Ġanni jżur Lon­dra

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - BOOKS -

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

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