Every night, at nine o’clock, wherever he is, Mr. Bianchi, an accountant who often has to travel for work, calls his daughter and tells her a bedtime story. But since it’s still the 20th century world of pay phones, each story has to be told in the time that a single coin will buy. Reminiscent of Scheherazade and One Thousand and One Nights, Gianni Rodari’s Telephone Tales is composed of many stories–in fact, seventy short stories, with one for each phone call. Each story is set in a different place and a different time, with unconventional characters and a wonderful mix of reality and fantasy. One night, it’s a carousel so beloved by children that an old man finally sneaks on to understand why, and as he sails above the world, he does. Or, it’s a land filled with butter men, roads paved with chocolate, or a young shrimp who has the courage to do things in a different way from what he’s supposed to do. Awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Award in 1970, Gianni Rodari is widely considered to be Italy’s most important children’s author of the 20th century. Newly re-illustrated by Italian artist Valerio Vidali (The Forest), Telephone Tales entertains, while questioning and imagining other worlds.
Valerio Vidali is an Italian illustrator of children’s books. His book Jemmy Button (Templar/Candlewick, 2013), co-authored with Jennifer Uman, was selected by the New York Times as one of the 10 Best Illustrated Books of 2013.
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