Peter and I have written before about the fact that all sorts of folks find a connection with Jan Balet through our website. We had hoped that creating the site would encourage contact with those who had an interest in Jan and his works, and, once again, our hopes became reality.
Last year, we received a message from a professor at the University of Lisbon. An art professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon, he came across the website and found a reference to a favorite book from his childhood. He was immediately drawn to the idea that Balet’s tale of a young boy from a Portuguese fishing family would still be relevant to children in Portugal today.
After several emails, the professor asked permission to put us in contact with a publisher in Matosinhos, Portugal who specializes in children’s books. Several more contacts led to a contract with the publisher, Kalandraka Publishing House, to reprint João, a Portuguese Tale in Portuguese, one of the three languages in which the original 1965 book was printed. (It was also published in English and German and carried the title Joanjo, a variation of the Portuguese name.)
This marks the third time in recent years that a children’s book by Jan Balet was selected for reprint. Jan was working in New York City as a graphic illustrator when he created his first book for children – Amos and the Moon – as a Christmas gift for his only son. Long out of print, the book was reprinted by Ammo Books in 2015 and they reissued The Five Rollatinis, the story of a young boy who seeks to find his place in his family’s circus act, in 2016.
The João story is a wonderful one. Jan takes the dreams of a young boy to leave his family’s small fishing town for the big city and captures the extravagance of childhood imaginings to a very unusual end.
The Portuguese company has begun work on the project and the book is expected to be available this October for the 2017 holiday season.
Peter and Marie