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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)
Two Magic Oxen (The)
by Istvan Kormos
Age Range: Under_5
A poor widow lives with her son George in a cottage in the middle of a forest. George, despite his young age, helps his mother by going out into the forest to cut wood. His only sustenance is a dry crust of bread. When an old man appears begging him for a bite, George willingly cuts the small crust and shares it with him. Because of his generosity, the man gives him a tiny wooden cart with a small yellow Ox, the size of his fist, carrying a little sun on its forehead and a blue Ox with a moon on its forehead. He explains that these are magic oxen who understand everything they are asked to do and advises George never give them away.
As George continues on his way he arrives at the gates of a big black castle where the lord who resides there asks him to sell the cart and the oxen. When George refuses the cruel lord will not let him go until he has completed a series of impossible tasks.
The Two Magic Oxen written by Hungarian author István Kormos (1923-1977) is based on the Hungarian animated film Két Bors Ökröske made by Gyula Macskássy, Grete Just, Tibor Csermák, Szabolcs Szabó in 1956 at the Pannonia Film Studios, the largest animation studio in Budapest. This large landscape picture book is illustrated in strong, bright and vibrant colours with images that correspond to the animated film version. The original story for the film was adapted from a Szekler (a community of Hungarians who lived in Transylvania which is now Romania) folk tale. The film won the first prize for an animated film in Warsaw in 1957.