Il Mignolo for newitalianbooks
Il 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.
Title: Pio pio bau bau
Author: Cassinelli Attilio
In Pio pio bau bau, a chick, unlike the rest of his brood, loves to explore the world; so he runs away and meets various farm animals, demonstrating an unusual talent for languages. Back with his mother, he shows off everything he has learnt and then finally adapts to the chicks’ sounds.
From one year upwards
Title: Meglio insieme
Author: Cassinelli Attilio
In Meglio insieme, two puppies are born together but are soon separated. The puppy that has found a home, however, does not want to eat, nor to play, and instead hides. So the family that adopted him leaves home and returns with a surprise: together we are better off! Page after page, we feel a palpable tension, the climax of the best stories grips us: what will happen to the little dog? What will the mother and child do?
It is partly thanks to books like this that we get hooked on reading.
From one year upwards
Title: Dove sei, piccolo Giulio?
Author: Colaneri Giovanni
Publisher Black Egg
There is a solid tradition of characters getting lost in books, and having to be found on the page, but in the game on paper the reader is always invited to seek, and not to get lost. What happens, in contrast, when we are led to experience the emotions of those who hide, of those who disappear from the eyes of others?
Colaneri speaks of hiding with transparent reference to autism and those who inhabit other worlds ‘wherever they may be’: the story begins with an adult voice that, giving the book its title, asks, “Where are you, little Giulio?”. We see the child but the voice continues to search for him, and towards the end of the book Giulio is tiny in front of a giant female shoe: the figure, however, bends down, ‘There you are. You are right here. In front of me’, inviting the (adult) reader to change his posture, to get down to the child’s height so that he can find him.
From the age of four
Title: L’estate balena
Author: Cinquetti Nicola
Carlo goes on holiday with his parents and right from the car journey, without any air conditioning due to his mother’s advanced pregnancy, it is clear that this summer will be different. There is the presence of this new arrival, which takes away space and creates discomfort. The hotel is still the same, the community of holidaymakers as well, yet small ripples are noticeable in the calm sea: Carlo is growing, he is more independent from his mother, who looks like a whale in the eyes of his foolish friends. And this autonomy reverberates in a new awareness: he now knows where he stands.
A story that unfolds in the space of a few days, in which everything comes to a head: birth, adventure, quarrels. The life of a child growing up can be really exciting, if we know how to grasp the details, and Cinquetti’s flat, very clean writing – her rhythmic and poetic periodicism like waves of the summer sea, with little flashes announcing the next wave – is very effective.
From the age of seven
Title: Vendesi casa d’artista
Author: Morello Ericavale
Some artists have had incredible houses (now museums), others have inhabited houses of which all trace has been lost. Morello plays at imagining some artists’ homes and then putting them up for sale: who better than a real estate agent, in fact, knows how to enhance a house, even a dilapidated one full of stains? Who but a skilled estate agent can make a hole in the ceiling look incredibly desirable? An imaginary catalog of real estate listings, it is a spectacular volume of popularization that tells the story of art with imaginative skill and a love for detail. Closing the catalogue of houses is an equally exciting catalogue of keys. An idea to play with and to replicate: telling the story of art, literature and science (and why not!) through houses.
From the age of eight
Title: Dlin dlon, ops, vrum! Scalda la voce, fai un saltello e accendi questo libro
Author: Danesin Susi
An illustrated book explaining how to read aloud is much needed: Susi Danesin, one of Italy’s most talented readers, now fills this gap. Dlin dlon, Oops, Vrum! is a reading gymnasium that opens with warm-up exercises, continues with advice on how to take meaningful pauses, change voices, raise or lower volume, fill silences withmystery, insert sounds or help look at figures.
The game is over, amusing, disruptive; however, Danesin is also an expert in books as well as reading. So here we find a story that is a kind of compendium of all the most exciting situations in a picture book: (unlikely) characters running and chasing, cities and motor vehicles, construction sites run by stuffed animals, markets and postmen’s annual congresses. Francesca Carabelli’s illustrations give a very expressive face to a light-hearted tone of voice.
From the age of six
Title: Montagna si scrive stampatello
Author: Longo Davide
Davide Longo’s first children’s book is a fun and sweet mountain adventure amidst eagles and notes of classical music. Davide and his mum set off on a musical trek in the Dolomites in the company of a great mountaineer and a famous cellist. Mum is a bit quirky, but she and Davide are a close-knit couple, the mountains do not frighten them and the six days of the trek will be full of chats, new friendships and reflections. The most interesting aspect of the book is certainly the way Longo lends voice to the narrator, a seven-year-old boy, who imagines himself recounting everything in a notebook-diary: the result is a hilarious style, mimicking the child’s gaze. Mention should also be made of Isabella Grott’s airy illustrations that accompany and enrich the narrative.
From the age of ten
Title: Rime scolare. Per rimescolare scuola e poesia
Author: Tognolini Bruno
Bruno Tognolini has for some years now been the best-known author for children and young people in Italian schools, and this is thanks to a genre that is considered by the publishing industry to be less important, because it is less profitable and less popular: poetry, and in particular, nursery rhymes.
With this book, Tognolini listens to the concrete nature of school by providing a counter-song of imagination, of possibilities, of playful openings: and he does so with beautiful working material, school cards. There are some thirty poems that originate from a topic + which easily lends itself to irony: those exercises that often reach children in the form of photocopies, and which force them to frame thoughts and little thoughts, steeds and destinies, reducing them to things that can be checked, verified and, therefore, assessed.
Title: Guida tascabile per maniaci dei libri per ragazzi
Author: The Book Fools Bunch , Ghisalberti Carla
Carla Ghisalberti, art historian, expert in children’s literature and trainer, promoter of quality reading in schools and libraries, blogger (“Lettura Candita”) since 2011 and in the editorial staff of the publisher Orecchio acerbo for the last ten years, encloses in eight chapters and over six hundred pages many suggestions, underlining several times the inevitable limit of any guide and, therefore, also of this one: “I have chosen, arbitrarily”. An invaluable tool that can act as a compass for teachers, educators, and simple enthusiasts to discover those titles (must-haves, classics of yesterday, today and tomorrow, 25 brief forays into contemporary books for adults and titles linked to specific themes) that are listed and recounted with evident love, respect and enthusiasm.
In closing, a chapter with short interviews with Italian publishers and a rich bibliography.
For adults, on children’s books
Title: Bambini nascosti
Author: Matticchio Franco
Children have always been hiding, playing hide and seek, to explore the world, to sharpen their senses, to play at disappearing.
Franco Matticchio, the historic illustrator of the Indice, signs about twenty plates for Vanvere in which we see children hiding, in a more or less surreal way: his melancholic, suspended sign suggests that this hiding is a premise for something else, but also an eccentricity, a restlessness that does not let them take centre stage.
Bambini nascosti is a transversal reading, which tells the restless sides of childhood first of all to adults, but also to children or young people who can mirror themselves in those paper boys and children.
For everyone, but also for girls and boys