As a paper boat is floating carelessly on a city fountain, it is suddenly stirred by something that fell into it. The intruder turns out to be a cockchafer that couldn’t learn to fly. The two gentle creatures – the little boat that could so easily sink and the little bug that doesn’t fly – very quickly become inseparable friends. While floating on the fountain, they protect each other from little dangers and explore their surroundings that seem marvelous to them: balloons fly over their heads, people come to the fountain to toss coins into it and dream of luck, fireflies come to light up the night. And when real peril arises, it turns out that the little boat and the cockchafer have, along their way, already made friends who are ardent to save them. Sanja Lovrenčić thus creates a lyrical story about fragileness and the magic that resides in the world’s details which is accompanied by aquarelle illustrations of an almost minimalist quality by Mingsheng Pi.
A Story about a Rabbit is one of the very few literary texts for children written by the famous German avant-garde artist Kurt Schwitters. In this playful short tale, the rabbit (who keeps on hopping around the corner even when there is no corner around) goes through a series of metamorphoses: he becomes a bird, a fish, a pig, a hippopotamus, a fly, and even a steamship. In this way, the author shows the road to maturity as a process of role playing; at the same time he explores the possibilities of one of the oldest motives of western art: the metamorphosis as a fundamental premise of artistic creation. Although able to provoke a grown-up reader to serious thought, Schwitters’ story, with its quick pace and fine humour, stays light and accessible to the youngest audience.
How Wang-Fo Was Saved is one of a very few texts for children written by the great French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar, here translated into Croatian for the first time. In her story, inspired by a Chinese legend, with a master painter as the main protagonist, Yourcenar is posing fundamental questions about humanity and art in a simple, yet striking manner. Searching for the aesthetic pleasure the perfect master Wang-Fo discards the material world and its acclaim. However, an encounter with the Emperor reminds him that works of art are always about the world and part of the world – even if they eventually succeed in becoming a world in their own right and a sort of sanctuary.
The Pursuit of Winter is the first text that a renowned Croatian poet wrote for children. The plot is triggered by the (unspoken) question: “Could something lovely become boring?” It obviously can, if it is only and always lovely, especially if the thing we are talking about is the weather. The picture book takes the reader – along with the animal protagonists, squirrel, wolf, deer, ants and birds – on a journey toward something absent but desired. And the miracle resides in the possibility to join forces and bring about the (unlikely) change.
The illustrations by Mingsheng-Pi make a perfect counterpoint to Kirin’s laconic and lyrical text. The illustrator received a Special Mention of the “Grigor Vitez” Award.