Two Estonian children's books win acclaim from International Youth Library

Kätlin Kaldmaa
Kätlin Kaldmaa Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Each year, the International Youth Library (Internationale Jugendbibliothek) in Munich, Germany publishes the "White Ravens," a catalogue of the world's best books for children and young people. This year's selection includes two works by Estonian authors: "Lydia" by Kätlin Kaldmaa and Jaan Rõõmus, and "Where'd the Kids Go?" ("Kuhu Lapse Said?") by Indrek Koff and Elina Sildre.

The "White Ravens" catalogue is compiled by language experts from the International Youth Library, who select the most remarkable children's and young people's books published around the world throughout the year.

The catalogue is created to help publishers with the buying and selling of translation rights, as well as assisting librarians to select the best new titles for their collection. The books chosen are those the deserving of exposure to a wider audience due to the universality of the themes they present, along with exceptional artistic and literary style and design.

This year's catalogue features 200 works from 53 countries, written in a total of 37 languages. Among them were two Estonian children's books; "Lydia," which was written by Kätlin Kaldmaa and illustrated by Jaan Rõõmus, and "Where'd the Kids Go?" ("Kuhu Lapse Said?") by Indrek Koff, with illustrations from Elina Sildre.

"Lydia" is based on the life story of Estonian national poet Lydia Koidula (1843-1866). The compliers of this year's "White Ravens" catalogue, described the way author Kätlin Kaldmaa has woven together poems and stories from the life of one of literature's great figures in a biographical text, as a true delight. They were also impressed with the quality of Jaan Rõõmus' illustrations, which bring an additional playfulness and joy to the work.

According to Kaldmaa, the inclusion of "Lydia" in the catalogue is a great tribute both to the book's authors and to Estonian culture. "After all, it will help our first 'super-girl' to resonate in the wider world," said Kaldmaa. "Lydia Koidula can rightly stand alongside Frida Kahlo. Of course, this will also help to promote Estonian culture - the book about Lydia has already been published in German, with supplements about Estonian history to complement Lydia's story," Kaldmaa explained.

"Where'd the Kids Go?" by Indrek Koff and Elina Sildre, which has already been published in German as well as Estonian, caught the eye of the catalogue's contributors due to its skillful use verse, which emphasizes the importance of joy and playfulness in a child's world.

Elina Sildre's carefully chosen colors and well-crafted characters give the book a modern and timeless quality all at once.

Author Indrek Koff said that, although the life of a white raven in the wild is a very difficult one, being included among the list of White Ravens in the literary world is a great honor. According to Koff, "Where'd the Kids Go?" has been warmly received bott home in Estonia and abroad. "It makes me really happy to see that children recognize themselves in this book and that this unusual story makes adults think a little. Maybe in this way we can build more bridges between children and their parents," Koff said.

The International Youth Library's "White Ravens" catalogue is presented annually at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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