If you’re not from Czech or Europe then you’re probably not familiar with the famous cartoon character Little Mole - also known as Krtecek, though you may have seen his happy little face appear on several of our wooden toys! This lovable little character often gets mistaken for a penguin in Australia which I think is mostly because we haven’t really grown up being familiar with these furry little creatures.
The story of this cartoon began in 1956 when Czech animator Zdenek Miler created the character and went on to air the first film at the Venice Film Festival called ‘How the mole got his trousers’. The popular film went on to win two Golden Lions and further production then began years later in 1963 where a total of 49 TV episodes were created.
Little Mole has always been very popular in Central European countries but has also been a favourite in countries such as India, China, Iraq and Japan.
Originally the cartoon was narrated but creator Zdenek wanted it to appeal to a wider audience so he decided to use his daughters as the voice actors for the character. He then reduced the speech to merely emotional sounds and exclamations which allowed the story to be understood in any language.
His daughters were the first to see the whole movie which meant he was able to ensure the message of the film was understood and appealed to children.
This brilliant story and animation really does appeal to all ages and cultures. We were lucky enough to be given some of the dvd’s when we visited Czech and they have since been watched and enjoyed by not only myself but also my nephew and nieces who are aged 5, 7 and 9.
To this day, one of the most popular souvenirs for tourists to purchase in Czech Republic, is something which features this happy little character. You can buy almost anything, including books, t-shirts, plush toys, shoes and even gingerbread cookies!
Zdenek passed away at the age of 90 in November 2011 but his legacy lives on through his beloved character who will forever hold a special place in the hearts and minds of people everywhere - young and old.