He deserved all the prime awards. Since he was born in the realm of literature, he should receive a Nobel Prize in the domain. His appearance on the pages of a 1930s book was a real Big Bang. From that moment on, nothing would ever be the same. One little Billy-Goat managed to pervade the genre of children’s books and turn the children’s world upside down. He enthralled his little readers and viewers and introduced them to a life filled with joy. Not subordinated to any norms, constraints or rules, he encouraged to abandon home (he is a runaway, after all!), to wander “into the wild world” in search of adventure. He sanctioned and sanctified all “childhood sins”, with craziness at the lead. All those “wise Polish goats”, whose book-learned, second-hand knowledge is not worth a hoot, can’t hold the candle to the only true wisdom of childhood: smile. The very smile that Kornel Makuszyński – the writer with the sun in his coat of arms – made a symbol of his philosophy. Carefree, smiling, vulnerable and naive as any child, Matołek the Billy-Goat also carries the sun in his heart.
It is nearly a scandal that he still has not received the Academy Award – for the leading role, of course. If anyone could ever compete with him, it might only be Mister Blot – just as crazy, equally unstoppable maverick (who could come up with an idea to drip – literally – knowledge into pupils’ brains so they don’t have to study anymore!). Yet Matołek, unlike Mister Blot, is a globetrotter with all countries and continents lying at his feet. Although dressed in red shorts, which combined with his white fur gives him a truly patriotic Polish look, he is more like Fileas Fogg – a drifter, like Odysseus – a traveller, like Baron Münchhausen – an eternal jinx, like Pippi Långstrump – a cheerful yet reflexive jester. Albeit, a fully-fledged goat beyond any doubt, he has all the qualities of the most recognizable actor in the world – Charlie Chaplin.
What is Nobel, what is Oscar? Forget all that! Here is an award most important of all: our own Poznań Platinum Goats. He deserves it like no other. Because Matołek the Billy-Goat is crème de la crème of all childhood film and literary heroes. Soon, we will celebrate the centenary of his appearance – the first book about his adventures was published in 1933 thanks to Kornel Makuszyński and Marian Walentynowicz. Matołek, a vigorous old man, does not consider retirement, though. Much to the contrary. Red shorts, a cheeky face, a keen look, a simple stick to walk briskly into the unknown – and so he does: constantly on the road, getting into trouble, helping anyone who needs help, bringing your head back if you lost it, setting children free from Baba Yaga’s traps, and using a rainbow like a colourful bridge to walk down from the Moon where Master Twardowski dwells.
Following the advice of all those “wise Polish goats”, he set out on a long journey to the nearby Pacanów, where a blacksmith family named Goat happened to live. But Pacanów’s reality is far more complex than any of the “wise Goats” or Matołek himself could have predicted. The town was long held in disrepute. Quoting Zygmunt Gloger, “a stupid and surly young man was said to be from the Pacanów Academy”. Sayings like “he went to Pacanów” or “he was in Pacanów, he knows how they shoe goats” stigmatized the town. The famous local tale of the injustice sanctioned by Pacanów court – where a blacksmith was sentenced to death instead of an ironsmith, as the latter was the only iron craftsman around – did not do much good for the town’s reputation…
It took Matołek the Billy-Goat – with his exceptionally big heart and very little reason – to free Pacanów from this unjustified contempt. And so it happened: today Matołek is far more important than Pacanów’s coat of arms! Only few know what character appears in the coat of arms, but everyone knows to whom Pacanów owes its fame. In Pacanów, you will find Billy Goat Inn, Billy Goat Cinema, and the headquarters of the European Fable Centre, named after… our Billy Goat of course! Because today, Matołek the Billy Goat is a brand, the epitome of highest quality, a symbol of childhood filled with adventure, dreams and japery!