Every new book Anti Saar writes holds a surprise in terms of both topic and style. He has published close to a dozen works; including young-adult novels, short-story collections, picture books, and children’s poetry. His finely tuned sense for language produces writing that is elegant, deep, and brimming with warmth. Saar also writes for older audiences and is a productive, esteemed translator of French literature and philosophical essays.

Anni’s Things is a heartfelt collection of stories for preschool and primary school children. Anni is a three-year-old girl who lives with her parents and two older brothers in Tartu. She is a fun, energetic, curious pipsqueak who attentively observes the world around her. 

The book revolves around things that Anni finds precious and important: a hair clip, her aunt’s dog, favorite foods, and broader concepts like secrets and role models. Every object is used to relay an ordinary event that is meaningful to Anni and explores themes like friendship, family solidarity, showing care, and exploring the world. Humor and childlike inventiveness are tools for whenever she ends up in a pickle and faces problems familiar to most young people. Anni must figure out how to get gum off the bottom of her backpack (pull it over your head and start licking!), how to keep her hair from falling into her oatmeal (put on a purple hair clip!), what to do with a leftover pancake (slide it under your bedsheet for later!), and how to get ahold of her aunt’s cool wide-brimmed hat of invisibility (ask to borrow it and return it later!). Every aspect of her exciting life is cozy and safe, even when troubles arise.

Saar’s work is touching through and through, and its enchanting wordplay adds a magical sheen to children’s everyday lives. Often, it is the littlest things that give us the greatest joy. Young readers will delight in recognizing familiar dilemmas, and their parents will chuckle as they read aloud the episodes they’ve witnessed at home. The author has a wonderful grasp of the thoughts that run through a kid’s head and the worries that gnaw at them. He is on the same level as his reader and, if necessary, will hold their hand, offer support, and encourage them to look deeper into the world.

Anni’s Things is illustrated by acclaimed Estonian artist Anne Pikkov. Her pictures include puckish details and warm tones that highlight the girl’s youthful energy and make her whole world glisten. Anyone of any age would long to exist in Anni’s fascinating world filled with so much goodness.

Anti Saar, Anni’s Things

Kolm Elu, 2020, 80 pp.

ISBN 9789949019953