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19 June 2024

Il Mignolo for
newitalianbooks
– 2024

ll Mignolo is a four-monthly supplement of the magazine L’Indice dei libri. Aimed at adults (parents, teachers, booksellers, librarians), it is dedicated to books for children and young people, from pre-school age to young adults. Edited by the writer Sara Marconi, it is a guide to finding one’s way around a publishing sector in continuous and rapid expansion, through columns, bibliographical reviews, and in-depth thematic and monographic studies.

 

This month, Il Mignolo offers readers of newitalianbooks a focus on some of the most interesting titles of books for children and young adults recently published in Italy and reviewed by the magazine.

 

The last three titles are homemade, i.e. they are books written by the editors of Il Mignolo

Title: In canto

Author: Quarenghi Giusi

Year: 2023

Publisher Terre di Mezzo

This illustrated book, while making no scientific claims, sets out to address, with wonder and emotion, our most complicated question: why do we exist and why are we here? A song in two voices, a different way of approaching the search for our origins in that infinite cosmos in which life was born, explosion after explosion, that search which since antiquity has given rise to different myths and beliefs and which then gave impetus to science. Giusi Quarenghi reveals to us the beauty of the world’s origins by naming the things that come into being in a beautiful and enchanting journey to rediscover our roots. One can lose oneself in Alessandro Sanna’s watercolours, in his barely noticeable and explosive shapes, and one can find oneself, with one’s doubts and certainties, in the words that accompany the illustrations. And together … we are the hand that holds the fire … we are the hand that reaches for the stars.

 

 

For all ages

Title: Al canto del gallo

Author: Negrin Fabian

Year: 2024

Publisher Edizioni Corsare

Fabian Negrin, for once, does not illustrate but writes; he writes a fairy tale that begins with the classic, “Once upon a time there was a kingdom…” and he tells of a kingdom in which the roosters choose the king: every time the King dies, they have to sing the name of the new ruler at sunrise, carefully spelling out the letters and syllables. The roosters, however, fail to agree on the name to be crowed and so times of misery, war and degradation ensue, in which all activity is suspended. If the atmosphere is that of a fairy tale that takes us back to dusty Middle Ages, the words and some of the illustrations push us between the past and the present: there are strikes by unemployed doctors and nurses amidst thrusters and blunderbusses; wild animals (tigers among them) invading the kingdom and fields of corn but also of mangoes and guanabananas. And all around, between the pages, a carousel of festive children, barefoot as in the past but with modern clothes, holding hands and jumping and dancing… also because, at the end, the roosters finally sing the name of the new king loud and clear, and for once, it is a special name.

 

From the age of five

Title: Nullo. Il bambino quasi invisibile

Author: Carucci Daniela

Year: 2024

Publisher Sinnos Editrice

Daniela Carucci gives us a poetic and rocambolesque story, a funny, tough and adventurous novel, the story of Nullo and his escape from the House.

In the House are those who have something wrong with them and who need to be fixed – the faults. At a certain point the faults are sold. All except one, which is kept hidden. Nullo occasionally becomes invisible, but he cannot do it at will; at least not at first. One day he escapes: hunted down by the Cousins in the pay of the Lady, Nullo comes into his own among characters who, like him, live on the fringes of the society of the adjusted and the successful. It is these bizarre characters – the gardener Erbo, Mrs. Aspirina and her many medicines, Mr. Escogito with his bizarre inventions and the little girl called Cannuccia – who will help him by transforming themselves into wacky superheroes, banding together and setting off on a mission.

Carucci, with carefully crafted language, without sloppiness or simplicity, stages a story full of bizarre humanity overflowing with life, the humanity of the broken, those who have something wrong with them; to be straightened out. You’ll laugh, you’ll be scared, you’ll be moved and you’ll feel angry in the face of injustice.

 

From the age of eight

Title: Come un fiore sull’acqua

Author: Cima Lodovica

Year: 2023

Publisher Mondadori

Mimì lives in England, between the summer estate in Hastings and the London mansion, in a period (the Victorian age) in which rigid social rules are in force; and she struggles to be a ‘proper’ girl, unlike her sister Kati, who is practically perfect. Yet, despite encountering various obstacles, she manages to find her path in life and pursues it with stubbornness, enthusiasm and even a certain ‘wild’ spirit. Lodovica Cima was inspired to create Mimì based on the life of Marianne North (1830-1890), biologist, botanist and artist; and it is no coincidence that Mimì also wants to study the arts and botany. The narrative follows the times marked by family rituals, highlighting the girl’s non-compliance but also her enchantment with nature and the potential of art, starting with watercolours, and her excitement for travel and adventure, an excitement at the time only granted to men. Mimì questions herself, finds herself swimming against the tide and knows where to focus her energies. Hers is a story of contagious enthusiasm, of the commitment and courage required to follow one’s dreams.

 

From the age of ten

Title: Fate i tuoni

Author: D'Ignazio Michele

Year: 2024

Publisher Rizzoli

Fate i tuoni encourages people to make themselves heard, to make noise, not to self-censor their voices, to turn themselves into gentle rain, which does no harm but counteracts aridity, just as solidarity does. The novel is inspired by an event that actually happened in 1997 in Badolato, Calabria: a boat on which more than eight hundred Kurds were travelling ran aground right in front of the small town and the inhabitants of Badolato showed welcome and solidarity by quickly renovating the houses of the old, now depopulated village to make them available to the migrants. Against the backdrop of this chronicle, D’Ignazio sets the stories of Murad, a young boy fleeing the war, and Zaira, a 12-year-old girl who loves to play with words, finding hidden treasures even in apparently negative ones: in ‘abandonment’ Zaira finds ‘gift’, from ‘emigrant’ she extracts ‘grateful’. So it seems more natural to donate an abandoned hamlet and to understand that solidarity stimulates gratitude on both sides, for those who receive it and for those who have the opportunity to improve themselves. Fate i tuoni is the story of two encounters: one between children of the same age who share the same dreams, and one between peoples who are mirrored in a common story of struggle for survival and dignity; and it is an extremely enjoyable story thanks to D’Ignazio’s evocative and poetic writing, rich in invention and wordplay.

 

 

 

From the age of eleven

Title: Nella tua pelle

Author: Carminati Chiara

Year: 2024

Publisher Bompiani

 

Embellished by Manuele Fior’s splendid cover, Nella tua pelle ideally concludes the trilogy inaugurated by Fuori fuoco and continued with Un pinguino a Trieste: three books in which the great story is intertwined with the individual journeys of the characters, who traverse the period between the First World War and the Second World War from different coordinates and perspectives. Often little-known stories that masterfully balance the rigour of historical reconstruction with literary invention. At the centre of this volume is the San Filippo Neri Institute in Portogruaro, an almost unique place in Europe, which housed the so-called ‘children of war’: unwanted boys and girls, born from illegitimate relationships, from episodes of violence and therefore not recognised by their mother or husband who, on returning from the front, found at home one more mouth to feed. After a period in the Institute, the children could return to their families or be adopted. Giovanna, Vittorio and Caterina are three of them, inseparable friends within the institute and fundamental presences for each other, even when their paths separate. With an almost poetic style of writing that goes deep without ever losing its light tone, Chiara Carminati tells us a story of encounters and separations, of hopes and disappointments, of impetus towards the future and gazes turned to the past, a story that has no boundaries and that will imprint itself on the psyche of children, young people and adults alike.

 

From the age of twelve

Title: Le tre zanzarettiere. Ediz. ad alta leggibilità

Author: Stefanini Virginia

Year: 2023

Publisher Giunti

Zelda is one of those mosquitoes that buzz around the heads of adults and children while they read before going to sleep. But unlike her peers, she does not do it to bite, but rather to discover new books. When she finally learns to read on her own, she learns from books that even the smallest creatures matter and that a different destiny is possible. Inspired by the famous Three Musketeers, Zelda forms a trio of ‘mosquito girls’ with two friends, superheroines ready to help animals in distress with their multi-purpose stingers (which become sewing needles, syringes, skewers). Lurking nearby, however, is a ravenous enemy. Stefanini plays with words and the topoi of literature, producing a very enjoyable, first stand-alone book.

 

From the age of six

 

Title: SOS acqua

Author: Rossi Sergio

Year: 2023

Publisher Einaudi Ragazzi

This book stems from a question: how can there be a shortage of water when it appears to be everywhere? And then: why has water consumption increased sevenfold since 1900, especially in agriculture and animal husbandry? According to the United Nations, 3.6 billion people have no access to drinking water, while in 2025 two thirds of the world’s population will suffer from a lack of water: and not only those who live in developing countries, but also those who live in large metropolises such as London, Beijing and Istanbul. Sergio Rossi, physicist, teacher, writer, popular educator, talks about all this and more: he tells us what water is, how it came to our planet, what its function is in human society and what its effects on nature is, the causes behind this water emergency and what is being done to solve this problem. A comprehensive and fascinating book.

 

From the age of ten

Title: Ti aspetto a San Qualcosa

Author: Sidoti Beniamino

Year: 2023

Publisher Camelozampa

Simone has had to move to a small village against his will; he is about to start high school, his father is always at work and he has to learn to deal with his new environment. So he decides he will explore it in his own way: every day he goes through it as if it were one of the stories he loves and always has with him; and so that village, San Qualcosa, will from time to time become Hansel and Gretel’s forest, Batman’s Gotham City or the place where the BFG goes to collect dreams. In his exploration, Simone soon meets Sara, who plays along with him in the game and with whom he will finally begin to talk about the great hurt he has been hiding. A story of love and discovery that starts with play, a delicate and powerful story, written with lightness and grace by Beniamino Sidoti, who here perfectly blends his skills as a writer with those of a games expert; a light and profound read at the same time, perfect for young readers.

 

 

From the age of eleven

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