Kids Stuff > Literature
"One day around lunchtime, Kasperl's grandmother stood at the kitchen stove frying sausages. Next to the frying pan there was a large pot of sour kraut on the stove. The sour kraut was steaming, the sausages were sizzling and an incredibly wonderful flavour filled the whole house. Therefore everybody could see that today was Thursday; because on Thursday's there was sausage and sour kraut for lunch at Kasperl's grandmother." (Otfried Preussler, 1970, Neues vom Raeuber Hotzenplotz - Further Adventures of the Robber Hotzenplotz)
Plotzenhotz, Sausage & Sour Kraut
Thursday's Dish. Those were the days! There are evergreens like "Loewenzahn - Dandelion," an informative show about a funny inventor, running on German TV for 20 years or so, and "Raeuber Hotzenplotz - Robber Hotzenplotz," a Kasperl-story written by Otfried Preussler in the 1960's. Did you know that the robber was named after the actual Silesian village of Hotzenplotz, in Czech language known as Osoblaha? While its Sudeten-German population had been expelled after World War II, the robber story still reminds us of the Northern Bohemian family roots of its author. This page is dedicated to "Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut - grilled sausage with shredded cabbage," which Kasperl and Seppel's grandma used to cook every Thursday... until she faced a very hungry intruder!
Global Spread. Despite all of his later success, in the beginning German author Otfried Preussler couldn't quite manage to get an adult novel out. Turning to children's books, he found his true talent and authored classics like "Die kleine Hexe - The Little Witch (1957)", "Das kleine Gespenst - The Little Ghost (1966)" and "Der Raeuber Hotzenplotz - The Robber Hotzenplotz (1962)", which was translated into 34 languages. In Japanese known as "Odorobo Hotsenpuroso," in Chinese it would translate to "bigger thief" or "Da dao zei Huozhenbo." His Spanish name "El Bandido Saltodemata" refers to a bandit, who does things in a hurry, but not properly. ("Salto de mata" literally means: "jump over a little bush.") As displayed on the book cover, ever since the robber has been peeking over the fence - to entertain generations of kids. Not to forget to mention the sequels "Neues vom Raeuber Hotzenplotz - Futher Adventures of the Robber Hotzenplotz (1970)" and the forgiving end of the reformed criminal in "Hotzenplotz 3 (1973)."
Grinding Coffee. It had all started with grandma peacefully sitting in the garden and turning the handle of her new coffee grinder, a birthday present, which could even play her favourite melody. Until she abruptly got interrupted by a deep voice demanding: "Her mit dem Ding da - Hand over that thing!" In her own garden she got robbed by the bold man with the seven knives and the shot gun filled with pepper. We read the story to our kids, listened to audio plays, watched a puppet show and one or two movies together. In the end the robber stole our hearts, too!
Mocking a Robber. Legendary is the scene, where the two kid stars, Kasperl (the all-time jester-hero) and Seppl (his sidekick Joseph) switch identities just by exchanging their hats, Kasperl's typical jelly bag cap and the traditional Bavarian Seppl-hat (without the inscription "Oktoberfest" though). After getting caught, they play as dumb as only possible to rescue their lives and get sold to the big sorcerer Petrosilius Zwackelmann, who is dreaming of a stupid servant that couldn't see through his master's vicious game. As they pretend not even to remember the robber's name correctly, they call him: "Plotzenhotz? Herr Lotzenpotz?" A sure laugh for every kid reader, which is topped only by their versions of the sorcerer's name: "Naturally, Mister Schnackelmann," meaninglessly addressing him as "knickknack-man". Or: "Very well, great sorcerer Zeprodilus Wackelzahn," a name variation translating to "loose tooth."
Business Bicycle. Another unforgettable character is the Bavarian police sergeant Alois Dimpfelmoser, wearing his Prussian spiked helmet and riding his official bike. A representative of law and order, a little heavy-handed, but a true friend and helper. There are lots of jokes about policemen, not just in the legendary Austrian TV show "Kottan", but when you need the men in blue, you are surely happy to see them... While still remembering that bum in the show, waking up with a police officer bent over him, then counting: "One star, two stars, three starts... Good morning, Mister Metaxa!" But I am no fan of cognac, anyway.
Cinematic Deja Vu. Movie Sequels or Remakes usually try to do one thing, repeat the success of the original. Even if often not living up to the expectations, they can be a good cause to re-establish an atmosphere that had been there when you were a child yourself with your own kids decades later. Our friend’s first movie had been "The Robber Hotzenplotz" with Bond-nemesis Gert Froebe, mine was Bambi. By coincidence remakes of both were released in spring 2006. We certainly had fun together, both veterans and greenhorns… Little did we know that it would be our last spring together.
A compilation from two shots taken without a third photographer. (Click to enlarge.)
Photoshopping. What do you do, if you want to take a group picture, but you have no separate photographer at hand? One option is to just go along with the best you can get, and later copy the individual shots together during one of those late evenings... It would have been nice to actually have the robber look over our shoulder and watching the deer and butterfly scene "live". What puzzled me was that Groundhog Day - the US equivalent to Mariae Lichtmess - was mentioned in the Bambi sequel, years after I had visited the weather forecast capital Punxsutawney in the north of Pennsylvania.
Talking Hair-Dryer. Another evening bringing my kids to bed, I read "The Frog King" to them. Although they got a little old for that kind of fairy tale about the frog, who was a bewitched prince, really. Afterwards listening to the free interpretation of the North German comedian Otto was a funny highlight. The story of Suzie Sorrowless (Susi Sorglos), asked by her hair-dryer for a kiss. Only to find out, it had lied. For it was no bewitched prince at all but just a bewitched razor. Anyway, after growing some facial hair, they lived happily ever after...
Talking Toad. Also the first Hotzenplotz adventure contains a variation of the Frog King fairy tale. As an ugly toad turns out to be a bewitched most beautiful fairy, it teaches us not to go by the first impression but to give people a second chance to reveal their true self, whatever that may turn out to be. If you saw a frog, who was a bewitched Austrian, would you kiss it? But then again there are also different people, as the following tale demonstrates...
Bambi 2 was another nice take on the original Disney movie with the half-grown deer
and especially with Bumper, the rabbit looking over one's shoulder...
Bewitched Beauty. A man was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said: "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." The man bent over, picked the animal up and put it in his pocket. The frog would try over and over again to convince the man and cry out in the pocket: "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you and do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g you want. What's the matter with you, why won't you kiss me?" The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and said, "Look, I'm a Software Engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool."