Hannele Huovi was born in 1949 in the Finnish town of Kotka and is one of Finland’s most distinguished authors of children’s and young adults’ literature. She began writing radio programmes for children at the age of nineteen, which – as she says herself – gave her important impulses for her career as an author, for she learned »to hear and to listen«. After completing her degree in Finnish Literature, she became well-known as a poet and children’s author. She has published close to 40 works since her debut in 1979. Her multi-faceted work includes fairy tales, fables, poems, novels, audio books and scripts, theatre plays and translations of more than 50 children’s books. Some of her works have been made into films and translated into five languages.
»The writer for children«, she states, »stands at the threshold of two worlds. I want to break down barriers and be a bridge«. Finnish literature has been refreshed and enriched by Hannele Huovi’s literary curiosity and artistic originality. Whether in realistic novels for adolescents, dazzling fairy tales and entertaining stories for children or impressionistic natural poetry for adults, she always moves self-assuredly between the genres and understands how to adapt to her reader with great tact and lyrical elegance. Her texts reveal a close relationship with nature and underline virtues such as humanity, warmth and tolerance. Huovi’s most popular children’s books include the humour-filled and turbulent stories about the teddy bears Urpo and Turpo (»Urpo ja Turpo«, 1987ff), as well as her rhyme and poetry collections for children, such as »Vauvan vaaka« (t: The baby’s scale), through which she brings the magic of poetry to children’s literature.
In 1988, following »Madonna« (1986), she published her second book for adolescents, »Vladimirin kirja« (t: Vladimir’s book), which was awarded the Anni Swan Prize (1989) and the Finnish National Prize (1989). She uses wonderfully poetic pictures to tell the tale of prince Vladimir’s apprenticeship and travels. Emerging from the forest, Vladimir traces his parents’ secret and becomes the Czar’s closest confidant. »Vladimir’s Book« reminds us of Goethe’s »Wilhelm Meister« and Grimmelshausen’s »Simplicissimus« and is an exciting, at times mystical and thought-provoking story about freedom and truth, death and folly, love, power and violence, failure and guilt – an insistent plea for searching out one’s own path, set in a fantastical Russia. The great poetic appeal of the novel lies in the fairy tales, which Huovi cautiously interweaves into the plot – fairy tales she has invented herself and those that are of Sami, Karelian and Russian origin.
Awards received by the versatile author include the Arvid Lydecken Prize (1986/89/96), the Topelius Prize (2002) and the Prize of the Finnish Cultural Foundation (2003). In 1997 she was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Hannele Huovi lives with her family in Keuruu, Finland.
© international literature festival berlin