JOVANOVIC, Katarina




Author Tags: Kidlit & Young Adult

Serbia-born teacher and journalist Katarina Jovanovic of Vancouver provided the text for The King Has Goat Ears (Tradewind 2008), winner of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize in 2009, illustrated by Philippe Béha.

Illustrated by Montreal's Josée Bisaillon, Katarina Jovanovic's second book in English, The Blue Vase (Tradewind 2015), is a sophisticated story for middle grade readers about bullying and entrapment. After Sonia accidentally breaks a precious vase belonging to her next-door neighbour, Mrs. Kaminski, her playmate Marta, who is Mrs. Kaminski's grand-daughter, promises to keep the incident secret in exchange for money and gifts. As Marta's power over Sonia increases, and her blackmail demands escalate, Marta spreads lies about Sonia at school. Ultimately Sonia must find the strength to confront bullying and allow honesty to prevail.

Having been educated at the University of Belgrade and having worked for Serbian Radio, Jovanovic teaches for the Native Education College of Vancouver Community College.

BOOKS:

The King Has Goat Ears (Tradewind 2008) 9781896580227

The Blue Vase (Tradewind 2015) $12.95 978-1-896580-91-3

[BCBW 2015] "Kidlit"

Acceptance Speech BC Book Prizes


from Katarina Jovanovic,
There is an anonymous quote on children’s literature: “Good children’s literature appeals not only to the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.”

My idea of writing for children is that the content of books for young readers can be as complex and serious as any other literature because children deserve to be given the opportunity to reflect on life just like adults. The difference is in the way of expressing it.

I wanted to make a book about the necessity of the self-acceptance, but also about its complexity. Accepting yourself the way you are is not an easy job and it requires work and patience. However, the hardship of that process will make its outcome—a triumph.

The main character in my book is the king who was born with goat ears. Of course, he is very much ashamed of that and his difference creates lots of difficulties in his life including the barbers who come one after another to shave him and do his royal haircut. When the king finally pokes his head out of the carriage for the first time and shows himself in public, he shouts, “It is true, the king does have goat ears!”

By doing that he is a winner. In children’s eyes he is a hero just like any other, for what makes a hero is not his perfection but his strength and the ability to act in an exceptional way.

I felt a huge admiration for this character, after the book had been published. Presenting it to the young readers and answering their questions I realized that even though I had written the book and had created the protagonist, there was a lot for me or any other adult to learn from it.

I am a person of words and the language had been my major channel to life since I was a child. Fifteen years ago, I lived the words: I was a writer and a journalist with a solid career in the radio broadcasting. I saw poetry in every segment of the day. But it was all in another country and in another language.

When I came to Canada I spoke English very well like many people from Europe who went through university studies and travelled. My English was good enough to work, to read, to teach, to integrate and to make friends. But not sufficient to be a writer I used to be.

Language is not only about grammar and morphology, it is also about the mind and the feelings. It took me years of silence, years of seeing myself as a diminished poet, before I started sensing the English words that way I had felt the words in my first language. It took me years of not writing for the simple reason that I couldn’t decide in what language to write.

It took me years before my deepest reflections and thoughts touched the words and I started writing literature in English. Still, it takes courage to talk about that.

I am grateful for the honor of this book prize but even more grateful for the BC Book Tour. Without the six-day book tour to the North of BC, I would have never had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of children and adults about the ways the story affected them.

Finally, without the brilliant illustrations of Philippe Beha, this book would never capture completely the magic life balance of wisdom and humour which seems to be reaching so easily to that adult in the child.

I am honored to be presented with this prize. Thank you.

-- April 25, 2009

The Blue Vase (Tradewind $12.95)
Article (2015)


from BCBW (Winter 2015)
Katarina jovanovic’s second book in English, The Blue Vase is a sophisticated story for middle grade readers about bullying and entrapment.

After Sonia accidentally breaks a precious vase belonging to her next-door neighbour, Mrs. Kaminski, her playmate Marta, who is Mrs. Kaminski’s grand-daughter, promises to keep the incident secret in exchange for money and gifts. As Marta’s power over Sonia increases, and her blackmail demands escalate, Marta spreads lies about Sonia at school. Ultimately Sonia must find the strength to confront bullying and allow honesty to prevail. It’s illustrated by Montreal’s Josée Bisaillon.

Here are some of the remarks made by the Serbia-born teacher and journalist Katarina Jovanovic when she accepted the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize in 2009 for The King Has Goat Ears (Tradewind, 2008), illustrated by Philippe Béha.

“There is an anonymous quote on children’s literature: “Good children’s literature appeals not only to the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.

“My idea of writing for children is that the content of books for young readers can be as complex and serious as any other literature because children deserve to be given the opportunity to reflect on life just like adults. The difference is in the way of expressing it...

“I am a person of words and language had been my major channel to life since I was a child. Fifteen years ago, I lived the words: I was a writer and a journalist with a solid career in radio broadcasting. I saw poetry in every segment of the day. But it was all in another country and in another language.

“When I came to Canada I spoke English very well like many people from Europe who went through university studies and travelled. My English was good enough to work, to read, to teach, to integrate and to make friends. But not sufficient to be the writer I used to be.
“Language is not only about grammar and morphology, it is also about the mind and the feelings. It took me years of silence, years of seeing myself as a diminished poet, before I started sensing the English words the way I had felt the words in my first language. It took me years of not writing for the simple reason that I couldn’t decide in what language to write.

“It took me years before my deepest reflections and thoughts touched the words and I started writing literature in English. Still, it takes courage to talk about that.”

978-1-896580-91-3