cover image Telephone Tales

Telephone Tales

Gianni Rodari, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar, illus. by Valerio Vidali. Enchanted Lion, $27.95 (212p) ISBN 978-1-59270-284-8

“Every evening—no matter where he was—at nine o’clock on the dot, Signor Bianchi put in a phone call to Varese and told his little girl a story.” In the 70 brief stories told within this frame, the irrepressible Rodari plays with words, numbers (“eleventy thousand sporty-seven hundred and thirty-three”), time, and space. In bold shapes and bright colors, Vidali (The Forest) plays right along: his images read as an homage to Bruno Munari, who illustrated the first Italian edition in 1962. At times whimsical, absurd, and subversive, the stories carry readers along roads made of chocolate, under skies that rain Jordan almonds, and into children’s private language. They also speak to today’s urgent concerns—human connection, the injustice of inequality, and the dangers of authoritarianism. At every turn, Rodari remains emphatically on the side of the young, reminding readers that “the whole world already belongs to every child that comes into it.... They need only to roll up their sleeves, stretch out their hands, and take it for themselves.” Numerous gatefold spreads and tipped-in pages add to the rich texture of this beautifully produced volume. Ages 8–12. [em](Sept.) [/em]