Born in 1964, Ivona Březinová is a phenomenon in the field of literature for children and young people. The author of dozens of books, which range in genre from original fairy tales all the way to fantasy, she has been awarded a number of literary prizes including a Golden Ribbon and nominations for a Magnesia Litera, and her texts have been translated into ten languages.
She has received critical acclaim primarily for her socially motivated stories for older children. In them she tackles the subjects of minorities, disabilities, incurable diseases and psychological disorders.
A selection of titles
Yell Quietly, Bro (Řvi potichu, brácho)
Publisher: Albatros&Pasparta Publishing, Prague, 2016
ISBN 978-80-00-04322-7(Albatros) and 978-80-88163-24-4 (Pasparta)
A story about the complexities of everyday life with an autistic child
The book received the Golden Ribbon Award in 2017
Fourteen-year-old Pamela lives with her mother and her twin brother Jeremiáš. He has suffered from low-functioning autism and severe mental retardation since birth and requires the observation of strict rules and rituals: each day of the week has its own colour, cars always have to be parked the same way and Jeremy, as Pamela’s brother is known, refuses to eat anything that isn’t round. This results in some difficult-to-handle situations, which the author relates with the necessary detachment. She also gives us a glimpse into other areas of Pamela’s life, matters of friendship and love. This realistic but in no way tragic book shows how, despite its challenges, living with a severely disabled brother is possible thanks to understanding and a loving family background.
The story of an ordinary family affected by life with an autistic person is told by Ivona Březinová very convincingly and without embellishment. However, so as not to just impress upon young readers the difficulty of living with someone who is disabled, she also includes Pamela’s experiences with her classmates and the fate of her distinctive first love. So this book will move you and have you in tears, but it will also make you laugh out loud.
Alena Badinová, Klub knihomolů
The Enchanted Classroom (Začarovaná třída)
Publisher: JaS, Prague, 2012 (4th Edition)
Age: 6 – 10
A funny book that combats prejudice against minorities.
Awards: The Golden Ribbon, nominated for Magnezia Litera
Rights sold: French, Romani, Slovene, Slovak, Serbian
At first Class 3A is a completely ordinary class. One day, however, the door opens and new students come in. They are three brothers from a Roma family, who have slightly dark skin and bear strange names.
A few weeks ago, they moved to the city, their parents being wizards in a circus that moves from place to place. So the three brothers always have to go to school somewhere different. Now they are new in 3A, which immediately turns into a class where strange things start to happen.
A Boy and His Dog (Kluk a pes)
Publisher: Albatros, Prague, 2011
age: 6 – 8
A tender look at a sensitive topic: Disability.
Rights sold: Hungarian
The story focuses on the school year of second-grader Julian, who uses a wheelchair, and his dog Caesar, who is being trained as a service dog. The boy accepts his handicap, and while the wheelchair helps him overcome his physical disability, it is also naturally incorporated into the children’s games. Caesar the dog is treated like a member of the family, and becomes a crucial component of the boy’s journey to independence.
The author treats the sensitive topic of disability without sentiment and even with a liberating sense of humor. A great deal of the fun comes from remarks by Caesar, who views everyday life from a dog’s perspective and with a disarming levity. Readers will also learn details about the lives and trainining of service dog.
Smarties for Grandad Ed (Lentilka pro dědu Edu)
Publisher: Albatros, Prague, 2006
Age: 6 – 8
A story about Alzheimer’s disease
Rights sold: Slovene, Polish
The beloved great-grandfather has started forgetting more and more, and he is doing some funny things. But what five-year-old Honzík considers funny are actually very real signs of an illness. Alzheimer’s, the disease the whole family learns to live with, somewhat paradoxically brings Honzík and his great-grandfather closer together, since in a certain way they are in similar positions. The little boy becomes a great source of support in the everyday situations which are becoming much more difficult for his great-grandfather.