Kati and Kormos

On a quest for children’s stories from Hungary, Romania, and Croatia, I found myself at the San Francisco Public Library:


The Main Branch downtown is massive, with 6 stories of books, and an amazing Children’s Section. To my surprise I found piles and piles of folk tales from these regions, and thanks to a kind librarian, was able to look at some books from the Historical Archives, which are not loaned out to the public. The one which resonated the most for me in both illustration and content was Kati and Kormos, written by Anico Surany and illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher:

kk cover

Kati Viszla is a prize-winning hunting dog who lived in a grand kennel on a huge estate in Hungary. She was happy, but lonely, as her owner Count Toldy was away often, and she spent most of her days inside a cage, and bored.

kk grass

Luckily one day she met Kormos Puli, a shaggy little sheepdog, and his owner Old Imne:

New Image

She learns to love a life of herding and not hunting, and abandons her life of lonely luxury for a life with good company.

kk fire

The illustrations are gorgeous in person. The tale is simple but the writing is wonderfully descriptive, and similar to Selma the Sheep, I find it conveys wisdom within its pages. The author Anico Surray is born of Hungarian ancestry, and owns a Viszla dog similar to Kati. Leonard Everett Fisher has an MFA from Yale, and has illustrated over 100 kids books, including 11 of his own.

Published by Holiday House Press in 1966, copies of this book are not very easy to find, but Amazon has a few for sale here.

This is part of an ongoing blog series exploring children’s literature and folk tales from the regions of Hungary, Romania, and Croatia. Do you have any recommendations? If so please feel free to leave a comment below.

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10 years ago


Lots of books about the young people in Hungary. One favorite was a tale of long ago everyone Frakk.

h ttp://w ww.konyv-konyvek.hu/frakk_es_a_foci_balint_agnes

It was the book.

But there is also a book by a film. Very good. The title Tüskevár.

h ttp://w ww.konyv-konyvek.hu/tuskevar_fekete_istvan

11 years ago

In addition to the book “A sün, akit meg lehetett simogatni” which I mentioned in your Facebook post, I’ve thought of a couple more of my favorite Hungarian children’s books.

“Miről álmodik a rozmár?” meaning “What does the walrus dream about?” is a fold-out book with a different animal poem on each page. You can see the cover here: https://www.konyvkolonia.hu/konyv/Mirol-almodik-a-rozmar

My mother used to read us nursery rhymes from “Cini-Cini Muzsika”. I especially liked the title nursery rhyme, as my name appears in it. “Cini cini muzsika, táncol a kis Zsuzsika. Jobra dűl meg balra dűl, tücsök koma hegedül”. You can see the book here: https://www.libri.hu/konyv/cini-cini-muzsika.html

Lastly, this book isn’t from my childhood; I bought it 5 years ago. But I think it’s very “Tea”. It’s called “Nézd, mennyi ország, mennyi nép!” which means “Look, how many countries, how many nationalities!”. It’s filled with cute illustrations of children from around the world and shows what they eat, where they live, how they play, etc. You can see it here: https://www.polc.hu/konyv/nezd_mennyi_orszag_mennyi_nep/109680/

11 years ago

Thank you Melita – what great links! I’ll be sure to check them out.

11 years ago

Nuala, you should check the International Children`s Digital Library – ICDL (https://en.childrenslibrary.org/ )
Here is a direct link for the Croatian National & University Library Digitized Heritage page listing children’s books written by Croatian authors https://www.nsk.hr/HeritageDetails.aspx?id=452
Good (book) hunting!