The Premio Strega Ragazze Ragazzi finalists in the three competition categories - 6+, for readers aged 6 to 7; 8+, aged 8 to 10; and 11+, aged 11 to 13 - of the award’s eighth edition were announced at Benevento’s Teatro Comunale Vittorio Emmanuele.
The finalist books were selected by the Scientific Committee - made up of Anna Baldi, Simonetta Bitasi, Lorenzo Cantatore, Eliana Conti, Maria Greco, Elena Pasoli, Giovanni Solimine (Chairman), Nadia Terranova, Marcella Terrusi – who all gave their personal motivations.
Matthew Cordell, Cornbread and Poppy (Ugo e Poppy. Così diversi, cos’ amici!), translated by Sara Ragusa (Terre di Mezzo)
Part of a young-reader series for either read-aloud or independent reading, this illustrated novel describes the very different reactions of the two characters to life as they play, explore and meet adventure. The classic theme of friends with totally different personalities is here refreshingly revisited, the cartoon-like illustrations and skilful page layout contributing to the well-paced, light-hearted narrative telling the story of two young people learning to understand, accept and support each other despite their differences as they build an authentic friendship.
Claire Lebourg, Bonnes Vacances, Mousse! (Le vacanze di Bris), translated by Mario Sala Gallini (Babalibri)
Bris lives in a delightful house on the beach, so much on the beach that the sea comes into his living room and Bris takes his coffee in an armchair-dinghy. When the tide recedes, he gathers up what the waters have left behind, returning the fish and crustaceans to the deep before starting his day’s work, attending to every detail with admirable calm and efficiency. The words and enchantingly coloured illustrations are dextrously woven into a dynamic, cadenced story of this sea slug. His adventures – whether the arrival of an unlikely guest, or making new friends – are never formulaic. The story unfolds in a gentle, poetic, surreal atmosphere reminiscent of the classics. The division into short chapters makes this a perfect book for very young readers and early independent reading.
Silvia Vecchini, Jole, illustrated by Arianna Vairo (Topipittori)
Jole's life is a series of comforting daily rituals enjoyed especially in her grandmother's house: plants, animals, objects, favourite foods, and loving tenderness. But a silly accident suddenly changes everything and this extraordinary inter-generational relationship turns into a leap in the dark. For Jole, the road home is no longer recognisable, becoming an initiation rite peopled by fears and ghosts, which, however, she gradually learns to identify. Seeing things from a different viewpoint helps Jole regain her confidence and rediscover a reassuring dialogue with her grandmother. Silvia Vecchini’s restrained style and perfectly chosen words alongside the brilliantly coloured illustrations of Arianna Vairo accompany the reader on this journey of self-awareness as it takes in joy and despair, presence and absence, proximity and distance.
Nicola Cinquetti, L'estate balena (The Whale Summer) (Bompiani)
Nicola Cinquetti's crystal clear prose enchants us once again, this time with the story of Carlo and his memorable summer. A short but exceptional coming-of-age novel in which a mix of emotions and events - amazement, expectations, relationships, solidarity, friendships, challenges, listening and perception – accompany a young boy’s sun-soaked summer as he realises both he and things around him are changing. This modern-day Agostino finds himself veering from dream – daydreaming – back to real life, from speed to indolence, urgency to patience. Nicola Cinquetti’s poetic prose brings to life instances in which a glance or a gesture – and the little things that trigger them – leave an indelible impression on our lives.
Inés Garland, Lilo, illustrated by Maite Mutuberria, translated by Francesco Ferrucci (uovonero)
A story of human friendship, empathy and cyberbullying in which, once again, it is the animal world to question our behaviour. Lilo, a cuddly affectionate dog, has known and played with Emi since he was a puppy. But now, the older pre-adolescent Emi has stopped playing with him, preferring her mobile phone and computer, often becoming inexplicably isolated and tearful. Lilo determines to discover the reason for this sudden change, and with the help of other neighbourhood animals, unearths a disconcerting situation. The cheerful ironic style of Inés Garland and the clarity of Maite Mutuberria’s illustrations deal convincingly with difficult issues of today’s society.
Tiziana Roversi, Fate la pace! San Francesco in Piazza Maggiore (Make Peace! San Francis in Piazza Maggiore) illustrated by Angelica Stefanelli (Minerva Edizioni)
Lively, fascinating, and unpredictable like its main character, this short novel on Francis of Assisi paints a portrait of the man as it reconstructs the historical facts. Tiziana Roversi's narrative and Angelica Stefanelli's beautiful illustrations depict Francis as courageous, revolutionary, yet enigmatic - a complex, charismatic young man ready to change his own destiny in order to change the world. His vision takes on a tangible form as a community; in fact, Francis is always amidst his peers as they meet a crisis, make mistakes or confront change. The spiritual inspiration that guided the saint’s thought and actions can still help us today to imagine new horizons.
Anna Taraska, Kropka z Bledem (A story of Full Stop and Mistake), illustrated by Daria Solak, translated by Raffaella Belletti (Mondadori)
Elegant, restrained, essential, yet visionary, the writing style of this novel invites readers to explore an abstract, indeed conceptual, realm: the signs we use to write on the ruled landscape of the exercise book. A salient feature of the story are the illustrations whose layout and graphic design blend surprisingly well with the text, following and serving as a counterpoint to the characters, Full Stop and Mistake, and their adventures. This is just one of the elements reminiscent of Rodari and Munari in this intelligent, sophisticated book, which, whether read alone or with the help of a teacher, will provide a wealth of reading and writing fun as readers discover the figurative signs we use when writing that unlock the world of reading.
Rachelle Delaney, Clara Voyant (Le stelle secondo Clara), translated by Alice Casarini (Terre di Mezzo)
Anxious to distance herself from her mother and become a person in her own right, Clara determines to choose a different path to her mother’s preoccupation with potions, magic and way-out beliefs. That path is writing, in her case, contributing to the school newspaper -also a great way to be accepted by others. But what happens if you’re not asked to report real-life news but given the crackpot assignment of writing the horoscope? This funny, profound novel and its unexpected twist shows that although coming-of-age does entail self-assertion, it doesn’t have to mean being different for the sake of it. And also, that calling into question even one’s own certainties leads to seeing everything, even our affections, in a different, more mature way.
Dan Gemeinhart, The remarkable journey of Coyote Sunrise (L’imprevedibile viaggio di Coyote Sunrise), translated by Aurelia Martelli (EDT-Giralangolo)
Right from the start, this intense, moving, humane story of the remarkable journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart is spiced with smiles, tears, surprises, curiosity, and generosity. On their long, tiring travels - a metaphorical coming-of-age journey - Coyote and his dad, Rodeo, happen upon a host of unusual characters, each with his own heavy baggage of stories to tell. But as is often magically the case, their coming together and interaction resolves crises and soothes pain. We emerge from the experience transformed, our innermost selves healed.
Eirlys Hunter, The Mapmakers' Race (La gara dei cartografi), illustrated by Kirstin Slade, translated by Francesca Novajra (La Nuova Frontiera Junior)
An original, enthralling novel whose wide-range of narrative styles and genres go from comic to sentimental, from the detective story to fantasy. Impossible not to be on the side of the four incredible Santander siblings - Sal a mathematical genius; Joe, a true explorer; the mute Francie who can communicate telepathically, draw perfect geographical maps, and perhaps even fly; and Humphrey, helpful in his own way – as they complete in a map-making contest without their parents. We follow their 28-day journey full of surprises, difficulties and untoward happenings as they map the area designated for a new railway. With his rich, articulate imagery, Eirlys Hunter pays homage to geography and the family in this tale of the bonds between family members, who although very different belong to the same clan and feel part of a winning team. And this is just their first adventure...
The prizes for each category will be awarded on 7 December at 2pm in the Auditorium of the La Nuvola Congress Centre - Più libri più liberi by a jury made up of 259 primary and secondary schools in Italy and abroad. If the most voted work is in translation, a similar award - offered by BolognaFiere - will be given to the translator.
The first Selection
The first selection of the 6+, 8+ and 11+ competition categories was announced on May 18, 2023.
- Pierdomenico Baccalario, L’investigatto e lo scassinatoro, HarperCollins Italia, illustrated by Alessandro Parodi.
- Matthew Cordell, Ugo e Poppy. Così diversi, così amici!, Terre di Mezzo, translated by Sara Ragusa.
- Luigi Dal Cin, Nuvole a dondolo, Einaudi Ragazzi, illustrated by Serena Mabilia.
- Ulrich Hub, L’anatra zoppa e la gallina cieca, Rizzoli, illustrated by Jörg Mühle, translated by Bérénice Capatti.
- Claire Lebourg, Le vacanze di Bris, Babalibri, translated by Mario Sala Gallini.
- Silvia Vecchini, Jole, Topipittori, illustrated by Arianna Vairo.
- Alice Butaud, Le bambine di solito non salgono così in alto, La Nuova Frontiera Junior, illustrato da François Ravard, translated by Silvia Turato.
- Nicola Cinquetti, L’estate balena, Bompiani.
- Nizrana Farook, La ragazza che rubò un elefante, Emons Edizioni, illustrated by David Dean, translated by Marcella Majnoni.
- Inés Garland, Lilo, uovonero, illustrato da Maite Mutuberria, translated by Francesco Ferrucci.
- Lisa Krusche, L'universo è maledettamente grande e supermistico, Edizioni San Paolo, translated by Anna Patrucco Becchi.
- Sanne Rooseboom, Il ministero delle Soluzioni, Terre di Mezzo, illustrated by Mark Janssen, translated by Laura Pignatti.
- Tiziana Roversi, Fate la pace! San Francesco in Piazza Maggiore, Minerva Edizioni, illustrated by Angelica Stefanelli.
- Anna Taraska, Storia di punto ed errore, Mondadori, illustrato da Daria Solak, translated by Raffaella Belletti.
- Bart Moeyaert, Morris, Sinnos, illustrato da Sebastiaan Van Doninck, translated by Laura Pignatti.
- Anne Becker, La più bella nuotata della mia vita, uovonero, translated by Claudia Valentini.
- Rachelle Delaney, Le stelle secondo Clara, Terre di Mezzo, translated by Alice Casarini.
- Christopher Edge, 12 minuti a mezzanotte, Edicart, translated by Michela Guardigli.
- Dan Gemeinhart, L’imprevedibile viaggio di Coyote Sunrise, EDT-Giralangolo, translated by Aurelia Martelli.
- Eirlys Hunter, La gara dei cartografi, La Nuova Frontiera Junior, illustrated by Kirstin Slade, translated by Francesca Novajra.
- Cilla Jackert, A nessuno piace Jonna, Camelozampa, translated by Samanta Katarina Milton Knowles.
- Sharna Jackson, High Rise Mystery. Un'estate in giallo per le sorelle detective, Emons Edizioni, translated by Federico Taibi.
- Jenny Jägerfeld, La mia morte gloriosa col botto, Iperborea, translated by Laura Cangemi.
- Amelia Mellor, La magica libreria delle meraviglie, Edizioni EL, translated by Federica Merati.
- Gonzalo Moure, Parole di Caramello, Kalandraka, illustrated by Maria Giròn, translated by Francesco Ferrucci.
- Eva Serena Pavan, Scambio scuola, Mimebù, illustrated by Sara Not.
- Sarah Turoche-Dromery, Sam de Bergerac, Pension Lepic, illustrated by Tom Schamp, translated by Angela Nanetti.
The selection was made from the 120 books nominated by publishers: 30 for the 6+ category, 37 for the 8+ category and 53 for the 11+ category.
The Premio Strega Ragazze e Ragazzi is sponsored by the Fondazione Maria e Goffredo Bellonci and Strega Alberti Benevento, organisers of the Premio Strega, together with the Centro per il libro e la lettura and BolognaFiere-Bologna Children's Book Fair in partnership with BPER Banca and IBS.it La Feltrinelli.