Monday, May 26, 2008

Books for Bambini

I've been tagged for another meme by a friend and children's writer. Here's what I have to do:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to
Vijaya's blog once I've posted my three sentences. (My five people are three of my critique partners, Julie, Kip and Cynthia, and children's writers Mary and Robin.)

Okay, so the book in closest proximity to me is actually a board book for toddlers called Alla Ricerca di Christopher Robin (In Search of Christopher Robin), and since it has a mere 26 pages, I can't exactly tell you what's on page 123.


Next up is a 162-pager, E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a novel for middle grades (ages 9-12). Without further ado, here's what I've found on page 123:

He thought a minute and then said, "I haven't been a tightwad all my life, have I?"

"As long as I've known you," Claudia answered.

"Well, you've known me for as long as I've known me," he said smiling.


I'm in the middle of reading this story--an adventure/mystery about a brother and sister who run away from home and stay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. The last time I heard this story was when my all-time favorite teacher, Mrs. Smith, read it aloud to our 4th grade class. That was a looong time ago.

While we're on the topic of children's literature, I thought I'd bend the subject around to Italian children's books. Many books for kids here are stories translated from English into Italian. But even stories I was familiar with as a child take on a different bent when they're translated into Italian. Take Puss in Boots, for example.

Here's the cover:

So far, so good. The story goes along as you'd expect it would...the clever cat promises his master fame and fortune in exchange for a pair of boots. Fair enough. The master gives the cat some boots, and the cat finagles a marriage proposal for his master to the king's daughter. Here's the big moment where the master is asking the king for his daughter's hand:
You've got food, drink, the cat (boots included), the master is smiling, the princess is beaming, and even the king looks pleased. Why is the king happy? Not because his daughter is about to get engaged. Nay. Let's have a closer look:

It says that the king was won over by the good manners and apparent wealth of his daughter's suitor. And he also realized that his daughter was, indeed, in love. Awww.
Then the king decides to announce that he will give his blessing for the wedding.
Here we go:
Al termine del banchetto, dopo aver bevuto cinque o sei bicchieri di vino, gli disse: Caro Marchese, sarei felice di avervi per genero. Vi offro in sposa mia figlia!
This happy Hallmark moment translates as: At the end of the banquet, after having drunk five or six glasses of wine, the king said: "Dear Marchese, I would be happy to have you as a son-in-law. I offer you my daughter in marriage!"
Sniff. It brings a tear to the eye, doesn't it? Through wine, all things are possible, I suppose. Especially in Italian kiddy lit.

9 comments:

Mary Witzl said...

Whoaa -- five or six? FIVE OR SIX? After five or six glasses of wine, no way I'd trust myself to vet a prospective son-in-law. In fact, I wouldn't trust myself to negotiate the kitchen floor in that state.

Mary Witzl said...

Oh -- and I love E. L. Konigsburg's 'From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.' I too read that when I was nine, then again not too long ago.

danette said...

Ha! and I only recently read "From the Mixed-up Files . . ." and loved it.

Vijaya said...

I too discovered ELK as an adult. Thanks for sharing the Italian puss-in-boots.

Angela said...

Oh Natalie...how can you leave? I'm already missing your blog!

And remember... meals last longer... so the five or six (or seven) glasses of wine were probably sipped over five or six (or seven) hours if it was a real and true feast!

Julie_c said...

You know I guess I was expecting something much more peculiar than the King simply enjoying his wine. I thought you were going to say something like "then they ate the cat" or "In course with Italian tradition, the groom and to challenge the bride's father to a fight."

I mean, if your children bring home wine for a Father's Day gift - shouldn't the king be able to enjoy a drink-e-poo on the day of his daughter's engagement?! :)

rilla said...

Whoah! The W word in kiddylit? That would NEVER go down here. What are those Italians thinking. Maybe that's why they live so long. The latest bit of politically correct kiddylit etiquette I heard about is the ban on your dearest beloved puss in boots starting up his own family in your home. NO unlicensed pet breeding allowed in literature! I mean really, what has happened to the good things in life. Long live, wine and kittens.

Julie_c said...

Okay, I fulfilled my duties as a meme tag-ee.

Natalie said...

Hi Mary,

I know what you mean...after five or six glasses of wine, who knows what I'd agree to??

Danette and Vijaya, I loved MIXED-UP FILES too. :-)

Angela, you're right, you know...a glass of wine every hour doesn't sound so crazy...maybe the king really did know what he was saying!

Julie, you're right about the wine not being a big deal here, where the drinking age is 16. I'm not sure about eating the cat...maybe that comes out in Puss in Boots II?

I hear you, Rilla! Of course, one of the things in the Italian version of Little Red Riding Hood's basket is a bottle of wine. I'm thinking maybe she should have offered it to the wolf.