White Ravens: Portugal

28 books      

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1993 - 143
Albuquerque, Luis de (text)
Magalhães, Ana Maria (text)
Alçada, Isabel (text)
Vilar, Emilio (illus.)
Os descobrimentos Portugueses. Viagens e aventuras
(The Portuguese Discoveries. Journeys and Adventures)
Lisboa: Caminho, 1991. 218 p.
ISBN 972-21-0587-6
navigation - discovery - Africa - India
It is well-known that Portugal was a great seafaring nation in the past and that in the 15th century it had discovered parts of Africa and the Far East for Europe. The extent and the after effects of the warlike conquests are recalled to mind by this book - a successful mixture of historic-geographical portrayal and adventure stories. Attractive drawings of the kinds of ships in vogue at the time, the equipment, maps etc. as well as a chronology of Portuguese history between 1293 and 1495 round out the picture. (9+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1993 - 144
Monteiro, Sara Horta (text)
Cabrita, Assunção (illus.)
As meninas de la Mancha
(The Children of La Mancha)
Porto: ASA, 1991. 78 p.
(ASA juvenil)
ISBN 972-41-0907-0
children's fantasy - adventure - family - every day life
In an apartment complex colorfully painted with animals and plants, extraordinary worlds are concealed behind ordinary doors: sunstruck beaches, fruitful gardens, overflowing toy store, jungles... In apartment after apartment the sisters Alice and Margarida and their friend Carolina conquer new expanses of adventure, What began as an entertaining game, however, becomes a fearful and lonely ordeal as they realize that they have also overthrown their real world with their magic spell. They find the way back home only after they make a detour to the Iast apartment which has retained its non-magical quality. - The author presents imaginative and everyday worlds, each with its own characteristics, and joins them by making use of all the rules of literary style and childhood experience. (10+)
(Prémio Inasset/Inapa Inéditos de Literature Infantil 1990 promovido pelo Centro Nacional de Cultura)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1993 - 145
Soares, Luísa Ducla (text)
Alberto, Crisótomo (illus.)
É preciso crescer
(I Want to Grow Up Right Now)
Porto: ASA, 1992. 24 p.
ISBN 972-41-0921-6
childhood - dissatisfaction - magic - adoption
Impatience prompts little Chico to take a magic potion in order to grow up tester. However, no one recognizes the long-haired boy in school, his parents shut the door in the face of the bearded young man. The antidote which he drinks with his last breath naturally has fatal consequences as well. In brief, staccato-like sentences, the story is consistently propelled forwards and/or backwards. The moral of the story "the person who is in a hurry to grow up takes twice as long in the end” cannot be questioned in this story. The unattractive colored pencil drawings expound the text only superficially; however, they do take away something of its inexorable repercussions. (7+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1994 - 157
Amaral, Pitum Keil do (text)
Brandão, Luísa (illus.)
O Zbiriguidófilo e outras histórias
(The Zbiriguidofiló and Other Stories)
[Porto]: ASA, 1991. 28 p.
(Coleçcão ASA juvenil 55)
ISBN 972-41-0922-4
Portugese/Short Stories
Five short stories both possible and impossible, in the first story, the father learns that he can read his newspaper in peace even at home if he will only tell his son a story first of all; the second story deals with something which is mysterious only for the reader; the third describes the encounter between a young boy and a much-feared bull who longs for a little tenderness; in the fourth story 714 penguins take an excursion to the Algarve; the fifth deals with a skirmish between cousins. Brief situational descriptions, good dialogues. (8+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1994 - 158
Figueiredo, Violeta (text)
Bacelar, Manuela (illus.)
Fala Bicho
(Say Animal)
[Porto]: ASA, 1992. 44 p.
(Coleçcão Benjamim)
ISBN 972-41-1004-4
Lyric/Portugese - Nonsense
Golden brown shaded pages alternate with airy green-blue ones, the watery brush stroke gives the ocean and land each their own structure on which animals, cities and plants have intentionally childlike forms. Each double-page spread is reserved for the presentation of a poem. The lyrical miniatures contain absurdities, word play, amazement and wit. A picture book to indulge oneself in, with the ring of language in one's ear. (5+)
(Prémio INASSET-INAPA 1991)

Special Mention - Portugal (Portuguese) - 1994 - 159
Losa, Ilse (text)
Modesto, António (illus.)
Miguel o expositor
(Miguel, the exhibitor)
[Porto]: Afrontamento, 1993 (1st ed. 1983).
(Colecçao Tretas e Letras 10)
ISBN 972-36-0301-2
Poverty - Art - Mother/Son
Painting as an expression of intimate needs is made immediately visible in the case of young Miguel. When the friend of his over- worked mother sends Miguel out on the street to sell his first, still unfinished picture in order to make money, he obeys him. Miguel succeeds in selling his picture for a high price. But when the mother, made happy by the money, encourages him to make more pictures to sell, something in him threatens to break. When the mother suddenly recognizes the pain her child suffers and attends to him, the effect is redeeming for both protagonists and reader. The mood of each chapter is suggested by the use of matted or bright colors. (8+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1995 - 131
Ducia Scares, Luísa (text)
Bacclar, Manucia (illus.)
Os ovos misteriosos
(The mysterious eggs)
Porto: Afrontamento, 1994. [36] p.
ISBN 972-36-0338-1
Chicken - Egg - Nature - Difference - Friendship
A chicken escapes into the woods one day and is greatly surprised one day to find several peculiar eggs in her nest. But she broods over them all and one by one the new "children" are hatched: a crocodile, an ostrich, a parrot, and a snake. Though due to their own respective characteristics this brood is not exactly easy to care for, she raises them with loving care. This proves to be a blessing when her own little chick gets into danger. Told in simple words, this text makes an ingenious case for respecting differences between living creatures, as well as for friendship and helpfulness. The idea of colorful diversity is given expression in the lively, colored illustrations. (4+) ☼

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1995 - 132
Torrado, António (text)
Melo, Ângela (illus.)
O mercador de coisa nenhuma
(The merchant who sold Nothing)
Porto: Civilização, 1994. 41 p.
ISBN 972-26-1034-1
Short Stories/Portuguese - Fairy Tale/Portugal/Anthology
Anthology of seven short texts. Lyrical stories like the fairy tale of the merchant who sells sparkling water drops, colored grains of sand and other seemingly useless "goods"; or amazing stories like the tale of the bicycle rider who went for a ride in the sky one day. The narrative structure and language of this prose are striking for sim- plicity and clarity, creating a particularly fascinating contrast to the unusual, some- times enigmatic content. Each story is intro- duced with an illustration: pastel-colored, equally enigmatic pictures with surrealistic elements done in a mixed technique of wa- ter-color and line drawing. This book is part of a new series which includes both traditional and newer fairy tales and stories, all (re-) told by António Torrado. Each volume is illustrated by several, in part very well-known Portuguese illustrators. (9+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1996 - 143
Andersen, Hans Christian (text)
Bacelar, Manuela (illus.)
de Fonseca, Ribeiro (transl.)
A sereiazinha
(The Little Mermaid)
Porto: Afrontamento, 1995. 61 p.
ISBN 972-36-0362-4
Fairy tale/Denmark
Andersen's fairy tale of the impossible love of the little mermaid, a princess, and the human boy, a prince, is rich on descriptions of colors and shapes. Similarly, Manuela Bacelar's double-paged illustrations achieve their full effect above all through the use of color and form. She captures the atmosphere of this tale with a wide range of green, blue and grey tones, soft lines, vague contours. And her pictures reflect the basically melancholy mood the dimly lit underwater world and the sombre seascape and coastal landscape. (8+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1996 - 144
Mimoso, Anabela (text)
Caetano, João (illus.)
Dona Bruxa Gorducha
(The Fat Witch)
Coimbra: Livraria Arnado, 1995. 32 p.
(Colecção Barquinhos de papel)
ISBN 972-701-089-X
What does a witch do when she gets so fat that her broom can no longer carry her? She becomes inventive and sets everything in motion in order to conjure up a set of wings to solve her problem. But her efforts are in vain and so she has to set off for the Witch Congress by foot. To everyone's surprise, she is quite thin when she finally arrives there two years later. With humor and imagination this book describes the »daily life« of witches, which is full of exotic and bizarre problems from the point of view of any non-witch. The text is accompanied by full-paged, expressive illustrations (water color and line drawings) in broken blue and brown tones. (8+)

Special Mention - Portugal (Portuguese) - 1997 - 155
La Fontaine, Jean de (text)
Modesto, António (illus.)
Sabler, António (transl.)
Porto: Edinter, 1995. [88] p.
ISBN 972-43-0264-4
LaFontaine, Jean de - Fables
This collection of 20 fables from Jean de La Fontaine includes such well-known favorites as »The Lion and the Mouse« and the »Hare and the Tortoise.« For each fable there is a full-paged (landscape format) color illustration by António Modesto, which portrays in general only the main characters. They are the focus of the artist, free against a colored background, with additional details only sporadically hinted at. The occasional landscape illustrations stand out with their organic, flowing and expressive forms. There is a conspicuous contrast between the predominant pastel tones in many pictures and the luminous shades of blue and green in others. Often the artist portrays the protagonists as if using a zoom lens, bringing them in so close that only a segment can be seen. Among the wide range of perspectives, one sees the chattering raven in the tree, while the reed is seen looking up at the mighty oak. The illustrations of the beautiful, meticulously designed book, which is bound in carmine red linen, bear a resemblance to the pictures of the Italian artist Lorenzo Mattotti. (8+)

Special Mention - Portugal (Portuguese) - 1997 - 156
Mota, António (text)
Christ, Bayard (illus.)
A casa das bengalas
(The house of walking sticks)
Porto: Edinter, 1995. 147 p.
(Edinter Jovem; 14)
ISBN 972-43-0254-7
Old age - Generational conflict - Retirement home - City/Land
A grandfather who has lived his entire life in the country moves in with his family in the big city, but doesn't get along with them - nor they with him. He returns to his village and ultimately moves into a nearby retirement home. The decision is accompanied with tears, feelings of guilt and a portion of resignation, which everyone involved learns to live with. From the point of view of the grandchild, related with laconic, dry humor, António Mota gives us sure fire, realistic descriptions that do not avoid the unpleasant parts of growing old. This excellent tale treats old age with great respect and loving kindness, without drifting off into cheap show of emotion. (12+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1998 - 145
Saldanha, Ana (text)
Costa, José Pedro (illus.)
Doçura amarga
(Bitter sweetness)
Porto: Edinter, 1997. 131 p.
(Edinter jovem; 16)
ISBN 972-43-0294-6
Fourteen-year old Loló is having a difficult time because of her poor health. At first she (and reader) suspect that she could be pregnant, but instead the diagnosis turns out to be diabetes. This novel describes how Loló, her family and her boyfriend learn to deal with the news and adjust to the chronic illness. The well-structured, unspectacular narrative takes the various perspectives of the main characters. The author, highly successful in Portugal, is able to deal with the topic of illness in children and young adults in a natural and uninhibited manner. (12+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 1999 - 152
Mota, António (text)
Lúcia, Ana (illus.)
O agosto que nunca esquecei
(The August that I have never forgotten)
Porto: Edinter, 1998. 171 p.
(Edinter jovem ; 17)
ISBN 972-43-0312-8
Rural life - Village - Rural exodus - Home
In hindsight, from the perspective of the first-person narrator, this book tells of the experiences of elevenyear old David in 1966 in his home village in northern Portugal. It is a summer full of surprises and major changes, both in the family and in the village, and ends with David leaving his home to earn his living in the big city of Porto. In his realistic but at the same time reticent, reserved style the author describes traditional rural life and its gradual but unstoppable decay. There is a lightly melancholic tone in the narrative yet it is free of any bitterness and nostalgic overtones. (11+) ☆

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2000 - 145
Vieira, Alice
Um fio de fumo nos confins do mar
(A spiral of smoke at the end of the sea)
Lisboa: Caminho, 1999. 151 p.
ISBN 972-21-1238-4
Family - Past - Search for identity
Sixteen-year old Mina spends much of her time in a television studio observing the taping of a wellknown talk-show in which the participants hope to find persons who have disappeared from their lives. Mina is also seeking a way to solve the mystery of her own family secret - a supposedly nobleborn grandmother. Once again, Alice Vieira focuses in this new story on one of her favorite topics: the history and the problems of a family and the place that each individual has within it. Again, she delivers most convincing psychological character portraits. In short flights of parody a mirror is held up to modern day social phenomena. (13+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2001 - 147
Lourenço, Ana Filipe (ed./adapt.)
Modesto, António (illus.)
Histórias tradicionais portuguesas
(Traditional Portuguese stories)
Porto : Ambar, 2000. 55 p.
ISBN 972-43-0393-4
Portugal - Fairy tale - Fables - Anthology
This anthology presents eleven fairy tales and fables by famous Portuguese storytellers, among them animal fables in the classic style (e.g. »The fox and the wolf«) or grotesque fairy tales like »O chourico« (»The sausage«), in which a hot chilli pepper sausage grows unto a nose. The book – printed on high-quality paper and in landscape format – is well designed and makes a generous impression, because there is plenty of ample space for the text and illustrations to unfold. The colourful illustrations are characterised by soft, flowing lines and bleeding shapes, animating the pictures with movement and lightness. (5+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2001 - 148
Saldanha, Ana
Para o meio da rua
(To the middle of the road)
Lisboa : Caminho, 2000. 157 p.
(Livros do dia e da noite)
ISBN 972-21-1338-0
Childhood - Memory
Somewhere in his or her childhood every human has a »cave, maybe in the basement, or in the garden, or in the back of one's mind just before falling asleep«. Ana Saldanha explores this cave, these images, events and feelings and weaves them together with other people's memories to create rich textures of poetic prose. This fine, timeless narrative about a child's everyday experiences and emotions is characterised by a sometimes wistful yet never sentimental tone. The story of the two girls Isabel and Joana has an exemplary status, and – as the author assures – all similarities with other childhoods are an »intended coincidence «. (12+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2001 - 149
Soares, Maria Isabel de Mendonça (ed.)
Leitão, Pedro (illus.)
O mar na cultura popular portuguesa
(The sea in Portuguese popular culture)
Lisboa : Terramar, 1998. 88 p.
ISBN 972-710-201-8
Portugal/Folk literature - Sea
Because of its geographic location on the margins of Europe, Portugal has always been strongly oriented towards the sea. Known as the country of seafarers, explorers, conquerors and fishermen for centuries, this historical legacy is alive in people's conscience and everday life, in Portuguese culture, economy or the cuisine up to the present day. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the sea plays an important role in literature, both of oral and written tradition. This inspiring book, accompanied by many colour-illustrations, unites many of those texts: rhymes, riddles, sayings, folksongs, fairy tales and sagas give an impression of the diversity of the sea. (4+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2002 - 144
Couto, Mia (text)
Wojciechowska, Danuta (illus.)
O gato e o escuro
(The cat and the darkness)
Lisboa : Caminho, 2001. [28] p.
ISBN 972-21-1415-8
Cat – Night – Imagination – Disobedience
The fur of Pintalgato, a young, tigered tomcat, changes over night into a black coat darker than the gloomiest night. His curiosity is responsible for this transformation; why had he ignored his mother's warning to get nowhere near the »light that leads to the other side« on his nightly roams? The encounter with the darkness has made him dark, too. In the end, it becomes clear that darkness – the realm to which we attribute our fears – needs the same amount of loving attention as Pintalgato receives from his mother. With the poetic, symbolic text of this colourfully illustrated book, the wellknown author from Mozambique enters the stage of children's literature. (8+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2003 - 143
Mésseder, João Pedro (text)
Letria, André (illus.)
Timor Lorosa’e – a ilha do sol nascente
(East Timor – Island of the rising sun)
Porto : Ambar, 2001. [28] p.
ISBN 972-43-0437-x
East Timor – Independence movement
The struggle for national independence of the people of East Timor has come to a happy conclusion with the state’s international recognition in 2002. To familiarise children with this chapter of contemporary history, the author and illustrator have chosen the classical genre of the picture book. The sparse, simple text relates the facts in a calm tone not unlike that of fairytales or legends. This creates a special tension, which can also be sensed in the relations between text and image. The large-format pictures in warm colours show details with symbolic connotations. They seem strangely motionless and thus gain an emblematic character. A fascinating, very unusual book. (6+) ☆ ☼

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2004 - 136
Magalhães, Elsa (ed.)
López, Nivio (illus.)
Grandes autores da língua portuguesa para pequenos leitores
(Great Portuguese-language authors for little readers)
Rio de Mouro : Girassol, [2003]. 181 p.
ISBN 972-756-438-0
Portuguese/Literature – Anthology – History 1300-2000
This attractive anthology offers little (and big) readers a thorough and interesting introduction to the long history of Portuguese-language literature. The editor has taken great care in her selection of examples ranging from the 13century to contemporary literature, from King Dinis to the Nobel laureate José Saramago. The texts come from a variety of genres: songs, poems, fairytales, short stories, drama etc. Small text boxes give additional information about the authors. A special note is added by the striking illustrations in vivd colours. The artist, born in Nicaragua, interprets the ‘venerate’ texts in a refreshing, dynamic, and highly modern way. (10+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2004 - 137
Vieira, Alice (text)
Caetano, João (illus.)
2 histórias de Natal
(2 Christmas stories)
Lisboa : Ed. Caminho, 2002. 34 p.
ISBN 972-21-1505-7
Christmas – Santa Claus
With this book, Alice Vieira, the grande dame of Portuguese children’s and young adult literature, proves once more her fine mastery of the art of narration. With wonderful ease and a refreshing breeze of wit, she presents two modern Christmas stories. The first one lets parents and daughter switch roles to pose the problem of Santa’s existence from a different angle. In the second story, Santa Claus is simply overwhelmed and exhausted by the ever more demanding wish-lists coming from the children. João Caetanos’s lively mixedmedia illustrations playfully capture the humorous tone of the texts. (9+)

Special Mention - Portugal (Portuguese) - 2005 - 133
Vieira, Alice
O casamento da minha mãe
(My mother’s wedding)
Lisboa : Caminho, 2005. 143 p.
ISBN 972-21-1678-9
Mother – Profession – Success – Daughter – Foster parents
Not many authors are capable of presenting the depths of family life in as masterful a way as Alice Vieira. In her most recent novel, the award-winning author describes the tense relationship between Vera and her mother who is a successful model. The girl only meets this ‘stranger’ on occasional frustrating visits because she was handed over to some distant relatives soon after she was born. Told from the protagonist’s point of view, the story conveys a convincing picture of the miscommunication between the egocentric mother and the daughter who tries to find her place in life despite her Cinderella-like role. Thanks to her excellent sense of details and subtle irony, Vieira easily makes readers see all the child’s feelings, from her loneliness, despair, and unfulfilled longing for love to her pretended indifference that she uses to protect herself from disappointments. This is an exceptional book, both profound and touching, yet surprisingly light-hearted. (11+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2006 - 137
Agualusa, José Eduardo (text)
Cayatte, Henrique (illus.)
A girafa que comia estrelas
(The giraffe who ate the stars)
Lisboa : Dom Quixote, 2005. [28] p.
ISBN 972-20-2942-8
Giraffe Hen – Friendship – Drought
»Running down the throat, the stars caused a slight itch, but they tasted sweet and soft, like a peach.« This is one of the beautiful poetic images from this story about the unusual friendship between Olímpia the giraffe and the hen Dona Margarida. The young giraffe, whose neck is so long that it reaches far up into the sky, spots clever Margarida perched on her nest in the clouds, slowly gliding across the world. Together, the two friends rescue the animals in the savannah from a dangerous drought. To interpret the fairy-tale-like story, Henrique Cayatte has created simple pictures with large fields of colour and few details pictures, which make the wide landscape of the story seem almost two-dimensional. They perfectly express the dream-like atmosphere of the imaginative text. (4+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2006 - 138
Torrão, Marta (text/illus.)
Come a sopa, Marta!
(Eat your soup, Marta!)
[Lisboa] : Bichinho de Conto, 2004. [44] p.
ISBN 972-95593-7-6
Child Food – Loss of appetite
Ever since 1845, when »Struwwelpeter« (Slovenly Peter) was published containing the story of Augustus who insists: »I won’t have any soup today!«, the refusal to eat has been a popular topic in children’s literature. Even if the punishment is bound to be less dire today, modern parents still like to harass their unruly offspring with moralistic messages. Yet nowadays, the children are probably more self-confident and clever. With tremendous verve, Marta Torrão has illustrated the story about little Marta, who dreads her soup and imagines what kind of horrors may be lurking in the shallows of her plate. Expressive, even wild shapes, glowing colours, extreme distortions, unusual details, and a varied typography turn this picture book into an exciting read. (4+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2007 - 138
Araújo, Jorge (text)
Pereira, Pedro Sousa (illus.)
Nem tudo começa com um beijo
(Not everything starts with a kiss)
Cruz Quebrada : Oficina do Livro, 2005. 165 p.
ISBN 989-555-108-8
Street kid – Social injustice – First love – Friendship
A group of homeless teenagers lives in the »cave« (cellar) of a big city – a tight, rat-infested, and hierarchically structured world of conflicts, friendships, pain, tragedies, and death. The »sotão« (attic) above them is close and yet seems far away. 14-year-old Fio Maravilha breaks through the barrier separating these two spheres when he gets »upstairs« and meets Nuvem Maria. The unconditional love between the two teenagers is only given a chance thanks to a natural catastrophe. Despite a few inconsistencies, the book is well worth reading because of its unusual combination of realism and almost magical elements. The relentless description of the protagonists’ lives serves as a sharp contrast to the language, which is rich in images, and to the parable-like quality of the story. (12+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2007 - 139
Duarte, Rita Taborda (text)
Henriques, Luís (illus.)
A família dos macacos
(The monkey family)
Lisboa : Caminho, 2006. [28] p.
ISBN 972-21-1779-3
Child – Monkey – Behaviour – Boisterousness – Zoo
This amusing picture book provides conclusive proof that we humans are close relatives of apes. With their effervescent, monkey-like vivacity, two (human) siblings turn the house upside down and drive their parents to despair. Therefore, the parents »donate« them to the zoo, where the children immediately feel at home. Other parents are impressed and dispose of their offspring in the same way. Before long, however, the »monkeys’« hullabaloo makes the exasperated zoo director send the children back to their parents – who are not particularly delighted. The colour drawings accompanying the rhymed story are vivid and cheeky, and perfectly translate the adorable little guys’ carelessness and anarchic energy. (4+)

Portugal (Portuguese) - 2007 - 140
Gomes, Luísa Costa (text)
Nesbitt, Jorge (illus.)
(Tongue twisters)
Lisboa : Dom Quixote, 2006. 33 p.
ISBN 972-20-3127-9
Tongue twister – Language game – Nonsense
Tongue twisters, common in many languages and cultures, are a popular way of playing unrestrainedly with sounds, syllables, words, and language. Usually they have but one purpose, which is to lead the people who are trying to master them up the garden path and tie their tongues in knots. In this book, Louísa Costa Gomes offers witty new tongue twisters in prose and verse, including some fairly unusual adaptations of well-known traditional Portuguese tales. The texts are printed in a varied typography and are accompanied by sparsely coloured illustrations reminiscent of woodcuts. This splendid collection will delight children and adults alike. (5+)