Finland’s most successful and beloved children’s book author Mauri Kunnas celebrates his 70th birthday on February 11th.
Mauri Kunnas published his picture book “The Book of Finnish Elves” back in 1979. It was the starting point of his successful career as a remarkable storyteller that has continued for over 40 years. During the past decades he has published over 50 titles, which have been translated into 36 languages and sold almost 10 million copies worldwide. The book “Santa Claus” is the bestselling Finnish title of all times, and the same Top 20 list included five more Mauri Kunnas titles. Kunnas has been showered with various awards and nominations throughout his career.
Kunnas offers readers of all ages the delight of never-ending discovery with his brilliantly coloured illustrations that are filled with rich and humorous details. He has an eye for casting history in a new and playful manner, as well as for conveying old stories and legends in his own signature style. The picture book “The History of Finland” is a masterpiece that illustrates the multifaceted phases of Finnish history. It was actually the best-selling book in Finland across all genres in 2017 with record-breaking 166,000 copies sold. The book also gained the first Finlandia Prize nomination for the author.
Mauri Kunnas’s hometown and childhood memories have a significant role is his books. As a Christmas person Mauri’s Christmas books echo his own dear childhood Christmas memories. One of his most beloved Christmas books is “Santa Claus”. Published in 1981 the book became a massive hit worldwide and has been translated into 26 languages in over 20 countries with 2 million printed copies. Another Christmas themed book “Santa Claus and the Magic Drum” was adapted into an animation film in the mid 90’s by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. Since then, the movie has been sold to more than 50 countries worldwide.
Mauri Kunnas has created numerous well-known characters in his book series. In the narrative non-fiction Doghill Series, through the eyes of the Doghill kids Elsa, Kille and Martha old farm times are brought to life with their witty remarks and carefully researched facts. The Doghill series was brought to life as a theme park area opened in 2013 in connection with the Särkänniemi amusement park in Tampere, Finland.
Another much loved and well-known character is Mr Clutterbuck, aka Finland’s most famous sleepwalker. This unusual character first appeared in “Night Book” in 1984 and ever since this good-hearted and fearless sleepwalker has adventured in many books. In 1999 Mr. Clutterbuck got his very own book ‘’Good Night Mr. Clutterbuck’’. Despite all the mess he may cause, his nightly ramblings always have a happy ending. Since 2003 Mr Clutterback fans have had a chance to explore “The Mr Clutterbuck House” in Mauri Kunnas’s hometown Vammala, located in southwestern Finland.
In addition to his children’s books Mauri Kunnas has also published cartoon albums. One of them titled “Beatles with an A: Birth of a Band”, published in 2012 illustrates the story of the Beatles’ early years. Music has been an important part of Mauri’s life and these cartoons albums can be seen as his tribute to music and especially the Beatles that he has admired from a young age.
The talented storyteller can look back with pride and satisfaction at his life’s work, as a great gift to generations who have grown up with his heartfelt stories and one of a kind illustrations. As Mauri has said: “My most important hobby is my drawings and making up stories to go with them – and that’s also my work. I must be a lucky dog to be able to mix the two.”
We wish Mauri a Joyous Birthday!