A Selection of International Children's and Youth Literature

Estonian / Estonia

Suur Tõll
(Big Toell)

Kivirähk, Andrus (text)
Arrak, Jüri (illus.)
Tallinn: Varrak, 2014. – 51 p.
ISBN 978-9985-3104-0

Giant – Legend – Heroic myth 

In Estonia you cannot talk about children’s literature without bringing up Andrus Kivirähk (b. 1970). “Suur Tõll” is a nice experiment of Kivirähk and his publisher: It retells the myth of a well-known Estonian mythological figure while referring to and using the famous illustrations by Jüri Arrak, which were first published in 1982. Big Toell’s legend unfolds on Estonia’s biggest island of Saaremaa and tells the story of a giant man, a friendly, peaceful and quiet farmer, who lives together with his wife. Partly against his will, he is forced to defend his home and Saaremaa island when enemies appear and his wife is killed. It is this classic folk tale that has been re-energized by Andrus Kivirähk: Now it can be perceived from today’s perspective. The same is true for Jüri Arrak’s 1982 illustrations, which are re-printed here in new, bright colours. Apart from a vivid story, the book creates a productive tension between the “old” content and its fresh presentation. (Age: 8+)