The Malta Independent 15 December 2017, Friday

‘Magni taz-żmien’

Tuesday, 5 December 2017, 09:34 Last update: about 10 days ago

A boy is typing furiously on his laptop. He has a school project to finish and he is busy googling information and putting it together, while erm, also watching video clips, listening to music, playing games and chatting to his friends online. He's so busy that he doesn't even have the time to chat to his grandfather, whom he hasn't seen in a very long time.

And then. Kapow! The lights go off. There's a power cut. The laptop battery dies. The boy cannot do research. The boy cannot write his project. The boy cannot listen to music. Panic!

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In comes the grandfather. With a lantern. And an old typewriter. And a gramaphone. And some jazz LPs. And books, lots of books.  

The boy's face says "Uh?"... the grandfather's "Aha". And that is the start of a very delightful conversation, the likes of which they hadn't had in a long time. Together, grandfather and grandson manage to finish the school project and then it's time for the boy to go home.

Later that night, when the power comes back, the grandfather takes a glance at the laptop, which his grandson had left behind. Little lights are flickering on it now. The grandfather's face says "Aha". And he sits down, opens the laptop and with a twikle in his eye, gets ready for the new challenge. 

Magni taz-żmien is a Brazilian book. Ramont Willy, the author, is also the illustrator which means that no word, no delightful onomatopoeia, and no tiny drawing detail is extra in this soul-evoking book.

This is not a story about nostalgia or about how "it was better in the olden days". Magni taz-żmien is really a story about today's relationship of grandparents with their grandchildren; about the relationship of the older generation with the new, overwhelming technology and about the relationship of the younger generation with their digital gadgets. Are we addicted to technology? Can we do away without it? Is the role of the older generation to remind us to talk to real people and not just virtual ones? This book will open doors for discussion among children, parents and grandparents who will read the book.

Brilliantly translated by poet Claudia Gauci, this is a picture book targeted at children aged five to seven years old and is ideal both for reading to children when these are still very young, and eventually for reading by children themselves when they are slightly older.

Merlin Publishers immediately took to the book when they got hold of the Portuguese original. "We were not only taken in by the story, which is very real, but also by the fact that it will help our mission to introduce Maltese children to world literature, so as to broaden their horizons," Chris Gruppetta, Merlin Publishers director said. "After we translated French, Italian, Catalan, Spanish books into Maltese, we thought we should introduce Brazilian literature to Malta," he said.

'Magni taz-Żmien' is available from all bookshops or online directly from www.merlinpublishers.com

 


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