Alexandra Salmela & Linda Bondestam: The Fantastickle Friend

“Bean-Bean froze in ski position. He had never seen Toughie so close up.”

Author: Alexandra Salmela
Illustrator: Linda Bondestam
Finnish original: Mielikutitusystävä
Publisher: Teos, 2019
Genre: Children’s novels
Number of pages: 120 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sample

Bean-Bean hates miserable Wednesdays. That is when he has to walk through the park alone, and in the park lurks Toughie.

Today things go very wrong. When Toughie bullies Bean-Bean, her essential device is broken. As a punishment, Bean-Bean’s beloved rag bird Stormbeard gets prisoned in the highest branches of a tree. Luckily, in the bus Bean-Bean bumps into a lion-maned cheetah, a genuine, living, imaginary friend. Together they hasten to save Strombeard.

The atypical adventure takes the friends into a forest to bounce on a trampoline in the appearance of fantastic fruit, and into the drains where they end up at the mercy of mutant monsters and mammoths.

Alexandra Salmela and Linda Bondestam’s book is a crazy, funny and brilliantly colourful story about the power of the imagination and the courage to be yourself – whether you are a child using words in a funny way, an elephant in mammoth’s clothing or a self-absorbed, constantly blabbering cheetah.

“I’m Cheetah,” he said.

“What do you mean, cheetah?” Bean-Bean examined the creature in wonder. Around his face flourished a magnificently thick lion’s mane. “But you look just like a lion.”

“Well?” snapped lion’s mane. “The cheetah is fastest of all. It can run a hundred and twenty kilometres an hour; it’s faster than this bus, which can go… well, round forty-two or forty-four kilometres an hour, at this moment at least, and compared to that the cheetah is three times as fast and I’m the fastest of all cheetahs. Or nearly.”

Also available: 
Mother Giraffe and Other Silly Adults (2013)
Antihero (2015)
27, or Death Makes an Artist (2010)

About the authors:
Alexandra Salmela
Linda Bondestam