New book answers children’s questions about the trams in Helsinki
A new children’s book by the Helsinki City Museum, Tarinoita ratikoista, introduces young readers to a conductor, driver, tram stop wrestler and ghost carriage. Based on real questions from children and the background work done by the City Museum team, the book is full of lively illustrations, funny tales and facts about trams that have now been clattering along the streets of Helsinki for 130 years.
The stories in the book bring the readers to six different eras and all kinds of situations on and around the tracks. In 1900, you get to wonder at the electric trams that will replace the horse-drawn ones, and 30 years later, you can visit the office and the repair shop of the tram company. After the tram trips during Second World War, the sun will shine as your cousins from the countryside come to Helsinki to see the Olympics. In the snowy winter of 1967, the trams press on in the blizzard, and in the 1980’s you ride the orange and grey articulated trams accompanied by a punk rocker. Even though the tales are fictional, the history, memories and events behind them are quite real.
Tarinoita ratikoista is a book full of fascinating information about the history of tram traffic in Helsinki. Each era features a spread with pictures and quick facts that deal with the real events behind the stories. The book also includes answers to tricky questions often asked by children, such as ‘How much does a tram weigh?’ For the book, Helsinki day-care groups also told what children would like to know about trams.
The stories are written by curator Anna Finnilä and the illustrations are by illustrator and art teacher Jonna Jylhä. Together, with a team at the Helsinki City Museum, they have compiled information and memories of Helsinki trams from archives and industry publications, interviewed former tram drivers and conductors, and dug up treasures from the museum collections to delight the readers.
“The three trams are the most valuable gems in the museum collection, which you can board in the Tram Museum: the horse-drawn one, the open-back one and the motorised one from the 1950s. Children are also very interested in the old tickets, conductor’s tongs, ticket validation machines and employees’ uniforms. All of these are also included in the book,” says Anna Finnilä.
The Tram Museum has been extremely popular among children for a long time, and the staff who worked on the book have gotten all kinds of questions over a few decades. Indeed, the book sums up the experience of the staff who know well what children want to hear.
Along the new book, there is a celebration also in the Tram Museum as it opens refurbished on 24 March.
Into & Helsinki City Museum, 2022.