The Malta Independent 17 May 2022, Tuesday

Another page-turner for children

Tuesday, 25 January 2022, 11:10 Last update: about 5 months ago

‘Stilel fl-istalel’. by Antoinette Borg. Illustrations: Nicole Diacono. Publisher: Merlin Publishers

The Bonnici family has been expropriated. Difficult word that! It basically means that the government would have decided to buy your house to demolish it, in order to built a road right through it for example, and you would need to live elsewhere; whether you like it or not.

And unfortunately this is what happened to the Bonnici family. Moving house can prove to be quite stressful. Even when one is voluntarily moving to another house. Let alone when you are forced to leave your home.


No wonder Thomas took it so badly. He felt his life was taking too much of a bad turn. He would now have to leave his group of friends with whom he used to play football and didn't know whether and with whom he would play now. A total disaster! He was ready to do anything not to leave his home where he grew up, but there was no way out.

And where were they going to live? In Mgarr. In a farmhouse. With horses. A completely different world. From a chaotic busy town, to the silent countryside, where life seems to have stopped and where nothing interesting ever happens.

But oh how wrong he was! In fact not long after they moved in, when they hadn't yet even settled down in their new home, one of the horses ran away. And Thomas decided to go after it. But the situation turned into an unpleasant one; on the property of a rather unwelcoming farmer. Thomas then realised that life among the fields was not as uneventful as he had imagined.

This marks the beginning of the new children's novel, Stilel fl-istalel, published by Merlin Publishers. It is the latest work of imagination by award-winning author Antoinette Borg, who has won a number of awards including the National Book Prize and Best Emerging Author. Borg has written two other bestselling novels for children, Fittixni and Amina, as well as a young adult novel, (Ri)ġenerazzjoni, and other books for younger readers.

The illustrations here are by Nicole Diacono, who created vivid illustrations that complement Borg's flowing writing style. Stilel fl-istalel is a page-turner and adventure and suspense alternate with plenty of humour. It is aimed at children aged nine and over - although many adults are enjoying the rural setting and equine adventures.

In this novel, Borg uses the author intrusion technique, where the author intrudes throughout the story to speak directly to the reader. This creates a special relationship between reader and writer, since the former becomes the primary focus of the author's attention.

'Stilel fl-istalel' and the other books by Borg are available from all leading bookshops or directly online from

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