ZBF, Jujja Wieslander, Mama Mu.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ ZBF/ ik

The Zagreb Book Festival (ZBF), which takes place on May 16-22, will host several prominent foreign and Croatian writers for children, including Sweden's Jujja Wieslander, best known for her Mamma Moo series.

Wieslander told Hina in an interview that she had invented the character of the smart, imaginative, enthusiastic and adventurous cow with the help of her husband Tomas and their children.

"Children have always not only inspired, but also directly taken part in my work. When they were about four years of age we made a lot of short good-night stories and they were really the authors. We also made a great amount of songs based on the children's experiences, fantasy and own language," says the author, whose illustrated books about Mamma Moo and her companion Crow have been translated into 30 languages.

"Mamma Moo is motherly and childish, calm and vivid, curious and playful," the author says, adding that "as usual, the idea came from a child," who wondered what it would be like if a cow could climb a tree.

Wieslander admits that she has been greatly influenced by a tradition set by Astrid Lindgren, the author of the Pippi Longstocking books.

"I was born the same year as Pippi and my generation was raised by a new kind of children's literature where the child is strong and free. It was a period in Swedish history where the society , since we didn't take part in World War Two, was rich and the politicians in power then built a society good for children. I think it has had an enormous impact both as humans and authors. I have had so much joy of Astrid's books. Personally I have never felt a burden of her legacy," she said.

Her books, illustrated by Sven Nordqvist, are mostly intended for pre-school children, but the authors says that grown-ups like them too. The Mamma Moo character first appeared a Swedish radio programme for children and became very popular.

Two of the Mamma Moo books have been published in Croatia to date, by Planet Zoe, and translated by Zrinka Gugic.

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