Blast from the past: book series "Vjeverica"

If I was given a freedom to collect library of everything I have ever read (almost possible now in a virtual world, where on Pinterest I kind of started to play around with idea of assembling book covers) it would all have to start right from the beginning - children's books, picture books, comics and of book series "Vjeverica" (The Squirrel) that was alpha and omega of my childhood. It was the most popular edition for children's literature for 30 years (from 1957 until 1994) and countless generations of kids were introduced to joys of reading trough these books. Wonderful Grigor Vitez was main force behind its start and right from the beginning we had titles combining local, homegrown writer with international authors. Of course as a small toddler I had no idea about the reasons and choices (exclusively official language, no local dialects, no religion, no bad influences from the West) in fact what got my attention were often beautiful book covers which thrilled me to no end and even today I love them dearly. "Vjeverica" valued and promoted local talents but often included foreign authors if Vitez (who had strong political clout) decided they were suitable - so we got classics of children's literature like Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Bambi, Heidi, Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz along with few titles of Erich Kästner who got accepted even in post-WW2 Yugoslavia, partly because his books were banned and burned by nazis and partly because they were wonderful anyway. Inclusion of "Pinnochio" was not unexpected, but adventures of onion-boy "Cippolino" by Gianni Rodari was something so fantastic that I remember it to this day. Naturally, local authors were also very prominent - it was a wonderful platform to promote homegrown talents, like Fran Levstik, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, Milivoj Matošec, Ivan Kušan, Vesna Parun and Slavko Kolar who were like Gods to me, I just assumed everybody knows these people. 

From the late 1960s the main editor became Ana Kulušić under whose direction "Vjeverica" went trough its golden years - Antoine Saint-Exupéry and his unforgettable masterpiece were published than, but focus were mainly local authors so we got Sunčana Škrinjarić, Nada Iveljić, Anđelka Martić, Dubravka Ugrešić and Zvonimir Milčec, as well as several very appealing books of poetry for kids ("Miševi i mačke naglavačke"). Last chapter came with new editor in 1984 but at that point I was already too grown up to enjoy "Vjeverica" and didn't follow literature for kiddies anymore - around the same time the illustrators changed so this didn't appeal to me. What is still in my heart are titles and book covers from early 1970s that I cherished while growing up and this morning I was browsing internet in search for them, even started collecting them on Pinterest with greatest affection.


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