When Reading is Reading

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This international project encouraging reading has been carried out by the Town Library since 2008 in cooperation with the Czech Centre in Bratislva, the Czech Tourist Authority – CzechTourism Slovakia and other partners. The goal is to better acquaint Slovak children and adults with the diverse genres of Czech culture through meetings with contemporary artists such as writers and illustrators as well as through theatrical performances inspired by classical literary themes, creative workshops with well-known illustrators and interesting exhibitions. In this way we would like to contribute to the “re-convergence” of both nations, to reviving mutual relations, and generating interest among the younger generation in the national culture with which our shared history irrevocably joins us.


The first year of the project “When Reading is Reading” (the former translated from Slovak/the latter from Czech) was kicked off by the Czech-Slovak puppet show “The Journey from Fairytale to Fairytale” (the former translated from Slovak/the latter from Czech) performed by Viera Kučerova and Martin Matejka. The actress Viera Kučerová along with her Slovak colleague Roman Pomajbo gave young readers a closer look at the bilingual book of lullabies “Close your eyes/Close your eyes” (the former translated from Slovak/the latter from Czech) written by Lenka Procházkova. Through theatrical performances children were able to meet the hero of the well-known book by Čapkova “Dášenka alebo život šteniatka” (Dášenka or the Life of a Puppy), as well as with the work of the Czech author Iva Procházkova. Also visiting Piešťany were guests from the Jiří Mahen Library in Brno, who prepared, as part of their presentation, a day of interesting events – demonstration lessons of music-therapy for children, brief information about the author of the popular fairytale characters created by Václav Čtvrtek as well as a presentation of his long-term project, which encourages reading, “First Time to School, First Time to the Library” (Poprvé do školy – poprvé do knihovny). The exhibitions on display gave visitors the opportunity to see and become better acquainted with the works of Czech authors, illustrators, and writers of children’s books, the journeys around Slovakia by the Čapek brothers, as well as with the history and present-day activities of the Jiří Mahen Library.


For the second year of this Czech-Slovak project we continued the tradition of gathering together Czech literary works for both children and adults. For children we prepared a meeting with heroes from the books by Václav Čtvrtek such as the Fairy Amalka and the thief Rumcajs by way of an entertaining information class conducted by Eva Žaludova from the Jiří Mahen Library in Brno. During the workshop with the artist Gabriel Wagner, children created Ferdo Mravec‘s anthill, the hero of the children’s story by the famous Czech author and illustrator Ondřej Sekora, as a way of observing the 110th anniversary of his birth. As part of the series “Under the Wings of an Albatross” (Pod krídlami Albatrosu) children could see the basic ideas and themes of several fairytale stories released by the Abatros publishing house as performed by actors from the Czech Republic. Also participating in this event were actors from the Brno project “Listování” (Flipping Through the Pages) with the original stage performance of the book by Patrik Ouředník about Prince Čekanka and the short stories by Miloš Urban entitled “Dead Girls” (Mrtvý holky). For adults we prepared a presentation of the book “Prague, City of Towers” (Praha, město věží) together with the author and the director of the television series of the same name Bedřich Ludvík. The grand finale of this year’s event was a discussion with the most successful contemporary Czech author Michal Viewegh, who came to Piešťany to introduce his current book.


The third year of this project culminated in a rich program, which consisted mainly of meetings with Czech authors and their works. The Czech-Slovak cooperation on literary works could be seen in the number of collaborative works. Ladislav Karpianus together with the illustrator Peter Uchnár presented their book Kryštofův vzdušní zámek (Kristof’s Castle in the Air), Daniel Rušar together with Matúš Maťátko introduced their Jaro kriplů (Jaro the Cripple), and Martin Vopěnka presented his exciting book for young readers with illustrations by Daniela Olejníkova Spiace mesto (Sleeping City). The Czech actress Ivana Chýlková came exclusively to the Piešťany Library to “christen” new Czech and Slovak editions of the popular book by Krista Bendova Opice z našej police (Monkeys from our Shelves) published by the Buvik printing house. With several events we also commemorated the author of the beloved character “Little Mole” Zdeňek Miler. The 3rd annual project also included several interesting exhibitions – a cross-section of the life and works of the Czech poet Karol Hynek Mácha, an exhibition of the collage European Concentration (card game), works by Czech illustrators awarded at the BIB, and an exhibition of Slovak illustrators who have works in Czech books. We also prepared, as part of the third year of the project, several events for adults – a lecture on the works of the world-renown architect Jan Kaplicky, a presentation of his time in Antarctica by Martin Vopěnka, a photo exhibition by the journalist and traveller Tomáš Hájek “Barvy Mexika” (The Colours of Mexico), and a meeting with the well-known author, screenwriter and director Bedřich Ludvík.


Even during the fourth year of the project we introduced our young readers to the books, artwork and theatrical performances of Czech artists. As part of the series Knížky maľované (Painted Books) we presented collaborative works by Czech authors and Slovak illustrators such as the book by Daniela Krolupperova and Katarína Ilkovičova “Já se nechtěl stěhovat” (I Didn’t Want to Move), the fairytale by Ester Stara with illustrations by Martina Matlovičova titled “A pak se to stalo!” (And then it Happened), the second part of thrilling trilogy by Martin Vopěnka and Daniela Olejníkova “Spící spravedlnost” (Sleeping Justice) and the bilingual book by Viera Kučerova and Alexandra Švolíkova “Poďte s na mi do rozprávky / Pojďte s námi do pohádky” (Come with us into a Fairytale). In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the legendary Czech illustrator, graphic designer, author of cartoons, and director Jiří Trnka, we prepared two exhibitions and a dramatic reading from his work “Zahrada” (The Garden) performed by the protagonists from the project Listování (Flipping Through the Pages). The Brno theatre group also presented the Czech edition of the book by Ján Uličiansky “Malá princezná” (The Little Princess), which the author came to present in person. Children were also able to see the famous Czech opera Rusalka in the form of a theatrical presentation. In addition to this we also presented, within the premises of the library, book illustrations of the legendary children’s story character Krtko (little mole) and the original work by the illustrator Mária Nerádova “Slovensko-český obrázkový slovník zákerných slov pre deti” (The Slovak-Czech Picture Dictionary of Treacherous Words for Children).


As part of the 5th annual project we at the library, once again, welcomed numerous well-known Czech authors and artists. Through various discussions and talks we introduced children to several books, which were created by the mutual collaboration of Czech authors and Slovak illustrators. Ester Stará and Martina Matlovičova presented the book “Chrochtík a Kvikalka na cestě za blýskavým prasátkem” (Chrochtík and Kvikalka on the way to the Shining Pig), which was awarded in the Czech Republic with the Golden Ribbon 2013 for its text and illustrations. Peter Maděra and Miloš Kopták introduced an original atlas of mushrooms for the smallest mushroom collectors “Houbeles Pictus”, Marka Míková and Saša Švolíkova presented a book of modern fairytales called “Mrakodrapy” (Skyscrapers). The Czech-Slovak duos were rounded off by the husband and wife, as well as author-illustrator, team of Ester and Milan Starý. All discussions were accompanied by workshops with the illustrators of the books. As part of the series of dramatic readings Listování (Flipping Through the Pages) the popular dog detective Komisař Vrťapka as well as heroes from the “children’s book of the decade”, which according to the Czech survey “Magnesia Litera” is the book “Lichožrouti” (Gluttonous Evil Spirit), paid a visit to the children. Martina Matlovičová, Miloš Kopták, Saša Švolíková and Galina Miklínová also exhibited their illustrations for Czech books within the premises of the library.


As part of the VI year of the project we organized several events - discussions with authors and illustrators, book presentations, illustration exhibits, scenic readings, theatrical performances, and artistic workshops. We introduced our children readers to works by current Czech authors, whose books were illustrated by Slovak illustrators. We invited three such pairs to the library - Jiří Holub and Juraj Martiška, Peter Šrámek and Miloš Kopták and Iva Procházková with Katarína Ilkovičová. Also visiting with the children were author Ivona Březinová, illustrator Mária Nerádová author and actress Viera Kučerová, illustrator Saša Švolíková, actress Zuzana Kronerová and representative of the Czech Centre in Bratislava Jana Polívková. Children also became familiar with the works of Czech authors in the form of theatrical performances - presented by the Jan Hrubec Wooden Theatre, the Pimprlo theatre, students from the Musical Actors Studio from the Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU) in Brno, and by a series of scenic readings by Listovaní (Browsing). As an accompanying program to the event there was an exhibition of illustrated works by Juraj Martiška, Miloš Kopták and Katarína Ilkovičová.


The VII annual Czech-Slovak project once again offered numerous interesting ways to become better acquainted with Czech culture. In the series "Fairytales and Fairytales", we introduced storybooks that were published in both languages - "Kláru a mátohy" (Clara and the Phantoms) by Petra Nagyová Džerengová,  "Malá princezná" (The Little Princess) by Ján Uličiansky, "Rozprávky pre neposlušné deti (a ich starostlivých rodičov)" (Fairytales for Naughty Children - and their Concerned Parents) by Dušan Taragel, "Pohádky o kohoutkovi a slepičce" (Tales of the Cock and Hen) by Czech author Michal Černík and the book "Modrý Poťouch" (The Blue Wicked) by Miloš Kratochvíl. Other authors came to present their books personally such the popular Czech authors Petra Dvořáková, Petra Soukupová,  David Laňka, Petr Morkes, Ester and Milan Starí, as well as Slovak authors Ján Uličiansky and Petra Nagyová Džerengová. We also welcomed the Czech illustrators Renáta Fučíkova, Markéta Vydrová, Michal Menšík alias Nikkarin, as well as the Slovak illustrator Miloš Kopták. Children enjoyed the performances inspired by both classic and modern Czech fairytales as presented by the Czech Tramtarie Theatre, the Slovak PIKI Theatre, and the protagonist project of scenic readings by Listování (Browsing). As part of the project we also held several exhibitions. Library visitors could admire the unique three-dimensional works of the legendary Czech artist Vojtěch Kubašta, an exhibition of comics by the illustrator Renáta Fučíková from a book by Antonín Dvořák, an exhibition of selected works by the artist Stanislav Holý, an exhibition of comics by Peter Morkes from the series "Komisař Vrťapka" as well as illustrations by the young Czech artist  Nikkarin.

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