The Malta Independent 2 December 2023, Saturday
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‘Fuq il-muntanja ż-żgħira’

Sunday, 27 August 2023, 08:35 Last update: about 4 months ago

Author: Charles Casha

Illustrations: Vincianne Scerri

Publisher: Merlin Publishers / 2023


Tarġa Tarġa is a relatively new but highly sought-after series by Merlin Publishers, of children's books planned and produced with a number of reading aids, aiming to create publications accessible to children who find it hard to read in Maltese, as well as children with dylsexia and other realities that make reading more of a challenge.


This new series of books has been welcomed by parents and teachers alike, but is also highly sought out by children themselves. After all, we are constantly being told that there is an urgent need for simpler books in Maltese to be able to reach the younger readers.

This series has filled this void in Maltese children's literature. Recently, Merlin has continued to strengthen it with a new publication, Fuq il-muntanja ż-żgħira, an original fable by the much-loved author Charles Casha.

Synonymous with the humorous iconic character of Fra Mudest, this time Casha has created a fairytale-like story, full of adventure and mystery at every turn. Moreover, the illustrations, by the young talented artist Vincianne Scerri, further add to the magic of the tale.

This is the story of Elbio, a boy who lived in a village near the mountains. Elbio, whose name of Celtic origin means "he who comes from the mountains", was a naive boy who believed all he heard. He was not particularly good at school and he hardly knew how to read and write. However, what he did love was to hear the tales that his grandmother would recount - and once she told him the story of the small mountain (il-muntanja ż-żgħira), of a man who, equipped with a lamp and a rope, had found a treasure of gold and silver coins in one of the mountain caves. It was impossible for the man to carry the whole treasure back down the mountain and had to leave much of it behind. So Elbio couldn't stop himself from thinking how he could climb the mountain himself to perhaps find and lay his hands on the treasure.

He ended up climbing the mountain in search of this treasure. However, he did not find the treasure he thought he would find. Instead he found another treasure ... one that would change his life forever. For a treasure lies not in what we want, as much as in what we need.

All the books in this Tarġa Tarġa series consist of one story, divided into short chapters, with a limited amount of text, intentionally aimed at children aged seven and over who would have built enough confidence to read alone but who struggle with reading regular texts for their age group. Apart from textual adaptations, this series has also been printed on yellowish matt paper to ease pressure on the eyes and makes use of a font purposely created to help children with dyslexia to read.

The other books in this series include two books at an easier reading level: Ana u Żak isalvaw il-pjaneta! by Audrey Friggieri and Il-Fatat Kaħlani by Clare Azzopardi and Leanne Ellul; three books at a similar reading level by Charles Casha - Fra Mudest u r-Rixa, Fra Mudest u l-Figolla tal-Pirjol, Fra Mudest u ċ-Ċagħaq and, at a higher reading level, Rigal għal Samantha by Carmel G. Cauchi.

Fuq il-muntanja ż-żgħira was co-financed by the National Literacy Agency.


All the books in the Tarġa Tarġa series are available from all leading bookshops or directly online from


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