The Alphabet, renavigated

The book Children’s Literature from A to Z by Bernardo Atxaga (Media Vaca, 1999), illustrated by Alejandra Hidalgo, has just been reissued. The alphabet has been out of print for a few years and we have received many requests to bring it back into circulation. Although Media Vaca has among its priorities to keep the catalogue alive, in this case the reissue has suffered some setbacks because the illustrator, who wanted to revisit her previous work, was out of the country and unreachable until very recently.

The new edition presents, in any case, very few differences with regard to the previous version: some errors have been corrected, some drawings have been changed, and the font, at the wish of the typographer and the designer, has been replaced by a more readable one.

We hope this ‘enjoyable lesson’ by Bernardo Atxaga, as relevant today as the day before yesterday, will gather new readers around this wonderful book.

[We insert below, by way of a book review, an excerpt from an article published in the magazine Lazarillo.]

The navigator’s name is Bernardo Atxaga and his wish is to sail peacefully down the river of children’s and young adult literature. This text originated from a speech the Basque writer gave to a group of teachers. Atxaga’s voyage —we do not know whether by boat, canoe, or raft in the style of Tom Sawyer— begins with the first letter of the alphabet and end, somewhat hastily, with the letter Z. Once embarked, on the letter A, Alice —inevitably— awaits him, sitting next to her sister on her own river’s shore. B takes him to Baghdad and to the world of the tales of Arabian Nights. The journey and reflections of Atxaga are interrupted on several occasions by a mysterious speaker who asks him questions and makes comments from various places on the riverbank. Fantasy, pedagogical currents, humour, fables and poetry in children’s books are the subject of comments intermixed with ‘encounters’ with Pinocchio and Collodi, the Duchess of Dodgson, Michael Ende, the Grimm Brothers, Dickens, Little Johnny, Lear, Kafka, and, once again, the fascinating Scheherazade. Finally, the navigator reaches Z and runs into Zazie from Raymond Queneau’s novel. End of the voyage. It is time for sandwiches and drinks in the shade.
An excellent invitation to sail with the author, who travels accompanied by 24 illustrations —made with linoleum engravings— by Alejandra Hidalgo, who is also in charge of the graphic design of the entire Media Vaca collection.

Jorge Riobóo and Mª Cruz Delgado. Lazarillo, no. 2 (Madrid, 2000)

Children’s Literature from A to Z
Books for Children collection, no. 4
Text by Bernardo Atxaga
Illustrations by Alejandra Hidalgo
ISBN: 978-84-936796-5-1
104 pages
Retail price: 18 euros

Image: detail of the book cover, by Alejandra Hidalgo