The Story Of The Lost Kendama - Book Launch

Cris Pîrvu

We are happy to announce that on June 3rd, 2018, Arthur Publishing House launched The Story Of The Lost Kendama - the first Romanian children’s book with Roma characters - at Bookfest International Book Fair in Bucharest. The book, written by Adina Rosetti and illustrated by Irina Dobrescu, is based on the stories that 12 kids from the Alternative Education Club in Ferentari shared with the authors.

The young storytellers and heroes of the book came in to give autographs and share their experience. They came with Maria Militaru, who is an educational assistant at the Club. Maria's gentleness also inspired Adina Rosetti, the writer of The Story, to create a good fairy who helps the main characters to defeat Leo, the wizard.

We organized a panel discussion that was attended by Adina and Irina, Alex and Bianca, two kids from the Club, and our special guest, Magda Matache, a researcher at Harvard University and advisor at CUAC.

It is worthwhile to note that The New Storytellers started with Magda’s book, Early Development of Roma Children: Risk and Protection Factors, published in 2014. Magda points out that there are few positive Roma characters in our culture and therefore there is no reason for non-Roma children to have positive attitudes towards ethnic differences. In the same time, because these differences are not seen as normal, Roma children have fewer opportunities to develop their pride and self-esteem.

At the launch, Magda also shared a personal fact on the beginning of the project. I was touched to learn that The New Storytellers started with a friendship – the friendship between her and Gabriela, the founder of CUAC and a non-Roma. Magda slowly opened herself to Gabriela and told her about her childhood and teenage years, when she was bullied because of her Roma ethnicity.

Magda’s personal story and emotions stay with me just the same as what Alex, one of the kids from the Club, said:

"Had I not had my kendama this summer, there would have been no story!"

Alex was most certainly right, because he, his games, and all his playmates have been a true source of inspiration for our book.

We are therefore grateful to him and to all the people who came to the launch. They are the reason why we continue to support authors who think that we have to share the stories of all children. We want to help create characters that all children can identify with, and that will make them dream big and live with confidence.