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  • Aino PervikEstonia ⋆ Author
  • Samantha Christensen

"Children's literature on its highest level is undoubtedly art."

Aino Pervik

Throughout the course of her career, Aino Pervik has delighted child readers over three generations, and has become the most appreciated children's author in Estonia. Born in Rakvere, Estonia in 1932, Pervik attended high school in Tallinn and earned a degree in Finno-Urgric Philology from Tartu State University in 1955. From there she moved to Tallinn, where she spent some time editing children's books at the Estonian State Publishing House, and she later worked as an editor of children's programming at the Estonian Television studio. She has been writing full-time since 1967, after publishing her first children's book, Kersti sõber Miina [Kersti's Friend Miina], in 1961.

Pervik is considered the bravest children's writer in contemporary Estonia, as she takes on difficult themes of immigration, cultural conflict, corruption, and the loss of cultural identity. Her young readers are exposed to cultural issues throughout Estonia's history, yet Pervik's sensitivity to and understanding of children's literary expectations mean that each of her stories offer comfort and solace toward the end. While her stories do present a definite ethical dimension, she resists forthright didacticism and encourages her young readers to read critically and understand the moral issues implicit in the text. Keeping Estonian culture and everyday experience in mind, Pervik also takes on folklore and mythical motifs, putting a modern spin on the traditional stories and incorporating them into relatable children's tales. Nature is an important theme in Pervik's work, and books such as Kunksmoor [Old Mother Kunks] (1973) discuss the importance of nature throughout Estonian cultural history. Her ability to strike a balance between tragedy and comedy, and history and modernity allow her to captivate her readers, as she has over the course of her near fifty-year career.

Since beginning her career, Pervik has earned many awards and literary distinctions, along with having her books translated into English, German, Russian, Japanese, Finnish, and a number of other languages. While much of her artistic expression is embedded in Estonian language, Pervik has been able to influence children from various backgrounds all over the world. In 2004, she won the Nukits Young Readers' Choice Award for her Paula series, and Paula õpib emakeelt [Paula Learns Her Mother Tongue] was nominated for the IBBY Honour List.

Selected Bibliography

Arabella, The Pirate's Daughter. 1982. Illus. Edgar Valter. Trans. Külli Jacobson. Tallinn: Tänapäev, 2011. Print.
Kersti sõber Miina [Kersti's Friend Miina]. Tallinn: Kirjastus Tirtiamm, 1961. Print.
Kunksmoor [Old Mother Kunks]. 1973. Illus. Edgar Valter. Tallinn: Tammerraamat, 2012. Print.
Paula aabits [Paula's Book of ABCs]. Illus. Piret Raud. Tallinn: Kirjastus Tiritamm, 2007. Print.
Paula õpib emakeelt [Paula Learns Her Mother Tongue]. Illus. Piret Raud. Tallinn: Kirjastus Tiritamm, 2009. Print. [End Page 19]