girl Lote, the family adventure story “Sirli, Siim and the Secrets” and the collected short stories with the exciting title “Pooh and Springtime”.
“Carnival and Potato Salad”, which is considered to be a sequel of “Pooh and Springtime”, also consists of short, plot independent stories about events in a kindergarden, at home and school. Precise and reality based observations gain dimension of fantasy and adventure which corresponds to child’s perception of the world. This book is a sister to “Poop and Springtime” – as witty, brave, true and dear! Both books also share the style and manner of the artist Edmunds Jansons. His characters don’t allow the reader to simplify the narrative but they fit perfectly with writer’s “childishly surreal” way of thinking. Guntars Godiņš has found a colourful and laconic way of the Latvian language for Kivirähk’s imagination and wit. The accomplishment was evaluated with delight by the listeners already in 2015 during The International Childrens’s Literature Readings of Jānis Baltvilks Award where the author also participated.
Another book about the adventures of the toy bear Tobiass – this time he has wandered to Spain in an air balloon where he meets a witch on a motorcycle and other colouring characters.
In this book not only the naughty air balloon can fly carrying the mouse Paulīne, the bear Tobiass and his friend Cat into unknown direction. Also the rainbow fairies, the motorcycle, the witch’s broom and the carrier pigeons fly. The friends who get to know German dwarfs, musical Spanish gypsies and the king himself are carried by a multicoloured bus and a car with a wheel made of cheese. The perfect illustrations of Gundega Muzikante , just like the story itself, blur reality with fantasy making everything amazingly believable.
The wondrous vehicles take the travellers to a miraculous place where all the lost ones meet again – to Santiago de Compostela, the ancient city of Galicia in the North of Spain. Well, Paulīne doesn’t find there her home but she does find her people – the artist Lina, her little daughter Ula, the toy bear Mihalīna and the doggy Punktiņa. But home and your people - that is exactly the same, maybe even more important.