Title: Lokomotywa / The Locomotive / Die Lokomotive
Author: Julian Tuwim
Illustrations: George Him and Jan Lewitt
Publisher: TAiWPN UNIVERSITAS (2013)
Language: Polish (with English and German translations)
All Aboard! Are you ready for this ride?
I recently asked a good friend who travels a lot to pick up a copy of an iconic children's book from the next place she was going.
I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED.
Did I mention? This book rocks as a read-aloud, and if you don't believe me, just listen to this video of it being read aloud. Even though I don't speak Polish at all I've listened to the whole thing three times now (and am listening again as I type this) because it sounds so awesome and locomotive-like that it gets me jiggling in my seat (Note to self: listen to this video the next time I ride a train). If I still was in contact with my young Polish ESOL student from years back, I would email him immediately and congratulate him from coming from such an awesome-sounding language background. Wow, what a read aloud!
Now for a little about the author which I gleaned from Wikipedia and this blog. He was kind of a bad-ass in the poetry world, an inference I took from the title of one of his poems, "A Poem in which the author politely yet firmly implores the vast hosts of his brethren to kiss his arse" which was written in 1937 (by the way, don't click that link if you are easily offended by strong language, or by anything else). You can see his satirical sense of humour in this more G-rated example of his work (Lokomotywa was written the following year in 1938), on the page that describes the passengers in the third carriage of the locomotive as "fat-bellied dummies, sitting and eating greasy salamis". Although this Jewish poet wisely moved from Poland during World War Two, as soon as the war was over he moved back. I would love to know if he did any work in English during the five years he was living in New York.
This book is a bundle of fun from the beginning to the end, the end papers appearing as one big long locomotive forging through the countryside. I believe this book would find a good place in any international school library that wants a collection that celebrates different languages and cultures as vibrant resources in a classroom. Where I live in the United States, I'm almost sure every Polish immigrant family would love to have this book, as a way of making their language really fun, and really alive for their children who may only receive their education in one language.
I'm off to wire a large amount of money to my world-travelling friend so that she buys me a book in every country. If THIS is what she came up with, I think I need more....