Monday, 31 October 2011
A few weeks ago, I received an email asking me if I would be interested in reviewing a book called Nine Stories About Love. I usually politely refuse such requests. When I get academic books to review for journals or my work, it doesn't really matter whether I like them or not, it's my job to provide a fair and objective review. But this blog is more personal, and I only talk about books I like and choose myself. I always feel bad saying no to a publisher though, especially an independent one. This time, something told me to say yes. I read the description of the book, and it looked interesting. I'm glad I said yes, because the same day I received the book, I read it in twenty minutes and was instantly smitten.
Nine Stories About Love is primarily a children's book. It's a slim volume, but loaded with depth. Like all good children's books, it also holds interest for adults. Written by Giovanna Zoboli and illustrated by Ana Ventura, it's quite simply a charming little book. I've included a few of my favourite illustrations by Ana in this post, but you can have a look at them all here. The copy I received is an English translation of Nove storie sull'amore, published by Pistache Moustache.
Each story comprises of a tale about love, but there is no venture into cliche when talking about love. The stories remind me of traditional fables, where a certain theme is explored with simplicity, but also, a philosophical spirit that aims to expand concepts and ideas. The book also has a simple, unfussy aesthetic that is actually hard to come by in the world of children's books. A few of my close friends have little children, and I find it really hard to find age-appropriate books that are both aesthetically beautiful and that don't 'talk down' to them. I think children are cleverer than we generally give them credit for, and have an enormous interrogative spirit. Nine Stories About Love speaks to that spirit.
It's also entirely possible to enjoy this book as an adult. I certainly did. But rather than taking my word for it, here's an excerpt:
Once upon a time, a woman said goodbye to her land which faded away into the distance. "Your plants will grow among my thoughts, and whoever is near me will feel them flower; your birds will live in my voice, and whoever comes close to me will be able to listen to you; you will beat so strongly that the darkness of the night will never let loneliness creep in". Meanwhile, the child sleeping near his mother dreamed he was a seed filled with adventure, carried along by the water and ready to take root anywhere. (28)
So all in all, this has taught me to say 'yes' more often. What a lovely little book. If you're interested in buying a copy, Nine Stories About Love is available from the Pistache Moustache online shop in both German and English.
Image credits: All images in this post are by Ana Ventura and are used with permission. They are a selection of illustrations from Nine Stories About Love I picked out.
P.S. I did not get paid to do this review. I'm saying this because I've been noticing a lot of nasty comments on other blogs, where the blog author is attacked for talking about a specific product or book. I don't get paid for anything I write on this blog, and as I said, this is a space where I talk about things I genuinely love or feel are important.