The Cartoon Goat From Poland Who Wandered the World in Search of Shoes
In PacanÃ³w, Poland, KozioÅek MatoÅekâ"the Silly Billy-Goat, or the Dopey Goatâ"is famous. Thereâs a statue of him in the park at the center of town, and his image appears all over. Through all his wanderings, this town was KozioÅek MatoÅekâs destination: He had heard it was possible to find shoes for goats here.
Created in the 1930s, KozioÅek MatoÅek was the star of perhaps the most popular Polish kidsâ books before World War II. Today, he is a considered classic character of Polish childrenâs literature, but is mostly unknown outside the country.
Kornel MakuszyÅski, the author of the KozioÅ ek MatoÅek booksâ"four in allâ"was a poet, journalist, and critic before he wrote childrenâs books. Born in 1884, he started writing poems when he was young, and in the goat books each illustration came with sing-song verses. The illustrator, Marian Walentynowicz, drew caricatures for newspapers and had traveled around the world. In the 1930s, foreign comicsâ"Prince Valiant, most notablyâ"were becoming popular in Poland, and publishers were interested in homegrown illustrated stories. In the origin myth of KozioÅek MatoÅek, the two men decided to send their goat on a pilgrimage to PacanÃ³w after meeting a man in a cafÃ© who came from the tiny town.
But his adventures werenât just about making it to PacanÃ³w to find those shoes. Instead, KozioÅek MatoÅek wanders the world with a naive, happy-go-lucky attitude that gets him into and out sometimes surreal scrapes. He meets bears and bunnies, squirrels and scarecrows, is chased up a tree and sent to jail. H e tries to butt a car, meets a king, gets shot out of a cannon and lands on a whale, slides down a rainbow and ends up in China, and never quite gets what heâs looking for.
As a white goat in red pants (the colors of Poland), heâs a symbol of patriotism. His adventures are âperhaps the best Polish example of the traditions of âJack tales,ââ in which a foolish hero uses clever tricks to save himself from whatever situation heâs bumbled into, write scholars Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak and Marek Oziewicz, in a monograph on Polish fairy-tale films.
KozioÅek MatoÅek âwas very Polish,â says Oziewicz, a professor of childrenâs literature at the University of Minnesota. In these simple stories, itâs possible to find the markers of classic Polish literature, âincluding the idea that youâre exiled from your land and you have to travel to tho se faraway places, hoping to get back home, but always frustrated with all kinds of difficulties.â
KozioÅek MatoÅek was more a popular hit than a critical one. After the war, though, with Poland under the control of the Soviet Union, both author and goat suffered. MakuszyÅski was banned from publishing, and his most beloved creation began to change.
Under communism, the world KozioÅek MatoÅek lived in began to change. Before the war, when the goat looked out over Warsaw, he spotted the royal castle and church spire. After, it was a Palace of Culture dedicated to Joseph Stalin. The police were no longer enemies but friends. There were no more poor children, on ly âdearâ children. and when he visited the Moon, the star that brings him back no longer has six points, like a Christmas star, but five, like the ones on the Soviet flag.
But KozioÅek MatoÅek survived, like always. His stories have become classics, as has the television show he starred in for a few years in the 1970s. PacanÃ³w now has a âfairy tale centreâ celebrating childrenâs stories on the strength of its association with him.Source: Google News Poland | Netizen 24 Poland