Ġanni jżur Londra
Living on a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean certainly has its advantages – sun, beaches and lovely summers. However, sometimes, because we’re surrounded by sea, it’s easy to forget that there are other lands to explore beyond our shore.
Ideally we start instilling the excitement of travelling and exploring in children from a young age, as only that would help us to stamp out an insular mentality and become better citizens of the world. And what better way to do this than books which tell tales of adventures in the world’s main capital cities?
Ġanni jżur Londra is Merlin Publishers’ new title for early readers, aged between three and six years. It tells the story, in easy one-liner reading, of young Ġanni who is taken to London on holiday for the very first time and gets to explore the food, the language and the main landmarks of the city. The text is structured in easy-to-read sentences, with a large font size, and is ideal for children starting to read in Maltese, or younger ones being read to.
Ġanni is the brainchild of author Sherise Zammit, whose graphic novel (with Andrea Meli) Save Samyo City was an instant hit. “I always feel that our libraries lack Maltese non-fiction titles. One day this idea came along and I thought why not create a fiction character who travels to different countries?” said Zammit. “Not all children are lucky enough to travel at a very young age and it’s good to see what’s out there,” she said.
Maltese non-fiction for young children is a lacuna that Merlin publishers have been heavily investing in over the past few years with the greatly successful non-fiction Tikka Qari series. The character of Ġanni will take this further because his stories are less structured and the facts, namely the highlights of a foreign city and its way of life, are cleverly placed in a fictitious narrative context, appealing to children who enjoy fiction and non-fiction alike.
The full-colour illustrations in the book are the work of Canadian illustrator Noémie Gionet Landry. “We had to iron out the time difference problem between Malta and Canada, but other than that we worked absolutely brilliantly together,” quipped Zammit.
Landry’s illustrations are warm and cheerful, immediately drawing in the readers. Part of the fun, for children and parents alike, is to spot all the tiny half-hidden details that Landry placed in the illustrations, which definitely makes re-reading a fun quest.
Ġanni jżur Londra is the first in this new series of Ġanni’s travels across the world. Next up, is bonjour Paris! Stay tuned. ‘Ġanni jżur Londra’ is available from all bookstores or online from www.merlinpublishers.com