TITLE: QUEST FOR THE KALEVALA
GENRE: MG Fantasy
A gazillion white cardboard boxes block my escape route from this funky-modern Finnish kitchen. Looks like I’m going to have to unpack my way out if I want to shoot hoops. Mom’s already working like a maniac—paper flying over her shoulder as she unwraps stuff—so I slice open a box. Two moves in the past four years make me the king of unpacking.
She rolls up a pile of brown paper and says, “Oh, Hen, I forgot to tell you, I found you a mowing job!”
“Seriously? Like moving to Helsinki wasn’t bad enough, now you think I need a job too?”
“I’m not asking you to pick up forty hours a week.” She plops a wooden spoon onto the pile of kitchen tools on the counter. “Just an hour helping out a nice elderly neighbor and fifteen euros for your trouble.”
“Not the creepy old Finnish lady.” I wipe my dusty hands on my basketball shorts. “Does she even speak English?”
“Henry James Rollins,” Mom says.
I cringe. Why did Dad have to name me after some punk rock geezer?
Mom narrows her eyes at me from her nest of papers. “Be nice! Mrs. Lönnrot speaks English as well as you do.”
“Oh come on, Lawn-rot? Even her name creeps me out!”
“It’s a very old, non-creepy Finnish name,” she says, her eyes giving me the familiar you’re-one-nudge-from-fouling-out stare.
“Have you ever seen her in the sunlight? Maybe she’s a vampire. No, no, I’ve got it—an evil enchantress!” I shudder dramatically.