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Peroci's fairy tales revived a century after her birth

Ljubljana, 11 February - A collection of the best known fairy tales by Ela Peroci (1922-2001) will be published by Mladinska Knjiga to mark the 100th anniversary of birth of one of most popular Slovenian children's authors. The book entitled Med Pravljice (Into Fairy Tales) will feature nine stories and some legendary illustrations.

Ljubljana
An exhibition of illustrations by Ancka Gosnik Godec on the 50th anniversary of "Muca Copatarica" (Slippery Cat), a favourite children's book by Ela Peroci.
Photo: Domen Grögl/STA

Many generations of readers know Peroci by the fairytale Muca Copatarica (Slippery Cat) and Moj Dežnik je Lahko Balon (My Flying Umbrella) illustrated by Ančka Gošnik Godec and Marlenka Stupica, respectively.

According to the Mladinska Knjiga editor for children's literature, Irena Matko Lukan, Peroci in a way created an original version of a modern fairy tale after the Second World War, drawing from children's world and intertwining it with imagination.

Born in Sveti Križ near Rogaška Slatina on 11 February, Peroci taught and worked as a journalist at the youth magazines Pionir, Ciciban and Mladi Svet after the war.

Then she got a job at Radio Slovenija and was the editor of the an educational radio show from 1962 until her retirement in 1978.

She established herself as an author by publishing her stories in Ciciban with illustrations by some of the greatest Slovenian illustrators.

Her first published book was My Flying Umbrella in 1955, which sold in over 120,000 copies, becoming one of the most popular Slovenian fairy tales. Even more popular was Slippery Cat with almost 150,000 copies.

Another of her well known stories, the 1952 Hišica iz Kock (House of Blocks), was first published in a book in 1964.

The same year, Peroci's stories were published in a collection of bedtime stories Za Lahko Noč (For a Good Night), which was reprinted on the 90th anniversary of Peroci's birth.

The new collection of Peroci's stories, marking her 100th birthday, will feature her best known fairy tales as well as three with brand new illustrations. One fairy tale, Amalija and Amalija, will feature illustrations by Peroci's daughter Anka Luger Peroci.

According to author Peter Svetina, who wrote the foreword, Peroci sided with the children and their imagination in her stories, which was a new approach in Slovenian post-war children's literature.

She also introduced several other narrative techniques that were used in literature only much later, in Postmodernism. Her fairytales were also subversive in the sense that they did not contain any ideological elements that were a must in children's literature in the 1950s-1980s.

In addition to fairytales, Peroci also wrote poems, prose, as well as screenplays for television programme for children. She received the Levstik awards for best literature for children in 1955 and 1956, and was a recipient of the Prešeren Fund Prize in 1971.

Her books have been widely translated to Croatian and German as well as several other languages.

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© STA, 2022