By employing the chatty bird Alemperka (Gemfeather), the companion of the highest Slavic god Svarog, as narrator, Jasna Horvat passes on ancient Croatian myths that are hardly familiar anymore except from some folk songs, sayings, proverbs, and folk customs. The allegoric- symbolic tales and legends mirror the old Slavs’ view of the world’s organisation. They describe the creation of the world and of the first human beings, talk about the sky and the underworld, about the world tree, kind or evil gods, fairies, ghosts, and giants. Through their combination of rhymes and rhythmic prose, the texts perfectly lend themselves to reading aloud and are clearly reminiscent of folk poetry. The appendix, which explains names and specific terms to the readers, is also very useful. The illustrations resemble bright panel paintings and thus underline the symbolic character of the tales. They help young readers grasp the content of the texts even more easily. (8+)
The book Alemperkina kazivanja (Gemfeather’s Sayings) is an interesting, unusual, informative and sententious collection of short stories. Such a refreshingly shaped text woven by poetry and prose transfers the stock of the hereditary identity, which is an important part of the national identity recognition process in young readers in these globalizing times, in a simple way.
Jasna Horvat leads us through her stories into the world of more or less known legends, giving life to fairies, good and evil gods and goddesses. She offers the new dimension of reality with her poetic text interfering like a true expert of something that children’s sentiments can’t easily explore or understand.
Primarily, she nourishes positive attitude towards the tradition and teaches about the forgotten parts of the historical heritage.