The childhood of a genius

05/08/2011 – O Regional – Newspaper

The childhood of a genius (Click to see the original news)

Emilia, Narizinho, Aunt Anastasia, Dona Benta. Saci and the smart Viscount of Sabugosa (corncob character). Hundreds of children have childhood marked by the antics of the characters of the Yellow Woodpecker Ranch. In the date of the anniversary on which one of the greatest writers of the Brazilian children’s literature, the writer Nereide Santa Rosa chose “Monteiro Lobato” to try to decipher his childhood. The book leaves out critical thinking and progressive of José Renato Monteiro Lobato. It Narrates, to the child, the infancy of little Juca that, quite different from Pedrinho, Narizinho, and Emilia, was a quiet boy. He prefers to spend hours in his grandfather’s library, called by him “enchanted room,” or in the company of younger sisters, Esther, and Judith. Monteiro Lobato had memories of the farm “Santa Maria” in Taubaté, where he grew up similarly to the characters of the Ranch. The balcony of the big house, the coffee trees, and even a hill with a virgin forest, which imagined being the habitat of jaguars and where lived Indians. “Monteiro Lobato” belongs to the series Famous Children, which chronicles the early life of great personalities like Cecilia Meirelles, Leonardo da Vinci, Jorge Amado, Santos Dumont and many others. Born in São Paulo, the writer is also formed in pedagogy and mathematics. Check out the interview with the author:
The Regional: How did the initiative to write about Monteiro Lobato? Nereide Santa Rosa: The initiative came up the importance of his literary work and his childhood as a formative element in his work. Propose the publication of the title on Monteiro Lobato in the series was more than a need, it was essential for our young readers. The series, Famous Children, addresses the childhood of personalities arts, literature world, the scientific and the music community. Childhood is the period of formation of individual. Family relationships, discoveries and knowledge construction in this phase of our life is critical in the formation and behavior of adults.

The Regional: How was the process of research of the author’s life?
Nereide: As this is a nonfiction publication, the research was done with discretion and discipline. It was necessary to access different means of research, from libraries, bookstores, rare collections and especially the contribution, the analysis and the text reviewed by the family of the writer. Monteiro Lobato is a figure known and recognized in Brazil and abroad, and there are many publications about yourself. However, during the research it was necessary to check all information and seek interesting facts and relevant to the public reader.

The Regional: How is reveal the responsible for the stories to children?
Nereide: Write about Lobato is pleasurable. Especially for me, that during my childhood, read and delighted myself in his books. To bring Lobato universe to current public child was a unique opportunity that thrilled me. The act of re-reading, research and finally write, to honor who brought me joy and fantasy as a child.

The Regional: What Monteiro Lobato has in common with his characters?
Nereide: His child characters were inspired by people with whom he lived during his childhood. Lobato began writing for children audience after the publication of his work for adults and to recall the spaces and the facts that had experienced when a child, given rise to his charming characters. His grandmother Anacleta inspired Dona Benta. His Portuguese teacher Quirino inspired Sabugosa Viscount. Joaquina inspired Aunt Anastasia. Finally Lobato himself inspired Pedrinho and Emilia the doll, with his irreverence, intelligence, critical, striking features of his personality. Narizinho may have been inspired by his sisters, Esther, and Judith. The Lobato boy’s imagination has always been present in his characters, adventures, writing, drawing, reading and playing on the same site of his grandfather, similar to Yellow Woodpecker Ranch.

The Regional: For you, with which character he most identify?
Nereide: No doubt, the central character of his work is the Emilia doll representing his strong personality and values. Emilia talks about fantasy, generating that element in the universe of the Yellow Woodpecker Ranch. It is she who command the games, contests and leads the progress of stories. After suffering so many reviews, fighting the policy at his time and have even been arrested for challenging ideas, Lobato decided to speak through a doll, amid children’s adventures. His work respects the children’s intelligence while entertains and teaches.

The Regional: How was to trace this profile and assimilation in a playful way?
Nereide: Writing for children is no easy task. The construction of the sentences, the choice of words and the information through a playful and interesting text are challenges of those who write for that audience. In the case of Lobato, your life is so exhilarating as his work and for me, turn it into an interesting text was not hard. The result is a book that tells, educates and creates the fun.

The Regional: What has been the response of children?
Nereide: Kids love Lobato. He treats the reader with respect and intelligence. His characters are engaging and familiar with our reality. Lobato’s universe is our country, with their customs, culture, way of life of our people. This gift redemption in their texts brings proud to be Brazilian to your readers. And the book Monteiro Lobato, which tells the story of his childhood and is the curiosity reason for those who like his characters. The answer is the success of sales.

The Regional: How a talent in a child’s personality is identified? The series also touches on this issue?
Nereide: The question of the talent of a child is told in a natural way. The profiled personalities in the series are people who have become famous when adults. However, it is clear that the texts show moments in childhood like any other child with activities and games, playing ball. Playing in music band as the boy Carlos Gomes, fly a kite as the boy Santos Dumont, imitate a train whistle as Tu Hu, the nickname of Villa-Lobos, and mainly to have a family. It is also clear the importance of family relationships and the role of parents and relatives in the formation of children. Finally, the Famous Children Series contributes to the understanding that we can all be famous if we are happy with what we wished to do. Being famous is to be happy and have conquered happiness, and not necessarily be a celebrity

The Regional: Direct contact with nature may have contributed to awakening the literature of in Monteiro Lobato?
Nereide: The Nature theme permeates Lobato’s work in different texts. On several occasions, the relationship of his characters with nature is one of respect and appreciation for the environment. As a child, the boy Juca, as was his nickname before becoming Jose Benedito, had fun in the creek of the ranch as well as explored the surrounding forest to discover animals. These and other passages of his life are recorded at the famous Kingdom of Clear Waters, book text Reinações of Narizinho.

The Regional: On the last day 18 was celebrated the birthday of the legendary writer. What is the biggest legacy he left for Brazil?
Nereide: Monteiro Lobato was the first to write for children in Brazil, besides, he was the first to mount a publisher in this country, publish and translate works of world literature for our people. In addition to his role as a journalist, politician, and critic, contributed to encouraging the exploitation of oil for economic development at the time.

The Regional: How children’s writers are seen today?
Nereide: Graces Monteiro Lobato, we have a literary tradition aimed at the juvenile public. Currently, parents and teachers encourage the reading of children and youth and know the literature focused on this segment. The children’s writers are recognized, and their works contribute significantly to the development of imagination, creativity, knowledge and training of our children. The publications are made carefully; publishers are interested in publishing more and writers feel rewarded.

The Regional: What has changed in the written style of Monteiro Lobato epoch to the current generation?
Nereide: The work of Monteiro Lobato is very often extensive with long text, however, dynamic and fun. Lobato’s adventure does not stop at any time, holding the reader’s attention until to the end. At present, we find books with short texts, many illustrations, especially colloquial language, as well as themes close to the reality of the readers.

Nereide Schilaro Santa Rosa was born in São Paulo and worked as an educator for over 25 years. She graduated in pedagogy, mathematics, design, music and arts. She currently works as a writer. She has published over 30 books and has received several awards such as the Highly Commended National Children’s Book and Youth Foundation (FNLIJ) and the JABUTI. In addition to the work of Monteiro Lobato, also has published on the childhood of other famous as Santos Dumont, Villa-Lobos, Carlos Gomes and Volpi.