Dlouhá cesta or Long Journey is the title of a new book by the Czech UK-based author Petr Horáček. The talented illustrator has published dozens of children’s books in Britain, wining a number of awards around the world, but Dlouhá cesta is his first title written in Czech for Czech children. Radio Prague went to the book launch.
Many of those who came actually contributed to the book’s creation, by taking part in a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for its publication.
Petr Horáček, who came to Prague to attend the special event, told me how he got the idea to write his first ever Czech book:
“It’s one of the books I actually did some time ago. I did a sketch for it but it ended up in the drawer of my table. I guess I was just waiting for the right time to publish it. Maybe the problem was that it was about a garden gnome and garden gnomes are not very well known in English-speaking countries.”
The occasion to to translate plan to publication came about a year ago, when Petr Horáček visited a Prague bookshop for children, called Pinwheels. Tereza Booth, its owner and a big fan of his work, suggested they could publish the book and they struck a deal.
To cover the costs of publishing, Pinwheels launched a crowdfunding campaign, managing to raise the necessary finances within just a few weeks’ time.
Dlouhá cesta draws on the British tradition of picture books, with rich illustrations and minimum text:
“The book is about a garden gnome, who spent all his life as he should standing in the garden and talking to birds. They tell him about the places he visited and all the nice cities they saw.
“He likes the birds, but the sparrows laugh at him, because of his long legs.
“So one day he just walks out of the garden, across the field and through the woods, up the hills and down the mountains and he discovers all the places for himself.”
There is much more to the story, hidden in the beautiful illustrations to be discovered by children and their parents when reading the book.
“I am about to illustrate a book about puffins again. I already published a book about a puffin, but this one is non-fiction. I am also planning to publish a book called The Last Tiger.
“And I am also in discussion with one of the publishers about illustrating Edward Lear’s limericks. It’s something I feel very passionate about and it will be slightly different from what I normally do. I think it could be a very interesting work.”