Silvi Väljal

Children’s stories


Silvi Väljal (b. Silvi Masing, 30. I 1928 – 3. IV 2014), book illustrator and graphic artist, is mainly known as the author of the popular children’s book Jussikese seitse sõpra (1966, translated into English as ‘Jussike’s Seven Friends’, 2014).

She was born in Mulgimaa and matriculated from secondary school in Viljandi. Silvi Väljal graduated from the State Art Institute of the Estonian SSR in 1952, earning high marks for her diploma work, the illustrations to part I of A.H. Tammsaare’s novel Tõde ja Õigus (‘Truth and Justice’). Thereafter she was directed to work as an artist and designer of the children’s magazine Pioneer. This revealed her gifts as an illustrator of children’s literature, which became her main activity. Altogether Silvi Väljal illustrated two hundred books.

One of the most brilliant expressions of Silvi Väljal’s creative originality was the children’s book Jussikese seitse sõpra, with her own text and illustrations, the first printing of which appeared in 1966. Jussike, who used to only love Sundays, becomes friends with all seven days in the book. So far the book has appeared in more than twenty languages with the author’s illustrations. In 1967 a cartoon of the same name was made by Tallinnfilm, based on the book, directed by Heino Pars.

‘A Mulk from Halliste’, as Silvi Väljal called herself (‘mulk’ means a person from Viljandi county), retained a love for the Mulgi dialect all her life. A reader in the dialect, Mulgi keelen ja meelen (‘In the Mulgi Tongue and Mind’), compiled by her and Lembit Eelmäe, and illustrated by her, appeared in 2004. Part of the work is Silvi Väljal’s Mulgi text with pictures from memory of her childhood.

L. P. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Estonian

Children’s stories
Jussikese seitse sõpra. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1966. 24 lk.