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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)
Happy Days Story Book
Age Range: 6-8
This colourful book contains a wonderful collection of seventeen stories by some of the most respected Czech children’s writers of the 1980s: Zdeněk Adla; Alois Mikulka; Ilja Hurník; Ljuba Štíplová; Václav Čtvrtek; František Nepil; Miloš Macourek and Hana Doskočilová. The volume gives readers the opportunity to saviour some of the styles and example of works by these different children’s writers.
Most of the stories featured in this collection have some unique qualities that are rooted in the old Czech tradition of folk tales. Why the Little Dog Was Sad tells the story of an inquisitive puppy, who despite his mum’s advice, ventures into the forest but realising he’s missing his bedtime stories wants to return home. In The Ghost Story a little ghost becomes scared when the chimney sweep makes an unannounced appearance in the attic. The little ghost ventures into the street and steals the watchman’s whistle in what ends up to be a ‘cat a mouse chase’.
There are also four individual stories about Poppyseed by František Nepil, starting with The Birth of Poppyseed. An old couple, who are very poor, but happy, exchange small presents at Christmas. The wife gives her husband a fish scale that she finds in the market and he gives her a poppy seed. They plant the seed and soon a delightful little baby boy is born.
The Czech Republic is well known for its puppetry, for both children and adults. The characters in this book have some puppetry-like qualities as demonstrated in Helena Zmatlíková’s colourful illustrations with exaggerated facial features that show theatrical attributes.
The stories have been translated by Vera Gissing who was born in Prague in 1928 and had to flee to England in 1939 on the Czech Kindertransport organised by Nicky Winton, who, apparently was dubbed Berkshire’s own Schindler for almost single-handedly saving 669 Jewish Czech children from Nazi death camps.