The gardener of dreams
“Once upon a time there was…” an old man, with a typewriter. In a faraway magical land, an elderly man writes and rewrites each word with utmost care, looking for the most suitable place to sow them, the best way to nurture them – with calm and patience – and the most effective techniques to grow them, just like a gardener would do with a young plant or flower.
He plants the sheet of paper on which he sowed these words so that from it, one day, a tree will grow – a tree that won't produce fruit but more sheets of paper, to be bound with much care and love and then “set free”, allowing them to travel far and reach children all over the world, as children will have the privilege of reaping the magic and beauty of these shoots.
The elderly man described by Claudio Gobbetti may remind some of Roald Dahl's BFG (except that this “gardener” has nothing to do with sleeping children or glass jars, but only with words). But, above all, Il giardiniere dei sogni immediately strikes readers for being a poem in graphic novel form: a lyrical style and soft hues, “close-ups” that only widen during the journey, opening up on landscapes and through time slowly flowing before the readers' eyes as the story reaches the hands of children.
Through fantasy and fairy tale devices, author and illustrator convey several important teachings about the beauty and importance of reading, books and writing as if they were trees to be sown and nurtured, as well as about sharing stories with others.
A delicate and very simple story that, perhaps, can help convey how essential cultivating reading is, an activity that shouldn't be neglected but, on the contrary, “nourished” and fostered with love and care. Indeed, if we think about the books we most love, we can easily see how much they taught us to reflect and helped us grow.
Il giardiniere dei sogni (The gardener of dreams)
by Claudio Gobbetti with illustrations by Diana Nikolova
Sassi Junior, 2019