Memory, identity and imagination: ten children’s and youth books to enjoy and reflect on during quarantine


March is by nature in Argentina a month of leaving: classes begin, the “school year”. It is also the month that contains March 24, the national day of Memory for Truth and Justice with the safe meeting in the plaza, to remember the victims of the last military dictatorship.

But this March is different. The school and its teachers come home with virtual proposals, and other ways of marching and commemorating must be invented that do not involve leaving. Here are some readings to say: Memory, Truth, Justice. Texts and images that tell us about the dictatorship from art.

And since there is also time and conversations at home, with the family, the idea is to add fuel to the fire with books that feed and give raw materials.

Michelle Petit says in The Art of Reading in times of crisis, quoting the sculptor Jean-Paul Melet: “Art is not only something that comes to replace a failing reality, it is also something that confronts chaos… that resists order general… In it there is the creation of an irreplaceable space. ”

Memory truth justice in the key of story, novel, poetry, and illustrated book

A box of books, written by Valeria Daveloza, illustrated by Natalia Aguerre. Córdoba: Super Power, 2019

This book is for sharing. Endless tenderness. A book that repairs. A woman who was a child in a dictatorship evokes. And his story tells without making a pamphlet. The books were brick and basement. What is the power of a box full of books? Infinite.

“Dictatorship for me, is lost books.

There were many missing books. Libraries, publishers, publishers, and also many book owners disappeared. But at that time I was 5 years old and there were words that were very far from me.

There was nothing in that, my childhood, that counted the times we lived in. ”

This story tells from the intimate, a collective reality. The illustrations have an enveloping tenderness.

The book says something very necessary between the cover and the back cover: “A box full of books. (…) For the hugs that we lack. ” From the guards the books accompany. And Aguerre manages the spaces of the double page building climates: fear, mystery, pleasure, reading. The diagonals form the path of history, which is told without stridency.

Memories, rebuild, embrace. Tell your own story.

A book that invites conversations about childhood and dictatorship. And that leads those who read it to think what their box of books would be like. What would they put in the box?

Highly recommended to read with girls and boys asking questions about the painful history of the last dictatorship.

Those who returned, written by Márgara Averbach. Buenos Aires: Young South American, 2016

A story that asked to be told. Nameless graves. Tenacity. Inspired by a real event, a Mexican and a French (Yves Domergue Y Cristina Cialceta) who were killed and disappeared in the last dictatorship. In 2003, a group of students from a Santa Fe school did research on two NN graves. When that investigation reached the human rights organizations, with the work of the Forensic Anthropology team, the couple of militants could be identified. The author asserts that this book is not the story as it happened. That considers it a resonance of what really happened in Melincué and Rosario and also outside of Argentina. Averbach says in the prologue, which he also names as dedication and warning: “What I invented is a tribute to the people who carefully looked for the end for an interrupted story. And it is dedicated in part to Melincué: “the town that received two unknown dead and searched and kept searching until it managed to return their names.”

The novel is divided into four parts: Theme, Investigation, Second Investigation and Conclusions, and Los Baguales, an invented town, takes place.

There are two planes in this story that is assembled between voices and fragments. In one plane are the five secondary students who have the slogan of doing a History job. One of the students, Ju, proposes that the investigation be about the two NN graves that are in the village cemetery. The investigation is going on and in the end they join the boys, the history teacher, the family, the town. But, in addition, there are the voices of the same disappeared, who speak with Ju. When they finish the history work, nothing in the town will be the same.

Sometimes, while waiting, we read the names of the others together, the words that say whole lives on the marble, on the old and hard wood, on the raw cement.

There is a tree between the graves. We chatted with him on windy nights. He tells us that they planted it a month before we arrived.

Márgara builds a story in which different searches come together. The characters move between reflections on life, death, ideals, identity.

“He just called her and, before the group, it had been so long since anyone called him ‘Ju’ out loud. She, like us, has been searching for years for the sound of her name lost in the air. ”

An essential novel, without low blows, full of pain and horror, but also of struggle, resignification, encounters and searches. Márgara tells a search story with poetic writing, building powerful images with the words. Highly recommended for young people and also for adults.

The black of Paris, written by Osvaldo Soriano, illustrated by Miguel Rep. Buenos Aires: Seix Barral, 2010

An exile, a dictatorship, a cat, or actually two. The boy who stars in this story has to go into exile and leaves a life in Buenos Aires when he leaves. And with that life, her cat Pulqui, who slept in a ball in her bed in Buenos Aires. In Paris he knows the Negro … When we read “the black of Paris” one cannot help but think of the author, who went into exile in Paris in the dictatorship … Would he also be the black of Paris?

“So we kept looking until I saw El Negro. He was on a long log that crossed the cage, lying down, his gaze distant as if dreaming. As soon as I saw him, with those round eyes like pans and those long whiskers like fishing rods, it seemed to me that I had known him all my life. ”

The story provides an insight into exile, the dictatorship from the eyes of a child who has to learn to build his life in another country. And here he enters the midst of his new life, a cat with whom he can look at other realities, and count them. Soriano loved cats. And it is from the link between the child and the cat that the plot is assembled. The story is full of wonderful aspects of the stories. “Cats have a language that those who do not accept the mystery do not understand,” and this novel is full of moments that can lead to remembering some fairy tales. An opportunity to share and chat with the family about literature, dictatorship, cats, terrible worlds and wonderful …

And the illustrations of Rep, with its characteristic city plans and daily scenes, provides a stage for those who read. It is inspiring. I propose to you to draw the neighborhood, the streets. Representing where we live can be very rich in these moments of being at home.

A story that can, and hopefully does, lead to other books by the author. A gateway to Soriano’s literature. An opportunity to share this story. It is a long story that can be read in a couple of nights, before sleeping.

So they know about me, written by Laura Devetach. Illustrated by Juan Lima. Buenos Aires: Calibroscope, 2016

“I don’t know what to do / with these verses. / Maybe / put them here / so that each one / uses himself / his own hand ”, he says Laura Devetach on the back cover of this book. During the dictatorship, he says that he wrote on small pieces of paper that he sent to people who were exiled away, from internal exile. In this way it arose so that they know about me. With those verses that circulated before by many hands. The book is separated into three: I- So that they know about me 1979-1983, II- Just as simple 1984-1986 and III- Tight synthesis 1986-1987. In all, intimacy, love, everyday life, writing, solitude take place. Laura uses her trade as a babbler and narrates an era through her poems on pieces of paper.

A book that works as an oracle, since it always has something to tell who it reads.

So many daisies I leafed

In this edition, the illustrations on transparencies of Juan Lima on vegetal paper, they are interspersed and play with the poems, with painted sheets that at times seem like musical notes that hide some verses, reveal others that we discovered when turning the page. And they remember the fascination of an old edition of Juan Salvador Gaviota, from Richard Bach, in which in the middle of the plot the seagulls were flying, moving away or approaching history. A highly recommended book for young people, and for adults and adults too, of course.

The poems go from intimate lightness to dry blow, without losing poetic force.

that is gaining land to the sea.

If I was in the Sahara

who know the house of the waters.

vibrating in elemental weariness

To a handful of scabs.

Two from school, waiting for us

School was not always like this, written by Pablo Pineau and Carlas Baredes. Illustrated by Javier Basile. Buenos Aires: Iamiqué, 2017

“Even if you find it hard to believe, schools have not existed forever nor were they always as they are now. They were not always given the same importance, nor were they always places designed for children to feel comfortable. There were times when they worked in damp and shady sheds and others when they were built as if they were palaces; there were schools for a very few students and schools that had one for five hundred children. There were times when there were no playgrounds or breaks, boys were separated from girls, and rebellious or slower students were severely punished….

Close your notebooks, leave your homework for another day and prepare to discover that school was not always like this ”

This book, written in 2008, invites a journey through the history of the school as an educational institution. Your changes, your curious data. In these times of confinement, the idea is to learn a little more about this institution that is so varied and changing. As in this era, that change occurs due to the situation. This book gives an account of that and also proposes us to think and know data and details that perhaps you cannot even imagine. The school, says Pineau in Toilet and Presentation, another of his books, configures collective aesthetics, which later produced and continue to do so, certain ethics and policies.

The index is written in handwriting on a folder sheet that announces the “Topics of the day”: The first schools, School medley, To read and write !, Everyone to school !, From the shed to the palace, Where do you feel ?, What does your teacher work ?, Recreo !, and several others. Each theme proposes some sections that are repeated: Locate yourself, did you know what …, incredible! And the phrases of the day. The timeline, at the top of each double page, spanning from the Middle Ages to contemporary times.

The book includes a board game: “The School History Game” that is great fun to play, and also add items based on the school bio of those who participate.

Recommended to read and chat with the whole family. The publisher recommends it for curious people from 8 to 108 years old (and for parents and teachers in trouble) It can be viewed on the publisher’s page.

They’re coming !, written by Sylvie Neeman, illustrated by Albertine. Buenos Aires: Limonero, 2019

“It is done. I hear. Are they. I’m sure it’s them. Where are they? How many? One hundred? Thousand?”

So it begins They are coming! Can you imagine who is speaking? A book album about classes and fears … from a teacher before the school year begins. A teacher who is afraid, doubts, questions.

A book that invites you to go into the garden room, or in the classroom, or in the library. But also in the head of an adult person who can not stop imagining strange and fantastic beings. A book to watch and enjoy. The illustrations of Albertine they are full and vibrant colors, they advance, they look, they hide. The story is marked by the colors, patterns and shapes of these beings that give rhythm and movement on the double pages with a white base.

A book that invites you to read and write and invent, and to talk about everything you imagine in front of the unknown. Who says some girl people can’t create their own quarantine costumes and go back to school or garden when finished, turned into real monsters!

A book recommended for the smallest people in the house… And for everyone else too.

Two from the universe … and those questions from all ages

Who was first ?, written by Laura Devetach, illustrated by Clau Degliuomini. Buenos Aires: Norma (Good Night Collection), 2019.

Laura Devetach She gives away one of her classic tales of accumulation … And she does it as only she knows how to do it, great. The Good Night collection adds another one of those books that will ask to be read over and over again.

The lid has such a volumetric effect, that the hen really seems to peek out. Degluiomini’s illustrations are delicate, subtle, and mostly pastel.

“The first thing was the egg,” replied the yacaré. But of yacaré!

-Here we do not discuss about the yacaré egg. But about the chicken egg! – Papanata got angry. ”

Who did not ask this question? Laura proposes a story in which all the characters join together and try to find out something that we all want to know: who came first?

This question as old as the human need to want to solve the dilemma of the origin of life.

What came first the chicken or the egg? The Papanata hen fidgets before laying her number 3 egg. She wants to know if the egg-laying hens were born first, or if it was the other way around. And then he goes out to find out. And to his investigative crusade many other animals are added (and not so much).

Highly recommended for the smallest people in the house.

Impossible. Written and illustrated by Catarina Sobral. Buenos Aires: Limonero, 2019.

“It all started when everything was in the same place. Before we existed, almost fourteen billion years ago, the universe was contained in a minuscule end point… ”Thus begins this story, which seems impossible to the naked eye. An album that has a lot of color and poetry the origin of the universe. The illustrations are very rich in shapes, veins and patterns. The book tells that, if the universe had a single year, if the big bang could be determined on a specific date, such as January 1, the earth and the sun just opened, originating in September.

In an interview for the Cuatro Gatos Foundation blog, Sobral states: “For me, the ability to read images is as important as the ability to read words. It helps develop metaphorical thinking and creativity. ” His illustrations break with stereotypes and he often relates in bullets. It has a very interesting handling of the palette and space. In Impossible, the work he does with the guards is very rich.

Particles, the solar system, dinosaurs, flowers and other living things appear in the story. The book has at the end a glossary of concepts: water bear, family tree, optical telescope, galaxy, pencil, (yes, pencil) and other terms that serve to delve into some parts of Impossible.

Beautiful special book to share with small people but enjoyable at any age.

Dos de Santiago González Riga, better known as Chanti

The comic strip. Stories for all tastes, by Chanti. Buenos Aires: Comiks Debris (Toing Collection), 2016.

Make comics on demand, what better than that to counter quarantine.

Chanti says that this comic occurred to him when he told stories to his nephews in which they chose “condiments” and their laughter marked the path that he followed to create them. So he dedicates the book to them. The different stories that make up the comic strip were first published weekly in The Sun of Mendoza and then in the magazine Mister K, from Spain. And some also in the magazine Billiken and on the web The Boys’ Biblio (EducaRed-Imaginary Magazine).

“La Historietería is a store where you can order cartoons of all tastes, as if it were an ice cream parlor. There are several “flavors” at the request of readers: terror, cheesy, disgusting, shameful, educational … What will happen when they are combined? “

There is a proposal: Yellow, for silly stories, black for terror, pink for corny stories, the disgusting ones in green, the ones that are embarrassing red and the educational blue ones. In each one, there are characters they choose and the cartoon worker, an artist, makes them go.

You can also find gourmet stories, where special characters are created to order … A great idea to carry out readings and creations in this time of staying at home.

Furry night, for example, is born from a double order: black and pink. “Very good! March a black story with a pink ending! ”

Or the boy who asks: “- I want all! I want a story with all the colors! It can?

– Yes, kid, you can, give me a minute … “, answers the cartoonist, holding all the pencils with both hands.”

On the desk, a potted pencil has many colored pencils from which countless stories will emerge. Because in addition to the ones Chanti created, surely they will come up with new cartoons for those who read this book, which was distinguished with a “Mention” from the 2012 Drawn Band Awards. Highly recommended especially for boys and girls.

The saga of the different, vol 1. Fish in the mammalian erein. From Chanti. Buenos Aires: Planeta Junior, 2019.

On the back cover of volume one of this cartoon there is an announcement: “In Animalia there are four different kingdoms. They are Kingdoms that do not know each other, that ignore the existence of others. But all this changes forever the day the greatest storm imaginable arrives and begins … The Saga of Distincts! ”

Chanti He manages to talk about what is different, about the acceptance of another, about mammals and drowning fish, and that it is fun and not obvious or with a unique meaning for those who read. That is to applaud.

The book includes a glossary of animals from South America that inspired the characters in the story. There you can get to know the characteristics of the coati, the capybara, the swamp deer, the dorado, the river lion, the coypu, the jaguar and many other animals.

Recommended for those girls who want to read, have fun and learn and know. For those who are excited, the collection promises three more titles.

So far this selection. Titles to add and have on hand. There are many neighborhood bookstores that organize to deliver books at home, publishers that release rights and make their books available online and many proposals for quarantine.

What better than to save, write and draw these days? We are in quarantine, stay home, reading.