Saturday, April 24, 2010

Painting Mice from Italy

Illustration from Anselmo va a scuola by Simona Mulazzani

It's been a month since my visit to Bologna, and though there are many more artists 
and books I'd like to share, it's time for the blog to move on. But I will try to feature 
a different children's book, illustrator or small publisher every week, in addition to 
my usual postings. To conclude the fair reports, I want to talk a bit about one of 
our precious Italian small publishers. In a period when most news related to my country
 fall into the sad and embarassing cathegories, it's uplifting to witness the growing
 creative vitality of our independent book publishers, away from the noise and nonsense
 of the political arena, and unfortunately mostly ignored by our media and institutions. 
A nice aspect to point out is that despite the general crisis, the sales of many of 
these small companies are actually increasing, a sign that the reading public 
is curious and selective, and rewards quality in its choices.

Topipittori is one of the children's publishers I like the best.
And how could it be otherwise? Their outstanding catalogue  of 53 volumes features
 beautiful stories and some of my favorite contemporary illustrators. In fact, many 
of them have already appeared on Animalarium, like Beatrice Alemagna, Violeta Lopiz,
 Valerio Vidali, Gwénola Carrère, Kitty Crowther, Madalena Matoso, Simone Rea and 
Camilla Engman. The company was founded six years ago in Milan by Paolo Canton 
and Giovanna Zoboli, who is also an author and wrote quite a few of Topipittori's books. 
If you can read Italian, check the recent interview with Canton on Le figure dei libri.

This year, graphics by the Portuguese Planeta Tangerina were featured prominently 
at Topipittori's fair booth, since they have recently published the Italian edition of
  Madalena Matoso's Quando eu nascì. Apart from this and Kitty Crowther's Dentro di me
all their other titles are original productions which, in turn, are increasingly finding
 coeditors around the world, from Asia to Latin America. 

One of the new animal-themed titles this year is Vorrei avere... (I wish I had...), 
written by Giovanna Zoboli and beautifully illustrated by Simona Mulazzani. In the words
 of its publisher, Vorrei avere... is "a tribute to the perfection of animals through the 
loving care of a child who passionately desires to possess their extraordinary abilities". 

I haven't bought the book yet, but I do own and love Al supermercato degli animali 
(In the animals' supermarket) by the same creative duo, which introduces children 
to natural foods and the eating habits of animals through its fun concept, 
simple rhymes and colorful artworks.

I personally discovered Topipittori through another book by Zoboli, Due scimmie in cucina,
 a story about a little boy who loves monkeys (like most of us!) and his very busy sister. 
I love the playful text but honestly, as usual, the bright and modern illustrations by 
Guido Scarabottolo were the deciding factor in me buying it. Scarabottolo is a famous
 Milanese graphic designer, illustrator and art director, whose distinctive artworks 
define the house style of book publisher Guanda.

The illustration above is from one of Topipittori's new productions, the gorgeous 
and dreamy Una storia Guaraní by Alicia Badalan, inspired by traditional beliefs of 
the Guaraní indiansAlso just published, Adele's journey features four animal tales
 narrated by Perrine Ledan and illustrated by Lotte Brauning.

Lion and mice by Simone Rea

And next fall, I'll be waiting for Aesop's fables illustrated by Simone Rea 
and new titles from Valerio Vidali and Camilla Engman!


  1. these are so inspirational!! i particularly like that lion!

  2. That is a very content rich post, full of wonderful things Laura. I will have to return again and again to persue all the links. Lots of homework.

  3. I'm so impressed.... "Al supermercato degli animali" is a perfect marriage between soft shaped illustration, acrylic... warm colours and innovative design... I mean... I really loved the cover!! SUPERMERCATO looks a little bit like SUPERMAN... :))

    Great work,
    something good from my land!


  4. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this laura, as always. That top rabbit's stolen my heart I think!



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