Gifts 2019 – Day 18


Published on Dec 18, 2019


1/7Strenne 2019 - Day 182/7William Steig, The island is disgusting, Rizzoli3/7William Steig, The island is disgusting, Rizzoli4/7William Steig, The island is disgusting, Rizzoli5/7William Steig, The island is disgusting, Rizzoli6/7William Steig, The island is disgusting, Rizzoli7/7William Steig, The island is disgusting, Rizzoli

In the preface to The island loathsome William Steig, Quentin Blake tells how many times the stories of Steig upsidedown and capovolgano models of fairy-tale, I find that this masterpiece has a skeleton deeply fairy-tale starting from the seriousness, and the presence of the spirit (the dissertation) that requires to the readers that will approach.

"There was once an island ugly, brullissima, schifosissima [...] That island sultry, ghiacciosa, rocky, and nasty was full of monsters, huge or miserably stunted, fat or macilenti, dry, or slimy...".

Immediately, the modern readers might look the air crafty this place and these monsters, and may treat with indulgence the characterization of these beasts is the author is: ugly, terrifying, vain, jealous, evil, vindictive, cruel, poisonous...

You deal with evil? But yes, then they will make peace! Laugh of the pain of others? But, the situation is objectively ridiculous. In the eagerness not to frighten modern children, we've made the monsters so acceptable that almost we do not expect that they can be monsters. And it matters little that the title is more explicitly, the adjective “sick” has taken on a whole series of connotations mediated and attenuated, almost ridiculous.

Not so in the fairy tales. Steig tells a tale, and as such it is not only the words count and mean exactly what they mean, but the characterization of the characters is a mirror of the soul and a sign of righteousness or not. In short, we are in an island, loathsome, swarming with beings, nasty and disgusting, cruel and violent. Steig continues in the descriptions of the island and its inhabitants, so much so that the words almost seem to lose the narrative thread, but it is not so: the ugliness, the inhumanity, the meanness, and their existence are, in fact, an important part of the narrative of this story. I must certainly admit that the colors and the originality of the solutions illustrative of Steig leaves you speechless and you will be enchanted by these beasts, imagine, and create in shapes strange and curious, even the insects that will fly with the "eyes strabuzzati bodies and furry tails to sting and armor popping sprinkled with pebbles and sauerkraut pietrificanti" captivate with their charm. But, once again, it is not the look to define the role and the figure of the character: if you have defined the ugly, will also be bad. Point.

And this is clearly understandable when the space between the images and on the island, there appeared the first flowers: the beauty rips the life and practice of meanness with kindness. The flowers, stationary, real estate, and delicate – even in the fine lines that are opposed to the contours of rough beast – ride with the candor of a revolution. There says Steig, but we can imagine that many flowers are in the end burned by the fires, before angrily from the monsters, yet the seed after the seed, the flowers will multiply, and they are there in the atetsa with nonchalance to the chaos that is around them. The quiet calmness, the beauty that helps make crazy monsters: "you liberated all the worst demons that were buried in the souls of those horrible monsters". The war is triggered, it becomes global, the anger floods every corner of the island, destroying blindly everything until it all ends. Looks like the end. But the seeds of hardcore, who have agreed even to die, flourish, stealing the scene to the wickedness, and giving a beauty free.

The tone of the narration is anything but sad and heavy: it captures a spirit vibrating between the pages and the words chosen, especially in the rich and original adjectives, but what we ask of readers is a seriousness – in fact – that demands that the words be given a weight, real.

The story flows cheerful, even in the narration of a tragedy, or, better, a revolution determined, and necessary, given the strength of the weak.

Do you remember the rush of dante in the first canto of the Purgatory? "This island around ad imo ad imo, / there, down there, where the beats of the wave, / the port of rushes over the soft silt: / no other plant that would make the branch / or indurate, you can love their life, / but that the beating is not the second".

I find that this story is very modern and interesting, Steig has the ability to make it understandable, fun and direct, and so charming for the ears of little children (from 4 years to the length of the text!) and ideal for the first stand-alone players.

Be the flower, to fight the monsters.

Advent 2019: in addition to the book I have chosen a toy, find out why.

→ Sow seeds and watch a flower grow, abandoning the first to the sleep of earth and then bloom weak and stubborn in the springs is an experience that is worth to be contemplated. Give the gift of seeds with this book: I chose the peas and sunflowers. You can find them at the library All the down to earth, in Monza!

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