Polish writer based in Donegal publishes bilingual children’s book

A Donegal-based Polish artist and writer who lost her parents as a child has just published a picture book inspired by her grandmother who raised her.

Granny Makes Me Grumpy, written and illustrated by Karolina Olchowska, is a picture book published in English and Polish versions. The picture book tells the story of a special relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. The book is the result of Karolina’s virtual residency at the Regional Cultural Center.

Karolina, who creates watercolor illustrations and linocuts, graduated in English Language and Literature from the University of Wrocław, Poland, where she majored in picture books.

She is involved in voluntary work with the Donegal Intercultural Platform, an organization that helps communities from ethnic minority groups. She is interested in how picture books can bring people of different ethnic and age groups together. She wanted to pay tribute to her “kinda amazing grandmother” and share the unique relationship she has with her.

The book is the result of Karolina Olchowska’s virtual residency at the Regional Cultural Center

“I lost both my parents when I was little and my grandmother became my adoptive mother,” she said.

“And she’s no ordinary granny, but a granny with a very open mind, really progressive in her opinions, with a great sense of humor and a devotion to others. In my picture book Granny Makes Me Grumpy, I explored the perception of old age through the eyes of a child and how that perspective changes and matures with age.

It’s a book for everyone, especially those “who have been cared for by that special someone in their life, whether it’s their grandparents, uncle or aunt.”

When she became a college student, she started spending less time with her grandmother and started recording her as she told different stories from the past.

“I wanted to write down those memories,” she said.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns gave her the motivation to honor her grandmother.

“Since I moved to Ireland a few months before the pandemic was first reported, my separation from my grandmother has been even more painful. This situation of being even more separated from my loved ones and the feeling that we have little time in this world kicked me.

Granny Makes Me Grumpy is suitable for all age groups – children and adults – and is available at the Regional Cultural Centre, Your Delicatessen Polish shops in Letterkenny and Donegal Town, Bookmark and Donegal Stationery in Letterkenny and the Four Masters Bookshop from Donegal Town. It can also be bought online.