Review Blog

Feb 11 2016

Stina by Lani Yamamoto

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Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781851778584
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Scandinavia, Cold, Friendship, Iceland, Inventions. Stina does not like the cold. Even in summer she bypasses the pool, and avoids the evening breeze. She loves to be home snuggled up tightly within her duvet. But in winter, she cannot even go outside, the cold is too much. She prepares for winter by bringing in lots of wood, putting aside a store of food, having a basket of wool ready to knit, building a pile of books to read. She is fully prepared to stay indoors the whole winter long. She knits warm clothes, socks and mittens, invents ingenious ways of getting her food from the kitchen without leaving her bed and of getting food from the fridge without getting a chill of cold air when the door is opened. But one day she peers out of her window and sees some children playing in the snow. She wonders what the snow would taste like.
A sudden storm blows the children to her door, and she lets them in. They are surprised at how warm it is inside her house and take off their outer layers. She teaches them how to knit, makes them cocoa and learns how to whistle.
When they leave she is alone. She decides to do something about it and uses her sewing machine to make an outside coat from her duvet and goes outside to meet her new friends, finding that running around and laughing makes her very warm.
This delightful story of friendship overcoming hurdles was first published in Icelandic in 2013 and published for a wider audience by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in 2015. It is quite wonderful in presenting the universal quest for friendship, and the detailed illustrations make a wonderful contrast to the styles we are used to.
Lani, who has lived in Iceland for twenty years was fascinated with the way Icelandic nicknames work. Her Icelandic title, Stina Storasaeng means 'girl with big duvet', and from that idea, Lani developed the tale of a young girl whose house is a prison because of her fear of the cold. Winning the Nordic Council for Children and Young People's Literature Prize, is a highlight in her career.
Fran Knight

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