A re-illustrated collection from Italy's most important children's author of the 20th century. Night after night, a father spins a new, fantastical bedtime story for his daughter from the other end of the telephone.
... a collection of children’s stories intended to be short enough that one could be read during a 20th-century pay phone call, as the Italian title, Favole al telefono, suggests more explicitly. It is also unapologetically political, using unlikely situations and imaginary worlds to prompt readers to question the status quo.
The 67 tales in the collection show us where Rodari came from, and where he was going. A few are frank agitprop ... As the book’s translator, Antony Shugaar, has pointed out, the subject of a number of the stories is simply how not to be a Fascist ... Rodari learned critical thinking from Marxist doctrine. Whatever he writes about, he subjects to questioning, scrutiny, a mild irradiation of irony, or just wit ... Some stories in Telephone Tales...journey into distant realms of strangeness ... In keeping with his leftist sympathies, there is a rich vein of utopianism in Rodari’s work ... Some people have asked whether Rodari’s writing, so witty and strange, is not better suited to adults than to children, but children apparently love it ... It would be hard for anyone, of any age, not to love the illustrations ... The pages are sewn with stitches worthy of a Balenciaga gown. It is astonishing that the book costs only $27.95. Go buy one, right now ... Rodari fans, however, should thank the U.S.S.R. By inspiring him and then disappointing him, it set him free, to work in a genre, the so-called children’s tale, where he would not have to confront his bitterness. And, in the end, it drove him beyond bitterness, into a wonderful wildness.
Telephone Tales – published in 1962 as Favole al telefono – contains a dazzling collection of stories, displaying the full range of Rodari’s imagination, to be read at various levels but always with whole-hearted enjoyment ... The book itself is a thing of beauty, with tantalizing, full-colour illustrations by Valerio Vidali over double-page, fold-out spreads. Antony Shugaar devises parallels to Rodari’s exuberantly inventive language and finds an equivalent to the rhythms of his prose.