It was on St Nicholas day, on December 5th, 2019, that an unconventional book written by C4C team member Martina Pupcsiková entitled “Pohádky k dočmárání” (Draw a Fairy Tale) was published. The stories you find in it were originally written just for the enjoyment of her two daughters – without the intention of being a real book someday.
Then the project “The Czech Republic reads to Children”, under the auspices and patronage of the Czech Radio, took to the airwaves nation-wide. The initiative aims to interest parents to read more with their children. With one daughter in the kindergarten and one at school, Martina headed the call and started reading with her children – just not the traditional fairy-tales, but her own stories she penned for her children. Her stories resonated with other children and teachers alike, so she introduced her homemade fairy-tales to the after-school club her daughters attended and also read them during school excursions and outings. The children spontaneously started drawing pictures to them, and that was when Martina started to think that her fairy tales could actually become a book. And not just any book! From the beginning, she decided that it must be possible to draw pictures in it! Yes, it was going to be a book into which it was possible to draw in!
When Martina saw the joy of children at school during reading and drawing, she realized that also hospitalized children might benefit from it, and that the book could be read in hospitals as part of C4C’s Dr. Clown project. After reading her stories, she would challenge the children there to draw pictures of the fairytales they she read. The end game was, that the best drawings would be published in the forthcoming book. That idea excited us and Martina went on and approached the first hospitals: the regional hospitals Kladno and Kolín liked the idea almost immediately – and now the pieces began to fall into place. Martina’s Pictures drawn by children in hospitals, during Martina’s reading, multiplied. The idea that their own pictures eventually could end up being featured in a real book, gave the children great inspiration and excitement – making them forget their illness. Bingo – fait accompli! This actually is the very essence of the clown visits as well – take the children’s attention off their sicknesses and treatments through laughter fun and enjoyment and encourage the healing process!
Fast forward two weeks: through Facebook, the management of Thomayer Hospital learned about Martina’s fairytales, and asked her to come and read them in their child psychiatry department as well. After this, the University Hospital Královské Vinohrady expressed an interest to read her stories during their children’s day. A pattern began to emerge…
At the same time, cooperation with schools continued: Pohádky k dočmárání became part of several educational projects; either to simply build upon the themes enshrined in the fairy tales – such as prejudice, lying or injustice, or reading them also with the intention to inspire children to like literature more.
Besides pictures from hospitalized children you will find illustrations of children from the primary school Kladno Amálská, the Secondary School of Design and Crafts in Kladno and even from a special school for children with mental disabilities in Kolín in the book. Over two years of reading resulted in over 500 pictures! 150 of them, from 110 children aged 4-18 years, are featured in the book.
Martina knew from the beginning, which publisher she wanted to publish the book with: Halda! The Publisher was interested in the project and agreed to realize it. Therefore, the only thing left to do was raising money for printing. Under the auspices of the Chance 4 Children Endowment Fund, Martina created a project on the fundraising platform Darujme.cz. There it was possible to order and pay for the book in advance. Martina then put an enormous efforts into finding additional sponsors. Long story short, her application was approved by two companies – ČSOB Private Banking and čeps a.s.! Due to this crucial support, it became apparent that the book would not only be published, but that an amazing 4,700 pieces of the book could be printed. By working together with the C4C Endowment Fund, a number of larger and smaller sponsors and subscribers also signed up for the project. Consequently, it was decided that C4C’s Dr. Clown, besides getting 20 CZK from each book sold, would also receive over a half of the printed copies for the clowns to distribute for free in hospitals, so that the book could also bring joy to hospitalized children who hadn’t participated in the original project.
Time now was of essence, as it was now necessary to select the last illustrations, obtain the consent of the illustrator’s parents and complete the proofreading and graphics. Martina had one month to deliver the final version of the book to the publisher, so the book could become a nice gift under the Christmas tree for all subscribers and illustrating children.
And we succeeded! Thanks to the tireless efforts of all, on December 5th, 2019, the book Pohádky k dočmárání, had been published!
“I believed it would be done in time if I and the graphic designer wouldn´t sleep for the next two months,” Martina laughs. She is exhausted, but she shines: “Some adults did not believe in those fairy tales, as they were written differently. But I didn’t write them for adults and that was the intention – children changed a lot in these recent past. I knew exactly what I wanted to write and tested it for two years with many children in hospitals and schools. So, I stubbornly refused to change anything. And now it’s coming back. Parents tell me that their child, who didn’t like to read before now crawls into her room, book in hand, ready to read, or that they are even reading the book in the car; that children are begging their parents to read or they read to their parents. Some of them even started to write themselves – for a class magazine for example. One mother even reads the fairy tales lying in bed with her daughter, while a fairy-tale friend is listening in on her cellphone. It just paid off to do a fairy-tale book completely differently. We did something really big!”
“We are obtaining great reactions from parents and children who already have the book,” says Manfred Franke, C4C’s founder. “For example, we heard from a mother of twins, who preferred the book to new mobile phones over Christmas, or some adults who themselves were drawing pictures in the book. Incredible stories, really! We are very happy that both children and adults enjoy it. ”
And Rafal Wojas, project manager of Dr.Klaun, is also pleased: “Our clowns are already distributing books to children in hospitals as part of their visits. They have another tool to help children overcome the trauma of their hospital stay. And not only for the time of their visits, as the book stays with children and they can continue reading and drawing in it.”
The book is to be baptized at the Kladno cinema Sokol on the 26.1.2020! Come and enjoy it with us!
Chance 4 Children