Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Au Clair de la Nuit - Motus Editions

"Placida notte, e verecondo raggio della cadente luna"... this is the start of one of the few poems I remember from my old school days.

I won't talk about the reasons for the strong appeal the moon has always had on men, though it is a matter of fact: since ever men got inspired by it so as to make of it the object of adoration and superstition even.

This year several books were published about the moon or men landing on it in 1969.

Amid the many books with this subject, let me draw your attention on a book I found at the Salon de Montreuil, published by Motus Publishing House:

Au Clair de la Nuit, texts by Janine Teisson, illustrations by Joanna Concejo, collection "Pommes, Pirates, Papillons", Editions Motus, 2009.

Au Clair de la Nuit is a little masterpiece of quality and care, holding it in your hands is really pleasing both for the rough and thick consistency of the paper, for its sober composition, and for the beautiful combination of text and illustrations that lead us to the discovery of new, poetical images.

This book is indeed a collection of short poems, all devoted to the moon, with little sentences full of unusual, ironic, amusing and at times melancholic symbolisms, but always inventive that confronts us with little questions such as:

"Pourquoi la lune n'a pas d'oreilles?" - Why doesn't the moon have ears? or...

"Pourquoi les lapins dansent-ils sous la lune?" - Why do rabbits dance beneath the moon? or...

"Tu veux confier ton secret à qui ne le répétera jamais?" - Do you want to tell your secret to someone who'll never reveal it? or...

"On dit que la lune est pleine. Mais pleine de quoi?" - They say the moon is full. But full of what?

The black and white images by Joanna Concejo increase from time to time the feeling of melancholy, they strengthen the poetical message from the texts, letting all the unsaid shine, letting us perceive the distance that separates us from the moon but also that closeness that makes us wonder when we look up.

A book I suggest to everyone, to adults as well.

For more information about Motus:

Copyright images and texts Ed. Motus © 2009

Monday, 7 December 2009

L'Heure Bleue - Naïve Editions

Today I shall like to talk about a publishing collaboration that I would call very successful and profitable. This makes me ponder on how important are, in the publishing world as well, human contact, a clever vision of their profession and affinity besides the merely professional and business aspects.

L'Heure Bleue, texts by Massimo Scotti, illustrations by Antonio Marinoni, translation into French by Sophie Royère, Editions Naïve (October 31st  2009) 

During the Salon de Montreuil (the Paris Children's Literature Show, occurred Novenber 25th to 30th), I had a big surprise: in the booth of Naïve Publishing House I found a French copy of the picture book L'Ora Blu, published by the Italian Topipittori only a few weeks before.

It is not the first time that Naïve publishes, at a very short distance, one of the books from Topipittori: in fact, in 2007, they published Velluto. Storia di un ladro see here below.

Velours : Le nez d'un voleur, texts by Silvana D'Angelo, illustrations by Antonio Marinoni, translation into French by Sophie Royère, Editions Naïve (September 1st 2007).

Talking to Ms Patrice, who's in charge for Naïve Jeunesse, I was able to confute how much it can be fundamental (especially when talking about small publishing houses) the attention to the product of course, but also and mostly, I would say, the open-mindedness and the attention to those foreign publishing companies that produce books similar to their own needs, with full and open collaboration. I must confess that this conversation was, for me, source of great satisfaction as it confirmed some of my own firm beliefs as the value of sharing, but also the idea that in publishing there should be no limits for what regards collaboration amid actors of the same genre. I make a step forward by admitting that I believe openness to blending extremely important, in whatsoever way, as it inevitably brings to enrichment. To understand what I mean, just think of Bruno Munari.

Starting from the 60s-70s, the publishing industry dedicated to children's literature has always been extremely advanced and open to experience, led by that common sense that pushes authors, illustrators and publishers in a direction with many facets but one, only, main purpose: the creation of little masterpieces to be delivered to children. Far from me the wish to create the illusion of a perfect little world, I cannot affirm that all publishing houses are working at high levels: very poor books, with an awfully low quality both from the graphic-illustration point of view and textual one, are published almost every day. After all, business rules in this sector as well. Though, thanks good, there are still courageous people who publish even knowing that they are leading a difficult, tortuous battle, often a non productive one but still they remain firm in their purposes despite all this.

This is one of the reasons why I have decided to open, starting today, a new section of this blog that will be devoted to those publishing houses that, in my very personal opinion, are operating an an excellent way: I shall keep you posted about new publications, initiatives and other from the publishers I have selected. I shall tell the names little by little... A bit of souspence isn't bad after all!

I am glad I started this section talking, at once, of two publishing houses: Naïve, of whom you shall hear soon further news, and Topipittori that I deeply esteem both for the beautiful minds that lead it, Giovanna Zoboli and Paolo Canton, and for the care and the almost crazy attention they have for the books they produce.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Wa Zo Kong by Beno Wa Zak (or Benoît Jacques)

During the last Salon du Livre de Montreuil (the Paris Children's Literature Show, occurred Novenber 25th to 30th) I had the chance to find several very interesting, newly published, books. The Salon is always cause of artistic dazzling discoveries, it was in fact during the 2008 Salon that I was literally enchanted by the genius of an eclectic French author: Mr Benoît Jacques.

When I saw La Nuit du Visiteur, I was speechless: it's a brilliant book, not just for the absolutely original reinterpretation of  'Little Red Riding Hood', or for the essential and effective use of color and graphics that contribute to increase the story's pathos, but for the whole of this masterpiece that I consider one of the best children's books of the last few years.

It is not by chance if, during the 2008 Salon, the book won the prestigious Prix Baobab, and it is not by chance if the Publishing House Orecchio Acerbo immediately seized the opportunity and published the book in Italian last May, with the title Aprite quella Porta! (Open that door!). I take this chance to personally thank the people at Orecchio Acerbo as they gave Italian readers the chance not to loose such a wonderful book.

Here is the link to the video regarding the prize-giving to B. Jacques: a very touching moment, where the author (and publisher) tells about his dream and the hard work he's getting ahead with commitment and effort.

Today I am happy to announce the publication, during the 2009 Salon, of a new Benoît Jacques book titled Wa Zo Kong: the tragic and unique story of a "Wa Zo ki vo lpah... y Kou"... I shall not tell you more than this: it's the story of a Wa Zo (oiseau, bird) and of his inability to fly. Illustrations are in black and white, essentials though warm and engaging. It's a very amusing book, with that biting and disenchanted irony in the typical Jacques style that leads readers to smile and, at the same time, to think over human routes. In the simplicity of this text and images, the animal world seems to be more of an excuse that the real subject of the book: much more subtle lines on human behaviors, on modern society and it's mechanisms, on the so said rules that dominate our acting, are hiding behind what is not said. It seems that Mr. Jacques wanted to suggest us a new perspective leading us to reflect, to open up our minds to free thinking.

With the hope that the dream Mr Jacques had when he was a child, and that he translated into his publishing adventure, may keep going for a long time, to our advantage as well, as I don't want stop believing that everybody is free to tell what they think and to represent it regardless of lobbies of any kind may them be in the publishing business, cultural or political. Thank you Mr Jacques!

Wa Zo Kong by Benoît Jacques, Benoît Jacques Books, November 2009.

Images Copyright: Benoît Jacques. Images reproduced with the permission of the Benoît Jacques Publishing House.