A Treasury of Tenderness, Joy and Wisdom
This extraordinary section for the youngest readers of the Serbian oldest living daily newspaper has been published for almost ninety years. It is an anthology, scrap book, book of poems, encyclopedia, entertainment magazine. Renowned masters have been writing, drawing and editing it. Their hand is felt in everything brought by this golden school of nobleness, knowledge and entertainment for decades. Since 2009, the section has been halved. Newspapers are the best reflection of the spirit of time, so a question arises: what has actually halved inside of us?

By: Dragan Lakićević

The first edition of ”Politika for Children” was published on Thursday, January 16, 1930.
Politika for Children” was more than just a section of Politika, our oldest living newspaper.
It was preceded by the ”Children’s Page” – stories, poems, knowledge, news, pictures and crosswords, trivia – for the youngest readers. The ”Children’s Page” was one page of ”Politika”, while ”Politika for Children” had two pages in a newspaper format, which means an entire foil. Those two pages were divided into two, printed horizontally. When you pull out the section from the newspaper and fold it, you get four pages – ”Politika for Children”.
Observing the 90th anniversary of ”Politika for Children”, Politika has recently noted that ”small Politika” has been issued more than 550 times before World War I.
Politika for Children” had a distinctive header – it is believed that it was created by Brana Cvetković, a magician of then poetic, journalism and theatrical life: on top of the page, facing each other, a girl and a boy are sitting in armchairs, each of them holding their newspaper… It was the idea of a family newspaper: parents are reading large format Politika and children are reading the small format. Just imagine an afternoon at home: everyone reading their paper.
The newspaper for children resembles children: small, joyful, various, colorful, as well as entertaining, educational, illustrated.


Due to the approaching Christmas and New Year, the cover page of the first edition from 1930 presented illustrated Andersen’s story ”Christmas Tree”. Translated from Danish. At the time, translations were mostly done from big languages. The fairytale was ”Serbianized” – its heroes have local names: uncle Sima and aunt Juca.
Politika for Children” will often remember Andersen, so the April edition of the same year writes, again in the spirit of the newspaper:
Yesterday was exactly a hundred twenty-five years since the birth of the favorite writer for children, Andersen. The little readers of Politika for Children” had the opportunity to read wonderful stories of this great narrator in their favorite newspaper. Observing the 125th anniversary since Andersen’s birth, the city of Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, raised a monument to the poet at the sea shore, a large figure of the Sea Fairy, whom Andersen often writes about in his stories. You can see the beautiful figure in our picture.
The Sea Fairy was later named Little Mermaid.
A picture of Andersen was also published.
Stories of Victor Hugo and Leo Tolstoy prove that even the greatest world writers wrote for children.
The editorial hand of Živojin Vukadinović, editor of the famous ”Golden Book” edition and its entertaining, literary and educational section ”Colorful Part”, is visible in many aspects. The ”Golden Book” was born the same year as ”Politika for Children”.
On the second page, in bigger letters, a statement to the readers:
Starting today, you will get your own newspaper every Thursday: there will be nice poems, wonderful stories and various pictures, riddles, etc. Every Thursday, Politika for Children” will be published on four pages, which you will be able to pull out and keep, so at the end of the year, if you bind all the numbers, you will get a nice book.
Those bound newspaper for children in yearly series now make large books, full of chosen noble subjects intended for those who are loved and fed in order to have strong muscles, as well as strong knowledge, will, imagination, self-esteem.


The spirit of Jovan Jovanović Zmaj and his magazines for children was very alive. An easy rebus in the first edition testifies about it: with letters Č and J and pictures of a ponytail, owl and dragon: Uncle Jova Zmaj. The solutions to rebuses, problems and crosswords were published in the following edition of ”Politika for Children”. Thus the previous edition was kept till the next one appears, and the completed ”Politika for Children” is a big colorful book – anthology and scrap book, book of poems and encyclopedia.
In questions ”Dašto mi ti dašto” there are equations, brain teasers, witticisms and wits, and those in the first edition were ”stated by Ahmed Kantardžić, Sarajevo”.
And so, from edition to edition: fairytales, fables, stories, legends, kazhas, skazkas – Russian, French, English, Indian, Finish, Italian, Norwegian, Japanese, Korean, African, as well as Serbian, taken from the latest Veselin Čajkanović’s book Serbian Folk Fairytales, published by Rajković and Ćuković: ”Two Moneys”, ”St. Sava and Poor Peasant”, ”Nasradin Hodža and a Frenchman”, ”A Chicken Went to the Market”. Stories and poems are often signed by pseudonyms and initials, and some of them still haven’t been unriddled.
Looking up to folk literature, many writers are writing new legends about St. Sava.
There are mysterious drawings in which a sharp eye finds hidden objects, birds and animals. In the ”Like Father Like Son” section, there are eight characters drawn – fathers and as many sons – boys and young men. ”Discover who is whose son! By appearance, clothes, face…”
Then ”Mysterious Circles”, ”Strange Hide-and-Seeks” – everything for entertainment, inciting imagination, practicing noticing details, sharpening the mind. ”What is wrong in this picture”, ”Funny questions”, ”For small drawers”, ”Which way can a girl reach the house door fastest?” – labyrinths and twists…
There is also a ”one act play”, suitable for theatrical games and school performances.
The illustrated ”Travels and Adventures of Brave Koča” were published from edition to edition – without a signature. It was later discovered that the writer of the famous poem is surrealist Aleksandar Vučo. The pseudonym Steb was signing poem after poem. Soon the full name of the poet appeared: Stevan P. Bešević.
Famous poet Gvido Tartalja has also been signing with initials at the beginning. At the time, he was writing one of the first theoretical books Children’s Literature, published by Jeremija Dželebdžić’s Bookstore.


”Here is what Mira drew without lifting her pen from the paper”: giraffe, parrot and rabbit, all drawn in only one line. ”Take a transparent paper and just copy it. It won’t be difficult.” Or a bit further: ”This is how you draw a rabbit” – in four stages. Playing, drawing, thinking, learning lessons…
In ten pictures, resembling a linocut, the life of St. Sava was told: ”How a young prince replaced his father’s palace with a monastery and was more useful to his nation with a book than his brothers were with arrows and swords”. The lives of writer and enlightenerDositej Obradović, sculptor Ivan Meštrović, statesman and diplomat Jovan Ristić were ”drawn” using the same procedure. It was the ”Life of Great People in Pictures” section.
A humorous folk poem about the marriage of sparrow Podunavac is next to the poem about avenging the football defeat in Montevideo, which was still fresh in the memory:

I am small, but
I’ll grow up big
And save the honor and glory
Of our football.

Tirke, Vampir,
Moša or Iva are nothing!
I will surely be
A center, furious player.

Politika for Children” also publishes unusual and interesting ”news”: ”Robinson’s island will be desolate again”, ”Have you seen green roses”, ”Wood in fluid state”, ”Greenland is sinking”.
At the same time, young readers can find out more about the prototypes of heroes and backgrounds of their favorite books: Robinson Crusoe, Stories from 1001 Nights, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Leather Sock. Books are closest relatives to children’s newspapers.


Famous Uncle Andra (Franičević) appeared on Thursday, March 20. At the beginning of the poem is a picture of a boy solving problems at the table:

Our elementary student Aca (see his picture!)
Reads Politika” every Thursday.

And that day, he never misses
To shout: Long live our Children’s Page”!

Uncle Andra, together with Uncle Brana (Cvetković), was the most fruitful author of ”Politika for Children” before the war. The most important figure for writing for children in this decade was Uncle Brana. A versatile artist, he wrote fairytales, fables and stories in rhymes, with wondrous ease and perfect narration in the rhythm of the poem:
I listened to this story from villagers: there was a grandpa, there was a grandma, and from morning to evening, grandma was serving grandpa. Grandpa was whining from his room:
Grandma, I’d like some doughnuts.”
And grandma said:
I’ll make a bigger one.”
She took a handful of flour and made the dough with cream...
He wrote an entire collection of stories in that form, with internal rhymes, perfect for reading out loud or learning by heart, including the famous ”Blowfly’s Palace”, which had many editions as a separate color book. Half a century later, Dušan Radović included it in the Anthology of Serbian Poetry for Children, and it could be included in the anthology of Serbian stories for children as well.
Politika for Children” issued an advertisement about publishing the book of poems and stories about Marko Kraljević, ”with a colorful part of riddles, magic, games, etc.”. ”Exquisite painter V. Žedrinski drew about forty pictures. ’The Golden Book’ is issued monthly, in hard cover, on 160 pages, in the Literary Association format”… The following issues ”for all good children”, with the poet’s photo, recommended the most beautiful Uncle Andra’s poems printed in ”The Golden Book”.
Golden newspapers accompany golden books. Golden are noble ideas – morals, games, jokes, the joy of creating for the youngest.
In order to present the famous old stories to children, they were adapted and retold – based on Plutarch, La Fontaine…
In the following years, ”Politika for Children” was abundant with rebuses and illustrated scenes with children and animals as main heroes. Uncle Andra writes poems based on photos and Uncle Brana retells old stories – including the Serbian folk story ”Nail Stew”. Uncle Aca was also telling stories in sequels. With her stories, Jelena Bilbija joined talented Uncle Andra, who wrote poems accompanying illustrated stories about tomcat Tin from Bulbulder. Half-pictures and half-stories appeared. Indian myths depicted America and travelogues Africa. ”The Feats of the Five Little Roosters Group” appear signed by ”Askerland” – the author is the great children’s poet Aleksandar Vučo.
The newspaper was always up-to-date: poems about snow in winter, holiday subjects on holidays, in summers – summer vacations… Little newspapers are a little school and little playroom – they connect children with the world, old and new knowledge…


In August of the first year, initials ”D. M.” – Desanka Maksimović appeared. The great poetess, then a thirty year-old, published many poems, fairytales and stories – pious, instructive, about puppies, under those initials. Her lavishing and versatile gift, style and language, was particularly brilliant in stories written from Thursday to Thursday… From edition to edition, Desanka told stories – in prose and verses. Desanka’s stories made small prose essays on catechism. In her story ”Holidays in Heavens”, she depicts God’s justice and compensation to all children who had a difficult life in this world.
Stories were also written by Uncle Boža, Uncle Đura (”The Shame of Tomcat Micko”) and Bata Kosta (”Little Scarecrow”), Frida Filipović (”The Story of a Human Hand and Night in May”), Milica Janković, Branko P. Sučević (”Christmas Story about a Lamb”). Uncle Andra writes poems-fables and satirical poems, a bit for children and a bit for adults (”Pig and Lion”, ”When a Bull Criticizes”). Uncle Brana was the magician of artistic poems-riddles.

Come on, guess quick:
Before the beginning of summer,
What blossoms on the ground
And gives fruit underground?

The solution is: potato. Or:

If a coniferous tree,
Couples with a fish,
Such a connection will immediately
Make a city in Bačka.

(Serbian som” – catfish, bor” – pine)

Sometimes the solutions are in the acrostic. Games and lessons never end.
Branko Ćopić, only twenty years old at the time, also began writing for ”Politika for Children”. He wrote many wondrous stories: ”Cricket Looking for the Sun”, ”Braggart and Poet”, ”Tomcat Joins the Hayduks”, ”Sun’s Singer”, as well as the anthological story ”Last Descendant of the Great Hero”. Milan Vukasović also published a few fables. His fables were published in the Serbian Literary Cooperative ”Kolo” edition as well.
Ten years later, Disney and his heroes – Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, appeared on the cover page of ”Politika for Children”.
In July 1940, Baron Munchausen comic was published in sequels – drawn by Đorđe Lobačev, author of comics on Serbian epic poetry.


Politika for Children” wasn’t published during the war. It continued only in 1952, supposedly due to lack of paper. At the time, it held on to the old tradition as well – new writers appeared, new interesting information, new subjects. Pious subjects disappeared. In the socialist era, Desanka stopped publishing her stories about faith in God, and some fairytales and fables written during the war were included in the book According to My Grandmother.
Aleksandar Popović, Dragan M. Malović, Svetislav Božinović, Ahmet Hromadžić, Aleksa Mikić, Božidar Knežević, Jovanka Hrvaćanin, Branko V. Radičević, Vesna Aleksić were writing stories for children, and Desanka, Gvido Tartalja, Dragan Lukić, Grigor Vitez, Voja Carić, Momčilo Tešić, Brana Crnčević, Milovan Danojlić, Dušan Radović, Mira Alečković, Miodrag Maticki, Dobrica Erić, Ljubivoje Ršumović, Zorica Bajin Đukanović, Dragomir Đorđević and many other were writing poems. Ivica Vanja Rorić gained a reputation of a children’s writer before turning 18… Writers were accompanied by illustrators, at all times.
Dobrica Erić presented his lavishing talent for writing poems for children very early. Here is his poem ”Morning” from January 30, 1964:

Cica opened her window widely
And saw a silver crown on the cherry tree
A little bird flew into the room
With a white flower of winter in her beak.

Many students-associates of ”Politika for Children” will become famous writers in a few years or decades – for children or adults.
Stories and fairytales of many nations and cultures were translated in the socialist era: Persian, Ceylon, Egyptian, Azerbaijani, Indonesian, Israeli, Finnish, Siberian and African, of Lusatian Serbs… Serbian folk stories and riddles – from the collection of Novica Šaulić.
Short stories of international writers were also translated: Tagore, Gianni Rodari, Elin Pelin, Fred Ericsson, Somerset Maugham, Igor Smolnikov…
After World War II, ”Politika for Children” was more literary and less scientific and entertaining. Disney’s ”Wonders of Nature” section was also published on Thursdays, but on regular pages of Politika. The newspapers were black and white for a long time, but drawings made them colorful.
Illustrators and cartoonists decorated the children’s pages: drawings were playing too.
And all that almost without a single typing error.
Since 2009, ”Politika for Children” has been halved – to one page of its mother newspaper. What has halved?
Newspapers best show the spirit of an era.
Is it possible that children then needed all that and today’s children don’t? Or is there everything in computers, so newspapers (and books) are not necessary?
The history of ”Politika for Children” is much wider and richer than this reminder. This is just a glance. To show all that we lack today.
Either children are not necessary anymore, or newspapers are not necessary for children.


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