Illustrated by Ulla Saar.
Tänapäev, 2019. 142 pp.
EAN 9789949856473

Kairi Look has thoroughly proven herself in the field of Estonian children’s literature – a genre that is not only populated by many strong authors, but where the bar is kept continuously high by classics and book series.

            Piia Biscuit and the Bandits also continues a popular book series. The first story about the little girl named Piia, Piia Biscuit Moves In, was published in 2015, and was Look’s fourth work at the time. Kids had quite a long wait for the sequel.

            Nevertheless, it was worth the suspense. This continuation, which revolves around the Biscuit family, has a clear structure and narrative, but is also limber and enjoyable for readers both young and old. Ulla Saar’s fun and neat illustrations are the icing on the cake.

            Most captivating for readers are the book’s multifaceted, colorful, and pleasantly silly characters whose comical remarks can be interpreted in several ways, as well as the multiple layers of substance for all ages – content which hints that a whole world lies just beyond the storylines, centered primarily in one wooden apartment house on a shady boulevard.

            Although Look’s work is dotted with political quips, family lies at its core – bonds that span generations, accompanied by an unceasing discovery of the world and its rules. The author does this brilliantly. Her characters’ outlooks on life may be idealized, but only from certain perspectives. Observed from other angles, Look offers a realistic vision – one can’t claim she ever hides her head in the sand when addressing universal issues, and her characters confront them head-on as well. Take Piia, who sets out to solve a series of unexplained events in her house, or her soft and slightly feckless father, Paul, whom Look uses to portray the difficult position of a sympathetic and actively present man and father in the post-#MeToo world. And who can forget Jack, a neighbor’s Canadian boyfriend who embodies Estonians’ Western stereotypes and vice-versa. Look’s array of characters forms an enjoyable, kaleidoscopic, thought-provoking whole that offers thrilling twists, heartfelt emotions, and warm smiles. We can only hope that it will be fewer than four years before readers get their hands on the next Piia Biscuit book. JP

Peeter Helme is an author and literary critic.