Wildcat under Glass
1970 Mildred Batchelder Award (U.S.A.) / 2007 Premio Andersen - Il mondo dell'infanzia (ITALY)
A children's novel
Wildcat under Glass, first published in 1963 and translated in about 35 languages, is internationally acclaimed as a classic work having been successfully and repeatedly published in many countries apart from Greece until today.
The story is set on an island in Greece during the 1930's as the nation is forced into a Fascist dictatorship. It is told through the eyes of a young girl named Melia, who relates the experiences of her family as they are forced to accept life under a repressive government. The book provides an interesting look at an important period of Greek history and tells it from a child's unsophisticated perspective. The naturalness and liveliness of the dialogue is combined with the seriousness and depth of the meaning. In a playful atmosphere, the reader is aware of and enjoys a mature thought that deals with and analyses social visions while trying to discover the threads that move them. The value of the book consists in precisely this combination. One of its virtues and what makes it universal is that the narration, although set in Greece at a particular period of time, seems somehow spaceless and timeless.
"A masterpiece! Undoubtedly perfect, extremely moving. One should not always refrain from expressing one's enthusiasm! This novel sums up all the essential qualities that one seeks in the children's literature of our times. Through a sensitivity always alert, a freshness of the eye, a concrete vision that excludes all moralising prose, Alki Zei succeeds in keeping, from beginning to end, the "childish" tone of the narration in order to deal with overwhelming frankness with a subject of such grave consequence as Fascism, which for once we are not afraid to call by its name... One would need many pages to analyse what makes possible this perfect balance between the daring essence of the subject and the constant complicity of the writer with the children's world. The result is the passionate involvement of the reader, regardless of his or her age."
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