Kirsi Kunnas (b. 1924) liberated Finnish children’s poetry from didacticism. Kunnas revived ancient nursery rhymes, fables and epigrams and added hilarity, brilliance and linguistic virtuosity charming readers of all ages.
A post-war Finnish modernist, Kunnas published her début volume, Villiomenapuu (‘Crabapple Tree’, WSOY), in 1947. Her children’s volume, Tiitiäisen satupuu (“Tumpkin’s Wonder Tree“, 1956), rejuvenated children’s poetry.
Tumpkin’s poems and charms are full of absurd, linguistic fun, brimming with humour, slapstick comedy and surprises. Kunnas’ translations of the classical English nursery-rhymes in Old Mother Goose helped her to enhance the ways of writing with fantasy, humour and nonsense.
Maija Karma’s illustrations wonderfully catch the spirit of the text; the humans and the animals drawn with a light brush, abandoning conventional rules.
Tumpkin’s Wonder Tree is the most popular Finnish children’s poetry book of all time.