Just one word
Venice, 1938. Roberto is a child like any other, or so he always thought, until the people around him start pointing out that he's actually not like everyone else, as he wears glasses. Shouldn't he attend a school that's only for children with glasses?
Set in an overwhelmingly beautiful Venice, amidst music and fragrances travelling from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and along the canals or in the narrow streets, the protagonists witness the rise of a propaganda campaign that begins by spreading false information (through radio and newspapers) about the "bespectacled category”, publicly scorning its members, up to having them expelled from school, banning them from parks and libraries, dismissing their parents from their jobs.
Through the transposition of such simple yet cruel mechanism, so similar to what was at the basis of the persecution and extermination of the Jewish people, Matteo Corradini narrates the hidden logic that led to the foundation and dissemination of racial laws – with a rather original take, as here the laws don't pertain to Jewish, but to “bespectacled”, people. “Just one word” is enough to change everything and, at the same time, “just one word” doesn't alter the essence of the message. Indeed, through these ingenious expedient, readers more easily identify with the notion of discrimination and the everyday presence of evil. We then follow the vicissitudes of the three protagonists once they've been declared “enemies of the country” and their parents.
Corradini tells us everything but with much sensitivity, and only lets us glimpse the abyss in which “the bespectacled” are about to plunge into. He stops just before the fall, as, in this book, what counts is “before” rather than ”after”: so as to always remember that all the evil in the world can start with just one word.
Solo una parola (Just one word)
by Matteo Corradini with illustrations by Sonia Cucculelli