„In my childhood all my days finished with either my mother or father telling me tales (…) I told them who I wanted to hear about, my Mum thought a little, then tucked the blanket under my feet (…), and got started (…).
Well, the story of Valentin is also such an ’ordered’ tale. I asked something wonderful from my mother, something that included animals, with the terrible Aunt in it, but in the end, let it not be her who is right but the one who is weak and small and who is made stronger (…) by the love in the heart.”
Magda Szabó (Island-blue: epilogue, excerpt)
What colour is the Island-blue like?
It is neither dark nor light, it is like the sea but also like the sky – though it does not resemble any of them, because it includes all the blueness of the world. And what is the „secret” ingredient, the „last drop” for Mommy’s medicine? Valentin, who embarks on a fairy tale journey, will get an answer also to this question at the end of the story. The brave little boy has a special gift: he can talk to all living things. He understands the words of Kandúrka, the cat as well as the language of Harisnyás, the dog. He flies on clouds to the peaceful island of animals, he saves horses with his mates, he frees Attila, the lion, and he also heals the fire lily’s wounds. He makes many friends during his adventures and Mommy also recovers in the end.
„I was the child of two fairies”
Island-blue theme park takes visitors to a wonderful dream world, where the heart-warming fairy tale novel by one of the most important Hungarian writers of the 20th century, Debrecen-born Magda Szabó comes to life. As one of the most widely translated Hungarian authors, her novels have been published in many countries and in many languages. Island-blue „speaks” in OUR language: about us, and to us, as the world of living creatures is one big family. Magda Szabó was very fond of animals. She shared her home with eight dogs – including several she rescued –, eight cats and a „flock of birds”. It was a habit of hers to stroke the heraldic animal of Debrecen, namely the lamb, when she passed in front of the City Hall building. She was connected to Debrecen in a thousand ways. She almost always wrote about the city, and she did not forget any of its corners.
Neither did the city forget her. In addition to the island adventures, the experiences continue on the stages of MagdaFest named after the writer, as well as in the Szabó Magda Memorial House guarding so many „treasures”, or in the inner city, where you can even take a selfie with the author’s statue. The city gave her the key of Debrecen, and we gave her our hearts – for good.
My name is Elek Mouse and I am almost invisible to people. I hide in tiny gaps, and I have an important ability: I can see the world and be informed about everything. Now I am telling you how this is possible. I live in a distant land, in the middle of the ocean, in the Island of animals. When it is day here, it is night in the human world. In the Island, I work in a wonderful place: in the ministry. There is a Magic Mirror and a huge pile of papers. When I look in the mirror, I can see the whole world, and when I read the papers, I get to know every event. This is how I could discover the story of Valentine and his friends.
Valentine once came to my office in the Island, and we looked into the mirror together to see the other world where he and his mom and the other people live. The Magic Mirror showed Mommy in the hospital, who could not return to home until a cure was found for her illness. Here in the Island, the medicine is being researched in laboratories and the studies are led by White Bear (Fehér Tivadar), the prestigious polar bear.
It all started when Mommy was taken to hospital and Valentine's aunt became the boss at the mining site. If only you knew how mean she was to horses! She made them pull so heavy carts that they could not succeed! And then one of the horses, Coco, fell into a deep pit. The animals living in the Island immediately saw that Coco needed to be rescued and cured, so they assigned Panty-paw (Harisnyás), the ambassador of the Island, to help organize the rescue team.
Panty-paw, the big brown dog, met Valentine in the Little Forest, who got involved in the story by trying to protect Coco from his aunt. The animal mission has begun…
They say that we cats are capricious and we have nine lives. Well, I have at least two, that’s for sure! I have one here as a pet. My owner is Valentine, an exceptional child: he understands the language of animals. Since Mommy, his mom was taken to hospital, Valentine stayed with his aunt, and we got closer and closer.
But we became good friends when Valentine saw me whispering with the big brown dog, Panty-paw (Harisnyás) in front of their house. He brought me news about Coco, the horse, who had fallen into a deep pit during the day. People had already given up saving him.
Valentine was informed about this by a telephone conversation. That evening, the little boy waited until everything was quiet at home and went to the mine site to help the horse in trouble. He had been walking in the dark for hours when he met my friend John (János), the squirrel on the country road. He had a lantern with him and led Valentine to Thomas Oak’s (Tamás Tölgy’s) house, where Panty-paw (Harisnyás) and I were waiting for them. That’s when the little boy realized that he understood the language of animals. He got this ability because he had previously protected Coco from his aunt at the mine site when in her anger, she slapped Valentine. If only you had seen it! That night, we gathered at Thomas Oak’s house (Tamás Tölgy’s) to help Coco, about whose accident everyone in the Island had already known. The Island is another world where we animals can live free. When I am not a pet, I work at the Embassy of the Island, which is here, in the middle of the forest. I showed Valentine my luxuriously furnished room, and then we flew to the Island on a cloud Philip (Fülöp). Well, that’s how this friendship and adventure began…
I am the President's secretary, John (János), the squirrel. I have amazing devices: the remotelistener, the mindreader, the event recorder. By the help of these machines, I know about everything that happens in the human world or in the Island. My job is to help animals in trouble to be safe.
This is what happened to Coco, the horse, who fell into a ravine in the mine and was left alone by the carter. When I heard about the accident, I rushed there. I met Valentine on the way. If only you knew what facial gesture he made when he saw a squirrel in a raincoat and holding a lantern! We went to Thomas Oak’s house (Tamás Tölgy), where we organized the rescue of the horse with Panty-paw (Harisnyás) and Tommy-cat (Kandúrka).
We found Coco in the mine, lying motionless at the bottom of a pit. I climbed down to him and treated his wounds. It was nothing for me, because I'm small and light! Coco thought he was dreaming when he noticed the rest of the rescue team crouching and peeping into the pit from its edge and looking down to him with sympathy. Then Philip (Fülöp), the cloud, arrived and descended into the pit to us then spread out like a carpet. I made Coco smell a drug, which gave him a bit of strength so he was able to walk up to Philip (Fülöp) with his broken legs. We lifted up to the others, and when Philip (Fülöp) wrapped everyone up, we felt like we were in a warm room. But this room was rising higher and higher, high into the sky, and it was gliding along with us! Coco closed his eyes and, no matter how much his legs hurt, he smiled: he realized that finally someone cared about him.
Philip (Fülöp) stopped over Valentine's house and we agreed to take him to the Island the next day, where he could visit Coco. Valentine and Tommy-cat (Kandúrka) dropped onto the grass…
My name is Ophelia, and since I live in the Island, I've been teaching kindness and good manners to other animals. I welcomed Coco into my house after his recovery. Poor horse, he ran away frantically first when he saw me, just because I was a lion. He did not know that in the Island no animal harms another, we eat synthetic meat, and even everything we eat is produced in laboratories. After all, everything is alive in this world, and we treat even the doorknob with respect.
It was the most amazing day of my life when my fiancé was rescued from the travelling circus and we were reunited! The story of Attila’ rescue has been talked about in the Island ever since!
What happened was that Kelemen, the lynx – the island hairdresser – grabbed a guitar between his paws and played delightfully while sitting on the cart that Aranka, the bear, was pulling into the circus. Then John (János), the squirrel entertained the audience and distracted their attention from Tommy-cat (Kandúrka) with his artististic stunts. Tommy-cat sneaked into Attila's cage and whispered the plan of freeing the lion. In the meantime, a blonde girl -actually Valentine in disguise – laughed and waved from the cart rolling onto the stage,blowing kisses to the audience. When the circus’s headmistress entered the cage, Attila was no longer afraid of her whirl. In fact, he pulled the bobble nightcap he had to wear over her head to entertain the audience. Until then, the rescue team chained the lion cage to the cart and galloped out of the circus. They did not even stop until the Little Forest, from where one of the Philips (Fülöp) flew them to the Island.
The lady still does not understand how the bobble nightcap got on her head!
I was still a young foal when I heard a story at the farm about an island where animals live happily. Whirling and shouting do not exist there. Come on! I did not believe a word of it. But one day I had an accident while I was working in the mine. The carter jumped off the overturning wagon, and I fell into a deep pit. I was lying there for hours, feeling weaker and weaker. The rainwater converged at the bottom of the pit, which cooled my pain.
Then suddenly there was some movement: I saw a squirrel in a raincoat approaching, holding a lantern. He bandaged my wounds kindly. Then a cloud descended upon me, and the little boy who once gave me sugar caressed my side as we rose higher and higher into the sky. Oh, what a beautiful dream! – I thought.
I woke up in a quiet, clean hospital where a horse introduced himself as Dr. Ráro and said I would get well soon. My broken bones healed in a couple of hours and I felt great! Can this world still exist? Yes! It's called the Island. It has the shape of a walnut roll, and you can reach it travelling on clouds called Philips. Everything is available here: school, university, post office, ministry, presidential palace, research laboratories, just like in the human world. But you know what is different? We respect all living beings and we take care of everyone. All animals can live free here.
Not long after I had arrived, my companions also appeared: all 29 horses who I had worked with for years at the farm. What a joy! The Island welcomed us!
I have been working at the horse hospital in the Island for a long time. I would not leave it for the whole world! There is no greater joy than when I see those who arrived with a limp or on a stretcher get up and walk happily! Our healing methods include patients being in a calm, pleasant environment while nurses talk to them.
Recently, a horse, Coco, came here in a very serious condition. His legs were broken, his head was bleeding, but despite his injuries he was healed in a few hours. I smeared his body from head to toe with the ointment that was developed in the lab with the help of White Bear (Fehér Tivadar), the research doctor. This young polar bear is a very talented scientist, who is now working on the production of a very special medicine with his jackal assistants. Panty-paw (Harisnyás), the ambassador of the Island, entrusted him with experimenting an effective drug that can be used to cure spinal injuries.
If he succeeds, the medicine will be taken to Valentin's mother immediately. I was informed that the drug is actually ready, but it is still not effective. White Bear (Fehér Tivadar) and the assistants claim that it will only work when its colour changes to blue. Of course, not just to any blue, but precisely to Island-blue.
At first, I found it strange, but then I understood it in a flash of a moment. Of course! The Island is the only place in the world where animals live in peace with each other and are completely free. The island has healing powers!
Valentin's mother was injured in a car accident when she pulled the steering wheel aside to avoid running over a dog in the street. Mommy always cared about animals; we cannot let her down!
I love to play! That's why I have become an actress, so I can act in all my life! Since I live in the Island, my life has been even more exciting. In the last three days, I participated in two important rescue operations: we freed Attila, the lion, and we rescued 29 horses from a mine site to the Island. I do not even know which one I should tell you about now, I enjoyed both of these adventures a lot. Let me start with the story of the horses.
The order to rescue the horses arrived officially. If you live in the Island, you will sometimes receive various important tasks from the Ministry: for example, observing how people treat animals in certain places and reporting to the office whenever you see something evil.
Likewise, mingle with wild animals in the forest and help them become gentler. I had done things like that before, but rescuing the horses was the first action in which I took part.
In the Embassy, which is in the Little Forest, I met a boy, Valentin. Guess what he understood what I was saying! There was also Gergely, the anaconda, the excellent pianist and composer, Kelemen, the lynx, the magician of wonderful hairstyles and Kálmán Gopher (Ürge Kálmán), the officer in charge. This was our action team. We all took off our clothes except for the little boy, (Oh, my beautiful red hat!) and marched out on all fours into the trees. We waited for the horses from the mine to load them to Philip (Fülöp), the cloud and then we headed for the Island. After all, we had an easy time with the carters, because as soon as they saw a large bear and a lynx walking on two legs, they started to flee headlong. I have still tears in my eyes from laughing when I am thinking about it!
At one point of the sea, under perfect weather conditions, the spherical Island is located. Many compare its shape to cheese, others to a nut roll. It can only be approached with Philips (Fülöp), they are passenger transporting and cargo carrier clouds. Island was founded 49 years ago by the President and his two dogs. Since then, many other animals have been born here or arrived here from different parts of the Earth.
In the schools of Island, teaching takes place throughout the year, as new students always come to study. First of all, our citizens need to learn about our important laws. The first: Remember and forget! In other words, remember the joyful moments and forget the pains in the other world! Remember that helping is important, forget evil!
The second: Don't be angry with people! They are not mean to us out of malice, they just do not always understand us. Few people know our language, our way of thinking, and there are hardly any of them who would teach us how to express ourselves better and get closer to them instead of teaching us stunts. It is not allowed to take revenge or hurt people.
We have universities, hospitals, streets and squares. We produce food in our chemical laboratory because we consider all creatures alive, from stone to the most sentient animal and human, and we do not consume each other.
We use nutritious artificial meat, artificial vegetables and artificial fruit to prepare delicious meals at home and in our restaurants. In our sewing rooms, each animal gets a matching outfit. We are having fun in our theaters and libraries. Let me take a personal note: life is full of happiness in this Island!
I am a lynx, but I do not linger! – as I always say. Beauty is my job and my passion. I clash and glaze, and while cutting and combing hair, I also take care of the guests’ soul. Only those whose hearts are calm and serene feel truly beautiful.
Ofélia, the lovely music teacher, has been seeing me for years, as she has been very sad for a long time because of the loss of her fiancé. She told me the story of Attila being trapped by the hunters in details, of how he was locked in a cage and dragged away. Heartbreaking! And it all happened right before their wedding! It was lucky that Ofélia was covered by a Philip (Fülöp) who was just wandering there! This is how Ofélia ended up in the Island. She comes to me every week for a little mane adjustment. We have become almost friends.
So, when the Magic Mirror showed us where Attila was imprisoned, I immediately signed up for the team to free the lion. Anyway, the Zombie circus gave me goosebumps, and I was happy to crush them pepper under their noses. Mrs Zombie forced Attila, who always remained stubborn and regularly resisted, to do some stunt with a whirl. He had to be brought from there, otherwise he would have perished in captivity.
So now that Attila is finally here, the smile on Ofélia's face does not disappear. The whole Island is preparing for their wedding, I will do up Ofélia's mane. But that's just a matter of detail, because she has been glowing with happiness!
The last few weeks of my life were full of excitement. Mommy is home again, and I could be grinning all day. Now that I have grown older, I already experienced one thing or another, but I would never have thought of what would happen!
Have you ever talked to a squirrel? Or has it happened to you that your favourite cat suddenly clears its throat, stands on two legs and politely tells you that its best friend, the big brown dog, is very grateful that Mommy did not run over him in the street? He also said that many were working to cure Mommy, who was in hospital with a spinal injury. Of course, I knew that the doctor would do everything, but I did not understand what Tommy-cat (Kandúrka) had to do with it.
The matter began to become clearer when I was sitting in Oak Thomas’s (Tamás Tölgy's) house in the Little Forest
I am Panty-paw (Harisnyás), the ambassador of the Island. I travel a lot between the Embassy in the Little Forest and the Island. My important task is to help bring suffering animals to the Island shelter. Sometimes I forget to be where I am because of so many things. My attention is scattered, and that can be a problem. The other day I was also thinking about how to organize a rescue operation when I suddenly heard the screeching of brakes. Then I realized that I was walking in the middle of the street and a car almost ran over me. The driver of the car, the mother of the little boy sitting in the car, was taken to hospital with a spinal injury.
I felt terrible! It was as if all light had disappeared from the world! I just sat there, in front of Valentine's house, waiting for Tommy-cat (Kandúrka), my friend, to tell the boy, Valentine that Mommy would get better, I promised!
I commissioned the best scientists in the Island to find a medicine. Meanwhile, Valentine got the ability to talk to animals. He participated in several rescue operations and became a citizen of the Island. I wanted Mommy to get well so badly! But it turned out that the medicine did not work, a secret ingredient was missing, even though our scientists had already tried everything. Then I decided to take over Mommy's injury. I would rather perish! That is why I went to the hospital to see Mommy, in the company of some island doctors. But when we entered the ward, we saw a miracle: the medicine in the flask changed to Island- blue! If Mommy took it, she could finally be cured!
Valentine's love, mixing with the drug through his falling tears, acted as a real medicine. It was the happiest hour of my life!