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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Branko Ćopić
Age Range: 6-8
Hedgemond is a very determined and stubborn little Hedgehog who loves his home deep in the forest. When invited to dine with the charming Miss Fox at her home in the quarry he is happy to accept. Over the course of the next four hours Hedgemond enjoys delicious food and delightful company, but with a long journey ahead of him, he is soon anxious to be on his way. Despite Miss Fox’s protestations and her attempts to persuade him to stay a while longer, Hedgemond is resolved to return to his own cosy home.
‘ “I thank you again but I cannot roam,
I simply prefer my own humble home”
Fox grasps his small hand and begs him to stay
But whispers and pleas will not see him sway ‘
He must have riches he has to protect thinks Miss Fox so she decides to follow him and find out. As she rushes after Hedgemond, Wolf, Bear and the wild Boar are also eager to know ‘why hedgehog so loves his native abode!’ so they all follow him in hot pursuit. The trouble is that the other animals of the forest simply don’t understand why Hedgemond loves his home so much.
Hedgehog’s Home by Branko Ćopić (1915-1984) was first published in Yugoslavia in 1951. Born an ethnic Serb, he was one of the former Yugoslavia’s best known and most popular writers for adults and children. This was a story that could be recited by almost every Yugoslav adult and child since it first appeared. Despite the recent Balkan wars it has survived to become part of the culture of the newly formed republics of the early 1990s and the book still remains on the Croatian school curriculum.
The issue of the original language of this poem is complicated in itself. The author was born in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina and died in Belgrade, Serbia. Since the creation of the six republics they have each claimed the language as their own. The most accurate definition is Serbo-Croatian, but even this may well be disputed by some who believe the language doesn’t exist.
Written as one long poem, the translator, S.D. Curtis was anxious to keep both the rhyme and the rhythm of the original. The use of some, what we would perhaps term as rather old fashioned and underused words such as ‘waft’ and ‘abode’, may not be familiar to the children of today but give the poem a feel of the time in which it was written. The translator has done an excellent job of recreating this gentle tale in English about the significance of home and caring for your natural habitat, enabling a new generation of children to enjoy the writing of one of the Balkan’s most famous writers. Accompanied by charming illustrations by Croatian artist Sanja Rescek this is a perfect book for sharing and reading aloud.
The book is available from the distributor - http://www.centralbooks.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Istros_Books_1025.html#a9781908236029 and also from the publisher http://istrosbooks.com/products/books/hedgehogs-home-11/