The new books by authors Niina Hakalahti and Kari Levola can be regarded as a turning point in the Finnish children’s literature that deals with tolerance. They bring up the multicultural main characters already in the title of the book.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
Niina Hakalahti’s book is titled Tuukka-Omar, while the title of Levola’s book is Leevi ja Leonora.
Tuukka-Omar’s father comes from Syria. He got married to a Finn and settled in his wife’s home country. He works as a taxi-driver.
The Finnish boy Leevi has a friend Leonora who has moved from Albania with her grandparents. The girl is waiting to hear from her parents about whether it would be possible for the family to return to Albania.
Hakalahti flavours her description of multiculturalism with a fantasy element: Smoking a water pipe, Tuukka-Omar’s father alleviates his homesickness by flying on an oriental carpet above the roofs of the city.
The father also uses more florid language than Finns and listens to his son’s troubles with more sensitive ears than does his mother, who is dedicated to her work.
The 21st century children’s literature also underlines problems and makes a stab at realism.
In addition to multiculturalism matters, both books have also brought up some other problem bothering the main character.
The 8-year-old Tuukka-Omar is suffering from wetting his bed at night, while Leevi and Leonora are victims of school bullying.
However, the problems are not explained to be directly attributable to ethnic backgrounds.