The boy who didn’t shower - in Corona age
Struwwelpeter יהושע הפרוע, by Heinrich Hoffmann (A picture from the book)
A few years ago I illustrated and wrote a short story called The Chocolate Girl - ילדה שוקולדה, which was inspired by a story my mom wrote and by the German children's book Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann (or in hebrew: יהושע הפרוע). Der Struwwelpeter was first published in German in 1845 and in Hebrew in 1940. There are 10 different stories in the book, each have a clear moral message about the horrible consequences of misbehavior - one girl got burnt because she played with fire, the other boy drowned because he looked up to the sky instead of paying attention to where he walked. The first story is about the importance of keeping personal hygiene and it tells about Struwwelpeter, a boy who doesn’t take shower. I wonder what would Hoffman think now in the corona age, when his message becomes more relevant than ever before.
The Chocolate girl
A short story I wrote inspired by Struwwelpeter
A Hebrew edition of Struwwelpeter from 1975 and the Chocolate girl
The story I wrote, the Chocolate Girl is a about a girl who likes chocolate but her mother doesn’t allow her to eat it because it is not healthy. Then one day, the naughty girl from next door with the curly, messy hair convinces her to eat a muffin. In the end Archangel Michael comes and punishes the Chocolate Girl by turning her into chocolate. The project was on display at the Hecht museum in 2014 and since then I had a dream to make a second story, but couldn’t find the time or the inspiration to do so.
Two of the Illustration I made for The Chocolate Girl
One of the original pencil drawings I made back in 2014 for The Chocolate Girl
Struwwelpeter is one of the most famous picture books for children in the world, and it was translated to many languages including three different translations to Hebrew and one to Yiddish. In the past few month, I have been in contact with Hasso Böhme, Dr Peter Büttner and Nathalie Gacond from Dohaböhme, which is a private library in Zurich Switzerland founded by Hasso and his wife Dominique in 1980. The research library is a real treasure trove of rare books and artefacts and hold a large collection of Struwwelpeter books in different languages, including most of the Hebrew and yiddish editions. The team of the library is currently working on an annotated bibliography of all Yehoshua Haparua editions published in Hebrew and Yiddish since 1940. They were very kind to provide me helpful information about the history of Struwwelpeter and also send me scans of some of the most unique versions of the book. One of the scans surprised me, a rare Russian version from 1882, because it has different illustrations then the one in the Hebrew editions. The inspiration I got from the beautiful Illustrations, together with the new lockdown rules of the corona age, pushed me to finally start working on this project I wanted to continue since 2014.
A Russian version of struwwelpeter from 1882, from the collection of Dohaböhme in Zurich
In Dohaböhme research library they collect Hebrew and Yiddish editions of Struwwelpeter, and also do research on the editions of the book in different languages
Hasso Böhme, owner of the Doha Böhme research library in front of the list of Yehoshua Haparua between 1940 and 2006 that appeared in Israel
The Hebrew edition of the book Struwwelpeter is an ongoing source for controversy in Israel since it was first published in 1939, because many claim that it is unsuitable for children. The book interested me because of its mystery and horror, and also because for me the harsh messages are still evident in nowadays children’s education. This time I decided to write my new Struwwelpeter story about my father’s childhood.
Just as I did a few years ago with the Chocolate Girl, I wanted to write a new story that will be based on Struwwelpeter, this time it will be about my Father’s childhood
The new illustrations I started to work on during the lockdown
My father grew up in the city of Arad, and he used to tell me how he was wandering around in the desert for hours, playing and looking for animals and hiding places. He also told me how as a child he had a friend, a leopard, which was also wandering around Arad at the time. At first I couldn’t believe him but then I googled it and realised that the last wild leopard in Israel called Shlomtzion actually lived in the desert area around Arad til 1996 (!). I decided to use Shlomtzion as a character in my new plot, and situate the story during a snowstorm. Because of the extreme climate in the desert, on the mountains of Arad there is often snow during wintertime.
Shlomtzion, the last leopard in Israel, that my father claimed to be friendly with as a child
Photos from a family album - the desert area around Arad in the summer and during a winter storm
After I finished with the pencil drawings I scanned them and then added the colors with photoshop to give them a similar look to the illustrations in the 1975 Yehoshua Haparu’a edition
בַּעֲרָד יַלְדּוֹן - אָבִיב
בַּמְּדַבֵּר הוֹלֵךְ סָבִיב
זוֹ צָרָה וְעֵסֶק בִּישׁ
הוּא אֵינוֹ מַקְשִׁיב לָאִישׁ.
לַאֲבִיב אָחוֹת שָׂמָה מְיָרָה
בְּכָל יוֹם אוֹתוֹ הִזְהִירָה
"בְּבוֹא הַלַּיִל שׁוּב הֵעִירָה"
הוֹי אָבִיב הַמְּפַצְלֵחַ
אַל תִּזְרֹק עָצָה לְפָח
-הַמְּדַבֵּר הוּא הֲפַכְפַּךְ.
אֶת שֶׁאָמְרוּ לוֹ לֹא יִזְכֹּר
וְעַם הַסַּעַר, בָּא הַקֹּר.
בְּרָדַת שַׁמָּשׁ בֶּאֱלוּל
בָּרָד קָפוּא לִפֹּל עָלוּל
עַל אָבִיב הוּא הִצְטַבֵּר,
בְּעוֹד רֶגַע יִקָּבֵר.
רַק שִׁלֻּמְצָיוֹן הַנְּמֵרָה
שְׁאָגָה בְּקוֹל נוֹרָא
"הֵיכָן הוּא הַיַּלְדּוֹן הָרֵעַ?"
זֶה סוֹפוֹ, צָרָה צְרוּרָה.