Original title: Tajemství ostrova za prkennou ohradou
Genre: children´s book
Petrkov 2009, 2013
ISBN: 978-80-904-0617-9, 978-80-875-9516-9
Muriel 2010 - Best Original Czech Comic Book
Macedonian (Magor, 2022)
A poetic, nostalgic book about friendship, guilt and reconciliation. For older child readers and others besides
The story tells of three friends and a misfortune which affects their lives. We first encounter the protagonist Jindra as an old man in hospital, clueless as to why and how he got there. He looks back on his childhood and things he has seen and done. He thinks about things he hasn’t thought of in years—including toy Indians made of tin, Christmases, a museum and an old-fashioned diving suit, and boyhood battles. He remembers the first time he met Toník, who saved him from drowning, and making friends with Pepík. And he remembers the day they were looking for a clubhouse and happened upon an abandoned old factory, which they gave the name The Island…
Will the old man’s death bring redemption? As a background to the story of the friendship, the history of the factory and the story of its erstwhile owner unfold as a nagging mystery demanding a solution. In this regard, however, the author is with Umberto Eco in believing that the revelation of a secret will deliver only disappointment.
The dream-like, full-page illustrations draw us into a world of dark streets and overgrown gardens, where secret places and children’s dreams reside. Čech is now established as a first-class comics author on a Europe-wide scale, but it was in this book that his gift for comics was first displayed. Here, too, he combines oil painting with collages of line drawing, cuttings, illustrations by other artists, rubber-stamp imprints, black-and-white photographs, and extracts from old diaries and school reports. The double-page paintings are supplemented with short texts with sequenced smaller pictures and comics balloons.
Reader age: 9+
comics / illustrated book
“The Secret Island beyond the Fence summoned up in me the same sense of gentle, pleasant melancholy I felt aged nine, when reading the phenomenal old Nordic fantasy tale that is Astrid Lindgren’s novel The Brothers Lionheart. Add to this the masterly artwork, which blends toned oil painting with clever use of collage. If you wish to give your offspring an adventure book with something important to say about life, you should look no further.”
Petr Kuběnský, Vašeliteratura.cz