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:
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.
Luckily one day she met Kormos Puli, a shaggy little sheepdog, and his owner Old Imne:
She learns to love a life of herding and not hunting, and abandons her life of lonely luxury for a life with good company.
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.
Tošo Dabac was a Croatian photographer, whose work largely focused on the streets of Zagreb between 1920 and his death in 1970. A contemporary of other famous European photographers of the time such as Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson, his photographs have been exhibited widely throughout the world.
Dabac’s work portrays the moments of daily life on the streets of Zagreb – people having conversations, commuting to work, walking their dogs, or shoveling snow. Photographing the same locations for decades, his work covers an array of human experiences within one city.
Did you know that the Rubik’s cube was invented by a Hungarian? Erno Rubik, an architecture professor and sculptor, invented the game in 1974. Believed to be one of the bestselling games in the world, the Rubik’s cube has sold more than 350 million puzzles. If you think the Rubik’s cube is just for kids, consider this quote from its creator:
“Space always intrigued me, with its incredibly rich possibilities, space alteration by (architectural) objects, objects’ transformation in space (sculpture, design), movement in space and in time, their correlation, their repercussion on mankind, the relation between man and space, the object and time. I think the CUBE arose from this interest…”
Perhaps this is something to ponder while you’re trying to solve the puzzle? Regardless, with its bright colors and swiveling sides, the Rubik’s cube is a fun challenge for any age, and a great toy to throw in the carry on bag when traveling.
One of my favorite ways to explore a new country is through taste. Whenever I travel I try my best to eat locally, from street vendors, small restaurants, or whenever possible, local people’s kitchens. I’ve eaten fresh feta salads in Greece, baked fish in Morocco, foufou in the Congo, and tamales here in San Francisco. Having not visited any of the modern countries that formerly made up Old World Hungary, I thought I’d do some research into traditional cuisine and see what I could make here in the States. Kolacky will appeal to the most stubborn sweet tooth, and are easy and fun to make with your kids.
When searching for Kolacky cookie recipes I found references to Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Perhaps due to their tastiness they seem to be common across much of Central Europe. Also known as Kolachi, Kolacki, Kolaczki, or Kolachky, these sweet fluffy cookies are a breeze to make, and with a little bit of fruit in there you can even pretend they’re healthy. I recommend making and refrigerating the dough in advance, and including kids for the rolling, cookie-cutting, and final construction steps.
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup any flavor fruit jam (I used strawberry jam, and orange marmalade)
1/3 cup powdered sugar for decoration
1. Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add flour slowly until well blended. Shape into a ball and chill in the fridge until firm.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out 1/8 inch thick on a well-floured counter. Cut into squares approximately 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, and place about 1/2 tsp of jam or preserves in the middle. Overlap opposite corners and pinch together. The dough puffs up in the oven, so make sure they’re sealed well so that they don’t open up when cooking (a little water warm water helps create a smooth seal). Place on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.
Share your results and suggestions below. Have a favorite kolacky recipe? Please let us know!
Did you know that Budapest is home to one of the largest animation studios in Europe? PannoniaFilm was started in 1951 and has been making successful animated TV shows and movies for decades. One of the more famous ones tells the store of Vuk the fox, made in 1981. Similar in storyline to Bambi, Vuk is raised by his uncle Karak after his family is killed by a human hunter. Growing up to be a cunning and clever fox, Vuk eventually seeks a humorous revenge on the hunter and his pack of hunting dogs. Vuk‘s popularity in Hungary eventually spread to the United States, where an English-dubbed version was released under the name The Little Fox in 1987.
If you’re a fan of foxes, check out this great new romper, as part of our Old World Hungary line!
Why West Africa? Our design team was enormously inspired by the extraordinary architecture, hand-dyed textiles, and bold colors and motifs of this beautiful region of the world. Visiting Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana, we were surrounded by vivid color. Against the minimalist backdrop of earth buildings such as the great mosque at Djenne, women went about their daily duties wearing brightly patterned swaths of cloth that kept them cool against the hot sun. Marketplaces were a visually stimulating cacophony of scarves, head wraps, fruit, piles of fabric, and food cooking in the sun.
While there we learned a huge amount about the unique textiles that are so prevalent in this region. One printing method is to use all natural dyes made from leaves, the hand-wove cotton is colored first, followed by mud painting which is used to illustrate patterns and symbols. The cloths are laid out to dry in the sun and the dry mud is removed, exposing beautiful symbols that can represent such core West African themes as family, journeys, or fathers and mothers.
The vibrancy of these cultures traveled with us all the way back to San Francisco, where we created our West Africa collection. Enjoy!