Modern Polish literature for children is gaining popularity all over the world and is eagerly translated to other languages. It doesn’t come as a surprise. Great style, perfect choice of topics and incredible illustrations is the ultimate recipe for success. If you’re looking for a present for a child, we hope we can convince you to reach for Polish literature.
Piotr Socha and Wojciech Grajkowski created two amazing books for children: The Book of Bees and The Book of Trees (1). The former invites the reader to the amazing kingdom of bees. It teaches all about the bees’ anatomy, lets you take a look into their homes, get to know their customs, their history and the beekeeper’s work. The latter familiarizes the reader with the incredible world of trees. You can see who lives inside them, who eats them, who carries their seeds. You learn about the tallest, the oldest and the thickest trees, as well as get to know the lumberjack’s job. Both books have beautiful, colorful and very detailed illustrations.
The Mizielińskis, a married couple and the authors of internationally recognized children’s books, created a book entitled H.O.U.S.E. - Homes That Are Outrageous, Unbelievable, Spectacular and Extraordinary. It was declared the book of the year in 2008 and later translated into many foreign languages, including Arabic and Chinese. (2)
In a funny and light-hearted way, the book teaches children about how different houses and homes can be. It shows 35 incredible houses created by the most renowned architects in the world. It is addressed to children aged 5+.
The continuation of H.O.U.S.E. is D.E.S.I.G.N. - Domestic Equipment: Sleek, Ingenious, Groundbreaking, Noteworthy, written by Ewa Solarz, illustrated by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński (3). It covers the topic of the most common and most underappreciated kind of art: design. Children can learn about 69 interesting house object created throughout the last 150 years by the most talented designers.
The Mizielińskis are very prolific illustrators. They’re the ones who stand behind Under Water, Under Earth (4), a fascinating book that shows children what for most of us remains unseen. If you start reading it from one end, you’ll explore what lies beneath your feet. Roots, animal burrows, archaeological findings, underground utilities, just to name a few. All labeled and described. When you reach the middle of the book (the Earth’s core), it’s time to flip the book and with every page, go deeper and deeper underwater.
They’ve also created the incredible, busy world of Mamoko. What we’re talking about here is a series of books where the reader becomes the storyteller and the wordless pages are packed with cartoon characters: Welcome to Mamoko, The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000 and The World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons.(5)
Last, but not least, they illustrated Małgorzata Mycielska’s Impossible Inventions: Ideas that Shouldn’t Work. (6) The book presents different kinds of modern and ancient inventions, from brilliant and revolutionary, to comical, to completely impossible.
For young readers who would like to know the recipe for a perfect day or learn all about a tiger’s magical life, we recommend two funny and heartwarming books, written by Przemysław Wechterowicz, with absolutely fantastic illustrations of the world-known Emilia Dziubak: Hug Me, Please (7) and The Secret Life of a Tiger (8).
Undoubtedly, illustration is a very strong asset of Polish children’s book. When you visit Poland, we recommend entering a bookstore and flipping through the pages of books that have not yet been translated into English, just for the mere pleasure of looking at the pictures.
(1) Both translated into English by Agnes Monod-Gayraud. Published by Thames&Hudson. Age: 6+
(2) Translated into English by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese. Published by Gecko Press. Age: 5+
(3) Translated into English by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese. Published by Gecko Press. Age: 6+
(4) Translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Published by Big Picture Press. Age: 7+
(5) Published by Big Picture Press. Age: 3+
(6) Translated into English by Agnes Monod-Gayraud. Published by Gecko Press. Age: 7+
(7) Translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Published by Words&Pictures. Age: 5+
(8) Translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Published by Words&Pictures. Age: 4+
If you are more fond of children’s literature, don’t miss our previous post:
Polish Children’s Books in English: the Classics