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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Malko And Dad
Age Range: 9-11
Argentinian artist Gusti presents a candid, profound and thoughtful memoir in a mixed media scrapbook-style full of brightly coloured collage, sketches, scribbles, photos, handwritten notes, poems, song lyrics, interviews and narrative reflections, which charts his relationship with his son Malko who has Down syndrome.
This is an amazing and uplifting book: sometimes funny and sometimes sad, with a real rawness to it. Malko loves cars, dinosaurs and playing on the computer but he also likes lots of hugs and kisses and has special “freeze ray” powers: “Once you are frozen you have to wait for him to unfreeze you. The most effective method is a kiss.” But much more poignant, are Gusti’s fears revealed at the beginning of the book.
“I wanted a “normal”, healthy little boy. Normal?
What does normal mean now?
When Malko was born, he laid siege to my castle
With all his forces – his entire army.”
And he is brutally honest when he confesses that “I DID NOT ACCEPT HIM,” – the words printed in huge black capital letters across a double-page spread to emphasise the point. Although shocking, this is counterbalanced by his eventual understanding that “Malko was already complete. And not only that: I realized he was great. The greatest.”
Often the original Spanish text appears alongside its English translation by Mara Faye Lethem and the different use of mixed media makes this book accessible to a younger audience and to hold their attention.
Malko and Dad which won the Bologna Ragazzi in 2016 as the best book in the disability category, is a very honest and sensitive account of what it means to love unconditionally.