Each country has its well-known and loved literary characters whose essence is deeply connected to the identity of a nation or region. This exhibition is about those characters, introducing the fictional world, authors and cultural surrounding of smaller European states. Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg are represented with their literary characters. Learn about the project



Woman Animal Children

Lotte is a jolly doggy-girl who entered the lives of Estonian children in 2000. Soon after a book and an anima-film were issued, Lotte became the favourite character, even a role model for thousands of Estonian children. She is pithy, fair and just, so that even the grown-ups cannot help liking her. By now a lot of products on the topic of Lotte have appeared and the anima-films have become popular in other countries as well.

Lotte’s days pass mostly in the company of her parents and friends in the idyllic Gadgetville that is a sort of eco-oasis, an ideal Estonia. As its name shows, most of the inhabitants of the village are busy with various inventions. But even amidst all these inventive inhabitants Lotte stands out with her special innovative mind. She is optimistic and friendly, although not a stranger to little pranks and some mischief. She is full of childish joy, but never a babyish goody-two-shoes. Her world is colourful and variegated and every character in the book is a person in her or his own right. The stories the author tells us are child-friendly, having at the same time a deeper meaning.

In the book Lotte’s Journey South (2002) Lotte travels South together with her father and friends, in order to help little baby bird Pippo to reunite with his flock. In Lotte from Gadgetville (2006) she learns judo and goes to compete in Japan. In 2008 Lotte’s Olympic Book was published. The latest film Lotte and the Moonstone Secret from 2011 has been awarded several prizes at various festivals.


Andrus Kivirähk

Andrus Kivirähk

Born in 1970

Actually Lotte is a joint work of writer Andrus Kivirähk and animators Heiki Ernits and Janno Põldma. The last two are responsible for her visual image. Kivirähk has said, “It is quite impossible to say which were my ideas of Lotte and which were Janno’s or Heiki’s. Lotte was born during our discussions, we had lunches together and did not stop imagining and deliberating. We might say that Lotte has grown like a tree and we all three have watered it – no gardener can declare a leaf or a twig of a tree his sole creation.”

Andrus Kivirähk (born in 1970) might already be considered to be a classic of the younger generation as a prose writer, a playwright and author of books for children. Numerous awards show that the author is highly appreciated among grown-ups and children alike.

Kivirähk is also known as a tireless satirist. One of his favourite topics is the Estonians’ identity that he deals with ironically in his novels Memoirs of Ivan Orav (1995) and Old Barny (2000) and in his play Estonian Funeral (staged in 2002; inspired from A. H. Tammsaare’s Truth and Justice). The novel The Man Who Spoke Snakish (2007) deals with the vanishing ancient world and the danger of Estonians becoming extinct.

In his books for children Kivirähk likes to jest about the authority of grown-ups, counterpoising children’s creativity and freedom of dreams against the adults’ dull materialistic attitude to life. Kivirähk’s own fantasy while creating his various characters knows no bounds – could you imagine a romantically minded doggy poop or an intestinal worm who befriends the girl it parasites on? The novel Sirli, Siim and Secrets (1999) is considered to be the best book for children he has written so far.


In the beginning of the 21st century Estonian literature for children got into the swing again after a short (quantitative) low. Various contests, prizes and international contacts were of help, but above all it was due to the new generation of writers (Kivirähk, Keränen, Kass, Raud and others). The aesthetics, design and illustrations of the books for children have obtained more and more importance.

Continuously the artistic fairy tale dominates in contemporary literature for children. The whole fantastic plot may unroll in a wondrous fairyland (like in H. Käo’s Little Knight Rikardo), or miracles may happen and peculiar characters adventure in a realistic milieu (R. Made’s Secret-Green Grove). The ordinary world may also be depicted through the child’s eyes.

The taboo topics have almost disappeared. This century has witnessed more stories about animals, especially about dogs.

Conditionally, Lotte-series might be appreciated as a animal stories as well. Nevertheless, Lotte is special – she has become a multimedia heroine typical of the early 21st century. Lotte is encountered in books and in animation films, on the stage, and in numerous products beginning from board games, toys and clothes up to juice and ice cream. A kindergarten already bears Lotte’s name and there are plans to establish a theme park Lotte’s Land near the border of Estonia and Latvia.

Lotte is not the first, but she certainly is the most commercialised contemporary character in Estonian children literature. New products keep coming.

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