Maija Hurme

Maija Hume
Cata Portin
Maija Hurme: Kaikki löytämäni viimeiset / Alla mina sista. Picture book, Etana Editions/Schildts & Söderströms, 2022. Nominated for the 2023 Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize.


Maija Hurme’s picture book Alla mina sista (“All my lasts”, not published in English) is a fine-tuned and multi-layered work of art and a picture-book-based game that challenges the child reader to observe the world around them with new eyes. Its main theme is the things that are the last in life – the moments when something becomes the last, when something is experienced for the last time, or when the last time is yet to come.


At first glance, it looks like a photo album offering glimpses of important moments in a child’s life. Little by little, however, the individual moments begin to merge into a cohesive and philosophical journey through the child’s world of experiences, which takes the last nappy or the last piece of chocolate no less seriously as the last night sleeping between mum and dad.


The work comes together into a whole that is striking, funny, sad, and calm, its form being part of the narrative and the story. The moments in a child’s life, captured here in words and images, are reminiscent of visual poems that allow wide-ranging interpretation. Life begins to reveal itself as an assemblage of fleeting everyday situations and transformative moments whose significance becomes apparent only later. Alla mina sista helps the child to understand and interpret the varied, ambivalent feelings that are the inevitable companion of growing up, and it does so with amazing sensitivity and insight, and with deep respect for the child.


It breaks with traditional picture book writing in that it gives many types of readers, child and adult alike, an opportunity to find themselves. Through the nuanced strokes of a watercolour brush and pencil, a picture gallery is created that entices the reader to carry on and fill in the stories with their own memories and experiences. The illustrations and text blend together into a seamless whole that makes you want to come back to the book again and again, with something new appearing every time.


Hurme has illustrated many children’s books, picture books, and poems. Several have been published simultaneously in Finnish and Swedish. Varjostajat/Skuggorna (S&S 2018), which she created together with Anssi Hurme, was nominated for the Finlandia Prize for Children’s and Young People’s Literature. Alla mina sista is the second picture book for which Hurme is responsible for both text and illustrations.