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Case Study 6: Lorenzo’s Saucepan


Introduction

In contrast to the previous case study, the form of disability here is unstated.  The book is a small, quirky and highly entertaining book with a metaphorical approach and a potentially universal message about how we can each learn to cope with our own specific challenges.

 

 

Lorenzo’s Saucepan (El Cazo de Lorenzo)
Isabelle Carrier, Editorial Juventud, Barcelona, Spain, 2010
La petite casserole d’Anatole
Editions Bilboquet, France, 2009
Il Pentolino di Antonino
Kite Edizioni, 2011


Synopsis

"One day a saucepan fell on Lorenzo's head ... No one is sure how it happened. Because of the saucepan, Lorenzo is not like everyone else".

Lorenzo’s has to drag the saucepan round with him wherever he goes. Often he finds himself in difficult situations and sometimes people don't understand him. Then he is given some help in coping with the saucepan and even a red satchel to carry it in.  The saucepan has not gone but Lorenzo is now better able to accept and manage it.

Background

El Cazo de Lorenzo was suggested by Dr. Penni Cotton.  Originally written in French as La petite casserole d’Anatole, by author and illustrator Isabelle Carrier. It won the Prix Sorciéres in 2010 and has been made into a short film by Eric Montuchaud of JP Films in 2014.

OIW discovered a PDF of El Cazo de Lorenzo on the website of Anda – a Spanish organisation specialising in the field of social psychology and occupational intervention creating services for children and young people with disabilities and their families.

It was not until much later in the project that OIW came across Il Pentolino di Antonino, the Italian edition published by Kite Edizioni at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in April 2015. At this point  we realised that the version we had translated into English and asked our VFG to assess had been  abridged. 


Feedback

Introduction

As mentioned above, it important to note that El Cazo de Lorenzo was an abridged version of the Spanish edition that the VFG provided feedback on and it is possible that some opinions may have changed, had the group been able to read the full edition. 

All the panel felt Lorenzo’s Saucepan had some positive qualities but there were some reservations expressed too.

Depiction of disability

Professor Adomat found the metaphorical approach very effective:

"By choosing a metaphor, the book can appeal to a wide variety of readers. The message is that people need to look beyond someone’s 'saucepan' and discover other qualities. I find the unique perspective of the story very appealing."

Karen Argent agreed, feeling that this was a book which clearly intended that we see Lorenzo as someone who actively contributes to society but is sometimes misunderstood or rejected. She also felt it represented a different approach to explaining difference. She applauded the way the book illustrates people’s different perceptions and covers a wide range of situations including Lorenzo being ashamed and wanting to hide.

Professor Lathey thought it was good to see a subject of this kind addressed pictorially and with humour. She also felt that the symbolism of the saucepan worked and reminded the reader that we all have ‘extraordinary quirks’.

Joanna Sholem also liked the fact that it did not refer to a specific form of disability, and the concept of the saucepan getting smaller when reasonable accommodations start to be made.

Patricia Billings liked the suggestion that therapy, particularly art therapy, can help people with additional needs realise and express their talents.

Questions and concerns

Dr. Butler felt that 'Lorenzo' did not work in relation to the social model of disability, being more aligned with the 'medical model of disability':

It seeks to show how disabled people can have their frustration eased. But the book rests on critical values that are the reverse of helpful for disabled people…Presented to disabled children I can imagine that it would damage their self-esteem by casting them in the role of hapless victims".  

Both Beth Cox and Karen Argent felt the 'saucepan falling on his head metaphor' was confusing and might be construed as negative. 

Karen Argent thought that perhaps it would have been better if Lorenzo was born with the saucepan on his head instead.

Lorenzo learns how to use the saucepan to his advantage.  At the end of the book he still has the saucepan but it is more discreet.  Karen wondered if this was a true representation of someone with a disability, questioning whether instead of learning to hide it or disguise it they should be proud of it as part of their identity.

Patricia Billings believed the book had some lovely features, but thought the messaging in the text was a little cloudy:

"The focus on Lorenzo’s 'good qualities' may suggest that his impairments are bad ones, which is not correct, I think. The saucepan is an odd metaphor for the burden of his impairments—if it is a metaphor; I am unclear. When the therapist gives him the red bag, he seems to swap the impediment of the saucepan for the toolkit, or skills, he has learned; but again, I am not sure."

Quality and effectiveness

Professor Adomat praised the quality of delivery:

"The story is very compelling and humorous, and the cartoon-like illustrations will appeal to children".

Karen Argent liked the cartoon-like line drawings with their very soft colours. She described them as beautiful but subtle, perhaps even too subtle. Beth Cox agreed that the quality of the illustration was good and definitely viable, but might need some reworking in places. 

Appeal and viability

The book was generally felt to have great appeal to UK audiences, including a wide range of ages.

Although Beth Cox had some initial reservations about the message, finding some of the early text contradictory (for example saying that Lorenzo is not like everyone else, but then listing qualities that many other people have), she believed this could be sorted out in the editing process: She did like the way the message:

"came across as the book progressed and thought it was very positive. I especially liked the bit about people only seeing the saucepan".

She also felt that the book definitely offered something new:

"I do think that this book moves on from the typical 'everyone is different and that's ok' kind of books that many publishers are producing and deals with this in a more obvious way, but still allowing various children to relate - the saucepan could represent lots of different things".

Karen Argent could see that there would be a lot of potential discussion to be gained from this book but that it would need close attention and time to see the overall message. It could be used effectively by older readers "as a basis for thinking about individual qualities and potential societal barriers".

Patricia Billings wasn't sure if the story and illustrations were clear and strong enough to attract publishers while Karen Argent thought it might be more difficult to market because the illustrations are rather quirky, although Lorenzo's Saucepan did have a humorous quality which was very likely to appeal to many audiences.

Beth Cox could see it working well as a general trade book for children aged three to seven years but Dr. Butler did not consider it appropriate for wider publication.

The publisher focus group to whom we showed the book were extremely positive about it, considering it to have great potential.  Their comments included:

  • The bright, expressive little faces are very appealing
  • The metaphor is ambiguous but that is a good thing
  • Text and illustration work really well together
  • Don’t even need to point out the metaphor to people, it just works well even as a funny story
  • Love the idea of having a saucepan – it could be said that we each have our own saucepan to bear
  • Price could be an issue (the Italian edition is quite high)
  • It could be positioned as a cult little 'gem'
  • It might be possible to reduce the number of pages and make it a paperback? (However, the group concluded that it probably should ideally be produced in hardback).
  • One publisher felt it was a little long, but others thought it would be a shame to reduce the number of pages.
  • It would be interesting to see the various versions that OIW have tracked down.

Conclusion

In this metaphorical story, the author uses sensitive and amusing illustrations to recreate the daily life of a child who has some kind of additional need, showing both his character traits and the obstacles he faces. OIW liked the way no particular form of disability is specified – it’s a situation which could be applied to many children.  We also applauded the way the book encourages the reader to look beyond the 'saucepan', to find the true qualities of the individual.

OIW felt that the artwork and delivery were both attractive and highly memorable, and that the responses from our publisher group suggested this could be a very strong candidate for UK publication.  It is important to note that the book was not without its critics, however, with one or two members of the VFG having concerns about the message.

Since receiving the feedback from the VFG on the abridged Spanish text, OIW have been able to compare all three versions – French, Italian and Spanish and to amend the English translation so that it includes the full text.  Several key pages that had been left out of the abridged version, could in fact, enable the reader to better understand Lorenzo and some of the difficulties he experiences, enhancing and strengthening the overall message of the book. It is therefore possible that some opinions of the panel may have been revised had they been able to read the full edition. 

 

 

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