Wonderful Readings – Confinement, monsters and fantasies

Works of art open the doors to new worlds and allow us to build bridges to other disciplines and other stories. In this new section of the website, Wonderful Readings, different figures from the world of children’s and young adult literature recommend their favorite stories to read during this week in which we reflect on confinement, everyday monsters and fantasy.

Recommendations for early readers, by Adriana Fernández

Donde viven los monstruos [Where the Wild Things Are], by Maurice Sendak (Alfaguara)
Text and illustrations by Sendak. A book for adults to sit with children to look at monsters, to think about how close or far they are from the main character, and how much we can love what appears to frighten us.

Medafiaca trabaja de rey , by Graciela Repún (SM Ediciones SM).
Prince Medafiaca likes being married to Princess Praliné, talking with his father the old king, cooking and relaxing… but he doesn’t want the job of being king… But one day… a dragon appears in the kingdom, a very dangerous creature that someone will have to fight.

With illustrations by Eleonora Arroyo.

Monstriña, by María Verónica Ramírez (Editorial Planeta)
With illustrations and texts by the author. Monstriña is a quiet girl who lives with… mmm how can we put it, her shadows? Her dragons? Herself?

Escuela de cocodrilos , by Ana María Shua (Planeta Lector)
Illustrated by Leo Frino. Someone new arrives at the little school of crocodiles… But he is so strange, so different, so so different… that everyone makes fun of him. Who, or what, is this new student?

Adriana Fernández (Buenos Aires, 1970) graduated from the Instituto Nacional del Profesorado “Joaquín V. González” as a teacher in Spanish, Literature and Latin, and today is the publishing manager of Grupo Planeta in Argentina. As an author of children’s literature, she has published the storybooks Pato Pico Chato [The Flat-beaked Duck] (Editorial Heliasta, Unaluna, 2007) and Clara está en la luna [Claire on the Moon] (Editorial Heliasta, Unaluna, 2007). Macmillan Publishers has published several of her stories and poems in school anthologies.

Recommendations for ages 8 and up, by Natalia Blanc

Huellas en la arena, by María Teresa Andruetto (Sudamericana), illustrated by José Sanabria.
This Argentine winner of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen literary award contains seven short stories that can be read separately but which, together, form a unit. They are fantasy tales from remote times, that speak of journeys and escapes, of mysterious women, of sultans and princes, of love and secrets. All of the tales are set in the sands of the desert and have the spirit of the Far East as a common ingredient.

Silfos, Ondinas, Salamandras y Nomos, by Liliana Bodoc (Alfaguara)
Four books with short stories inspired by the natural elements: air, water, fire and earth. In Silfos, there are stories of winds, tornadoes and breezes. In Undines, water appears as tears, rivers, seas and rain. Salamanders tells a story of love and fire in times of the Inquisition, and includes a futuristic and dystopian tale for children, and a play about a match seller. In Nomos, the earth and its fruits appear.

Seres fantásticos. Introducción a la música de concierto [Simply Fantastic:. An Introduction to Classical Nusic] by Ana Gerhard and Claudia Legnazzi (Océano Travesía).
An album book that includes a CD with pieces such as Mussorgsky’s The Hut on Fowl’s Legs, Camille Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre, Mozart’s Queen of the Night aria, and Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Listen and learn about the stories that inspired the works and the lives of the composers.

Natalia Blanc (Buenos Aires, 1972) studied General Journalism at TEA and Communication Sciences at UBA. Since 2007, she has been an editor for the La Nación newspaper and, since 2015, she has run ¿Qué vas a leer con tu hijo esta noche? [What will you read to your child tonight?], the children’s literature section of the newspaper’s website. In April 2018, she published her first book, La vuelta al mundo en 101 libros para chicos (Editorial Planeta).

Recommendations for ages 8 and up, by Juan José Burzi

Los pequeños macabros (Spanish editions are also titled El abecedario macabro) [The Gashlycrumb Tinies: A Very Gorey Alphabet Book], by Edward Gorey (Libros del zorro rojo).
This book, like all the work of the great Edward Gorey, can be read by both children and adults. It is as funny as it is dark: based on the alphabet, Gorey presents 26 different ways for a child to die. One falls off a ladder, another is killed by a bear, one dies of consumption in their bed. Illustrated by Gorey himself, the images are as powerful and detailed as the texts that correspond to each letter. A classic.

La melancólica muerte del Chico Ostra [The Melancholy Death of the Oyster Boy], by Tim Burton (Anagrama)
Notably influenced by the work of Edward Gorey, Tim Burton presents a gallery of characters (illustrated by himself) that is as tender as it is cruel. They are beings suffering from loneliness and incomprehension. Freaks. A book that brings us closer and shows empathy towards those who are different. It is a book that, like any good children’s book, can be read by a child, a young person or an adult.

Momo, by Michael Ende (Loqueleo / Santillana)
Michael Ende, author of The Neverending Story, wrote this classic for the young and the not so young in 1973. Momo is a young girl who has a gift: she knows how to listen to others. Momo encompasses the human values in the fight against the “Men in Grey”, who try to steal people’s time: it is a way of enslaving them and giving them a meaningless and loveless existence.

Juan José Burzi (Buenos Aires, 1976) is an English teacher, librarian, editor and translator. He has published the books of short stories, Un dios demasiado pequeño (2009), Sueños del hombre elefante (2012), Los deseantes (2015) and Shibari (2018), as well as a book of essays on the life and work of the Italian painter Caravaggio, La mirada en las sombras (2019). In terms of children’s literature, he has published Miedo a la oscuridad (2007) and Tres deseos (2019). He has also translated authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, G.K. Cherteston and Henry James, among others.

Recommendations for ages 12 and up, by Carola Martínez Arroyo

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Alice is a book that takes us to the edge of fantasy, forcing us to question ourselves all the time. It is a book to read alone, as a family, or to read aloud.
Free to download (in Spanish) https://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/educacion-e-innovacion/alicia-en-el-pais-de-las-maravillas

Peter Pan and Wendy, by J.M. Barrie
Growing up is a complex act. Peter is a boy who, after a disappointment, decides to travel to Neverland and refuses to grow up. One day, when looking for his shadow, he arrives at the Darling house.
Free to download (in Spanish) https://www.educ.ar/recursos/131397/peter-pan-de-j-m-barrie

His Dark Materials, a trilogy by Phillip Pullman.
The trilogy consists of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. It tells the story of Lyra, a girl who lives at a college, where her uncle left her shortly after her parents died. Lyra sets out on an adventure in search of her friend who has disappeared and discovers many mysteries along the way. Since we are in quarantine and it can be hard to get the books, I also recommend the series, which can be found on Netflix. Remember that we also read when we watch television. Reading does not just take place within books.

Carola Martínez Arroyo (Chile, 1972) has lived in Argentina for 20 years. She studied psychology and holds a diploma in children’s literature from the University of San Martin. She is an editor, writer and trainer. She works in public policy and develops training programs for readers and writers. In 2016 she published Matilde (Norma) and has just published Nunca Jamás (Norma). She is the current director of the city of Buenos Aires Reading Plan and is a partner of the bookstore Donde viven los libros.

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