author • educator • reader
Sheryl at the cabin
Book Details

The Best Part of a Sauna

by Sheryl Peterson

illustrated by Kelly Dupre

Raven Publications

A Northeastern Minnesota Book Award Winner

Waiting for the woodstove to get piping hot takes a long time. There is time to play Chinese checkers, be a paddleboat captain, and have a rock skipping contest. Finally it’s ready! But is the best part the steam? Or the sauna games? Or the chilly dips in the lake? You’ll find out what makes sauna time so special.


Inside the Book
Page 18 from The Best Part of a Sauna

Nana finally calls.
“Sauna’s hot! Last one
in is a rotten tomato!”

I dash through the door.
I never want to be
the tomato.

Gramps brags,
“It sure is a hot one.”
“How HOT is it?”


Hotter than cocoa!
Hotter than a campfire!
Hotter than hot dogs!

Page 19 from The Best Part of a Sauna
Let’s Take a Sauna!

Where I live in northern Minnesota, grown-ups and kids love to take saunas in little outdoor wooden houses. Winter saunas certainly warm one up, and a roll in fresh snow can be invigorating, but I love summer saunas best.


The Best Part of a Sauna originated out of all the fun my family has taking saunas at our Rainy Lake cabin. Old and young gather together to find a spot on the warm benches, toss water on the hot rocks to make them sizzle, and run and jump off the long dock for a chilly swim. Sometimes we wrap up little sausages in foil packets and heat them on the sauna rocks. We eat them with spicy mustard as a snack as we cool off.

The Best Part of a Sauna includes a non-fiction page about sauna history. Do you know the proper way to pronounce “sauna?” You say “sow-na” (rhymes with cow), not “saw-na.” You’ll also learn that saunas came to America from Finland and about saunatonttu, the Finnish sauna elf.


Illustrator Kelly Dupre made my story pop to life with her colorful and whimsical art. Kelly asked me to send her pictures (taken every 15 minutes) of a Rainy Lake sunset so she could make sure her backgrounds matched my story as it progressed into evening. I especially like all the fun, quirky details that she added and that I’d never thought of! Although I live in International Falls, Kelly in Grand Marais, and our editor Johnna Hyde in Ely, we met several times to collaborate. I was lucky to be able to share my own thoughts such as, “I think Nana needs to look younger and Gramps needs more hair.”



“Finally! A Children’s Book About Saunas”

The survival of any tradition depends upon youth participation and education. When children learn about the sauna and experience them with their families, they often continue that practice for their entire lives. They develop an appreciation for the strong family ties that a weekly sauna can foster. There are almost no children’s books that promote sauna culture – until now.
Read full review.

Did you know?


The original Finnish saunas were pits dug into the ground. A fire was made to heat stones then water was thrown over the stones to generate steam and regulate the overall temperature of the sauna.


A modern, Finnish sauna. GNU FDL picture taken by Bleiglass.



The Best Part of a Sauna is available at bookstores everywhere. You might even meet Sheryl at a book signing!


Sheryl Peterson at a book signing for The Best Part of a Sauna