The Emperor and the Rose
Print Facebook Bina Štampe Žmavc

The Emperor and the Rose

Rights sold: China

  • IBBY Honour List 2012 
  • The White Ravens 2011
  • Večernica 2010  (the most important Slovenian award for youth literature)
  • Hinko Smrekar plaque for ilustrations

In The Emperor and the Rose (Cesar in Roža), the author approaches old fairy tale motifs with an ironic distance and exceeds the reader’s horizon of expectations with clever twists and turns. In this way, she brings modern elements into the classic fairy tale, something that the illustrator Alenka Sottler uses fully and emphasises the author’s twist from the classic to the modern and from the naive to the critical. With wonderful illustrations (tempera on checkered cloth) that explore an entirely new, original and exciting artistic direction, illustrator inserts elements of ironic distance into the fairy tale and indicates a possible reading experience – modern and critical. Apart from the already mentioned, all of the stories are also distinguished by Bina Štampe Žmavc’s luxurious, dulcet choice of words, which, combined with the illustrations, makes sure that The Emperor and the Rose is not only beautiful, but also very special.

The book consists of nine stories starring classic fairy tale characters (emperors, princesses, chambermaids, princes, frogs etc.), but they are only classic at first glance. The author actually places them into completely new, imaginatively rich situations (some are even very modern – in the tale The Mobile Phone of the Heart (Mobitel srca), the prince and princess send text messages to each other), which each of them faces in their own way. It ends well for some, a little worse for others, but all of their stories are mysterious, tense, and full of unexpected twists and clever ideas.

An explanation of the jury which awarded the večernica, the most important Slovene prize for youth literature, to the book:

‘The Emperor and the Rose by Bina Štampe Žmavc appears to be a collection of fairy tales in its themes, motifs and narrative components – but it soon turns out to be an interesting dissolution of that same fairy-tale myth. The author displays this problematic of the modern, current fairy tale with an absence of a mythic grounding of life, a lack of connection to the holy, the archetypical, in short with a desecration of traditional magical themes and motifs and a desecration of humanity itself. The point when self-awareness and self-recognition should be justified in its mythic elevation or encased in a delivering personal value or holiness, in short, a point where the traditional magic of the fairy tale might occur, is missing painfully. And it is this aesthetically effective painful disappointment of the holy at the bitter irony or emptiness of the fairytale narrative and its themes and motifs in each separate story and in the series as a whole, that makes the reader take notice and awakens them from the all too common alienation and secondarity.’

An explanation of the jury of the 9th Slovene illustration biennale, which awarded the illustrator of The Emperor and the Rose a Hinko Smrekar plaque:

‘Alenka Sottler never ceases to amaze up, as the amazing virtuosity of her creative work escalates with every project she works on and reveals new possibilities that the drawing medium offers her. Her sovereign exploration of art is reflected in a precise and firm construction of space and a courageous but sensible use of colours, which she uses to create an incredible and original colouring. On the other hand, she experiments thoughtfully with technical means and uses her favoured painting medium – the classic tempera – on printed cloth.’

Illustrator: Alenka Sottler
Categories: Children's Books, Midgrade Books
Country: Slovenija
Covers: hard cover
Number of pages: 80
Format: 210 mm x 280 mm x 20 mm
Publishing date: January 2009