One day Otto, an elfin adventurer, finds a postcard on the seashore showing pictures of beautiful sparkling lights in the night sky with the words, “The light of Christmas!” If this “Christmas” can brighten even the gloomiest Finnish winter, Otto decides he must find it. So he heads north, trudging through dark forests and skiing towards the fells of Lapland, in search of the secret light of Christmas.
On his way he meets the mighty Kekri, king of the forest, Niiu, a beautiful leaf fairy, a hungry badger, a friendly bear and the infamous Ironworm. But will he ever find the mysterious light he’s looking for, and will Christmas brighten Otto’s winter?
In this charming storybook a mother and daughter team have painted a captivating picture of the landscape, wildlife and folklore of Finland. Otto and his friends are brought to life in sensitive, detailed illustrations on every page. Each chapter features a short new episode, making this book perfect for bedtime reading.
(Ages 6 –10 years)
“This lovely picture book is a very clever reflection on what we mean by the light of Christmas.... A really beautiful, mystical way to appreciate what we can all gain from the festive season.” —Juno
“Otto, who had expected to find a literal ball of light at the end of his journey, finally understands that each kind creature he met was a little ray of light in the dark. But this expected epiphany at the book’s end didn’t lessen its impact. It still manages to be rewarding and will give young readers/listeners a lot to think about during a holiday that is often so commercialized. Since the hustle and bustle and consumerism of Christmas so often drown out the camaraderie of family and friends, no wonder it’s a ‘secret’ light. But it’s one well-worth discovering, and Otto’s story is a lovely reminder.” —Kirkus
“Otto has been looking for Christmas—but has he found it? I’m sure I know what we have found—a magical Christmas story to share with children of all ages. Otto and the secret light of Christmas is a story about the real meaning of Christmas, outside of any religious context and a tale that can be enjoyed by children and adults of every culture and background. It would make the perfect story to read aloud for a preschool or elementary school! Reading Otto and the secret light of Christmas aloud is absolutely charming; the authors use wonderful, poetic language. Hearing the story of Otto and his new friends you can almost feel the snow crunching under your shoes and hear the wind howling in the tree tops.” —The Reading Castle
“This attractive storybook is translated from Finnish. Otto finds a postcard showing beautiful sparkling lights. He decides he must find this brightness so he heads north to find the secret light of Christmas. He meets many different characters on the way but will he find what he is looking for? Thoughtful, detailed illustrations on almost every page make this story an ideal read for the child who wants to settle in a corner with a captivating book.” —Carousel
“The text uses complex sentence structures, rich vocabulary, and excellent dramatic pacing, with a different imaginative encounter in each chapter.... Full-color illustrations in a soft-focus, mysterious style are interspersed throughout the story, with lots of full-page illustrations as well as smaller ones. Every spread has some sort of illustration to help keep readers engaged. An intriguing read-aloud for younger children and an entertaining choice for independent readers who like fantasy.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Finnish culture and traditions woven into the story make for a fresh take on Christmas that can be read each day as the holiday approaches.” —School Library Journal
“The illustrations are beyond marvelous, especially the interior of the mupples home. This is a perfect holiday story.” —Youth Services Book Review
“The illustrations were beautiful and lots of effort was put into them. The artist did a great job with blending color and using light. Each picture was a great size and one on nearly every page.... This would be a fun series, and Otto could go on other journeys to figure out other holiday meanings! I was eager to see what Otto would find out, and you should read it, too.” —Kids Book Buzz
“In this charming storybook a mother and daughter team have painted a captivating picture of the landscape, wildlife and folklore of Finland. Otto and his friends are brought to life in sensitive, detailed illustrations on every page. Each individual chapter features a short new episode, making Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas perfect for bedtime reading for children ages 6 to 10 and an enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.” —Midwest Book Review, Dec. 2016
“Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas arrived too late for timelier December feature, but it's being reviewed after the fact because it's a gorgeous and unique collection of stories from Finland which deserve a place in any collection where holiday story collections are a feature. Parental read-aloud assistance or good reading skills will lend to this story of elf Otto, who lives in Finland and who finds a postcard describing the bright light of Christmas. His journey north in search of this elusive light leads him an adventure skiing through dark forests towards Lapland in search of an elusive Christmas brightness. A little over a hundred pages of story packed with text and lovely drawings makes for beautiful read-aloud recommendation promising many hours of delight in a highly recommended, different kind of holiday read.” —Midwest Book Review, Jan. 2017
“...a beautiful Christmas tale that is rich in references to Finnish folklore and culture, and the soft, intricate, glowing illustrations added so much to my appreciation of the story. I enjoyed the richness of the language. The descriptions of the forest, scenery, and characters are absolutely magical, and new vocabulary is used. I can imagine parents and children cuddled up, drinking hot chocolate and reading this book together over the Christmas holidays. The kindness and generosity that Otto encounters throughout the story are a nice reminder of how people should behave. The format of the book is pleasing too- it's a large size with a sturdy cover. Every spread has an illustration, and the text is divided into short chapters that will help young readers keep pace with the story, and will make the book a good bed time story to read over the course of several nights.... VERDICT: I think this book will become a holiday favorite at my library in the years to come.” —Oregon Coast Youth Book Review—°
Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin is a well-known Finnish illustrator, renowned for her delicate and precise illustration style.
Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin is a well-known Finnish illustrator, renowned for her delicate, detailed portrayals of Finland's wildlife and folklore. She graduated in 1977 from Helsinki University of Art and Design and has since illustrated many books loved by children and adults. She is the illustrator of Floris Books' Illustrated Kalevala (2020) and Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas (2016).