Iko Maran (until 1935, known as Voldermar Madison, 1915–1999) was an Estonian children’s and prose writer, and a playwright, who is known for his versatile and funny children’s and young adult stories.
He was born in Pskov to a military family. His early childhood was spent in Pensa city and in 1922, the family moved to Tallinn. He graduated primary school in Härgla, Juuru parish. From 1929-1935, he studied at Gustav Adolf Gymnasium and in 1940, he graduated from the law department of the University of Tartu. From 1940-1941 and 1945-1951, he worked at the literature department of Estonian Radio. From 1953-1959, he was a dramaturge at Tallinn Drama Theatre and from 1965-1971, he held the same position at the Estonian Youth Theatre. He was a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union from 1958.
He began writing together with Bernhard Lülle and under the collective pseudonym Lall Kahas, they published plays, young adult and children’s stories. Their story Sõbrad ('Friends', 1949) was remarkable for its colorful characters, humor and a balanced treatment of history. In the story collection Pisilugusid Jalukselt ('Small Stories from Jalukse', 1956), Estonian history from prehistory to World War 2 is introduced to the students of a small country school. The story collection Tere jälle ('Hello Again', 1958) describes the rich inner world of a toddler, which sheds both honest and critical light on country life of the period. The historical story Vabaduskiri ('Freedom Letter', 1961) depicts the farmer uprising in Kose-Uuemõisa at the beginning of 19th century.
His first independent work is the science fiction children’s story Lauri ja Kaie kummaline matk ('The Strange Trek of Lauri and Kaie', 1964) which transports two regular children to a new world with a completely different, microscopic perspective on space. The collection Kirjud lood ('Multicolored Stories', 1970) is more aimed at boys and focuses on revealing important ethical points through exciting and funny situations.
Maran’s most well-known story Londiste, õige nimega Vant ('Londiste, Real Name Phant',1972) combines an everyday situation with a nonsensical fantasy plot in a lyrical and emotional way. The rich fantasy element is reflected in the toy elephant Londiste, who learns to move and talk in the imagination of 4-year-old Siim, thereby echoing his own growing up.
In the children’s book Jass (1975), the adventures of a monkey and his relationship with humans is described in a straightforward manner. The story Pikk päev ('Long Day', 1975) describes a summer in the country, by the sea, with two city children. The children’s book Tuline jäätis ('Hot Ice Cream', 1978) has a captivating plot and realistic characters and discusses the impossible being possible while using dreamlike nonsense logic. The toy fantasy Piki ja Tohotiise ('Piki and Tohotiise', 1980) and Christmas mystery Kuidas kasvatada lapsevanemaid. Päkapikk Ninatarga pajatused ('How to Raise Parents. The Stories of the Elf Know-It-All', 1995) are aimed at pre-school children.
Maran’s versatile works are known for their sensitive sense of nature, interest in science and technology and his skills at depicting a child in their familial setting. He had a talent for understanding the nuances of the inner worlds, mentality and speech of children of various ages. He has also translated plays from Russian, Ukrainian and Polish.
A. O. (Translated by A. S.)
Books in Estonian
Stories for children and young adults
Lall Kahas, Sõbrad. Tallinn: Ilukirjandus ja Kunst, 1949, 180 lk. [2. trükk: 1957.]
Lall Kahas, Pisilugusid Jalukselt. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1956, 138 lk.
Lall Kahas, Tere jälle. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1958, 143 lk.
Lall Kahas, Vabaduskiri. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1961, 328 lk.
Lauri ja Kaie kummaline matk. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1964, 148 lk.
Kirjud lood. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1970, 176 lk.
Londiste, õige nimega Vant. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1964, 148 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1972, 1989, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2017.]
Jass. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1975, 151 lk.
Pikk päev. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1975, 109 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1987, 2010.]
Aga palju kasse! Mõned õpetlikud lood. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1977, 32 lk. [2. trükk: 2012.]
Tuline jäätis. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978, 72 lk.
Piki ja Tohotiise. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1980, 65 lk.
Kuidas kasvatada lapsevanemaid. Päkapikk Ninatarga pajatused. Tallinn: Koolibri, 1995, 143 lk. [2. trükk: 2014.]
Iko Maran, Bernhard Lülle, Aknad valla. Tallinn: Ilukirjandus ja Kunst, 1946, 112 lk.
Lall Kahas, Pähklimägi. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1957, 71 lk.
Plays for children
Heinaritsik, kellele meeldis naljatada. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1970, 120 lk.
Narrative poems for children
Läki metsa. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1966, 32 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1980, 13 lk.]