Reporting from Harakka Island, Finland
Only a hundred yards off the shores of Helsinki, past its embassies and marina, its cafes and upscale houses, lies Harakka Island.
There isn’t any bridge to Harakka; it have to be reached by boat — or by trudging over an ice sheet, when the temperatures plummet within the winter. There aren’t any vehicles, no bikes and no electrical scooters on the island. Even canines aren’t allowed.
But it surely’s a haven for a thriving neighborhood of artists, who hire studio house in what was once a chemical analysis lab for the Finnish navy.
The acclaimed kids’s e book illustrator and creator Marika Maijala is one such artist. And it seems the island remains to be a spot of transformation and discovery.
Her studio on Harakka, a part of the island’s Artists’ Home, is the place she wrote and illustrated “Rosie Runs,” which might be revealed in the USA on Tuesday by Elsewhere Editions, in a translation by Mia Spangenberg. Although she had illustrated books by different authors earlier than, “Rosie Runs” was the primary e book she wrote. It follows a racing canine who escapes the racetrack seeking an even bigger, kinder world.
In some ways, the story dovetails with Maijala’s personal life.
The interval earlier than Maijala arrived on Harakka was tough, personally and professionally, she stated. She was burned out and doubted her skills, regardless of encouragement from others.
However the island was a ballast for her. “I was a reasonably apprehensive particular person,” she stated. “However this island forces one to battle.”
In her first yr on Harakka, after creating lots of of drawings, “Rosie Runs” was born.
“The photographs emerged from my life,” Maijala stated. As she made extra of them, she remembered a Greyhound named Rosie a buddy of hers had rescued in England. “Rosie had been abused, however she led a cheerful life afterward,” she stated. “The tales of Rosie and myself met.”
Maijala, 49, was raised on a farm in Haapajarvi, a small inland city in central Finland. She studied literature and labored as a graphic designer, together with for Finnish publishing corporations.
She began illustrating kids’s books in 2004. Her breakthrough got here in 2008, when she earned the highest Finnish prize for kids’s books illustrators. That very same yr, Maijala and her accomplice on the time, the Finnish author Juha Virta, created a collection a few woman named Sylvi Kepponen. Different kids’s e book illustrations adopted.
It’s no shock Maijala has devoted her life to creating books for kids. She respects them deeply, and appreciates how vital, clever and serious-minded they are often.
“Kids are a positive, invaluable viewers, and I need to make positive books for them,” Maijala stated. She goals of sooner or later making a e book with kids at a workshop.
After a while on Harakka, Maijala realized that she was a part of the island’s bigger neighborhood — a neighborhood that extends past her fellow artists to incorporate the island’s animals, its nature heart, the caretaker’s household, boaters and the residents of neighboring islands.
Right here, she found a spot of pleasure, the place she may alternate concepts and create alongside others.
“I don’t know the place my artwork ends and my life begins. The border is fleeting.”