The Sleeping City
It will be published in May 2021 by one of the biggest Czech publishers with a film book cover.
It will be the third edition of a successful book for children and adolescence which in many schools is a recommended literature.
• The book was nominated for an award Golden Ribbon, a Czech award, in the young adult fiction category.
The main characters of the novel are four siblings: 15-year old Christopher, 12-year old twins Emma and Christine, and 6-year old Samuel. They live happily in a big city apartment with their parents – surrounded by safety, understanding and love. At least until one Saturday morning when the entire world changes. On that morning their parents sleep unusually long. The children first find it amusing, then they are worried, but they still go out and play in the end – only to find out, however, that all other parents all over the world are fast asleep as well. Everybody who has ever had a child is asleep. The only people who are awake are childless adults, youth and children … The first idea that occurs to the siblings concerns their sleeping parents. Will they ever wake up again? They are all scared and run home as quickly as they can. At this point, they do not fear for themselves yet. They have not realised the extent to which the world without parents is about to change.
In the coming days, everything what has hitherto been referred to as civilization gradually collapses. Yet certain things do work: great effort is made to save the youngest children. Shelters are created in schools for them, volunteers, mainly students, go to houses and look for other vulnerable children.
The unexplained phenomenon of sleeping parents is being looked into by childless scientists from all over the world. News about their research appears on the Internet, which supports the credibility of the entire plot.
The siblings learn to run the household with what little they have. Thus far, they have managed to find enough food and money at home. But can they buy anything with it? The majority of shops are closed. Looting has set in. And when the electricity stops working, there is also no running water. Street gangs get hold of the resources. The city has become a trap.
The siblings encounter evil and injustice for the very first time. Christopher gets beaten up by a bunch of thugs when he wants to draw a bucket of water from a public hydrant. In the only open shop, everything is ten times more expensive than it used to be. Student Vladka tries to convince the siblings that they should send little Samuel to the nearest school, as he shall be safer there. This is something, however, that the siblings do not want to do. The difficult situation united them with strong sibling love. They want to stand the test before the eyes of their sleeping parents, who, as they still believe, will soon wake up. They also believe that they can protect Samuel.
Nevertheless, bad experiences pile up as time passes. And when a van full of rescued children catches up with them in front of their house, the driver manages to convince the siblings to entrust Samuel to him – that he will take him to the nearest school. After some initial hesitation, the siblings, including Samuel himself, eventually agree. He waves them good-bye from behind the tinted car windows. But when they go to school for him, Samuel is not there. He is lost, kidnapped.
And from this very moment, the real drama of the story starts to unfold. The siblings first go to the police, who are nearly paralyzed, however, and now possibly even linked to the underworld. Christopher, Emma and Christine return home, broken-hearted. No, they cannot stay there any longer. They must find little Samuel. Thus begins their tortuous journey full of never-ending disappointments and undying hope. They gradually realise that the only certainty they have is them themselves. The world is a complete mess. New ideologies and new religious groups are being born. Everyone thinks that they are the chosen ones now.
We also follow the fate of the kidnapped Samuel. He finds himself in a gym somewhere in the country along with approximately fifty other abducted children. He is still too little to fully understand what has happened, fortunately. He gradually finds out that the harsh world in which he finds himself has its own rules. He learns to survive. The kidnappers sell the children, one by one. Samuel is also eventually sold to a mentally deranged couple living in the woods in a remote area. They want to treat Samuel as their own child, but are incapable of dealing with him. They are kind to him one minute – they give him Brownie, a soft toy monkey – but very cruel the next.
Things eventually take a turn for the better. Samuel manages to escape. He remembers what his father would say to him: little brooks flow into streams and those flow into rivers. And there is such a brook at the secluded place. And a great river runs through the city in which Samuel used to live. Samuel believes he can get there. He takes Brownie the monkey with him and sets out on his journey.
It turns out, however, that everything is much more complicated than Christopher, Emma, Christine and Samuel originally thought. The three children fail to find Samuel, despite passing by the very gym in which their brother had been imprisoned. And Samuel’s flight is successful only thanks to Vojta, a big country boy, who helps him and later even takes Samuel home.
So they all happily meet again in the end – at the very moment when the whole world resonates with wonderful news: the parents of those children who are still alive and well start waking up. And this is also the case of the siblings’ parents.
The author shows great ability to deeply empathize with the feelings and thoughts of children in this novel – also because of the fact that the main characters are inspired by his own children. All the situations that occur are thus perceived through the eyes of child heroes, the reader can fully live through all that happens with the children. It is a great adventure with a moral for young readers. As to their parents, it is almost a horror story – when they imagine that their children could ever be exposed to a similar trial. The author, however, has great confidence in children. He believes that in the face of severe challenges of fate, they are able to do their best and win.
Film Spící město
Extract of the book