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Sunday, 20 November 2016

‘Spot’light on Italy

Jennie recounts the latest chapter in her quest to add an Italian version of a Spot adventure to her bookshelves.

For long-time readers of this blog, this is a continuation of a journey – the collection of Spot books in the languages of the countries I visit. The processes of acquiring these titles is as much fun as reading and sharing them when I get home. If you want the background on my international collection dip into the archives and read Spot the difference and Spot the difference: The next chapter.

This treasure hunt began on the east coast of Sicilia in Catania and traversed across the island – Syracusa, Agrigento, Trapani and Palermo – surely the capital would have a copy! No, not a Spot to be seen. Armed with an iPad for this expedition, misunderstandings were eliminated (and the fun of barking like a dog in the middle of a bookshop was obsolete) as Google translate made it all a little too easy. So we searched for “libro illustrato” by the ‘autore’ Eric Hill. Mind you, without capital letters, this translates into ‘collina eric'.

So in Sicilia we did not find a single copy of the beloved Spot. However, we did find some fantastic bookshops and it was heart warming to see that these ranged from corporate chain stores to small village home-owned stores. The Italian bookshop is alive and well – Read all about it! Much was familiar – the children’s section was usually to the back or upstairs – coffee shops (with biscotti and pasticceria!) were often present with many familiar titles and popular authors translated into Italiano. L'Albero (The Giving Tree) by Shel Silverstein and Un Libro (Press Here) by Herve Tullet were present in most shops, and the latter was purchased, packed and brought home just to press my buttons.

Fairy tales made up a significant part of the children’s collection and included mass produced version – Disney being a favourite – alongside beautiful renditions – the one that grabbed my attention was a version illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer (now added to my collection, in English).

To continue the journey and the treasure hunt, from Sicilia we had a briefer sojourn on the mainland – Salerno to explore the Amalfi Coast and Napoli, and then to Roma. In and out of bookshops we went and it was in Roma that the quest was completed, in the largest store of the Feltrinelli Libri e Musica chain.

So now I have an Italian Spot sitting on my shelves next to a number of other foreign language picture books – a wonderful journey to remember as I dip into Spot va in Vacanza – how fitting!

Jennie Bales
CBCA Tas Social Media person, adjunct lecturer with Charles Sturt University, teacher librarian in the past, and lover of travel and children’s books.

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