White Ravens: Hungary
Hungary (Hungarian) - 1993 - 28
Elek, Benedek (text)
Renyl, Krisztina (illus.)
Budapest: Móra, 1991. 175 p.
upbringing - siblings - family
Pate has smiled on Katalin Szentpali. She lives in a small castle surrounded by loving parents and siblings. Her social class does not know what it means to worry about tomorrow. However, wealth and luck are transitory: the naive father brings the family to the brink of financial ruin, the mother becomes ill and dies, a strange woman becomes the stepmother in the house. In this situation one learns who one's real friends are. The "better" members of society withdraw leaving Katalin alone. In order to keep the family together, she moves to Budapest and works as a seamstress. She only lives for her brothers and sisters, providing well for them, marrying them off at the right time and being a grandmother to their children. Katalin sacrifices her own life and happiness for her siblings and weak father and, even when she is betrayed, remains true to her first love even after death.
Hungary (Hungarian) - 1993 - 29
Herke, Rózsa (text)
Madár, Eszter (illus.)
Budapest: Herke Rózsa, 1990/1988. (2 vols. 4th ed.) 129 p.; 195 p.
ISBN 963-500-164-9; 963-500-647-0
Hungary - dogs - animal/child - country/city
My name is Devil and I am a shepherd dog. These words introduce the unusual autobiography of the Hungarian shepherd dog. The small black fellow wittily describes his life from puppyhood - where, tike a small child, he is protected, cared for and loved - onwards until gradually the world opens up to him in doghood. He lives in an intact extended family which is still common in Hungary today. Those reading the book will become acquainted not only with the life of a dog but also with a good portion of Hungary and its customs: from life in a small village with horse wagons as the only means of transportation to a small city on the Theiss; from the capital city of Budapest to the grandparents' village where the high mountains are master over sunrise and sunset. - The story is told in two volumes, each composed of short chapters describing a new aspect in the life of Ördög. The black-and-white illustrations complement the narrative in a meaningful and humorous manner.
Hungary (Hungarian) - 1994 - 35
Enrodi, Béla (text/illus.)
(The Krampus Book)
Budapest: Zrinyi Nyomda, 1990. 42 p.
Parents - Upbringing - Krampus - St. Nicholas - Devil
The Krampus parents live a bourgeois life in hell and give their three children the best possible upbringing. The high point of their education is a stay abroad, when the children take a trip with their teacher to Earth. There among humans everything is much different than down in hell and thus the devil children experience a series of misadventures: fire, hunger, punishment, noisy human children. They want nothing more than to return to their parents, in hell. But then they run into Nicholas. He has been looking for them for a long time. He remakes the Krampus children into little Krampusses and ever since then good little boys and girls have gotten nuts and apples from Nicholas, but bad children find only a Krampus in their boot. The simple, clear rhymes, witty and ironical, make this book as pleasurable to read today as it was when it first appeared in 1923. Black-and-red illustrations in Art Nouveau style underline the text's intentions. (5+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 1994 - 36
Vásárhelyi, Tamás (text)
Folyók, tavak élövilága
(Living Animals in Rivers and Seas)
Budapest: Officina Nova Verl., 1992. 24 p.
Water animals - Hungary
This is one title in a series titled "Looking at our Environment", which reports on the animal world in Hungary. Not only the large and well-known animals are described, but also the smallest forms of life which children can encounter or observe. In the preface there are exact guidelines for careful observation of small, highly sensitive little animals. The picture book spreads can also be unfolded into longer panoramas, in which the animals romp around in their natural surroundings. On the reverse side, they are then described in simple, easily understood language. Environmental protection and preservation of species are an urgent concern voiced in all the books of this series. The realistic illustrations enable "young scientists" to make precise observations. (4+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 1998 - 248
Lázár, Ervin (text)
Réber, László (illus.)
A Négyszögletű Kerek Erdő
(The round square forest)
Budapest: Osiris K., 1997. 166 p.
Forest - Animals - Handicap - Tolerance
The quadrature of the circle, the round square forest, is home for seven animals who have all the characteristics and imperfections of human beings. Here in the forest they have taken refuge from the outside world, which, because of their handicaps, does not accept them. In this peculiar world they experience a fairy-tale like existence in which every problem is solved, each individual is loved, accepted, and can accept his own fate. Notable are László Réber's pen-and-ink drawings with simple, but highly expressive lines. (6+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 1999 - 245
Bálint, Ágnes (text)
Várnai, György (illus.)
Frakk, a macskák réme
(Frakk, the cat's terror)
Budapest: Morá, 1998. (2nd ed.) 84 p.
Cat - Dog - Animosity - Friendship
Two fat, over-fed and spoiled cats are kept on the move by Frakk the dog. After many problematic encounters and adventures they become friends, proving that even the greatest enemies establish a friendship if only they take time to get to know each other. This sensitive story is told with much humor and accompanied by fitting black-and-white illustrations in the style of the 1950s. (10+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 1999 - 246
Vígh, Anita (text)
Sajdik, Ferenc (illus.)
A kacsalábon forgó kiscirke
(The pink chicken with a duck leg)
Budapest: Móra, 1998.  p.
Difference - Tolerance
A pink chicken with three legs sets - not only - the other chickens to thinking. With his pleasant, helpful and tolerant manner and his third leg, Porcogo, the pink chicken, is even able to save a human life and is crowned king of the chicken yard in the end. The fairly serious topic of differentness is packed into a witty, enjoyable animal story with wry humor and accompanied by small, expressive and humorous color illustrations. (6+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2000 - 242
Budapest: Magyar Könyvklub, 1999. 344 p.
Austro-Hungarian Empire - Castle (1200-1999)
This is an alphabetical presentation of 93 fortresses and castles of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Introduced with short tales, anecdotes, legends, followed by explanations of their names, these portraits conclude with a tour of the outline of each castle. In this way one receives extensive information about the old mysterious castles that still spark the curiosity and imagination today. This volume complements the book »Talking fortresses « that was published last year by the same author. (10+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2000 - 243
Csukás, István (text)
Cakó, Ferenc (illus.)
Mirr Murr nyomoz Budapesten
(Mirr Murr takes a ramble through Budapest)
Budapest: Városháza, 1998. 47 p.
(Az én Budapestem)
Budapest - Travel guide
Mirr Murr the tomcat seeks out his friends in Budapest and surroundings. During his excursion he discovers many interesting facts, figures and useful things about the city and its history. In contrast to the bright caricatural, yellow-striped cat, the city scenes are done in gently colored naturalistic style. The city guide will awaken the curiosity not only of children to undertake an exploration of this beautiful capital city on the Danube. (7+)
Special Mention - Hungary (Hungarian) - 2000 - 244
Katona Imre (ed.)
Vida, Gyözö (illus.)
A Zöldszakállú király
(The king with the green beard)
Budapest: Móra, 1999. 125 p.
This book in the series »Mora's golden books« claims to draw upon the entire range of Hungarian folktales. Although these are re-tellings, one can sense the originality of this story-telling folk in each story. The excellent illustrations by the graphic artist Vida Gyözö are done in the style of the old »picture broadsheets« and use elements of Hungarian folk art. This underlines the expressiveness of the tales. (7+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2001 - 241
Anga, Mária (text)
Rényi, Krisztina (illus.)
Ki vasalja ki a katicabogárkák szárnyait?
(Who irons ladybug's wings?)
Budapest : Magyar Könyvklub, 2000. 53 p.
Animals - Plants - Fairy tale
In this literary fairy tale, Mária Anga thematises problems, dreams and fears of concern to kindergarten children. Her fictional world, plants and animals take on a fairy tale-like character, and, just like in fairy tales, there is a way out of every difficult situation, safely bringing the story to a happy end. Colourful frames and vignettes enhance the text with appealing illustrations. (3+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2001 - 242
Mihály, Antal (text)
Buzay, István (illus.)
Egbert egér utazása : [sose add fel, ne légy csacska, egérből is lehet macska]
(Mouse Egbert's trip)
Budapest : Ciceró Könyvkiadó, 2000. 68 p.
Tom-cat - Mouse - Friendship - Loss of weight - Adventure
In this funny and delightful story, Egbert, the little, cheeky mouse, and Csucsu, the fat tom-cat, go out into the world and experience many amusing adventures. Together they catch robbers, unmask tricksters, always ready to help where they may. Csucsu, who has to lose weight, turns into a sportsman while Egbert is nominated honorary member of the cats' choir, because he helped the musicians to win the first prize at a choral competition. In the end the (by now) slim and trim tomcat and the faithful mouse can return back home. (6+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2001 - 243
Sivók, Irén (text)
Rényi, Krisztina (illus.)
(Ears of a friend)
Budapest : Móra, 2000. 61 p.
Friendship - Loyalty
This book tells of love, friendship and loyalty. These timeless values are exemplified by the lifelong friendship between two boys. Their friendship is paralleled by that between a toy-kobold and a toy-marten. The two complementary plots demonstrate the strength and depth of these feelings. The traditional, realistic black-and-white illustrations loosen up the text, making it very readable. (7+)
Hungary (Greek) - 2002 - 240
Békes, Pál (text)
Rényi, Krisztina (illus.)
Budapest : Móra, 2001. 112 p.
Forest – Danger – Fear – Coping with fear – Friendship
Frightened goblin Felőlény is the hero of this book. Together with other unusual creatures he lives peacefully in a charming forest until, one day, it is invaded by some gigantic monsters. Félőlény manages to overcome his fear and, thanks to his bravery, the forest world and the world of his friends are restored. This proves that even those who seem to be weak can accomplish great things when they summon all their courage. You will only be able to live happily if you fight your fears – this is the lesson Félőlény has learned from his adventures. Delicate black-and-white drawings accompany this fairytale-like story for children. (7+)
Hungary (Greek) - 2002 - 241
Kamarás, István (text)
Szalma, Edit (illus.)
Apuapu és a leleplezett rakoncaficánka
(Daddydaddy and the rascal unmasked)
Budapest : Ciceró-Könyvkiadó, 2001. 107 p.
Divorce – Single mother – Father – Son
In Hungary it is also fairly common for children to live with a single parent. Nevertheless, this topic has not been discussed openly and honestly in children's literature so far. With a lot of humour and suspense, Kamarás István does exactly that in his children's novel »Apuapu«. In the manner of a Bildungsroman, the story delineates the maturation of eleven-year-old Peter, who desperately tries to get his father back after his parents' divorce. Step by step, the boy learns to accept the new situation, his stepfather, and the new family. The true-to-life story is written in a language easy to understand and includes many lively dialogues. (10+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2003 - 238
Nógrádi, Gábor (text)
Cakó, Ferenc (illus.)
Az anyu én vagyok
(I am the mother)
Budapest : Presskontakt Bt., 2002. 181 p.
Girl – Family – Metamorphosis – Roles
Ten-year-old Emese’s grandfather has successfully transformed the family cat into a dog which chases the family dog, now turned into a cat, up an apple tree. As a next step, granddad would like to try out his scientific success with a human subject. Football- fan Emese would love to be transformed into David Beckham, but since he is not available, she agrees to exchange bodies with her mother for half an hour. After a few misfortunate accidents, this half hour stretches into two days with a lot of funny adventures, in the course of which mother and daughter get to know and understand each other much better. A humorous and exciting children’s novel with simple black-and-white illustrations. (10+)
Special Mention - Hungary (Hungarian) - 2003 - 239
Szoboszlai, Margit (ed.)
Fodor, Anikó (illus.)
A Víziló, Sziporka és Bamba Géza
(The hippo, Sparky, and Géza-fool)
Budapest : Ab Ovo, 2001. 191 p.
Fairytales – Poetry – Short stories
24 contemporary Hungarian authors tell stories for children. Their fairy tales, stories, and poems focus on problems, adventures, and the daily life of children, and present them in a slightly mythical style typical for traditional storytellers. In Éva Janikovszky’s A fairy tale for TV-Teddy for example, a boy tells a tale to the TV-Teddy, who normally presents the goodnight stories. In Ball of the Snow Queen, Békés Pál makes the Old Year and the New Year fight against each other symbolising the fight between past and future. This anthology is a particularly appealing example for the development of Hungarian children’s literature which has so far not been considered as really »high« literature and thus only received minor attention. The authors’ contributions reveal a new emphasis on children’s literature which is also underlined by the volume’s high quality. Vignettes, rendered in three colours, perfectly complement the text and make this book a very enjoyable read. (5+)
Special Mention - Hungary (Hungarian) - 2003 - 240
Zalán, Tibor (text)
Kovács, Péter (illus.)
Hi-Szen, a guruló madár
(Hi-Szen [i.e. Oh’Yes], the rolling bird)
Budapest : Móra, 2002. 129 p.
(Az én könyvtáram)
Bird – Adventure
Hi-Szen, a small grey mythical creature with a red feather, travels through the world and encounters many adventures: He tames sharks and lions, conquers the giant snake, and becomes friends with a dinosaur. The little bird-like hero, who can neither fly nor roll around, is a skilful storyteller. He tells of all the important things in life: Love and friendship, pride and modesty, sufferings and happiness. The grippingly and fluently told tales of this book make for a truly delightful read. (7+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2004 - 238
Böszörményi, Gyula (text)
Fábián, Noémi (illus.)
Gergő és az álomfogók
(Gergő and the dream catchers)
Budapest : Magyar Könyvklub, 2002. 543 p.
Adolescence – Family
15-year-old Gergő was chosen to rescue Reality from the world of the dream catchers. On his way to the top of the world-tree, he survives many adventures, learns how to meet his fears and handle his fellow men’s problems, and eventually defeats the evil dream catchers. This victory also provides him with solutions to problems in the real world that he used to see as insurmountable. This gripping novel with its mixture of fantasy and reality greatly enriches the genre of fantasy novels for children and teenagers in Hungary. A sequel is currently being written. (13+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2004 - 239
Darvasi, László (text)
Németh, György (illus.)
Trapiti avagy a nagy tökfőzelékháború
(Trapiti or the great pumpkin-dish-war)
Budapest : Magvető, 2002. 306 p.
City – Stranger – Assistance
One day, the weird little man Trapiti appears in the town of Kavicsvár. He has lost his memory and has no idea where he comes from or why he is in this town. Trapiti finds a place to stay and, together with the town people, he experiences many adventures with sorcerers and witches, love, friendship, human weakness, and a mysterious pumpkin dish. In the end, Trapiti saves Kavicsvár from the army of grey people who are trying to conquer the town in a surprise coup. This imaginative children’s novel stands apart because of its original ideas and the fresh and lively dialogues. Caricature-like black-and-white drawings aptly illustrate the text. (8+)
Special Mention - Hungary (Hungarian) - 2004 - 240
Feuer, Mária (text)
Rényi, Krisztina (illus.)
Budapest : Móra, 2003. 85 p.
Folk tale – Dragon – Growing up
This fairy tale traces the life of a small dragon from his mysterious birth to the foreboding of his death. Living by Queen Boholca’s side and discussing all matters with her, Sarkany learns everything about life in harmony with nature and the natural elements: earth, water, fire, air, light, and sky. Philosophy, culture, and knowledge from the East and the West become connected in his experiences. Step by step, fighting against the ancient elements, he learns more about himself and thus reaches the highest stage of existence, the freedom of spirit. Its literary and graphic quality make this book a true gem. The masterly design is particularly impressive, the delicately engraved illustrations underlaid with gold are reminiscent of traditional Oriental art yet also include many floral, Art Nouveau elements. (10+)
Special Mention - Hungary (Hungarian) - 2004 - 241
Lugosi, Viktória (text)
Elek, Lívia (illus.)
Budapest : Noran, 2002. 122 p.
Folk tale – Friendship
Hümmög?, a small green dwarf, and his friends seagull, giraffe, squirrel, ladybird, and dolphin plunge into a series of adventures as they try to support each other and make their lives worth living. In the course of their exciting experiences, their friendship grows deeper and more affectionate. With a great deal of humour, subtle irony, and a captivating narrative skill, the author inevitably draws young and old readers into her story. Striking, colourful illustrations in the style of woodcuts are a witty addition to this folk tale. (5+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2005 - 242
Kamarás, István (text)
Kalmár, István (illus.)
Budapest : Móra, 2004. 234 p.
Child – Fairy tale world – Reality
The first tale on which all other tales are based is the world itself. Several siblings dive into it hoping that they will be able to find their parents’ peace of mind and rescue the wind and their imprisoned grandfather. Along their humorously described way, they are accompanied by some fairy tale characters. They successfully come through various fairy tale-like adventures because their grandfather’s old and new fairy tales help them. This book offers an insight into the soul of children who need the imaginary world to grow up. Sparing black-and-white drawings reminiscent of traditional fairy tale figures complement the narrative progression. (6+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2005 - 243
Lackfi, János (text)
Kalmár, István (illus.)
A buta felnőtt
(The stupid adult)
Budapest : Móra, 2004. 59 p.
Child – Question
This book is a guidebook to life (not only) for children. Written from children’s points of view, it gathers witty verses about a variety of situations typical for their lives. Apart from boys and girls, there are also a few personified feelings and inanimate objects in the story that try to explain the world to the child who questions them. Adults have no part in this. Although the world is so weird that it simply cannot be explained, the verses illustrate how interesting and diverse it is. Cheerful, slightly naïve colour illustrations underline the character of the verses. (6+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2006 - 239
Békés, Pál (text)
Sajdik, Ferenc (illus.)
A bölcs hiánypótló
(The wise defect-remover)
Budapest : Móra, 2005. 112 p.
(Az én könyvtárom)
The crazy clock, who doesn’t have a sense of time, the hairless hair-monster, and the hole, being »Nothing« personified, decide to have their »abnormalities« remedied and set off on a long, exhausting, and adventurous trip to the »Wise Defect-Remover«. In the end, however, thanks to their very abnormalities, the three friends manage to save the sage’s life. The funny philosophical confrontation with the modern society’s obsession with beauty and perfection ends in the wise man’s liberating »Solomonic decision« not to remove their defects. Realistic, sketchy black-and-white drawings complement this action-filled fantasy story. (8+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2006 - 240
Tamkó Sirató, Károly (text)
Banga, Ferenc (illus.)
(Tengercki returns home)
Budapest : General Press K., 2005. 38 p.
Children’s poetry Pun – Wordplay
To celebrate the 100th birthday of Hungarian advant-garde poet Tamkó Sirató Károly, General Press is publishing a three-volume edition of his works. Volume One contains his most popular children’s verses, and Volume Three is going to come out in the course of this year. The second volume, reviewed here, presents 25 poems about topics that span the world: From the penguins’ dance to the shop in the Congo and the life of an Inuit, the author makes his readers experience a world, which will delight them with unexpected turns of events, a humorous language, and witty wordplay. Like the verses’ puns, the rather unusual illustrations by Banga Ferenc play with colours and short pencil strokes. Their surprising simplicity perfectly underlines the message of the text. (5+)
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2007 - 228
A nap utcai fiúk
(The Sun Street boys)
[Budapest] : Ab Ovo K., 2006. 155 p.
Hungary / Uprising <1956> – Youth
In 1956, a group of teenagers is drawn into the first revolutionary riots in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, without knowing, let alone understanding, what the demonstrations are all about. Full of youthful enthusiasm, romantic ideas, courage, and self-denial, they dive into the events that soon spiral out of control. Many people even pay with their lives. This novel is based on factual reports by survivors of the Hungarian uprising. Most of the book offers a fairly romantic description of the events, yet by drawing a detailed picture of the young people’s meaningless death, the novel eventually turns into an accusation against those who sacrifice children and teenagers on the altar of politics. (14+) ☆
Hungary (Hungarian) - 2007 - 229
Kiss, Ottó (text)
Baranyai, András (illus.)
Szerintem mindenki maradjon otthon vasárnap délután
(If you ask me, everybody should stay at home on a Sunday afternoon)
Budapest : Csodaceruza K., 2006.  p.
Family – Father – Excursion – Flying
Father Istvan, known to everybody in town as »Hello Istvan«, has a huge belly. Yet, this belly is not a beer belly, it is full of air. Thanks to it, Istvan can rise into the sky and fly across the whole town on the lookout for important events. Although his wife and son are anything but pleased about his airy escapades, Istvan still takes off every Sunday afternoon and leaves them alone until, one night, he returns home late and his dinner is nowhere in sight. Having learned from his mistakes, wise Istvan henceforth gives all the other fathers the good advice to stay home on Sundays. Puns and witty situations paired with a generous dose of nonsense plus reduced, spacious illustrations make this book a truly entertaining read. (5+)
Special Mention - Hungary (Hungarian) - 2007 - 230
Lázár, Zsófia (text)
Lázár, Ervin (text)
Faltisz, Alexandra (illus.)
Budapest : Sanoma K., 2006. 79 p.
(Nök lapja mühely)
Father – Daughter – Friendship – Imaginary world
During a walk through the forest, in a mixture of dream and reality, a little girl discovers imaginary creatures from her father’s tales. Father and daughter have created their own little realm inhabited by mysterious beetles and insects, which serves as a mirror for the real world. Friendship, care for others, and diligence as well as malice have the same meaning in this wondrous microcosm as they do in the human world. Thus, the imaginary events in the insects’ world also affect the relationship between father and daughter. In the end, illness and pain are cured in both worlds through the magical flower of love and compassion, and the afternoon walk ends cheerfully for everyone. The water-colour illustrations, carefully adorned with plenty of details, turn this magical narration into a special treat for young readers. With this fairytale-like story, Lázár Zsófia has created a literary memorial for her late father, the author Lázár Ervin. (5+)