Conversation with Ana Golejška Džikova: In a world that is dangerous, a good child with a heart full of love will manage to make a difference

Anna Golejška Džikova and her picture books / Photo: Private archive

"Empathy and solidarity are number 1 when it comes to primary education. "Not only towards people, but also towards animals, the environment, the home, the community," says Anna.

Creating for children is a wonderful, but also a responsible job. Children's literature should be entertaining for the youngest readers, but it must also have an educational component. Looking at illustrated picture books is one of the first steps in opening new worldviews through the prism of children's curious eyes.

One of those who successfully do that is the Macedonian poetess Ana Golejska Dzikova, whose words were illustrated by the illustrator Ivana NiBa and together they created one of the most loved picture books among the children's readership in our country - "The growing stick" and "The knitting fox".

In the Museum of the City of Skopje tonight, starting at 18.30:XNUMX p.m., the short animated film "The Knitting Fox", which is based on the picture book of the same name, will be premiered. The smallest visitors, and those who still nurture the child in themselves, will have a great opportunity to attend a warm event this December evening.

Tonight you will be promoting the short animated film "The Knitting Fox", based on your children's picture book of the same name. How did you come up with the idea to do something like this?

– The idea for an animated film is an old desire to do something more for children and for the picture book to get an animated version. Primarily, the idea is that of the illustrator Ivanka NiBa, who wanted "The Fox" to be screened and transferred to a digital format to reach a wider audience. With this, all the picture books from Svetulka Edition will get this form, to bring them closer to children through music and melody. Digital opportunities are an asset in this day and age and we use them with great heart. The physical copy of a picture book is only the beginning from which we start to "spread" the story through a poem, which began with "The Fox Knitting" as one of the most requested picture books of the edition.

Who all worked on this beautiful project?

- The project includes wonderful people, artists. The music is composed by Nikola Bochvarov, and the song is sung by Kalina Velkovska. The illustrations are by Ivanka NiBa, the animation is by Goran Menkov, and the editing is by Sandra Georgieva.

Photo: Promotional material

Together with the illustrator Ivanka NyBa, you created the picture books "The Knitting Fox" and "The Growing Bow", works that should be part of every child's library. What was it like working with her?

- I can honestly say: our cooperation is and has always been as open and easy as a song. Ivanka and I understand each other, we allow ourselves to make suggestions, to "decorate" or remove something if we don't like the visualization of the text and illustration. What was really a challenge for me was to display the text properly in the illustrations, and Ivanka captured it perfectly. I have received comments from many people that "The Knitting Fox" and "The Growing Bunch" reach adults as well, because they have colors and outlines like retro picture books from before. I really liked the idea of ​​a slightly "nostalgic" effect, and even when the picture books were in the sketching and preparation stage, I enjoyed experiencing them in conjunction with the text. In the end, I think both of us are very satisfied with the result. The second editions of the picture books tell about their demand.

Why precisely a fox that knits and a bun that grows?

- I explained this in one of my Facebook statuses and in the post of "Edition Svetulka", where my two booklets are also a part. Everything comes from home. "The Knitting Fox" and "The Growing Bun" are actually homages and hugs to the characters of my mother and father. Intertwined care through food and warmth are their life decor.

The "Fox" is indisputably my mother, Lady Zaga, because she knitted stories, sweaters and hats for Nadya, and oh my goodness, for me and my sister as we were growing up. Her needles are a soft joy for creating the most colorful scarves in the world. The wool he chooses at Tetex, usually from the Maenad brand, is the symbol of all the warmth that needs to be preserved to keep the winters covered and safe.

The "Growing Dough" belongs primarily to my father Gotze, the man who first met me and introduced me to the joy and art of kneading, though I will never surpass him. The mornings full of flour, the stretching of crusts on the wooden table and the smell of oil, leeks, meat or cheese, a warm towel, for the three steaming pies waiting, are like a piece of his soul that is hidden so that no one goes hungry.

My children's stories are their imperfect, warm hearts. And now that they are grandparents, it comes to the fore, like a well-shaped bun, like a perfectly woven pattern on a scarf. Where the fox is not a sly, but a good friend. Where the bread that grows has to be shared with the friends and the sparrows and no one remains hungry.

Photo: Private archive

How does it feel to write and create for children?

– Magical, responsive and always full of surprises. I am grateful that life has taken me on this journey, because I remain a child in the big dark adult world.

You are the mother of five-year-old Nadia. How much does she inspire you in your creation?

– She is the source. Before I found out I was pregnant, I wrote my first picture book, The Merry Building. I had no idea that when I became a mother, I would also become a children's writer. Somehow that was not my ambition, not even in the plan. And now that I am Nadia's mother, I enjoy her worldview and mind, which constantly delights me as it develops. All the stories we create together are actually inspired directly from conversations with her. It is truly wonderful how children are the hearts of the future. They are the foundation of the world, and Nadia is my leap into the (un)known love and hope for that world.

Photo: Private archive

Kindness, love, friendship, empathy, solidarity. What is the best way to convey these characteristics to children?

– By learning and conveying, by speaking well and dedication. With much love. By petting neighborhood kittens and puppies, by planting trees and nurturing nature, hugging a crying friend. It is very important for me to talk about these things that we have listed to the children with whom I am surrounded and with whom I work directly or indirectly (because I do workshops for children), because this is the key to a better understanding of myself and the other. In a world that is dangerous and often discourages us, a good child with a heart full of love will manage to make a difference. Empathy and solidarity are number 1 when it comes to primary education. Not only to people but also to animals, the environment, the home, the community. These values ​​are my inner compass and that's how I live and that's how I want to pass them on to my daughter and all the children - that's why I write like that.

Who are the literary characters that were your favorite in childhood?

– Vasilisa Beautiful, because she is a magical and brave girl who looks for the light even in the darkest. Adrian Mole, a delightfully curmudgeonly boy who believes he's an intellectual and is funny in his own right. I love brave and clumsy characters - I always find myself in them.

"Sloboda A" is the new book of poetry by Ana Golejska Dzikova

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