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A Tribute To The Finnish Generations

Tuula Pere Author Interview

Raspberry Red follows a young girl as her family flies from a war-torn country and eventually makes it back home to start over again. What was the inspiration for to your story?

The subject of this book has matured in my mind since I was a small child. As the 100th anniversary of the independence of Finland approached, it seemed to be just the right time to write “Raspberry Red”, as it is inspired by drastic periods in the history of our country.

At the same time, the book can be fitted equally well for any country, at any time. The topics are sadly current even today. Recent news proves it painfully. I still remember my conversation with the Greek illustrator Georgia Stylou about the book. After reading the script, she felt connected to the story through the developments in her own country throughout the years.

“Raspberry Red” is also a tribute to the Finnish generations before me. Over the years, I have listened to the personal experiences of many people about the war, leaving home, and adaptation to demanding situations. There have been threats, danger, escaping in haste, and joys and sorrows experienced and shared.

In addition, as a child, I lived in Eastern Finland in an area where a lot of evacuees from Karelia had been placed. Families no longer had a home and familiar regions to return to after the war.

I will never forget the stories of these people. They were telling about everything they had experienced or what they had to leave behind them. The tears were plentiful, and the songs were full of longing. The hospitality was present, although there was little to offer. The new life gradually began.

Aino is a strong young girl that stays strong for her family during these difficult times. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The book includes some of my mother’s experiences with her father going to war and how she waited for him to return. As a child, my mother-in-law also had challenges keeping the family village shop running together with her mother during the war. The most dramatic moment of Aino in the story is encountering the foreign soldier. That had taken place in real life for a deceased lady when she was young. Her perseverance and survival after the war showed great courage and determination.

Aino, the girl in my story, had to face highly demanding situations at a young age. Everything in her life changed in a short time. I wanted to highlight the child’s vulnerability and sensitivity, but simultaneously her ability to adapt to the inevitable. Aino doesn’t lose hope of getting father back home.

Fortunately, she gets to talk about father with other people close to her. She shares her feelings and expectations with her friends, mother, and grandparents – except for one event; meeting the enemy soldier face to face. It was such an overwhelming experience that only the father’s return frees her to reveal what happened. She feels safe and confident going through the situation only with her own father. He has been a soldier, too, and can understand the event’s significance for all parties.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I find it extremely important to pass on the experiences of previous generations to younger people. We must try to learn something from what has happened in the past. Maybe this would prevent the same mistakes from happening again.

The themes of war and peace are, in my view, among the most important stories of all – though telling them requires a sensitive mind and a skilled hand.

In the twists and turns of this story, we encounter people of all ages whose lives have been shaken utterly. I want to encourage the reader to believe that even during difficulties, good things happen, too. People help each other, and also, in the most challenging situations, it is possible to choose a humane option.

Stories that connect real experiences and increase empathy are valuable. They help us better understand people in different situations.

What is one thing that you hope readers take away from Raspberry Red?

Before I can answer this question, here are a few words about my general motivations for writing several children’s books about conflicts and wars. As an author, I find it necessary that my audience is left with hope even after reading such books.

I want to consider the needs of children as a target group carefully. Their ability to understand is essential for how the story is told, and their feelings must be respected and protected. They need wise guidance in meeting the most significant challenges of their lives.

We often say in Finland: As long as there is life, there is hope. The English saying “hope is eternal” means roughly the same thing. I find this thought very encouraging. The idea of ​​keeping up hope to the very last moment is important. However, I want to attach another thing to it, overall respect for life. This attitude means a humane approach to other people’s lives, too, not just our own.

I want to believe that we can cherish humanity, even if life is challenging at times. I find it especially beautiful if a person respects the life of others, even if their own is under threat. It is probably the greatest gift you can give to another.

The foreign soldier in the “Raspberry Red” carried this warmth with him. He used the humanity of his heart in a most stressful situation and chose to save the life of the child of the enemy country, as his highest priority.

This message of love and respect is necessary for all ages, in all countries. I write about it in all my books, not just “Raspberry Red,” and plan to do it as long as possible.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

Raspberry Red is a story about war’s breaking out and a family setting out on an evacuation journey, as seen through the eyes of a little girl. When they’re leaving, Aino meets a foreign soldier by her playhouse. The man lets her go. Only her rag doll’s raspberry red apron is left behind in the snow when Aino escapes.

Late one autumn, Aino’s father sets off on the road with the other village men. Little Aino doesn’t quite understand why. During the cold winter days, scary noises start to echo from the nearby forest.
The family is forced to leave their home, their own village shop, and Aino’s playhouse. They leave for the train station in such a hurry that Aino can hardly keep up with the others.
Near the playhouse, the eyes of the child and a foreign soldier meet. When Aino escapes, her rag doll’s raspberry red apron is left behind in the snow.

Raspberry Red

Aino doesn’t understand why her father has left with the other village men during autumn. She doesn’t understand why scary noises are coming from the forest and why her mother wants her to play near home. Forced to leave their home when soldiers arrive, Aino quickly grabs her doll running for the trucks that will take the family to safety, but they have left without her. Looking back to where she ran, she sees the bright red doll’s apron lying on the pure white snow. It is then that Aino realizes two soldiers are standing near her house, and they too have seen the apron and her footprints. The young soldier sees her and sends the older one into the house. He then lets Aino escape, leaving her doll’s apron behind.

Aino, her family, and her friends must learn to live in strange homes and rely on people they do not know. Then, when the war is winding down, they can finally go back home. Arriving home to a burnt-down home, she is shocked to find her raspberry red apron that belonged to her doll hanging from a clothesline.

Raspberry Red by Tuula Pere and illustrated by Georgia Stylou is a story that I was not expecting, but the ending made me smile. This stirring story starts out on the darker side with questions and uncertainty for all the characters. The images in the story are impressive as they look lifelike and like they are hand-drawn. Aino’s eyes especially will draw in readers and convey her feelings throughout this inspirational book.

Aino’s character is impressive as she is a child but still aware of her surroundings and she is responsible and helpful to her mother. Raspberry Red is a short but powerful read that will leave the reader with complex emotions. Pere’s writing is remarkable in having the ability to affect readers. The best part of this book is the end, where readers will learn the meaning of the title Raspberry Red.

Raspberry Red is an emotionally charged children’s book that deals with war, displaced families, and the struggle to survive and rebuild in a war-torn country. Given current events, this insightful book will help readers understand the plight of those living in these conditions. This book would be a great way to open discussion with children.

Pages: 20 | ASIN : B077LXS2VQ

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