October 29, 2012

Eva Janikovszky and László Réber: If I Were a Grown-up

I collect vintage children's books from the 1950s to 1970s - I'm sure some of you have noticed it ;) Ready for some more?

(Eva Janikovszky/László Réber: Große dürfen alles, Neithard Anrich Verlag 1965/1973)

Eva Janikovszky's first book was published in 1957. The Hungarian author wrote novels for both children and adults, but she is primarily known for her children's books, which were translated into 35 languages. Her most beautiful and humorous books were illustrated by Hungarian illustrator and cartoonist László Réber
In 1973 they won the "Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis" for their picture book "Große dürfen alles" (If I Were a Grown-up). I found an old copy last week via amazon for very small money. It's about how unfair it is to be told as a child what to do all the time, to wash the hands, clean up the toys, go to bed etc. while grown-ups can do anything they want. Text and pictures fit perfectly together and it made me smile so much, because I do say some of those sentences to my kids all day: "Wash your hands!", "Put on your sweater" etc. and I can understand so well when my 5-year-old says: "Ohhh, always the same" and I'm sure, he plans to do everything just like the little boy in the book as a grown-up: "Before lunch I eat a large bar of chocolate" and "I always wear short-sleeved shirts!"

Look at the details. Lászlo Réber's drawings are as simple as perfectly characterising. And the result is so charming!

When I was at the Book Fair I found some of their books at the stand of leiv Leipziger Kinderbuchverlag. The Leipzig-based publishing house is specialized in republishing classic children's books from Eastern Europe, among them "Weißt du es auch?" (Did You Know, Too?) and "Ich gehe schon in den Kindergarten" (I already go to kindergarten) by Janikovszky/Réber for instance and many more. On their backlist as well: Zdenek Miler's "Der kleine Maulwurf" (Krtek, The Mole) and Tove Jansson's "Mumins" (Moomins).

In French the books by Janikovszky/Réber are published by Swiss publishing house La Joie de Lire.