Artfulliving Online Magazine Interview by Eren Başağan


Behiç Ak 8.11.2019 Artfulliving Online Magazine Interview by Eren Başağan

“Children Need to be Free!”

Breaking away from nature, war, violence, limits of freedom… They don’t sound like suitable topics for a children’s book. But with masterly fiction of beloved author Behiç Ak, they all find their places in a book named Notes of a Buck-Toothed Observer (Tavşan Dişli Bir Gözlemcinin Notları). Moreover in such a light and comfortable manner that only a bluest sky could make us feel. This book clearly shows us that children’s books can go beyond the ordinary. We talked with Behiç Ak about Notes of a Buck-Toothed Observer (Tavşan Dişli Bir Gözlemcinin Notları)

Notes of a Buck-Toothed Observer (Tavşan Dişli Bir Gözlemcinin Notları) emerged as a novel that addresses many of the problems we are facing today, such as breaking away from nature, war and focuses on the anxieties of people, especially children, with themselves, such as fear of failure, not having a place in society. In this regard, among all your books, it seemed to me as the one standing most close to philosophy. What do you think about it?

I think, my practice of writing for children improves the more I write for them. As my dialogue with children also improves in the meantime, this leads to an enrichment in my theme selections. Authors limit themselves while thinking if it’s okay to go a little bit further or to handle different subjects. But when I get in touch with children, I see that they actually want to discuss and talk about very different topics. So I realized over time that many topics can get into the story. For example, violence, war and hunting issues. Children want to talk about these matters. Sometimes, especially in small villages, I observe that people give rifles as a gift to children approaching their adolescence. That boy can pick it up and go to shoot birds. This kind of behavioural patterns encourage other children as well. Especially young boys have a strong tendency to shoot birds. It is important to establish a relationship with children about violence with the help of the fiction and discuss it. I wrote many of the events taking place in my novel basing on real stories. This book had been a very interesting experience for me. The story developed itself and lots of things found their places spontaneously in the story. I didn’t design too much. I let the story develop on its own.

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Cumhuriyet Kitap Eki, 2019, Gamze Akdemir















“Their relationships with books is what improves children.”

Behiç Ak, recently added a new one to his children’s novels enriched with his masterly drawings, all of which are reflecting the rich inner worlds of children, their curiosity and their way of questioning the life: “Notes of a Buck-Toothed Observer” (Tavşan Dişli Bir Gözlemcinin Notları). Based on his new novel, we talked about children’s literature with him.

In your latest book “Notes of a Buck-Toothed Observer” (Tavşan Dişli Bir Gözlemcinin Notları), you are again unifying children with animals and nature. This is quite a different fiction though. Besides being quite up-to-date with the problematic it is focusing on, it’s written with a somewhat sharp language. How did you decide to set up your story this way?

Actually, I always like to write multilayered stories. Just like the life… I’m inviting my readers to situations which include many complicated problems intertwined with each other, but easy to perceive; just like the life itself. The realities of daily life which seem simple and ordinary but filled with questionings and abstractions as you create the psychological changes, are attracting my attention. And of course, our relationship with nature is the most fundamental reality.

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Notos, 2019, Müren Beykan

Children’s literature books are not written for educational purposes, but when you read them you are being trained indirectly.


Making the readers to think about the possibility of a whole new world…

MÜREN BEYKAN (Editör of  Günışığı Kitaplığı) 
Photos: Gülbin Eriş

A modern times narrator who thinks by writing and illustrating, from caricatures and plays to children’s books, but who hasn’t decided yet to be an “author”: Behiç Ak.

You have a versatile productivity based mainly on examining our communal living. In your caricatures, you handled issues like relations between men & women, father & child, grandparents & grandchildren in a way nobody could afford to do before and in the beginning you’ve been considered a bit strange. Can we say your never ending curiosity and hard work have led you to writing and illustrating for children?

During my university education and also afterwards, I’ve always been interested in social dimensions of architecture. I was publishing an architecture magazine and besides writing articles I was sometimes drawing and designing the cover pages. My article about housing problem was published in a newspaper. Although I didn’t have the intention to work as an architect, I found a job by chance and I took it just for the sake of earning some money. But in 1980, with the military cope of September 12th, all of my social endeavors vanished off in the blink of an eye. What is called as democratic mass organizations in those years were completely prohibited after the cope. Then I was left with two options. As I wasn’t able to keep on social struggle, I shall continue my life either working as an architect or doing something else.

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Bir Gün Kitap, The Boy Who Loved Boats, 2009, Umit Kirecci

I devour Behic Ak’s book called The Boy Who Loved Boats and I did not know whether I should laugh or cry. Ak represents our misery in a humorous way. Can we bring back the beauties we lost already?

The Boy Who Loved Boats, Firat is a child who tries to bring back those beauties. He never gives up. He does not only sell balloons but dreams, imagination and colors. By selling stuff whose value cannot be calculated by money, he gives a great lesson.

Imagine this: “The moonlight illuminates the Bosphorus Ferry and the little boat. Chalk (the cat) lies on Firat’s little boat and looks at Muhsin (the canary) who sings cheerfully on the Bosphorus ferry. “When was the last time you saw such a beautiful and peaceful view?

Cumhuriyet Kitap, The Boy Who Loved Boats, 2009

In his last story, Behic Ak again wrote about today’s contradicting issues with his masterful language. The story takes place in Istanbul. He fictionalizes the impact of a growing city where nature is destroyed for the sake of metropolis and huge concrete buildings. His observations are to the point.

Çoluk Çocuk, Cats’ Disappearence Season, 2009, Burcu Aktas

Sevgi feels responsible for everything happening in the world. She loses her cat, Sissy (Titrek) on 18th of June. Sissy was not the only cat who is lost; big mouth Nazan’s cat Sassy (Arsız), inhospitable Nurten’s cat Ice (Buz), fast-runner Ibo’s cat Martin (Kirlangic), slow Ibo’s cat Lazy (Miskin) were lost, too. Where these cats, who all resemble very much to their owners, are gone? Sevgi starts to investigate the situation with curiosity. Children will encounter many surprises throughout this story. This book will make the young readers think about differences, community life and harmony.

Sabah Kitap, Cats’ Disappearence Season, 2009

You look in the mirror, if you like to know how you look like. What you do to know what’s inside of you? If you have a cat, you can watch your cat for a day, and can see who you are. What happens if your cat gets lost one day? Shy Sevgi knows her sissy cat does not have the courage to run away and embark on adventures. When she finds out that not only her cat, but all the cats in the neighborhood are lost, she smells a rat. Although she is shy, her love for her cat leads her to a big investigation in the city. You will get excited, surprised and smile with this genuine work and you will be convinced with the idea that human beings are beautiful with their weakness.

Radikal, Havva and the Turtle, 2011, Burcu Aktas

The joy of the holiday with the whole caboodle is different than a holiday by yourself. So, with whom you would like go to for a crowded holiday? It depends on the person. My holiday friends were Havva and the Turtle. These characters come to life because of Behic Ak’s beautiful mind. Havva (Eve) is the caretaker of Elif when her parents are not around and she has a good relation with animals. Havva does not know her age or weight. Havva knows how to live in harmony with all the living species and goes to Elif’s house everyday along with cats, dogs and birds. At night, she goes back to home with them as well. Havva is part of the nature like a turtle, tree, plant and breeze.

She is a cheerful character with whom every children would like to spend time. Elif also loves her a lot. When Elif’s family moves to another city, Elif had to break up with her dear Havva. In this new city, she encounters a turtle that resembles Havva.

Behic Ak again wrote with his genuine language and created characters you wish to know. I mentioned Havva in this article but there is no harm bringing Repairer Kadir, Alaaddin and Firat (The Boy Who Loved Boats) to your holiday trip.

Gazete Kadıköy, Alaaddin’s Chattering Water Pipes, 2008

With his first book The Man Who Even Mended the Sun, Behic Ak puts a smile on the faces of both children and adults, and tells the story of Alaaddin who listens to the water pipes. In this book, Ak criticizes and makes fun of gossiping which is the inseparable part of neighborhood life. While criticizing the prejudice encouraged by gossip, he writes both about being an individual and living in harmony with the community.

This book will be read by both adults and children with pleasure.

Alaaddin never speaks but listens to everyone. His best friend is Memo who can talk about everything for hours. Alaaddin sits everyday on a bank and watches the sunrise and sunset. People become curious about Alaaddin. Some people think he is lazy, some think he is an agent or even an alien. One day, the water of the neighborhood is cut and everybody understands who Alaaddin is.

Radikal Kitap, Alaaddin’s Chattering Water Pipes, 2008

Without reading Alaaddin’s Chattering Water Pipes, you cannot imagine how much one can tell just by the story of a boy who listens to the water pipes. The author creates an era where everybody knows everything about everyone.

Repairer Kadir Bey was the main character of Behic Ak’s first story The Man Who Even Mended the Sun. If you meet him once, you will search for that person in your entire life. He is able to repair everything, washing machines, dish washers, refrigerators, bicycles, TVs. Whatever you can think of, even the human relationships and broken hearts.

With his new book, Behic Ak created a new character like Kadir Bey. The new main character Alaaddin is like a philosopher. He is silent but he looks in a way that you think he looks inside of you. Some people thinks he is a alien. In the neighborhood, whoever has a story ends up next to Alaaddin and tells their problem. There are people who talk about food recipes, some about disaster theories. Who really is Alaaddin?

Radikal Kitap, The Man Who Repaired Even the Sun, 2008, Asli Tohumcu

Behic Ak says “Today’s world depends on novelty. It does not let anything to age. This creates an extreme tension which is even felt by children.”

Imagine a repairer, who can repair everything, even the broken hearts. He does it free of charge. Moreover, he tells the history of the object and renders the value of the object to itself. Who does not like to meet with such a person? However, islanders want to get rid of him, because they want to throw the old stuff and buy new ones. Read this book and learn whether the islanders could get rid of the Repairer and their old stuff.

The Man Who Even Mended the Sun is a humorous story about consumption madness. It is just another masterpiece from Behic Ak, with his masterful storytelling skills, genuine language and fluid expression.

Radikal Kitap, The Man Who Even Mended the Sun, 2008, Burcu Aktaş

150208-RadikalKitap-page-001Kadir Bey is a master repairman. I do not know how to describe him, because it is really difficult to define someone you love so much. He is a repairman, who can repair everything you can imagine. Getting old and broken is the nature of all objects. Human relations are similar. Like repairing a washing machine, people have to repair their relationships sometimes. How can Kadir Bey repair human relationships? Kadir Bey uses similar techniques in repairing human relations. He says, “Don’t panic, your relation is rusted away a little bit, a dose of rust solvent will solve your problem.”

Some people in the island do not love Kadir Bey, for example garbage collectors. It is hard to believe but people whose stuff he had repaired do not like him as well. They complain that they cannot buy anything new because he repairs everything perfectly. Only children understand Kadir Bey. They breathe in his words. I claim that with his criticism on consumption frenzy and lively characters, this book is amazing for readers all over the world.