The Champion of Children – The story of Janusz Korczak
I heard the story about Janusz Korczak for the first time from my Grandmother when I was 9 years old. Although it was already 14 years after World War II, the war was still present in people’s dramatic memories and I felt as if I was living through the war. My sister and I liked to sit in the kitchen and listen to Grandma’s stories. One rainy afternoon in 1959 Grandma told us about Janusz Korczak. The story about the hero who refused to leave children from his orphanage and died with them in the gas chambers at Treblinka extermination camp even though he was given a chance to escape. This story stayed with me for life. Our Grandma didn’t tell us about Korczak’s life before the war. I learned more about his life later.
My Grandfather was born in 1878, the same year as Janusz Korczak and also like Korczak, under Russian annexation (Poland was partitioned for almost 150 years by Prussia, Austria and Russia). Like Korczak he studied medicine, took part in the wars as a medical doctor, helped poor and loved children. He was likely influenced by the same polish romantic literature of Zeromski, Slowacki and Prus. I heard some stories about that time from him.
I was born in communist Poland during Cold War under Soviet Russia domination. And until 1956 (three years after Stalin’s death) Korczak’s writings weren’t published. After my Grandmother told me about Janusz Korczak, I read KING MATT THE FIRST and this book inspired me to think not only about children’s rights but about everybody’s rights. In communist country, people had no rights, and it helped me imagine the times when Korczak lived under Czar Russian domination. Later I read some other Korczak’s books and books about him. After reading HOW TO LOVE A CHILD , CHILDREN OF DRAWING ROOM and CHILDREN OF THE STREET, I could imagine that the inspiration for those books came from Korczak’s experiences as a medical doctor and from talking with poor children on the streets in old parts of Warsaw not far from were he grew up.
In the introduction to his best known children’s book
KING MATT THE FIRST, Korczak wrote that when he was about 9 years old, he wanted to do all those things he wrote about in the book. Things like becoming a king (reformer), going to wars and fighting for children’s rights to create a better world for children. I was nine when I read this book and it really opened my imagination.
Many years later, Korczak’s writings helped me to listen more attentively to my own child rather than many advices from others.
One summer day in New York City I was thinking about doing a new book for children. And…I had a dream about Korczak. I called my publisher Frances Foster and she liked the idea. In 2009 The Champion of Children – The story of Janusz Korczak was published.
Partial list of published books illustrated and/or written by Tomek Bogacki
(organized by publishers)
FARRAR, STRAUS & GIROUX/Frances Foster Books, New York, U.S.A.
Cat and Mouse, 1996, author and illustrator
I Hate You! I Like You!, 1997, author and illustrator
Cat and Mouse in the Rain, 1997, author and illustrator
The Story of a Blue Bird, 1998, author and illustrator
Cat and Mouse in the Night, 1998, author and illustrator
The Bird, the Monkey, and the Snake in the Jungle, 1999, text by Kate Banks,
Cat and Mouse in the Snow, 1999, author and illustrator
My First Garden, 2000, author and illustrator
Five Creatures, 2001, text by Emily Jenkins
Circu Girl, 2001, author and illustrator
The Turtle and the Hippopotamus, 2002, text by Kate Banks
Mama’s Coming Home,2003, text by Kate Banks
Daffodil, 2004, text by Emily Jenkins
Four board books / Num,num,num, Hug,hug hug, Up,up,up, Plonk,plonk,plonk, 2006, text by Emily Jenkins
Daffodil Crocodile, 2007, text by Emily Jenkins
Monkeys and Dog Days, 2008, text by Kate Banks
Monkeys and the Universe,2009, text by Kate Banks
The Champion of Children, The story of Janusz Korczak, 2009, author and illustrator
CAROLRHODA BOOKS,INC. / Minneapolis, USA
When You Visit Grandma&Grandpa, 2004, text by Anne Bowen
Christmas Is Coming,2007, text by Anne Bowen
STAR BRIGHT BOOKS / New York, USA
Big Box for Ben, 2010, text by Deborah Bruss
Small, Medium, Large, 2010, text by Emily Jenkins
EZOP agencja edytorska, Warsaw, Poland
Dziwny Kraj, 2007, text by Zofia Beszczynska
MEDIA RODZINA, Poznan, Poland
Lusterko z Futra, 2009, text by Zofia Beszczynska
NORD-SÜD VERLAG, Zürich, Switzerland
The Giant from the Little Island1990, text by Walter Kreye
The Boy Who Loved the Rain, 1991, text by Barbara Haupt
Peter’s Lion Dream, 1992, text by Wolfgang Traub
FUKUINKAN-SHOTEN, Tokyo, Japan
Sleeping Knights of Tatras,1988, text by Agnieszka Zulawska Umeda & Noriko Ochi
Rain Drops and the Elm Tree, 1993, text by Noriko Ochi
DAICHI PLANNING CENTER, Tokyo, Japan
Walk on Straight, 1990, text by Noriko Ochi
METHUEN CHILDREN’S BOOKS, London, England
with Henry Holt, New York, USA
Crackling Brat,1993, text by Andrew Matthews
GRIMM PRESS, Taipei, Taiwan
The Merman,1993, text by Hao Kuang-Tsai
The Steadfast Tin Soldier, 1993, text by Hao Kuang-Tsai
The Man Who Planted the Trees, 1994, text by Jean Giono
The Signal Man,1994, text by Charles Dickens