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Siri Kolu on Me and the Robbersons and her top book recommendations for kids

Me and the Robbersons by Siri Kolu. Book cover and author photograph.

We were thrilled to discover this month’s Cockatoo pick when it landed on our desks a few months ago – it’s the perfect summer holiday read! Set in Finland (and translated from Finnish), Me and the Robbersons takes the reader on a hilarious madcap road trip with a band of robbers and pick ‘n’ mix enthusiasts. Here author Siri Kolu tells us what inspired the book and which other Finnish authors she would recommend we all read next.

What inspired you to write Me and the Robbersons?

It was the best inspiration in the world – I wrote it for my five-year old son. We needed a new bedtime story. My son gave me specific instructions what to write!

Are they any characters based on real people?

Wild Karl is a bit like my dad. Big and scary but actually not scary at all.

Who would make the best chief of the Robbersons’ crew?

Hellie, without a doubt. She has a razor-sharp mind and she is fearless.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

I love my writing studio in our home. But is it my favourite place? Nowadays I dictate my books while I walk the woods, using my phone to catch my ideas. Then I type them from the audio recording when I’m back at home. So the forest is my favourite place to write! Just imagine old trees surrounding you and birds singing – what better place to create new stories than that?

Why did you choose to write a book for children?

Kids have the most fun! I’ll give you an example. If I’m in a big family gathering, I am NEVER in the room where the grown-ups talk about their work and salaries and taxes… I’m where the kids are! Running out with water guns, playing hide and seek, eating candy – I think I am secretly a child, a bit overgrown, but a child nevertheless.

What other Finnish books or authors you would recommend we read next?

What a good question! Thank you for asking that. Have you all read Tove Jansson? I mean READ her, not just seen the films? My favourite book right now is Moominsummer Madness. Read that book, and you will learn a lot from Finnish people and their heart and soul.

My ink sister and my best friend Salla Simukka has written for children, too. Her book Sisterland is a good example of Finnish imagination. Our friendship is all about stories. We tell stories together, we read each other’s manuscripts. You could try that too! Write a story together with your friend – you can do the first chapter and your friend can write the next one.

What were your favourite books as a child?

Everything written by Roald Dahl. His first book that I read just blew my mind. That was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and after that I read them all. Unreal how wild that was! And then I loved C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books. I have a little confession linked to those books – I might have smashed the back wall of a big cupboard in my family’s summer cottage to try to get to Narnia…

What are your favourite pick 'n' mix sweets?

I love everything thrown into one big mouthful. So every bite is different! But I love love LOVE my bitter liquorice! Sorry, I know that some of you might hate those. The passion for bitter liquorice is a funny Finnish thing. When I create the plot for my new Robbersons book, I always have a jar of salty liquorice sweets ready for me. My kids call them ‘Mum’s imagination candy’. My daughter accidentally licked one when she was an eight-month-old baby. And she LOVED it. Told you that it is a funny Finnish thing…

Like the sound of Me and the Robbersons? Grab your copy along with our brilliant bespoke activity pack here.

Cover art © Tuuli Juusela, 2010  Author photo © Otava, Mirva Kakko, 2013

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