Original title: Zaida ja lumienkeli
Author: Saku Heinänen
Genre: Middle Grade (8-12 Years)
The first novel spans one winter of Zaida’s life. The evil twins Janika and Stiina harrass her at school and outside of it. Zaida finds an unexpected ally in Otto, a boy from the parallel class. However, what really transforms her life is Ainu, a mysterious girl whom Zaida meets in a night-time park. Zaida’s old wise dog Ludwig leads her behind its locked gates in the night of the Christmas Day as the first snow is falling. Hiding this from her parents, Zaida begins to visit the park, which transforms to a vast forest with frozen lakes, meadows and hills. A deep friendship and mutual understanding develops between the girls. But why can’t Ainu come home to Zaida? Has anyone else ever even seen her? Finally, Zaida discovers a family secret, which turns the night-time adventures into a ghost story. When the snow melts, Zaida makes a desperate attempt together with Otto to unravel Ainu’s mystery. The book is a moving story about friendship, love, and trust.
About the series
The three novels combine psychological and magical realism with ghost stories to tell the story of Zaida, a girl adopted from a faraway country. She worries about her different looks and elderly parents, and as the only child feels lonely and disconnected. But allies and enemies in school are not all: in each of the books, Zaida gets swept into an adventure that blurs the boundaries of reality and fantasy. Balancing on the precarious threshold between childhood and adolescence, Zaida thus hovers between the worlds of everyday and imagination.
The stories follow each other in chronological order, but each book can be read independently, too.
The trilogy is richly illustrated by the author with atmospheric black-and-white drawings.