Wilhelm, the Hedgehog by Tanya Stus, Anna Sarvira

Even in an ordinary city park, one can find extraordinary things and the birth of one curious little hedgehog named Wilhelm will have the park’s residents questioning their own lives in a quest to help him achieve his dream. Wilhelm has a burning desire to find the origins of light, a rather challenging pursuit for a nocturnal creature. At first, the park’s denizens: a clever black-winged bird named Fedora, a flock of white pigeons, and an enthusiastic squirrel named Marusia are curious about Wilhelm’s dream; they don’t understand why he has such an insatiable need to find an answer to such a perplexing question. They reason that he should spend his time eating and getting ready for winter instead. But when Wilhelm’s tenacity to achieve his dream holds, the other animals see that they have to help him.

Ana Sarvira’s illustrations pull from a pleasing colour palette of teals, oranges, and greens contrasted with white, black, and grey; the result is the depiction of a warm and comforting home for Wilhelm and his friends. And in fact, Wilhelm’s park community is one who accepts not only him, but the park’s other quirky inhabitants as well.

Childhood is marked by the ability to dream, where the future is an open sky and the number of possibilities is as limitless as the stars twinkling overhead. Unfortunately, as we grow up, those dreams tend to lose their sheen and are replaced by the all too logical and realistic. Stus’s message to readers is a profound reminder that it doesn’t always need to be this way “… don’t be afraid to see the world around you differently than others see it.” First published in Ukraine in 2017, Tanya Stus’s story of Wilhelm, the Hedgehog is a refreshing, encouraging, and inspiring book about dreams and the role friends and community play in realizing them.

Tanya Stus is a child psychologist and the author of about two dozen fiction and educational books for children and adolescents. Born into a “teacher’s dynasty” with almost 400 years of combined pedagogical experience, she is the Head of the Children’s Reading Laboratory of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, founder of its “BaraBooka: The space of the Ukrainian children’s book”, and editor-in-chief of the children’s publishing house Small Academy. As well, she is the author of creative writing programs for children and adolescents, and a public activist for the promotion of children’s and adolescent reading and the reform of school literary education.

An illustrator from Kyiv, co-founder of the Pictoric Illustrators Club, Anna Sarvira has been interested in books and their design since childhood. What began as a childhood passion has become her profession. A graduate of Ukraine’s National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, she collaborates with many Ukrainian publishers and children’s magazines. She has taken part in many exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad; in early 2022 the Museum of Modern Art (NY) featured her graphic artwork on daily life in Ukraine just before Russia’s invasion. Her work has been awarded the COW (Centre of the World) International Prize and the Joseph Binder Award.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Running the Goat; first English edition (May 9 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 199880206X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1998802067

Christina Barber is a writer and educator who lives in Vancouver. An avid reader, she shares her passion for Canadian history and literature through her reviews on Instagram @cb_reads_reviews. She has most recently been committed to writing and staging formally innovative single and multi-act plays.