Tag Archives: children’s books

Us and Them

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Books good

Reading is good, right? It enlightens and informs and opens up new worlds to us? It takes us on journeys and makes us feel good.  I’m definitely one of those people who wholeheartedly subscribe to the maxim that, “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries“.   I also like to run in my spare time, but I find climbing inside a good book is a little less demanding on the ageing achilles and a lot more enriching for the mind. Which gets a pretty good work out too.

 

However.409a1984298d5a85c4ba483491782f44_650x

Newspapers bad

Today I was reading an Italian local newspaper (I know, not a book, but still words on a page) and instead of feeling all nice and warm and fuzzy, it made me want to roll up the paper and bang a certain Salvini, Farage or similar foreigner-bashing politician on the head with it. Certainly not one of those “keep calm, read a book” experiences.

I won’t bore you with the details because I think just mentioning Nigel Farage and foreigners in the same sentence is too much publicity for a xenophobe in a suit.

As I said before, books are always the answer. So maybe I was reading in the wrong place? Back home, I scanned the tomes piled up on my desk for something more soothing that would prove that not everyone is bad. That humanity is more than corrupt politicians, mafia bosses,  swindling public officials, self-appointed elite and immigrant-hating Italians, Brits, etc. etc. (“raze the Roma camps to the ground” shouted hate-filled Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s Northern League). Surely there must be someone, somewhere who recognizes who’s really to blame for our dwindling bank accounts, shrinking salaries and flourishing food banks?  Not to mention our depleted planet and rabid greed that keeps 95% of the worlds wealth in the pockets of about 1% of the global population. (Note to self: check statistics).  But that’s another story.

Us and Them

noicopThe story on my desk that caught my eye was this delightful one. Noi (us) written by Elisa Mazzoli and illustrated by Sonia Maria Luce Possentino. But don’t worry, you can read on. It has nothing to do with politics or capitalist corruption. It’s simply a compassionate, poetic story, written in Italian, about children learning to see beyond diversity and make friends with the wonderful people they find behind the barriers. Barriers that we ourselves raise because we’re scared of what’s different. Because we want to protect what’s ours.  Only by doing that, we often don’t realize what we’re missing out on, or what we’re not seeing.

 

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We call him Big Eye.
He’s got one huge eye, so big that the other eye,
the normal one, kind of disappears.
Sticky drool dribbles from his big eye.
But it’s not tears.
It’s a slimy trail just like the one snails make.
It grosses us out. 

 

 

NOI

Little by little, we started to talk,
we talked about everything,
the world, the sky, the sea.
about us, about everyone else,
about the snail that was looking at us with its feelers up.
We laughed, and we got our hands dirty.

 

Two boys who once thought of each other as “them” and “us” end up digging in the dirt for secret treasure. Together. They discover all the things they didn’t know that the “other” does. They discover the joy of sharing. They find time for “us” instead of them. They realize that it’s more fun to work together.

Now I feel all warm and fuzzy.

Thanks to Elisa Mazzoli and to Bacchilega for publishing this wonderful picture book. You can also buy it here. And no, I’m not getting any commission for this. I just loved the book a lot. It made me feel good again.

La Cosa Piu’ Importante – The Most Important Thing

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Where have I been?

It’s been a bit too long since my last post and while I’d like to say I’ve been away setting the world  to rights, I haven’t.

But I did read a book about it.   It’s called La cosa piu’ importante – The Most Important Thing.  And it’s all about putting the world back together.

Laura Novello  and Matteo Gaule

Laura Novello
and Matteo Gaule

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2013 Multilingual Blogging Day

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Speaking a second language… what’s that all about?

Today it’s about Multilingual Blogging, Internet Week Europe and highlighting the multilingual dimension of the web.

The rest of the time it’s normally just work for me, but for my 8-year old… it’s much, more more ……..

Compiti d'Italiano Testo Narrativo.  M. Di Nella, 8 anni

Compiti d’Italiano
Testo Narrativo.
M. Di Nella, 8 anni

Ooh, speaking English, my daughter’s first-second-first language (not sure, she’s bilingual) is like a secret language for her. That makes it sound quite magical (or cloak and dagger, depending on your point of view), but however you see it, the sense is definitely one of getting special entry to a world and to information that would otherwise be inaccessible. 

Speaking a second language, or reading a book in a translated language, opens up new worlds and makes you feel at home in strange lands. And it can set a child’s imagination on fire, as Philip Pullman states in the foreword to Outside In’sChildren’s Books in Translation” publication and as my daughter told her teacher in last night’s homework. She feels like she has special powers, she feels special, that’s certainly got to rate high on the what-to-give-your-child for Christmas list! A second language.

Chiedere …. sempre in incognito

Allora, cogliendo lo spirito da detective di mia figlia, usero’ la mia seconda lingua,  italiano, per indagare un po’ sulla letteratura e vedere quello che scopro.

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Acqua Dolce – a clean&contemporary fairy-tale for young solo readers

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ACQUA DOLCE by Andrea Bouchard, published in the Italian by Adriano Salani Editore.

ACQUA DOLCE … the water baby, is a heart-warming and magically realistic tale about a girl born in the magical waters of an enchanted island in an exotic, faraway land when her father and pregnant mother jump out of a plane into the bewitching waters below. True to the tradition of tragicomic opening scenes, the mum’s parachute doesn’t open leaving her hurtling – tummy and all – towards the sea, and magically, on landing she finds that the sea is not salty, it is fresh water. Ergo Acqua Dolce, the beautiful, blue-eyed water baby, born – as if by miracle – in the fresh water.

Acqua Dolce  by Andrea Bouchard

Acqua Dolce
by Andrea Bouchard

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A touching tale about a boy, his grandfather and a cherry tree

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In my previous  post, I wrote about Il Baffo del Diavolo by Sergio Marciani, a story of hidden forces – the devil in disguise – pulling the strings of society and the administration of local government in a small corner of Abruzzo. From a light-hearted opening featuring children’s games and storytelling around an old oak tree, the tree itself becomes a symbol of something more sinister. Chopped down to serve the wily workings of political minds, or perhaps as the author suggests, the evil intentions of darker forces, the fate of the tree reflects the illness affecting society at large.

mio_nonno_era_un_ciliegioBut in keeping with the yin and yang approach to life and literature that I love so much, I like to think that for every dark force we encounter, if you keep looking there’ll be happier times just round the corner. So after I read about Sergio Marciani’s tree falling prey to the Prince of Darkness in Il Baffo Del Diavolo, I immediately thought about another story – Angela Nanetti’s Il Mio Nonno era Un Ciliegio – a children’s story by the Pescara-based author in which a tree brings joy and light into a little boy’s life.
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