Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Brazilian Artist Roger Mello Inspired by Kipling

Last month I attended the 9th International Board on Books for Young People Regional Conference held in Fresno, CA. IBBY has seventy-two national sections with a secretariat in Basel, Switzerland. IBBY's newest members include Guatemala, Haiti, Serbia, the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe. It's projects include: The Hans Christian Anderson Awards; the IBBY-Ashai Reading Promotion Award; the IBBY Honor List, the Documentation Center of Books for Young People with Disabilities, the International Children's Book Day, as well as Children in Crisis Programme. If you would like to know more about IBBY check out this link and come join us at a future conference in the US or abroad.

One thing I really enjoy when traveling or working overseas is visiting bookstores to look at children's and adult book covers. It is such a treat to see the different styles, perspectives and mediums that artists from around the world use to convey their ideas. To my delight, the IBBY Conference brought award-winning books from around the world to Fresno so that attendees could leaf through some of the world's best literature for young people.

Roger Mello, an illustrator from Brazil spoke at this conference. His picture books have been published in many countries except the US and UK. He has been nominated more than once for the Hans Christian Anderson Award. Since he has no US publisher, Roger kindly packed a suitcase full of one of his wordless picture books Selvagem and I was lucky enough to get one. I believe it translates as Savage or Safari or perhaps Wild.

Here's an excerpt of an interview with Roger Mello that was featured on FOLHA.com:

Tell a bit about how you got the idea for the book "Wild"?

I saw a photo of a Sumatran tiger in a magazine. The image was striking, as is the tiger tried to communicate with the outside of the photo…There is almost Sumatran tigers in the jungle, this is one of the rarest species of tiger. Drew hundreds of tigers wanting to represent the expression of that tiger. I realized that the drawings turned a narrative sequence, a book…

"The Jungle Book", Kipling, appears at the beginning. This is a special work for you? Why?

I like the way Kipling makes men and animals in India to talk the same language. The boy Mowgli raised by wolves, does not belong to the jungle or belong to the world of men. It is a stranger in your home, as the Kipling, born in India, the son of English parents. Not to mention that in "The Jungle Book", the tiger Shere Khan wanders through the pages, as a threat fascinating.

The book "Wild" has no preface or afterword, no indication of the way. What is the hint that gives the reader?

Let the reader get lost in paths and discover new questions whenever you want. A book without words do not have answers but questions…

To read the rest of the interview please visit www.folha.com

To watch a video interview of Roger Mello visit: http://revistacrescer.globo.com/Revista/Crescer/0,,EMI161144-10536,00.html

Children of all ages, six-months-old to sixty-years-old would enjoy this book. I am surprised no American publisher has snapped up the rights for it, especially since it does not involve translation costs.

Roger's work can also be seen at: http://capaduraemcingapura.blogspot.com/

I hope to see his books on American bookshelves one day.

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