Jaan Rannap

Children’s stories Jaan Rannap


Jaan Rannap (until 1936 Jaan Reinbach, 3 IX 1931 – 1 XI 2023) was a productive children’s writer and journalist who has written school stories and displays an affinity to nature in his animal stories.

Rannap was born in Halliste, Pornuse parish, Pärnu county. In 1950, he graduated from Abja high school, in 1952, the Tallinn Teachers’ Institute. From 1952-1956, he studied to be a teacher of mathematics and physics at Tallinn Pedagogical Institute. As a talented athlete, he was a long-time member of the Estonian youth and adult national teams. From 1952 and from 1955-1977, he worked at the editorial offices of the children’s newspaper Säde and the youth magazine, respectively, and from 1977-2004, he was the senior editor at the children’s magazine Täheke. In 1966, he joined the Estonian Writers’ Union. Rannap received several literature awards, among which are the 1971 annual Juhan Smuul Literary Prize and the 2020 Literature Endowment Annual Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rannap provided excellent reading for many generations. He established himself in literary history and the hearts of children with both humorous stories of school life and captivating animal, sports, and adventure stories. It is evident already from his first collection Roheline pall (‘Green Ball’, 1962) that he had a talent for creating strong boy characters, who value willpower and pushing yourself to your limits. The novels Salu Juhan ja ta sõbrad (‘Salu Juhan and His Friends’, 1964), Musta lamba matused (‘Funeral for the Black Sheep’, 1968) and Agu Sihvka annab aru (‘Agu Sihvka Reports’, 1973) form a series of humorous school stories that feature pioneer-aged boys (practically all USSR children aged 9 to 14 were members of the pioneer organization), whose curiosity and enterprising spirit get them into trouble and comical misadventures. Using sharp satire, Rannap sees the Soviet school as an authoritarian establishment governed by pointless formality, excessive rules, and hypocritical education system. Pedagogical bureaucracy, grotesque situations, and the bureaucratic form of the explanatory letter create an authority and school-critical subtext in the Agu Sihvka stories, which entertains even adult readers.

In his two longer novels, Viimane Valgesulg (‘Last White Feather’, 1967) and Jefreitor Jõmm (‘Corporal Jõmm’, 1971), the strained relationship between man and nature is examined: in the former, an orphaned eaglet and in the latter, a bear imprisoned at a zoo are portrayed. Rannap has written animal stories for younger children as well: Topi (1970) tells the story of a baby monkey who escaped from the zoo, Nublu (1972) features a brave firefighter dog. A serious and heartfelt story of a friendship between man and horse is told in the novel Alfa + Romeo (1978). Rannap continued with down to earth and competent animal stories in several children’s books, such as Toonekurg Tooni (‘Tooni the Stork’, 1986), Kasulaps (‘Foster-Child’, 1989), Röövel Rinaldo (‘Rinaldo the Robber’, 1995), Kõverkäpp (‘Crooked Paw’, 1997), and Tupsik (1998). The best of animal fairytale traditions are represented by the short stories Jänese mängutoos (‘Rabbit’s Music Box’, 1999) and Jänesepoeg Juss ja karupoeg Kusti (‘Juss the Baby Rabbit and Kusti the Baby Bear’, 2005). The adventure novel Nelja nimega koer (‘The Dog with Four Names’, 2004, awarded the Cultural Endowment Children’s Literature Award) is a gripping story with several plot lines and a movie-like structure, that features a cloned dog whose primal instinct forces it to return to its home country.

In several of his works such as Kukepoks (‘Jump Boxing’, 1979) and Spordilood (‘Sports Stories’, 1996), Rannap focuses on sports, emphasizing the importance of perseverance and hard work in achieving goals. The story Maari suvi (‘Maari’s Summer’, 1983) is of the popular-scientific kind and mixes natural science knowledge with an adventurous, fairytale-like plot, which is used to explain the workings of a beehive and an anthill to children. The realistic suspense story Roheline kindlus (‘Green Fort’, 2006) describes the adventurous summer of two city boys in the forest hut of Kirbu farm, where they practice Robinsonesque survival skills. Rannap added to and lengthened the story for the book Soosaare hõbeaare (‘The Silver Treasure of Soosaare’, 2017). The summer adventures of two children from the city, who are staying at their grandmother’s in the country, are portrayed in a captivating and heartfelt manner in the novel Suvelinnud (‘Summer Birds’, 2012). In more recent times, Rannap has mainly written for toddlers, depicting a colorful set of characters and adventurous plots in his short stories where characters are either animals (e.g. Lips-laps, lehelind – ‘Willow Waly, Leaf Warbler’ -, 2008), children (e.g. Oi-oi, Jaana! – ‘Oh My, Jaana!’ -, 2011), or both types are featured (e.g. Proua Vaideri hiirekull – ‘Mrs Vaider’s Buzzard’ -, 2011).

Throughout his writing, Rannap primarily was an intimate expert of the inner workings of boys and a keen observer and faithful describer of nature and of animal behavior most of all. His gripping and cheerful stories are composed with great skill and sense of style.

Rannap translated Russian children’s books into Estonian and his own works have been translated into 20 languages.

A. O. (Translated by A. A.)


Books in Estonian

Children’s stories
Roheline pall
. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1962, 127 lk.
Salu Juhan ja ta sõbrad. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1964, 120 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1981, 1989, 2021.]
Viimane Valgesulg. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1967, 192 lk. [Järgnevad trükid:
Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978, 396 lk; Tallinn: Pegasus, 2016, 197 lk.]
Musta lamba matused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1968, 176 lk.
Topi. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat 1970, 33 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1984, 2021.]
Jefreitor Jõmm. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1971, 256 lk. [Järgnevad trükid:
Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978, 396 lk; Tallinn: Tulip, 2020, 191 lk.]
Nublu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1972, 53 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1975, 1978, 1984, 2000.]
Agu Sihvka annab aru. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1973, 108 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1976, 1981, 1989, 2007, 2015, 2020.]
Seitseteist tundi plahvatuseni. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1975, 103 lk.
Maja metsa ääres. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1976, 71 lk.

Alfa + Romeo. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978, 77 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1981, 1984.]
Kukepoks. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1979, 183 lk.
Koolilood. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1981, 421 lk. [Sisu: ‘
Salu Juhan ja ta sõbrad’, ‘Pagunid’, ‘Väike vana aurumasin’, ‘Agu Sihvka annab aru’. 2 trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 509 lk.]
Klaabu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat 1983, 48 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: Avita, 2015, 79 lk.]
Maari suvi. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1983, 144 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: Pegasus, 2015, 117 lk.]
Toonekurg Tooni. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 47 lk.
Põder, kes käis varvastel. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1987, 45 lk.

Kasulaps. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 159 lk.
Tuukerkoer Torru. Tallinn: Pikker, 1994, 61 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2007, 167 lk.
Röövel Rinaldo. Tallinn: Monokkel, 1995, 23 lk.
Spordilood. Tallinn: Olympia, 1996, 141 lk.

Kõverkäpp. Tallinn: J. Rannap, 1997, 142 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2007, 167 lk.]
Tupsik. Tallinn. J. Rannap, 1998, 50 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2009, 53 lk.]
Jänese mängutoos. Tallinn: Kupar, 1999, 58 lk. [2. trükk: Tartu: Loovhoog, 2021, 60 lk.]
Lühikesed lood. Tallinn: Tiritamm, 2001, 59 lk.
Nelja nimega koer. Tallinn: Tänapäev, 2004, 156 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2011, 115 lk.]
Jänesepoeg Juss ja karupoeg Kusti. Tallinn: Tiritamm, 2005, 70 lk.

Aptsihh! Aptsihh! Aptsihh! Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2006, 110 lk.
Roheline kindlus. Tallinn: Tiritamm, 2006, 191 lk.
Kummaline lugu. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2007, 51 lk.
Lips-laps, lehelind. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2008, 67 lk.
Oi-oi, Jaana! Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2011, 50 lk.
Proua Vaideri hiirekull. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2011, 53 lk.
Suvelinnud. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2012, 64 lk.
Maal ja merel. Tartu: Pretone Print, 2016, 77 lk.
Minu koerad. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2017, 30 lk.
Soosaare hõbeaare. Elva: Lambri Raamat, 2017, 184 lk.
Sarviline selgeltnägija. Tallinn: Tammerraamat, 2018, 102 lk.
Metskits Lembi ja verevennad. Tallinn: Varrak, 2021, 109 lk.