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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)
Nobody Can Stop Don Carlo
by Oliver Scherz
Age Range: 9-11
Eleven-year-old narrator Carlo lives in Bochum, Germany with his mother. His parents are separated and his father is now living in his native Palermo in Sicily. Carlo desperately misses his dad, all five months, two weeks and eight days. There are always promises of planned visits but somehow it never happens. Carlo longs to get his parents back together again and decides to take matters into his own hands and do something about it. He sets off for Palermo on his own, without telling his mother, carrying a few possessions in a suitcase, including his precious football shirt, his ‘fat money roll’ of 210 euros, (after emptying his money-box), and his father’s photo and address in his jacket pocket.
Carlo's journey is certainly not uneventful and there are plenty of episodes, when anything that could go wrong, does, including not having enough money for his fare, outwitting the guard on a train, being robbed by a taxi driver in Rome and being a stowaway on the ferry to Sicily. He also encounters many acts of kindness from the elderly eccentric women who provide refuge on the train to the Italian family who take him in and treat him as one of their own and give him a lift to the Ferry port. Despite the many ups and downs of his adventure Carlo manages to get to Palermo and arrive on his father's doorstep. Now everything will be alright, won't it?
This novella, from one of Germany’s leading authors, Oliver Scherz, translated by Deidre McMahon, is only 90 pages but it has a tight structure with plenty of plot, larger-than-life characters and humour that permeates throughout the narration. Carlo not only relays his adventures but also the flavours of Italy come through with his descriptions of scenic views and food.
Scherz's protagonist provides a chatty narrative with completely self-deprecating humour especially when describing his of his father’s appearance - “my tie is hanging crookedly and the lovely shirt is stuck to my round mozzarella belly”. There is pathos too with Carlo’s evident yearning to see his dad and for his parents to reunite. A lovely, heart-warming and witty novel that is a joy to read.
This is one of four new titles from Dedalus new imprint Young Dedalus.