A book by the celebrated Polish children’s author Janusz Korczak – pre-dating Harry Potter by more than 60 years – has been translated into English for the first time.
Kajtek the Wizard (Kajtuś czarodziej) was published in 1933, and tells the story of a boy wizard who must learn to use and control his magical powers. It is a story that has been popular with generations of Polish children, but has not until now been available in English. Now the tale has been translated, by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, allowing English speaking children around the world to share in Kajtek’s adventures.
Korczak also wrote other children’s books, such as the Król Maciuś books, in which a young prince finds himself ruler of a nation. But the author’s own personal tale is as riveting as anything from his stories.
Korczak, real name Henryk Goldszmit, was born in Warsaw in either 1878 or 1879. In the capital he headed an orphanage for Jewish children, who he encouraged to take responsibility for their own little community. He even helped them set up a newspaper, called Mały Przegląd. So committed was Korczak to the upbringing and care of his charges that, when the Nazis came for his orphans in 1942, he refused offers of safety and instead went with them to Treblinka, where it is believed he died in the gas chambers.
The publication of the English language version of Kajtek the Wizard corresponds with the Year of Korczak, which is currently being celebrated in Poland.
- Poland honors Janusz Korczak on 70th anniversary of death (timesofisrael.com)
- Dr Korczak’s Example – review (guardian.co.uk)
- J.K. Rowling Says She May Return To The World Of ‘Harry Potter’ (pinkisthenewblog.com)