Croatian Children's Favourites - Lovrak's Pero Kvržica's Gang

After some consideration and a conversation with a friend who is learning Croatian, I have decided to add a language I will add on the blog: Croatian (Bosnian and Serbian). I will share some of the most well-known children's, young adult and general literature and other general articles and I will provide some vocabulary and explanations to aid the English-speaking learner in comprehending particular passages or specific vocabulary. Today, I will tell you about my favourite Croatian-language children's book by Mato Lovrak, Družba Pere Kvržice (Pero Kvržica's Gang).

Mato Lovrak is a Croatian children's writer (1899 - 1974). As children, we happily read his books, two of the most well known ones being Vlak u snijegu (A train in the snow) and Druzba pere kvrzice (Pero Kvržica's Gang). The latter was my favourite book when I was a child.. As a refugee living in a small town, I lived near a river and I could vividly imagine a part of the river not too far from our house where such action could happen.The book follows Pero and his friends who fix and secretly renovate the village mill which the adults did not bother to renovate for the greater good.  The book demonstrates communal values, friendship, cooperation, but also shows us a common problem familiar to adults, namely corruption and bribery which has remained firmly entrenched in post-Yugoslav. In the following passage, we see Pero overhearing his parents discuss the situation with the mill:

»Ljudi su u našem selu nerazumni. Na rijeci imamo od vajkada stari mlin, vodenicu. Mlin je seoski, zadružni. Zajedničko je to imanje svih nas. Pa što je s mlinom? Eno ga već šest godina svega zarasla u drač. Trune. A zašto? Samo zato, što se most preko potoka, koji utječe u rijeku, provalio i ne može se kolima prijeći preko jarka u mlin. Neki su seljaci bili zato da se most popravi, a drugi su se tome protivili. Bogati vlasnik parnog mlina spretno je to iskoristio. Podmitio je neke ljude u selu rakijom i drugim mitom. Ovi su stvorili stranku koja nije htjela popravljati most. Svi su prešli mljeti u parni mlin, a svoju zadružnu vodenicu ostaviše. I mlinar je napokon morao napustiti mlin. Odselio se u drugo selo. Zašto? Zato što je rakija tako razjarila ove dvije stranke u selu da je pola sela mljelo u jednom, a pola u drugom susjednom parnom mlinu, a u svom zadružnom nitko živ! Kad bi mlinar sam i popravio most, seljani opet ne bi kod njega mljeli, pa on ne bi mogao živjeti. Zato ni jedan mlinar nije više htio zadružni mlin. Bojali su se mržnje u selu. Nahuckani su seljani ratovali jedni protiv drugih. U isto su vrijeme dvostruko skuplje mljeli u susjednim parnim mlinovima, a naš je zadružni mlin do krova obrastao u korov.«


Children playing in the River Tyne, East Lothian by Robert Noble

Vocabulary for comprehension 

nerazumni (mpl) irrational, unreasonable
vajkad - since forever, since a long time ago, not used anymore. A contemporary word:  oduvijek
jarak (nm) ditch
seljaci (pl of seljak) - peasants, villagers
podmitio je - he gave a bribe to
mito (nm) - bribe
parni mlin (nm) - steam mill
rakija - (nf) - schnapps, a homemade alcoholic beverage common in South Eastern European countries made from various fruits such as plums Its production is is often an annual community event in small towns and villages.
potok (nm) creek
razjariti (v) to enrage, to anger
susjedni (adj) neighbourhood (mill)
zadružni (adj) cooperative
mržnja (nf) hatred
dvostruko (adv) double, twofold, twice, dual
korov (nm) - weed

Let me know if there are other books you want me to write about!


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