to an extraordinary book

Bambini nascosti (Hidden Children)

Vànvere edizioni
Text and illustrations by Franco Matticchio

What the jury said:
Small, independent publisher Vànvere has produced an essential book. Drawing on Franco Matticchio’s distinctively cultured, refined, and subtly ironic style, it is filled with his trademark pinch of the grotesque. After a Dante-esque opening, the book proceeds primarily with a long list of names, occasionally interrupted by a short poem – a gift from Vincenzo Mollica to the author – pairing these names (sometimes a single name) with the illustrations. Observant readers will delight in discovering hidden figures of children, masterfully integrated into the scenes. These hidden figures are revealed through small details: a hand peeking out, a shoe, a tiny head emerging from behind a large pillow, or two legs dangling from a swing, the rest of the body merging into the unknown.
Blending a repertoire of names rich in citations and references to cultural and historical figures, this exquisite and joyful game of hide-and-seek also contains a subtle sense of unease that tempts the reader to keep the children’s hiding spots secret, hinting that once seen, once revealed, they may become vulnerable. An example of apparent simplicity concealing extraordinary profundity, the book powerfully offers a deep-rooted depiction of the invisibility of childhood. At multiple levels, the book reveals how being a child can lead to being unseen and overlooked, not just in daily life but through history. Ultimately, the book is a poetic and disillusioned tribute to all invisible, lost, hidden, and forgotten children throughout the ages.