Nine Stories About Love

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.


Rebeccak said...

Gorgeous! I'm glad you said yes too! This reminds me a bit of the grimm stories - something deceptively simple.

Kimia Kline said...

what a sweet title and such gorgeous illustrations. thank you for saying yes and sharing it!

Caitlin Rose said...

this looks like a lovely book, I'll have to show it to my mother.

Emily Vanessa said...

I could buy this book for the illustrations alone, so charming and I love the sound of the stories. I'm currently learning Italian so maybe I could try them in the original.

Monica said...

utterly adore the illustrations. it sounds like a book i would enjoy, as i have a thing for fables and (authentic) fairy tales.
i'm going to look into it.

See Hear Say said...

looks like a very nice little book. i love the illustrations and the colour palettes too!

Tana said...

it was a good idea to reply 'yes'! i think children`s book tend to be simple like children can interpret serious things in a simple way, to give a wise outlook on something we adults consider to be complicated! and illustrations are fantastic! i ordered my copy!

Siubhan said...

First of all, if I ever get the chance to work for a publishing house called something as amazing as pistache moustache, I'll be delighted.

The illustrations are absolutely beautiful, and the text sounds as though it has a bit of a Le Petit Prince tone to it, which I love.
I've been amazed lately (after looking at some children's books for work) at the level to which they really do talk down to children - I find it quite sad, really – but I'm pleased to read that this one avoids that trap! Looks lovely - I'm tempted to pick up a copy for myself!

Danielle P. said...

This book sounds absolutely charming! It makes me wish I knew Italian so I could translate it into French...

Nastya said...

sounds interesting, maybe I should read it :) the illustrations are really cute

julie said...

so many lovely posts that i am behind on here.

the illustrations are beautiful and the words seems to fit them.

thanks for sharing.

Thea said...

That looks like such a lovely book. The snippet of prose is beautiful (as are the fascinating illustrations - very unique and understated for a children's book); there is a definite folk-tale feeling. The prose reminds me, in some ways, of Oliver Jeffers' picture books, which I adore.

Naomi Bulger said...

I'm glad you said yes, because I definitely want to read these little stories about love. And the illustrations are, well, breathtaking! Swollen heart syndrome.

Niina said...

This book sounds fantastic! You´re right, there are many children´s books that I didn´t enjoy even as a child and even less today.

In Scandinavia we have a few exceptions, especially Astrid Lingren´s books are a-w-e-s-o-m-e. I loved and still do Pippi Longstocking stories and I know their worldview had a huge effect on me. Do you know them? If not, I recommend. Also I read an interesting book a while ago that this review for reason reminds me of. It was Sharnush Parsipur´s "Women without Men" which is written as a fairy tale still discussing social issues after the Iranian revolution in 1979. Do you know this strange little book?

Petra said...

sounds and looks very interesting. will def add this to my collection of christmas gift ideas. I hate getting just another toy for my friends' kids. this books looks just lovely!!!

gracia said...

I'm a long time fan of Ana Ventura's work and publishers Pistache Moustache. What a great pairing here... and on so delicious a subject.

hila said...

rebeccak: that's a great way of putting it.

kimia: my pleasure, glad you enjoyed it.

caitlin rose: it is rather lovely.

emily vanessa: lucky you, it would be great to be able to read the original Italian.

monica: I hope you'll like it.

see hear say/laura: me too, the colours and the illustrations are very beautiful.

tana: yay, I hope you enjoy your copy.

siubhan: I know, isn't that a great name for a publisher? This book really does have a Le Petit Prince tone - the whole wisdom couched in simple narrative and language. It's quite charming.

danielle: maybe you could translate it from English into french?

nastya: yes, I think the illustrations are very sweet.

julie: my pleasure.

thea: yes, I agree, the illustrations and the whole tone of the book are quite unique when it comes to children's books.

naomi: haha, that's sweet - Swollen heart syndrome :)

niina: oh I love Pippi Longstocking! one of my favourites. I've never heard of Sharnush Parsipur´s "Women without Men" though, it sounds like something I should read.

petra: I think this would make a prefect christmas present for kids, much better than plastic toys, and the like.

gracia: dear gracia, they told me you're working with them on a publication. I'm most excited to hear more about it.

Danielle P. said...

Hila: A translation of a translation is only a last resort, since it's an interpretation of the previous translator's interpretation of the original work...

hila said...

danielle: fair enough, that's a good point.

Sundari said...

Such a cute name for a publishing company! The book looks really interesting. Well done you for being asked and agreeing!

hila said...

sundari: I love their name! who could say no to such a name?