“Once upon a time there lived a thief …” bedtime stories as told by a judge

Illustrations by Šárka Nogová

“Once upon a time there lived a thief …” the times are changing and so are fairytales. A collection of stories written by a judge from police files reflects the reality of the present day far better than the traditional classics and the aim of the collection is to teach children right from wrong in an entertaining manner.

You won’t find it in bookstores, but this police storybook has already made a splash. The tales were written by a judge in language suitable for pre-school children and, on the accompanying DVD, the stories are not narrated by professional actors but by police officers. One story tells of a policeman who saved a little girl from drowning after she took a big risk, another is about a house that cried after being vandalized by spray artists and a third teaches children that it is not right to keep something that someone else has lost.

The author of the book, Judge Roman Pokorný, explains how the idea was born.

Illustrations by Šárka Nogová
“The idea came to us during a meeting with members of the Moravian police force when we were discussing possible prevention programs for schools. And the idea was to target an age group that was not yet involved in crime and teach children the difference between right and wrong as early as possible.”

The judge, who had no literary ambitions up until then, agreed to put together a collection of moral tales or fables based on real-life police stories. When he had the first three or four stories he sent copies to a number of kindergartens and primary schools in order to get some feedback.

“We asked teachers to read the stories and then, if they found them appropriate, to read them out aloud to the class to see how they would go down. They got back to us almost immediately. Many of them phoned us the very next day saying the stories were very helpful and could we send some more. The story of the lost ring was written at their own request because they said it helped them to explain to the children that it was not right to keep something that someone else had lost.”

Illustrations by Šárka Nogová
The collection of police tales is not available in bookstores since it was conceived as an educational tool for schools. It is being distributed by the Moravian police force to schools that write in and ask for it. But judging by its popularity Judge Roman Pokorný may have to take a break from his court duties and write a sequel.