Hadassah Magazine Review of Kaytek the Wizard

November 1, 2012

Kaytek the Wizard

Harry Potter, step aside. The young hero of Kaytek the Wizard by Janusz Korczak (illustrated by Avi Katz; translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones; Penlight Publications, 272 pp. $17.95) has sufficient power to transform his gluttonous classmate’s breakfast into a frog and then to soar skyward and land on the roof of a Warsaw tram. As his proficiency at magic increases, he explores a complex cosmos, interacting with Africans and Americans and zooming across oceans and continents.

The author is the legendary Holocaust hero who voluntarily accompanied the Jewish children of his orphanage to Treblinka. This first English publication of his enduring classic grants Korczak a posthumous victory of a kind. Readers will learn that boy wizards, like all children, must tread carefully as they navigate their way through a complex world.

From Hadassah Magazine

Advertisements

“Kajtuś, Kaytek, Korczak” – Interview with Antonia Lloyd-Jones

August 12, 2012

by Mikołaj GlińskiKaytek the Wizard

“Although Harry Potter faces adversity from cruel adults too, his world does not share the painful reality of Kaytek’s existence. Korczak wanted to help difficult children find ways to express themselves, and to overcome their troubles, so his aims were not purely to entertain”, Antonia Lloyd-Jones, the translator of Janusz Korczak’s Kaytek the Wizard talks about the differences between Kaytek and Harry Potter, and divulges her recommended Korczak reading for the world’s bankers

Culture.pl: Could you say something about your first encounter with the works of Janusz Korczak? Was it when you were still a child or later in life?

Antonia Lloyd-Jones: I was totally unfamiliar with the works of Janusz Korczak until I had learned Polish, as an adult. The first book of his that I read was King Matt the First in Richard Lourie’s translation. Unfortunately Korczak is not well known in the English-speaking world, either as a children’s author or as a pioneer of educational methods. My first real knowledge about him came with Andrzej Wajda’s 1990 film.

Culture.pl: I think reading Korczak in Polish is already quite a challenge. I mean especially his use of spoken language, ellipsis, language of children, jargon, etc. Maybe it’s just the Korczak idiom. Anyway, sometimes I’m just not quite sure if I get the sense right. It seems to require the right interpretation on the part of the reader. Do you also find him difficult as a writer?

A. L.-J.: Absolutely. His language is often quite ambiguous, and definitely presents the translator with a challenge, especially his dialogue. This is partly the result of his aim to reflect children’s speech genuinely, and to reproduce the words spoken to him by the children in his care. As I wrote in my Afterword, while he was writing Kaytek the Wizard he consulted with the children and changed the text according to their suggestions and wishes. As the publisher was keen for the translated book to be accessible to modern American children, I quite often had to make decisions about the meaning and expression that would meet their needs.

Culture.pl: What were the biggest problems with translating Kajtuś Czarodziej?

A. L.-J.: The biggest problem was with the name “Kajtuś”. English does not have an equivalent for the name Kajetan, and the diminutive “Kajtuś” would have been unpronounceable and unrecognizable to American (or other English-speaking) children. The hero is not actually called Kajtuś, but Antek, and only gains his nickname when a soldier passes by, sees him smoking, and says “Look at little Kajtuś, puffing away like an old man.” As Korczak’s original readers would have known, “Kajtuś” was a generic term used to address any little boy. So there were several considerations to take on board. The publisher and I discussed lots of possibilities. For some time I used the working name “Willy” (“Willy the Wizard”), purely for practicality, never as a Read the rest of this entry »


There’s a New Wizard in Town!

July 30, 2012

Kaytek the Wizard

First English Translation of Kaytek the Wizard – Janusz Korczak’s Timeless Tale

 “Who would you like to be when you grow up?” Janusz Korczak asked a class of boys. “A wizard,” one of them replied. The others started laughing, and the boy felt embarrassed, so he added: “I’m sure I’ll be a judge like my father, but you asked who we’d like to be.” That was in 1929, and four years later Kaytek the Wizard, the story of a wayward boy who develops extraordinary magical powers, was first published in Polish.

When Kaytek the Wizard was released in 1933, itoffered a new perspective on children, their dreams, complexities, and abilities. Korczak, a renowned pioneer of children’s rights, was one of the first modern writers to imagine a child as a full and complex wizard figure. As such, Kaytek the Wizard was a precursor to Harry Potter, and Korczak’s fiction has been described as having been as well-known as Peter Pan in his day.

Janusz Korczak (1879–1942) was the pen name of Dr. Henryk Goldszmit, a pediatrician and child psychologist who famously ran a central Warsaw orphanage on innovative educational principles. Korczak left behind a large written legacy, including books on education, plays, essays, letters, and of course, novels and stories for children, including King Matt the First.

Kaytek has previously been published in German, Spanish, Hebrew, and most recently French. This first English translation of Kaytek the Wizard coincides with the Polish Parliament’s declaration of 2012 as “The Year of Janusz Korczak.” This year contains two important anniversaries connected with Korczak: the 70th anniversary of his death – heroically accompanying the children of his orphanage – in the Treblinka concentration camp, and the 100th anniversary of the founding of his orphanage on Krochmalna Street in Warsaw.

The Magic of Kaytek

Kaytek, a schoolboy who wants to become a wizard, is surprised to discover that, Read the rest of this entry »


Review of Kaytek the Wizard by Janusz Korczak

July 12, 2012

by Nancy Horner of Bookfoolery and Babble

Kaytek the Wizard is a fantasy novel about a little boy (about age 10, as I recall) who desires to become a wizard but when he succeeds at becoming a wizard, he has trouble controlling his impulses and causes loads of trouble.

Kaytek is a precocious Polish boy. He taught himself to read and loves books but he’s a little odd and doesn’t fit in at school. Kaytek decides he wants to be a wizard and practices making things happen by saying, “I want, I demand . . . [whatever he wants].” He’s a bit of a brat so he plays a lot of pranks and causes trouble. When he tries to do good, he finds that he’s misunderstood (often blamed for trouble caused by others). Eventually, he is driven from his home in Warsaw. He cares deeply for his family so when he travels the world, he leaves behind a duplicate of himself so his parents won’t be worried.

As he travels the world, Kaytek’s ego is fed but his soul is not. He finds that what he loves more than anything is his home and family. He desires to do good but plans and follow-through have a rough time getting together. Will Kaytek ever learn how to control his impulses and restrain his powers?

What I liked about Kaytek the Wizard:

Kaytek the Wizard is very Read the rest of this entry »


To Dream the Impossible Dream

March 14, 2012

by Naomi Klass Mauer

Ashira Greenberg is a pretty, talented and articulate young lady who, at the tender of age of seventeen, has just published a book.

Many of us dream of writing our own book, myself included, but how few of us actually do it.

I went to a recent book signing by the young author, held in the home of family friends Sima and Abe Ancselovics in Hillcrest, Queens. There sat Ashira surrounded by her loving parents, Robert and Dafna Greenberg, facing an overflow crowd. All of us wanted to hear her story. On the table in front of her was a pile of her book, Don’t Judge By What You See.

Ashira was born with Read the rest of this entry »


Highlights Foundation Workshop–Writing Jewish-themed Children’s Books

January 17, 2011

by Barbara Krasner

Registration is now open for the second annual Highlights Foundation workshop, “Writing Jewish-themed Children’s Books.”

When: May 15-18, 2011 (starts with dinner on the 15th and ends with lunch and an optional tour of Highlights on the 18th)

Where: Highlights Founders’ home in Boyds Mills, PA (about 2.5 hours outside New York City)

What: A hands-on workshop specifically designed for writers of Jewish-themed content. Whether your manuscript has slight or overwhelming Jewish content, this is the workshop for you. Unlike a one-day conference, this workshop includes one-on-one manuscript critiques with an expert in Jewish children’s literature or an editor; an editor panel; a discussion of Jewish children’s books with prominent Jewish librarian Linda Silver, author of Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens; and real-time writing with immediate critique.

In addition, you’ll learn

  • the future of Jewish children’s literature
  • what agents and editors look for
  • best practices in writing Jewish content for children

Faculty

  • Linda Silver, author Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens
  • Margery Cuyler, Publisher, Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books/Shofar Books
  • Natalie Blitt, expert on Jewish children’s literature and former program director and book selection committee chair, The PJ Library
  • Ruth Katcher, Editor-at-Large, Egmont USA
  • Debra Hess, Senior Editor, Highlights for Children
  • Laurel Snyder, author of Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher and Penny Dreadful
  • Barbara Krasner, workshop leader

From The Whole Megillah.

The original article may be found here.


(Sometimes-Not-So) All-of-a-Kind-Families

November 2, 2010

by Laurel Snyder

With the Jewish High Holidays behind us, and Jewish Book Month looming, it feels natural to talk about Jewish books.  Of course, being the Mixed Up Files, we’re discussing (duh) the Jewish middle grade, specifically.   To that end, we’ve invited our wonderful friend Heidi Estrin to join us, for an illuminating chat about Jewish books for kids!

Heidi hosts The Book of Life, a monthly podcast on Jewish books, music, film, and web. She is Vice-President of the Association of Jewish Libraries, and past chair of AJL’s Sydney Taylor Book Award committee. She’s also  the Library Director & Computer Specialist at Feldman Children’s Library, Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, Florida.  But most of all, she’s a friend to kids (of all ages)who love books!

Thanks so much for joining us today at the MIXED UP FILES blog, Heidi.  We’re glad to have you here.

Thanks, Laurel, I am thrilled to be here!

A lot of people, when they think about Jewish middle grade, really fall back on All of a Kind family and Anne Frank, and then get stuck. So we were hoping you could share your thoughts with us  on Jewish characters or themes in other books, books we maybe haven’t read, or haven’t thought of as Jewish.

Let me first give All-of-a-Kind Family its due, since the series was actually pretty important in the history of Jewish kidlit as a genre. It was the first (non-Biblical) story with Jewish characters that became popular with readers from all different backgrounds. It kind of set the tone for our current embrace of multicultural literature! That’s why the Association of Jewish Libraries calls its annual Jewish children’s literature award the Sydney Taylor Book Awards, in memory of the author of All-of-a-Kind Family. Read the rest of this entry »