It happens to everyone, even the little ones, to feel the weight of that pebble (sometimes, a stone) in the heart. And there will be a reason – there can be many reasons, as for adults. But after all, what does it matter? The essential thing is to face this condition, find a way to “lighten up” and smile again. And true friendship also serves this purpose. Sara Trofa tells it in her book (illustrated by Simona Mulazzani) Un sassolino nel cuore. We reached her with this interview, to get to know her better and to let us know more about how this story was born. Enjoy the reading!
You teach Italian to foreigners, you have worked in a bookshop, you have already published in Germany and France and a few months ago Un sassolino nel cuore, your debut in Italy, was released. How did your passion for books come about and how did you approach the world of children’s literature?
Books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, notebooks and pencils have been precious companions since I was little and, at the age of about 9 or 10, I received a much-dreamed Olivetti typewriter as a gift! My roots are in poetry but writing has accompanied me in different forms throughout my growth.
During university I kept some literary blogs and I started to get interested in various illustrators who inspired my texts. In 2011 I wrote the first children’s stories, actually without thinking at first that they would be for that audience. The following year I started a series of creative collaborations in which words and images were intertwined and, from there, my relationship with illustrators grew more and more. With one of them, Elise Wilk, I then published the first album in 2015 in France. I love the idea of mixing and mutual enrichment through different ways of expression. The illustrated book is the perfect realization.
Tell us a little about your picture book Un sassolino nel cuore, which you realized together with Simona Mulazzani: where did the idea come from?
Inside me I have often felt a black, smooth stone that, no matter how much rain you wash it, never wears out. I learned a long time ago, however, that through care and love terrible things can be transformed into terribly beautiful things. And this beauty is usually contagious, unstoppable and powerful.
The text of Un sassolino nel cuore was born in 2018 in the form of a poem, in a corner of my notebook.
Most of my projects have a long realization, but some arrive like this, suddenly and with all the pieces in the right place, like a “childbirth”. After writing the text of Un sassolino nel cuore, I let it settle for a few months and only then I thought of it in the form of a storyboard and therefore of a picture book.
Melancholy seems to be that pebble in the heart that weighs down the protagonist. Do you think it is important to be able to talk about sadness even with the little ones?
Yes, I believe it is fundamental, because it is a reality that children also experience, each in their own way, and we, adults, must provide them with the tools to face it. Sadness can inhabit us, invade us, sometimes it seems that it will never go away so what do we do? I wanted to share with the little ones that attention and mutual help can do wondrous magic.
2021 has just begun: projects on the horizon, previews of your works, what would you like to share with us?
In a few months, my new German book will be released, featuring an exuberant and somewhat stubborn mosquito. To be honest, I am allergic to mosquitoes, but this was really special and I had to dedicate a book to it! As for the other stories, I have completed a few that I hope will reach young readers soon and I have many in the works.