"Despite his mischievousness, Kaytek is an intelligent boy with a good heart. His story is quite enjoyable. Recommended." —Kasey Giard, Children's Literature
Kaytek the Wizardby Janusz Korczak
Kaytek, a mischievous schoolboy who wants to become a wizard, is surprised to discover that he is able to perform magic spells and change reality. He begins to lead a double life: a powerful wizard in the dress of an ordinary boy. It’s all great fun using magic to cause strange incidents in his school and neighborhood, but soon Kaytek’s
Kaytek, a mischievous schoolboy who wants to become a wizard, is surprised to discover that he is able to perform magic spells and change reality. He begins to lead a double life: a powerful wizard in the dress of an ordinary boy. It’s all great fun using magic to cause strange incidents in his school and neighborhood, but soon Kaytek’s increasing powers cause major chaos around the city of Warsaw. Disillusioned, he leaves the country and wanders the world in search of the meaning of his good intentions, his unique abilities, and their consequences. Revolving around the notion that power is not without responsibility, nor without repercussions, this story speaks to every child's dream of freeing themselves from the endless control of adults, and shaping the world to their own designs.
"Despite his mischievousness, Kaytek is an intelligent boy with a good heart. His story is quite enjoyable. Recommended." —Kasey Giard, Children's Literature
- Penlight Publications
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.30(w) x 8.94(h) x 0.78(d)
- Age Range:
- 9 - 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
Kaytek the Wizard
By Janusz Korczak, Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Avi Katz
Penlight PublicationsCopyright © 2015 Penlight Publications
All rights reserved.
Kaytek likes to make bets — Kaytek goes into stores and pretends he wants to buy something, though he doesn't have a penny
"And so what?"
"Don't you believe me?"
"No, I don't."
"Then make a bet."
Kaytek likes to make bets with his friends.
"If I win, you'll pay for us to go see a movie."
"All right, it's a bet."
"Let's shake on it. Don't forget: a movie on Sunday."
"But wait a minute ..."
"See, you're chickening out already."
"No I'm not, I just want to know how it's going to work."
Kaytek repeats: "I'm going to go into ten stores. I'm going to pretend I want to buy something even though I haven't a cent in my pocket."
"You said twelve stores ..."
"All right, twelve."
They make the bet.
So he'll go into each store, as if to buy something.
It's the final class of the day.
And here's the final bell.
They've packed their schoolbags.
Caps on their heads.
"So we're off?"
Down the stairs and into the schoolyard.
Then through the gate.
And they're in the street.
"I'm going to stand outside the store."
"Whatever you like. Just don't laugh in the window or they'll guess it's a joke."
The first store is a pharmacy.
Kaytek goes inside.
The pharmacist is dispensing the medicine very slowly so he won't make a mistake. Kaytek patiently waits his turn.
"What'll it be, little guy?"
"Two exercise books please, one checkered, and one blank for drawing."
"I haven't any for drawing — they all have a checkered career," jokes the pharmacist.
"Oh well, sorry."
Kaytek bows politely.
A gentleman feels sorry for him and says: "Go to the right, next door. You'll find them in there."
He bows again and leaves.
He tells his pal what happened.
Next to the pharmacy there's a store selling stationery and teaching aids.
Kaytek goes in.
He looks around.
"A cream cake, please."
"I want a chocolate cake with cream."
"Are you blind? Can't you see?"
"Sure I can see."
Kaytek stands there, looking as if he can't think what the problem is.
"Do you go to school?"
"Don't you know where to buy cakes?"
"They haven't taught us that yet," he replies, shrugging his shoulders, as if he doesn't know what to do.
The man loses his temper.
"What are you waiting for?"
And he leaves.
"Well?" asks his pal.
"He got riled up. A grouchy kind of guy."
"He's always like that," says the pal. "I know this store. I never buy anything here."
"You should have said."
"I thought you'd do all right."
"And I did. He didn't kill me, did he?"
They walk on.
Kaytek boldly enters a third store.
It's a food store. They have cheese, butter, sugar, herring, and whitefish.
"Can I have some whale?"
"Yes. Four ounces. Pickled."
"So who sent you?"
"A friend. He's waiting outside."
"Tell your friend he's a rascal, and you're a dope!"
"So you don't have any?"
"No, we have not. We'll have it later."
"When will that be?"
"When it gets warmer. That's enough now, beat it! And shut the door."
He carefully closes the door and tells his pal what happened.
"Aren't you afraid he'll recognize you in the street?"
"So what? They sell sea salmon. Herrings are from the sea too. What's wrong with asking about whales?"
"Just you wait. That's only three stores. You can still lose."
The fourth is a tiny little store.
It's a shoemaker's shop.
The shoemaker doesn't have any work right now.
It's already the dinner hour and he's only sold a pair of laces and a can of shoe polish today.
He's waiting for someone to buy something.
In comes Kaytek.
"I'd like some cream cheese, please."
Either guessing it's a joke or because he's angry at being disturbed, the shoemaker reaches for his belt.
"I'll give you cheese, you clown!"
He takes a swing.
This time it hasn't quite worked — Kaytek has had to make a quick escape.
Kaytek passes by several small stores.
He stops outside the barbershop and does some thinking.
"But you keep doing the same thing," says his pal. "There's nothing smart about that."
"No, not if you don't find it amusing. But you go in and try thinking up something different yourself."
"All right then. What will you say in here?"
"Don't be in such a rush. Just wait a bit. You'll see."
Kaytek goes into the barbershop.
It's nice in there, clean and fragrant.
There are perfumes in lots of different bottles, as well as colored soaps, combs, hair oil, and powder.
The girl behind the cash register is reading a book.
"What would you like, young man?" asks the barber.
He's young and chirpy.
"Some hair oil to grow a king's moustache, please."
"Who is it for?"
"It's for me."
The girl stops reading and looks up.
The man opens his eyes wide.
"What do you want a moustache for?"
Kaytek puts on an innocent look and says:
"For a show at school."
"So who are you going to be?"
"King John Sobieski."*
"I can paint a moustache on you."
"I'd prefer a real one."
"But what'll you do after the show?"
"I'll shave it off."
They've fallen for it.
"Give him some Eau de Cologne."
"I don't want any," says Kaytek, flinching.
"Why not? It'll make you smell good."
"I don't want any. The boys will laugh at me. They'll say I want to get married."
"Don't you want to get married?"
"No way. What the heck for?"
The young people in the store are bored, so they're happy to joke around.
But a lady comes in to buy something and interrupts the conversation.
"Come here and I'll paint you a moustache. It'll be just like a real one," says the barber.
"But you will invite us to the show, won't you? Don't forget," says the girl.
Kaytek's friend is getting impatient.
"What took you so long?"
"They wanted to spray me with perfume."
"I guess so."
"Why didn't you let them?"
"Why should they waste their stuff? It's all right to have a joke, but I'm not a jerk. I don't like cheats."
Kaytek goes into a store selling cleaning products. He asks for flea killer.
The lady gives it to him.
"That's for fleas, bedbugs, and roaches."
"We don't have any bedbugs or roaches at home. My mom said just get it for fleas."
"Doesn't matter. That's good powder, everyone buys it. Show me how much cash you have."
Kaytek tightly clenches his empty fist.
"No ... I have to ask ... I have to do what my mom says."
"Well, go ask her. And tell her it costs a zloty.** Do you live far from here?"
"Just round the corner."
"If you buy things here often, you'll get candy ... See this?"
She shows him a jar full of candy. Kaytek leaves.
"Thinks she's so smart — as if I'd give her a zloty right away!" he tells his pal. "She thinks I'll be tempted by candy. It's been dyed those colors for sure. How many stores is that now?"
"OK, let's go on."
"What's your rush? Let me take a rest. My head's already spinning."
But it's nothing. Kaytek is okay. He goes into the seventh store.
It's a garden center.
"Can I get a coconut palm here?" asks Kaytek.
"We haven't any," says the lady.
"Please would you look, miss? The nature teacher told me to get one."
"So you tell the nature teacher he's got bats in his belfry."
"No he hasn't. Our teacher knows what he's talking about. It's not nice to talk to children like that. You're not allowed to insult the teacher."
"Get out of here, you little brat! Trying to preach morals at me!"
"Sure it's about morals, because you shouldn't talk like that."
In the doorway he sticks out his tongue at her.
"Pity I didn't tell her to get stuffed and wallpapered too."
"Why are you so annoyed?"
"Because I'm getting bored with all this traipsing about."
"Tough, you made a bet."
"I know that without you telling me. I started it so I'll finish it."
Outside the store there's a stall selling soda water.
"A glass of gas, please," says Kaytek.
The lady fills a glass with water and hands it to him.
And Kaytek says: "I don't want the water, just the gas."
He makes another innocent face. But she doesn't even look.
She takes a swing and flings the water at him.
Kaytek dodges just in time.
"Go break an arm and a leg, you thief!"
But Kaytek isn't a jerk or a thief. He could have drunk the water and run away. And he is feeling thirsty.
"You're the cheat, lady."
He's mad at her, and at himself.
And at his pal.
"Hey, listen," he asks his pal. "What does 'he's got bats in his belfry' mean?"
"It must mean he talks garbage. You could have figured that out for yourself."
They stop outside a photography studio.
"I'm coming in with you."
"As you wish."
They go inside.
"How much do half a dozen pigeons cost?"
"What sort of pigeons?" says the lady.
"Carrier pigeons, for the office. We're going to keep them on our laps."
"Do you have any money?"
"Not yet. But we're trying to get some."
"First go try, then come back."
"What are you telling them?" a man in glasses butts in. "Here we only take pictures of people. And jackasses."
Kaytek says nothing.
Then he remembers:
"That guy called me a jackass, the other one called me a little brat. That lady threw water at me, and that other guy wanted to thrash me."
"Because I don't have any money."
If he had a zloty, everyone would be polite to him.
They'd let him in the movie theater too. And give him water — not just plain, but with juice.
"How many stores is that?"
"You're wrong, that's nine."
"Maybe I made a mistake."
They start counting: including the stallholder, it is nine.
"OK, off we go!"
They go into the next store together.
"Please show me a belt," says Kaytek.
He looks at it, picks it up, and tries it on. He examines the buckle. He counts the holes. He breathes on it, and gives it a rub. He makes a face.
This belt is too thin, this one's too dark, and that one's too wide.
As the young lady fetches each one, she puts the last one straight back in the box.
"She's afraid I'll steal it," thinks Kaytek.
And no surprise. All kinds of people hang around in stores. They come along because they're bored, but they don't buy anything. And they really do try to steal.
Kaytek knows that, but he's mad at being suspected.
And he thinks about his pal: "How bold he is now. He comes in with me, but he still can't open his trap."
Finally he chooses a belt — a nice one for scouts.
"How much is it?"
"Two zlotys and fifty groshys."***
"How much did you think it would be, young man?"
"My friend bought one like this for forty groshys."
"So go to the place where your friend bought his."
"All right, we will."
"What a pair of wise guys. One of you does the choosing, while the other cases the joint. I know your type."
"And I know yours."
She shouts abuse and chases them out of the store.
"What would you have done if she'd called the cops?"
Kaytek knows what he'd have done. He'd have searched his pockets, as if he'd lost his money.
But he doesn't want to talk — his pal will just have to guess.
"So tomorrow you're paying for a movie."
He stops and waits for the answer.
His friend hesitates.
"I'll ask my dad — I'm sure he'll give it to me."
"And what if he doesn't?"
"Then next Sunday for sure."
Kaytek makes a face and waves a hand in an annoyed way. He's thinking: That's what you get if you make a bet with a squirt like him ...
In the tobacco store they feel sorry for Kaytek.
He stands timidly in the corner, chewing his cap.
"What do you want, little guy?"
"Come on, tell me, I won't hurt you."
"My master told me to buy three cigarettes."
"They've got an ugly name."
"Out with it boldly."
"He said he'll kill me if I don't get them."
"So say it."
"They're called 'Dogsnout'."
And he covers his eyes with his cap.
"Your master's been drinking. Let him sleep it off."
"But he's only just woken up."
"Are you from the countryside?" asks the lady.
"You can tell at once — so timid. And they send a little kid like that wandering off to town."
"I'd better go now," says Kaytek.
"You must be hungry, aren't you?"
"No, I'm not."
"Here's a bread roll. Take it, you poor little orphan boy."
And whether out of regret or tiredness, Kaytek's eyes fill with tears.
"Don't be shy, take it."
"No, I can't."
He hightails it out of there in a hurry.
"Why are you crying?"
"Oh ... there's a fly in my eye or something."
Finally they reach the last store, number twelve. It's a laundry.
He doesn't want to go in because he prefers classier stores. But his pal insists.
"Go on in. Don't be afraid. It's the last one."
He isn't afraid. And he isn't being cautious.
"Excuse me, can you press a cat for me?"
"A cat?" says the young lady in amazement.
"Yes. A dead one. With a tail."
But he hasn't noticed the young lady's fiancé sitting by the door, who up and grabs him by the scruff of the neck.
"Just you wait. We'll press you. Pass me a hot iron, Frania."
He's strong. He has a firm grip. He lays Kaytek across the ironing board.
"Is this what you want? I'll give you a stuffed cat all right!"
Kaytek doesn't try to break free, he just begs the man: "Please let me go."
Frania, the girl, takes pity on him.
"Let him go, he's just stupid."
"He's not stupid, he's a con artist — he's just acting dumb."
"And I say you're wrong. He looks like a good kid."
"I can explain," groans Kaytek.
"All right, so what's with the dead cat?"
Kaytek sees the door is open.
Luckily he gave his schoolbag to his pal — that makes it easier to escape.
"Just you wait! We'll meet again," the man shouts after him. "I'll recognize you. You'll get what's coming to you."
His friend catches up with him.
"Why did you run off like that?"
"It was pretty clear I had to."
"Aren't you going to tell me what happened?"
"You never said I had to tell you. Give me my schoolbag. And go to the movie by yourself. Just be glad you didn't come in there with me — you'd have been thrashed, you dope!"
They go off separately, feeling riled up. It's not Kaytek's first fight.
And not his first bet. Because Kaytek loves to make bets.
One time at school they were talking about a soccer game.
What's better, a game of soccer or a movie? Swimming or boating? Riding a bike or skating?
Kaytek says grown-up movies always end with kissing.
"Come on, I'll show you how they kiss," says one of the boys.
"Kissing a boy isn't hard — you have to kiss a young lady," says Kaytek.
"What a wise guy — just you try and do that."
"You think I won't? All right — I bet you an ice cream."
"OK, shake on it."
So along comes the final lesson.
And the final bell. They pack up their books.
Here's the schoolyard, and the gate, and the street.
"You guys follow me," Kaytek tells the other two.
And he goes off in front.
But now he's sorry he made the bet.
He doesn't want to pick on a little girl. It'd be a shame to do that because he'll frighten her. Anyway, he said "young lady," and that means a big one.
How's he going to do it? He walks along, looking around.
He walks along, looks, thinks, looks, and waits.
"Not that one. Or that one."
Never mind the ice cream, it's just that it's embarrassing to lose. He has to stick to his guns.
Until finally, there they are.
Two of them. Schoolgirls. And they're older than he is. They're laughing and chatting. They're not in a hurry. One of them calls the other one Zofia.
She says: "Listen, Zofia, next time you come over ..."
Kaytek doesn't hear more than that. But now he has a plan.
He signals to tell the boys he's about to start. He crosses to the other side, gets ahead of the girls, turns around and walks straight toward them.
He lets his head droop, as if he's deep in thought.
Just as he's passing them, suddenly he stops and looks at them.
"Oh! Zofia! When did you get here?"
She stops and stares at him in amazement.
And hop! he throws his arms around her neck and smack! he kisses her.
Silly girl — she even leans forward. That's how superbly it worked.
Only then does she wake up.
"Who the heck are you?"
"Me? I'm Kaytek."
"Kaytek no one, just a boy."
He licks his lips, as if the kiss was tasty.
And runs for it.
Excerpted from Kaytek the Wizard by Janusz Korczak, Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Avi Katz. Copyright © 2015 Penlight Publications. Excerpted by permission of Penlight Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Janusz Korczak was the pen name of Dr. Henryk Goldszmit, a pediatrician and child psychologist who famously ran a central Warsaw orphanage on innovative educational principles. Korczak left behind a large written legacy, including books on education, plays, essays, letters, and of course, novels and stories for children, including King Matt the First. Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a translator of Polish literature. Her published translations from Polish include novels by Pawel Huelle and Olga Tokarczuk, short stories by Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, and nonfiction by Ryszard Kapuscinski and Wojciech Tochman. Her translations of poetry have appeared in periodicals including the Edinburgh Review.
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