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Kairi Look (1983) is a children’s writer and publisher. She graduated from the University of Tartu in physiotherapy, and from the University of Amsterdam in children’s rehabilitative therapy. Look works in academic publishing, but writing children’s books is her greatest passion. She has penned a total of six books to date, many of which are awarded and acclaimed. In addition to this, the author writes short stories for the children’s magazine Täheke (Little Star) and has tried her hand at playwriting. Her third book, Peeter, sõpradele Peetrike (Peter – “Pete” to his Friends), which won the Tartu City Children’s Literature Award in 2015, was staged in NUKU Theater and Lendteater in 2015. The author’s works stand out for their stunning fantasy, brisk pace, unusual characters, playfulness, and humour.
In 2014, Look graduated from the Drakadeemia creative writing course, and the Institut français d’Estonie awarded her a residency at the Cite International Des Arts in Paris. In 2015 she cooperated with the renowned illustrator Isabelle Bonameau (L’Ecole des loisirs) for the French culture festival Accord in Estonia. Look currently lives in Paris and has a deep love for traveling, cats, and Estonian hazelnut chocolates. Not to mention laughing and being a little silly every day, just like in every one of her books.
Kairi Look (born 1983) is a young children’s author who has lived all over Europe for many years, and received great attention in Estonia already with her first children’s book, Ville the Lemur Flies the Coop (2013). Altogether, she has penned only three books so far, but each of them has been awarded and acclaimed. The first two works are additionally connected by their very international settings: one in European metropolises, the other in an international airport. They reflect today’s global world, in which a multitude of different nationalities and people (or animals) come into contact.
Ville the Lemur Flies the Coop is an adventure tale full of unexpected twists. Its main character is a baby lemur, who together with a French squirrel decides to escape the humdrum jungle for Paris. But while trying to make their way to the land of street cafés and croissants, they need to take a detour to Amsterdam, where they meet a helpful cat. It probably takes just these couple of short sentences for more fact-abiding readers to start tugging out their hair – what kind of a world is it where squirrels and lemurs mingle, and the pine trees grow on a tropical island? How could they traverse a direct route from there to Paris or Amsterdam with a single ship and in a single day? It can’t be Madagascar, can it?! If, however, you abandon logic and geography, then what hatches is a brisk adventure that sweeps the reader along through different societies, prejudices, values, and lives – from the wild forest to the Louvre’s glass pyramid. You can sense the delight with which the author, who has personally lived in both Paris and Amsterdam, describes Ville’s new environs and strange acquaintances, and jokes about them. The book was awarded third place in the 2012 My First Book Children’s Story Competition.
The Airport Bugs Fight On is Kairi Look’s second children’s book, the main characters of which are – as you can guess from the title, bugs. Hardly anyone would like the thought of airports being full of fleas, termites, and flies. Hopefully they aren’t. But the book’s plot takes place in just that kind of an airport. Specifically, the baby flea Ludvig is born into a big, friendly flea family at an old airport; a family that always takes care of all its members. Life is absolutely brilliant. That is, until a barking package containing the puppy Robi ends up in the baggage room one day. Robi quickly befriends the bugs, but delivers worrying news as well. Specifically, his master is an inspector, who has been tasked with taking over the airport and closing it if at all possible. While people would probably be only glad to hear something like that in real life, it naturally brings the bugs no joy, and they decide to resolve the matter together. The airport-rescue operation puts Robi’s former way of life in danger as well, and things turn perilous. Kairi’s work tells a story about friendship, working together, and also taking care of one another. The book has received awards, likewise.
Kairi Look takes a step into the everyday world for the first time in her book Peter – “Pete” to his Friends. Or does she? One day at preschool, Markus, who lives with his father (a university researcher), meets a new boy he hasn’t seen before. The boy, who introduces himself as Peter (“Pete” to his friends), claims to own a telephone that has a direct line to Santa’s elves. Of course, the children then start to ask the elves questions, and Peter demands candy as a fee. What unfolds is a picture probably familiar from preschool or elementary school – one of inequality between children and them comparing each other. At the same time, Pete is clever enough to talk his way out of complicated situations, and he has a good heart in spite of it all. In this way, the author manages to resolve situations with honor and to create a tale, the main character of which alternately appears and disappears, teases and helps. The mischief lasts all the way to the last page, and no one will leave the book in tears. This book of Kairi Look received the Tartu City Children’s Literature Award in 2015.
Kairi Look has contributed new topics and characters to Estonian children’s literature, and her next humorous titles are greatly awaited.
|The Kooky Museum of Mr. Glass
One day when Mr. Robert’s students leave after a busy day at school, a snow-white parrot flies up to the classroom window. The bird is carrying a newspaper with an ad inviting children to attend the art museum’s special program, “Real and Pretend”. Without thinking twice, Mr. Robert decides to take his students, and before long the curious and excited first-graders are crossing the art museum’s doorstep.
Reading example: English
|The Island of Messy-Haired Princesses
Princesses are enjoying life on an isolated island. Their only concern is tangled hair. One day a pirate appears on their island, expelled by others. It turns out the pirate has been dreaming all his life about becoming a hairdresser…
Reading example: English, German
|Piia Biscuit Moves In
Piia Biscuit moves with her mother, father, and their cat Loofah to a cosy wooden house on Poplar Alley. Her New Year’s wish is straightforward: to find many friends in their new home. And Piia will have no problem with that! House No. 5 is packed with colourful characters: from a chubby St. Bernard and a clever moth in the wardrobe to Jack from Canada, who loves bears more than anything else.
Reading example: English, Finnish, German
|Peter – “Pete” to his Friends
On one completely ordinary December morning, a new boy named Pete arrives in a completely ordinary preschool class. He has with him a mysterious telephone receiver and an awfully exciting secret. You don’t tell secrets to strangers, of course, but Petey isn’t a jealous person – he’ll sure strike up a little deal! On top of that, Pete’s new friends are dearly interested in the secret…
Reading example: English, German
|The Airport Bugs Fight On
"The Airport Bugs Fight On" an uplifting children’s book that will put a smile on even very grown-up grownups’ faces. Ludvig the bedbug leads a fun, laid-back life with his family at the airport. One day, a cleanliness inspector arrives and threatens to shut the whole place down. Giving up is not the bedbugs’ style, of course – now is the time to be clever and take action!
Reading examples: English, French, German
Trailer in YouTube
|Ville the Lemur Flies the Coop
Little Ville is a curious sort of lemur – the first clever lemur, whose is as sharp as a tack. Curious Ville often visits the squirrels, whose relatives live across the whole world and always send postcards form exciting places. All of these far-away lands incite a sense of curiosity in Ville. One rainy fall day, Ville meets Pierre: a squirrel buzzing with French. Oh, what luck!
Reading example: English, German
2015 Tartu Prize for Children’s Literature (Childhood Prize) (Peter – “Pete” to his Friends)
2015 Nominee of the Annual Children’s Literature Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (Piia Biscuit Moves In)
2015 Good Children’s Book (Piia Biscuit Moves In)
2014 Nominee of the Annual Children’s Literature Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (The Airport Bugs Fight On)
2014 Good Children’s Book (The Airport Bugs Fight On)
2014 Children’s Story Competition “My First Book”, 1st place (The Airport Bugs Fight On)
2012 Children’s Story Competition “My First Book”, 3rd place (Ville the Lemur Flies the Coop)
The Airport Bugs Fight On
French: Les punaises de l’aéroport font de la résistance, Nancy: Le Verger des Hespérides 2019
Finnish: Lentokentän lutikat, Rajamäki: Aviador 2018
Ville the Lemur Flies the Coop
Lithuanian: Lemūriukas Vilius iškeliauja, Bern: BaltArt 2019
German: Ville macht sich auf die Socken, Bern: BaltArt 2013
Härra Klaasi pöörane muuseum (The Kooky Museum of Mr. Glass), Tallinna Keskraamatukogu 2016; Evera 2016, illustrated by Marge Nelk, 72 pp
Sasipäiste printsesside saar (The Isle of Messy-Haired Princesses), Päike ja Pilv 2016, illustrated by Kirke Kangro, 32 pp
Piia Präänik kolib sisse (Piia Biscuit Moves In), Tänapäev, 2015, illustrated by Ulla Saar, 104 pp
Lennujaama lutikad ei anna alla (The Airport Bugs Fight On), Tänapäev 2014, 2017, illustrated by Kaspar Jancis, 208 pp
Peeter, sõpradele Peetrike (Peter – “Pete” to his Friends), Tänapäev 2014, illustrated by Elina Sildre, 59 pp
Leemuripoeg Ville teeb sääred (Ville the Lemur Flies the Coop), Tänapäev 2012, illustrated by Elina Sildre, 170 pp