My First Kafka (And Other Literary Classics for Kids)
There’s been a recent trend for children’s books to entertain literary parents … and maybe act as a bit of a status symbol. Many of those books (like Go the F _ _ k to Sleep) are really more for the parents' benefit than the kids'.
But the latest cab off the Literary Kids rank, My First Kafka, genuinely aims to draw kids into the strangeness of Kafka’s surreal universe.
Creator Matthue Roth explained how the book came about in an article for the Huffington Post. ‘One night I was reading a book by Franz Kafka, the odd and eerie storyteller who lived in Prague, whose stories are resplendent with the city’s own mystery and beauty and disturbing weirdness. My daughters asked me what I was reading, and if I could read it to them. I wasn’t going to. Then I did. Why not? I thought. What’s the worst that could happen? And before you knew it - night after night, they asked for Kafka.’
‘A boy who changes into a giant insect. Talking jaguars who debate the philosophical implications of hunting - and then go hunting anyway. A girl who runs away and becomes the leader of a group of monsters. That’s the Kafka my kids discovered.’
The book is illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason.
‘Kafka’s Å“uvre is, on the surface, no more frightening than Lewis Carroll’s, Roald Dahl’s, or Neil Gaiman’s; what happens in his universe is not all that different from what occurs in traditional fairy tales,’ commented the New Yorker. ‘Perhaps Kafka’s works can be best confronted by children, who have that empyrean way of digesting the surreal and decoding symbols, who are braver, in their innocent beliefs, than we can ever be.’
More literary adaptations for kids:
The Cozy Classics series includes a hilarious, word-to-a-page soft-toy Pride and Prejudice, as well as War and Peace, Les Miserables and more.
And the Little Miss/Little Master board books series features illustrations to the theme of adult favourites like Moby Dick, Dracula and Jane Eyre.