Reading Reports

Pierdomenico Baccalario and Alessandro Gatti and Simona Mulazzani
The Story of Inkdrop and Snowflake

Report by Fiammetta Giorgi

A degree in classical literature; after years of experience as an editor, she has been doing translation from German and English, specializing in children’s fiction (translating, among others, Christine Nöstlinger and Ann...

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Richard R. Nybakken is a writer, translator, and historian. He graduated with an AB in history from Dartmouth College, and holds an MA and C.Phil. in modern European history (specializing in...

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The Story
A large format picture book that tells two symmetrical stories: one can start from the beginning or the end of the book, following the suggestive text and illustrations (which we glimpse through perforated pages, discovering each illustration in its full splendor every time we turn a new page), until we reach the spectacular centerpiece where the two stories finally meet. Inkdrop has always remained stuck in his well, but now he wants dearly to escape and end up in one of the wonderful drawings he sees on the table of the most amazing illustrator in the city. Suddenly a mischievous wind blows open an unlocked door: the drawings begin to dance about the room, passing in front of the inkwell like visions from a dream. Before Inkdrop’s eyes (and ours), marvelous scenes unfold, beckoning adventure: fields full of flowers and animals with a touch of magic from an enchanted teapot, or mysterious forests waiting to be explored. But the gust of wind overturns the well, and Inkdrop falls out the window, down toward a street covered in snow. As Inkdrop falls a snowflake appears – shimmering, weightless, intricate, beautiful – approaching as if in a dance. Inkdrop and Snowflake come together in an eternal embrace to tell each other all about the neverending stories they had always dreamed of. But if we flip the book over we find the tale of Snowflake, who had always been happy to fly in a cloud but now wants to land in a beautiful new place. A city appears, with long curls of smoke rising from the chimneys and the colored rooftops: wouldn’t it be nice to land upon one of the boats that line the canal? Or on the roof of a tent covering a circus full of wonders? A little further on there is a park where children play in the snow. But the boisterous wind carries Snowflake to a neighborhood full of alleys and small shops where, unexpectedly, something even more fascinating appears: a drop of shiny, dense, round, beautiful ink. And in its embrace Snowflake finally finds happiness.

The Characters
There are only two real characters: the black, round Inkdrop, who has only ever lived inside a well; and the delicate, white Snowflake, always aloft in a silver cloud. But the magic of this book is its ability to evoke entire worlds, both real and imaginary. Through the eyes of Snowflake we discover the thousand everyday stories of a city shrouded in snow, with wisps of smoke climbing from its chimneys, passersby stopping to admire the boats on its canal, the clowns and domesticated animals of its circus, the children playing in its park, a baker’s storefront with its inviting scents… Through Inkdrop’s eyes we enter a surreal world, in which teapots are transformed into waiters amid a flowering field, and the plants have dreamy eyes. Then there are the cats who appear here and there throughout, curled up in dreams, setting their noses against the windows to admire the snowflakes or peering out curiously from a drawing, giving us a sense of wonder at the winter.

Language and Style
One of this book’s greatest gifts is the extraordinary harmony with which it was created by three of Italy’s most celebrated children’s authors: the resulting work is straightforward, yet poetic, offering countless prompts that give the reader leave to let their imagination have free reign.

Why This Book Merits a Translation
Storia di Goccia e Fiocco deserved its extraordinary press, highly unusual and laudatory for a children’s book, and the rights have already been sold in a number of countries. Both facts attest to its ability to speak a universal language. One of the most fascinating aspects is its ability to sustain a slow pace, an unexpected breather in these hectic times, common to so many modern cultures. And yet this isn’t the slowness of boredom or immobility, but rather an invitation to see the everyday with new eyes, to accept adventure and seek happiness in the embrace of those who are most different from us. Both of the authors and the illustrator are already quite well known internationally.

Critical Commentary
“A masterpiece, full of poetry.”
Maike Dannenberg, Bücher Magazin

“A profoundly poetic, wintry book for children from 3 years of age and up. We accompany Inkdrop and Snowflake on their mirror journeys toward each other, and suddenly we see everyday scenes with completely new eyes.”
Elisa, Librileo – Kinder brauchen Bücher

“A poetic and romantic story of friendship between two vessels full of dreams, ideas, and possible futures […]. Splendid imagery and brilliantly designed pages. Experimental. A must-see.”
Federico Taddia, Corriere della Sera, Style Piccoli

“Two points of view that tell of our instinctive desire to discover, the need to venture out from what one knows and is safe or protected, in order to go in search of a serenity that is never equally assured.”
Martina Russo, Andersen

Pierdomenico Baccalario was born in 1974 in Acqui Terme, and at only 24 won the Premio Il Battello a Vapore – Città di Verbania for La strada del guerriero. Since then he has published several books that have been translated in 28 countries to date, and have sold millions of copies around the world. A journalist and dramatist, he is considered one of Italy’s foremost experts on children’s literature and writes on that subject for La Repubblica’s culture section.
Alessandro Gatti was born in Alessandria in 1975, and is the author of dozens of children’s books, sometimes in collaboration with others. He has also been editor of the fiction review Maltese Narrazioni, in which he has published several stories. Among his serial creations are Klincus Corteccia, Candy Circle, and I gialli di Vicolo Voltaire, with Pierdomenico Baccalario; Misteri coi baffi in collaboration with Davide Morosinotto; and Sherlock, Lupin e io under the pseudonym Irene Adler. Many of his stories have been published abroad.
Simona Mulazzani, a popularly- and critically-acclaimed illustrator, has drawn dozens of picture books, working with the most important Italian publishers but also with American, Japanese, Spanish, and French publishers – but she has also distinguished herself with the quality and originality of her work for advertising and animated films. Among her many awards are the special mention at the Annecy festival of animation for La pista (1991), realized in collaboration with Luigi Toccafondo; the silver medal at the 47th Annual Exhibition Society of Illustrators (2005); and the Premio Andersen in 2008 for Al mercato con gli animali.
29 March 2015

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