The Very Funny Caterpillar

Hello, dear readers!

I’m sure you all know The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a children’s picture book by Eric Carle. And I’m also sure you all don’t know The Very Funny Caterpillar by… Who? Well, by the Nature!

The Very Funny Caterpillar

I met it last summer in a park. Suddenly it was walking on my hand, and it was pretty small, green and fast. I wanted to take a picture of it but I had to get on a bus, so… I took it with myself.

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How Little Mole Cured Little Mouse

Hello there!

I was thinking – let’s talk about the famous Czech fairy tale character Little Mole by Zdeněk Miler again. I’ve got a special reason for it. A super special lovely one.

The Little Mole

The reason is my brother’s daughter. Yes, my lovely little Jedi princess Tara Leia (my brother is crazy about Star Wars by George Lucas) who was born only three weeks ago. A few hours after the Valentine’s Day!

I was honored to meet her last Saturday, and of course, I was absolutely eager to give her a book. So, I’ve decided to give her a Little Mole book, and two Little Mole finger-puppets because for children the Little Mole is as necessary as mother’s milk. (If you want, read about kids’ books and puppets here. If you don’t understand Czech, you can follow the pictures.)

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Kubula and Kuba Kubikula

Once upon a time there was a bald doctor who became a writer – one of the most important Czech writers of the 20th century. He wrote many good books about all sorts of good things. Still, just one his book was for children.

Kubula and Kuba Kubikula

Kubula and Kuba Kubikula by Vladislav Vančura (1891 – 1942) is a very traditional Czech winter book for children (6+), actually, it was selected in 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up, and I’m going to tell you about it.

The story of a boy, Kuba Kubikula, and his bear cub Kubula, is set in “the times when the world was still young and people readily believed in fairy tales”. Kuba and his naughty bear wander through the winter countryside, doing odd jobs and earning their bread.

One night the bear gets naughty too much, so Kuba Kubikula tells him a scary story about the bugbear Barbucha that comes into life, scaring the little bear. They wander together with their new spooky friend, having lots of adventures, and one very funny snowball fight.

Kubula and Kuba KubikulaKubula and Kuba KubikulaKubula and Kuba KubikulaKubula and Kuba KubikulaKubula and Kuba KubikulaKubula and Kuba KubikulaKubula and Kuba Kubikula

Vladislav Vančura’s only children’s book was published in 1931 (my edition is from 1967), and it was a real surprise to his readers. Fairy tale? By Vančura? Wow, that’s novelty! Anyway, the sweet story of Kubula and Kuba Kubikula with Vančura’s absolutely beautiful Czech language became very popular, and still it is one of the most favourite Czech books for children.

What about the illustrations? Are they familiar to you? They might be.

The book was illustrated by Zdeněk Miler, the greatest father of the Little Mole, the most famous fairy tale character in Czech Republic. I wrote about it last year. Yet must say, the first edition of Kubula and Kuba Kubikula (1931) was illustrated by Ondřej Sekora, another gorgeous Czech artist.

Kubula and Kuba Kubikula

Finally, you might also know the animated version of Kubula and Kuba Kubikula that was created by Zdeněk Smetana in 1986. If you like, you can watch it here.

Kubula and Kuba Kubikula

Now I really wonder, which version of Kubula and Kuba Kubikula you like the most? Have you ever read the story? Or have you ever heard about it?

In any case, wherever you are, have a beautiful winter time with Kuba Kubikula, Kubula and Barbucha – if only you’re not pretty scared of it!


Czech Books for Foreigners: Little Mole

Living underground, Little Mole digs up a lot of treasure. If only he had something to help carry it all – trousers with pockets would work perfectly. But where can he find them? His search seems hopeless, until he gets a little help from his friends. If they all work together, Little Mole just might get the trousers he needs. Because with friends anything is possible.

Little Mole
How Little Mole Got His Trousers by Zdeněk Miler & Eduard Petiška. Albatros, 2012

Little Mole (Krtek or Krteček in Czech) is the greatest and most famous fairy tale character in Czech Republic. Everyone knows it perfectly. It was created by amazing Czech artist, illustrator and director Zdeněk Miler.

How Little Mole Got His Trousers is the best known fairy tale about Little Mole from 1957. First it was a short animated TV story for children, then the story was so favourite that it had to be published as a book. It was published in English, too, and you can purchase it here, if you like.

Little Mole doesn’t even speak on TV. That’s why it’s so famous around the world, you know, every child understands it perfectly. They can hear just its laughing, crying or different kinds of interjections as ugh! yay! oh! yahoo! :) All sounds were made by Miler’s little daughters. Are you interested in? Watch this video where Little Mole is a gardener.

Artist and the author of Little Mole Zdeněk Miler. Photo by Nguyen Phuong Thao, MF DNES
The author of Little Mole Zdeněk Miler. Photo by Nguyen Phuong Thao, MF DNES

“Sometimes I’d like to spank him, but anyway, we like each other very much,” claimed Zdeněk Miler years ago. He created more than 50 animated stories about Little Mole. Now you might ask: “Why did he choose this kind of animal?” It’s easy. It was one of those that was not created by Walt Disney!

Now you can read even more stories about the Little Mole: Little Mole and His Little Car, Little Mole and the Space Ship, Little Mole and ChristmasLittle Mole and the Snowman, Little Mole in Spring and many others!

Oh, and this is very important! Little Mole looked into space not only in the story Little Mole and the Space Ship (1965), but also forty-five years later aboard a real shuttle. Astronaut Andrew Feustel chose Little Mole as the mascot for the last flight of the shuttle Endeavour. It was his wife’s idea. Indira is a native Czech who read Little Mole stories to their children before bedtime.

Astronaut Andrew Feustel with Zdeněk Miler’s Little Mole. Photo by iDNES.cz

If your kiddo fell in love with Little Mole, be sure that now little black creature will be everywhere in your house – as a book, TV story, poster, fluffy toy, pyjamas, bedlinen, towel, plate, mug, calendar, pen, diary, bookmark, t-shirt, jacket, socks, suitcase, pendant, or even a chocolate. Happy Little Mole Days! :)