I have first seen these books in the house of one of my mother’s friends, sometimes in the mid eighties. Her kids were already college students, but she kept these special books that they used to have as children. They were published in collaboration with a Prague printing house in 1974 and they are short version of Cinderella, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel. What made them very special for a kid in socialist Romania was the fact that they were pop-up books. I imagine these were published in quite a small number, because I have never seen anything like them till that visit to my mother’s friend. They were something quite different from the usual idea of socialist design, that wouldn’t use so much elements that are not really necessary for the understanding of the text.
A short time after this visit, I got pneumonia and stayed in bed for a while. There were miserable and boring days for me and my mother asked me what gift would I like for her to get me to cheer me up. I asked for books like those I have see at her friend’s house. My mother searched every bookstore in the city, but no one ever heard of such books. So, eventually, she asked her friend to borrow us the books and she kindly gifted them to me.
Even if, for my grown up eyes, I had much more interesting books, with illustrations that are closer to my present taste, even if these classic fairy tales were not my favorites (I preferred much more stories of contemporary children that I could relate to and that had a less bleak atmosphere), still I have always kept these books with care, like the curious specimens that they are.