cover image Lamberto Lamberto Lamberto

Lamberto Lamberto Lamberto

Gianni Rodari, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar, illus. by Federico Maggioni. Melville House, $22.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-935554-61-5

If Roald Dahl had rewritten The Picture of Dorian Gray to include a gang of 24 bandits and a giant balloon, the result might have been Rodari's wonderfully improbable novel that, for all its humor, is loosely based upon the 1978 kidnapping and murder of Italian politician Aldo Moro. "The man whose name is spoken remains alive," an Egyptian fakir tells an elderly millionaire named Lamberto, who thereupon pays a squad of employees to take shifts repeating his name 24 hours a day. Sure enough, the ostentatious Lamberto grows gradually younger, becoming "straight, tall, blond, and athletic." Lamberto's valet, Anselmo, supervises the enterprise, and his scheming nephew, Ottavio, stumbles upon it. Consumed with his renewed health and powers of physical regeneration, Lamberto is happily oblivious both to his nephew's nefarious actions and to the fate of the island within the hands of the bandits (all named Lamberto, too). Despite the absence of children in the story, advanced readers who like to see adults acting in ludicrous ways should enjoy Rodari's effervescent storytelling, which avoids the grim ending that met Moro. Shugaar finds deft translations for all the idioms, while Maggioni's antic ink drawings align with the absurdly hyperbolic tone. All ages. (Dec.)