When I first chatted online with blogger Cristiana Clerici, who lives in Parma, Italy, and writes at the wonderful Tea Box, she told me that her blog was an ambitious idea and that she hoped she’d be good enough for it. Well, I think she’s proven that she is.
Over at The Tea Box, Cristiana shares her love of books, particularly international picture books. She maintains three pages in three languages (Italian, English, and French), so most of her time goes into translating her own posts. Wow, huh? I mean, wow just wow. I don’t think I’ll further complain about being busy; here at 7-Imp, I’m writing in only one tongue. Not three. And not maintaining three separate pages. Wow again.
Her goal over at The Tea Box? To aid libraries who are willing to implement or improve upon their collection of international titles; to assist editors who are looking for new, interesting titles; and to simply entertain and enlighten curious readers. She is following books from all over — with special attention to Italy, the United States, the UK, France, Spain, and South American countries.
She divides the blog into mainly two parts: wire-news (short info from throughout the world) and reviews. She hopes to do a lot more, too, but like many of us bloggers, has to limit her time, since she has a full-time job. (Actually, now she also conducts interviews, but I’ll not get ahead here: She discusses this more below.)
Because I love to follow international picture books, yet I don’t have enough time to do it as often as I’d like here at 7-Imp, I asked Cristiana if she would like to occasionally contribute posts here in the 7-Imp salon, and—lucky me—she said yes! (We’ve been joking about striking it rich—somehow—and founding our own transatlantic panel on international picture book titles, but this will have to do for now.) The title of this post might be deceiving: It’s not a true collaboration in that I will not, in turn, be contributing to her blog. (Believe me when I say I wish I had time to do so, because I would be ever-so happy to.) It’s all very one-way in that she will be coming here to visit and contribute interviews with illustrators, short posts about international titles, etc., and—again—I wish I had time to reciprocate, but I’m very happy she’s agreed to come visit the 7-Imp bungalow on occasion.
Cristiana and I agreed not to set any deadlines of any sort. Whenever the mood strikes her, she can come contribute something that has her really fired up. You know, like when the very talented Steven Withrow contributes his “Fieldnotes” to 7-Imp? Yeah. That. If he gets busy (and he has been — with this wonderful project), no worries. He can contribute whenever he gets inspired. No pressures. No expectations. No deadlines. All of us dedicated bloggers are just following our bliss here, but we do have full-time jobs to occupy our time, too, so I hold her to no deadlines. Keep your eyes open for Cristiana’s contributions. I feel truly lucky that she has agreed to grace the blog.
I think (I hope!) I’m allowed to say that her first contribution will be an interview with Italian illustrator Eva Montanari. (Check out her illustrations. Swoon.) Oh, and often, if not always, Cristiana’s posts here at 7-Imp will also post at her own site.
I asked Cristiana to introduce herself (assuming you don’t already follow her over at The Tea Box). Without further ado, here is Ms. Clerici…
Cristiana: First of all I would like to thank Jules for asking me to contribute to her blog: I am THRILLED! I just hope my very imperfect English will be excused.
What can I tell you about me? I’ll start with a picture. This is baby-me…
Not that I have changed much with time, trust me!
None will take me seriously after this… Jules, are you still sure you want me to contribute to 7Imp?!? If so, besides proving my skills in making faces, which is fundamental, I guess I’m supposed to tell you more about myself…
Okay, so: I started blogging about one year ago. I felt I had something to say in defense of the weak and the good. Mmmh sounds a bit too much like Robin Hood, right? Seriously now, like many other bloggers I started because I felt the urge of talking about those children’s books I loved: new books, old books, scary books, poetry books and more. I also thought I wanted to do so not just in Italian, but in English and French as well. This, not simply because it’s the languages I’ve been studying since I was a kid, but also because, to my utter dismay, there are wonderful foreign books that are not being published in my country, and there are great Italian books that haven’t been published in other countries. Ah, terrible, impossible, unbearable! Therefore, on a hot and humid June day, I started my blog.
To be honest, though, it was my wonderful granny who got me passionate to storytelling and reading: she was a simple but incredible person with a vivid imagination. She could invent the most incredible stories with no effort. (My dad always gets upset when I say so, because he insists it’s only thanks to him that I started liking literature studies and alike.)
She is the reason why I’ve actually never dismissed children’s literature: it reminds me of the unique moments I spent with granny when she was alive.
At The Tea Box, I try to feature upcoming books from everywhere: at times I review them; at times I just give the (wire) news the book has been published; at times I interview authors or illustrators or translators; I also have my personal selection of publishing houses, whose catalogues I find simply great. (This last one is expanding day after day — the world is toooo big.) To be short: I feature anything that is of interest to my very personal and very arguable opinion! I love love love picture books; they’re my biggest passion but, to be true, I love novels as well, very much. My favourite modern-contemporary authors/illustrators are several, though the ones that are in my heart forever are: Joanna Concejo, Pablo Auladell, Lorenzo Mattotti (especially in his black and white works, such as in Hansel and Gretel), Bruno Munari, Anne Herbauts, and Peter Sís. As for writers I adore: Bianca Pitzorno, Roald Dahl, Astrid Lindgren, Rebecca Stead, Thimotée de Fombelle, amid more recent writers, and many others. Sob. Choosing is too difficult!
The only thing I regret is my full-time job doesn’t allow enough time to do all I would like to. But maybe, one day, this is gonna change!
Are you wondering why I called the blog The Tea Box? Well, that is because I love tea as much as I love books — and music. My perfect day starts more or less like this: a cup of tea, some music in the background, a book in my hands, and one of my cats to cuddle. What else would I want?
(Thanks again to Cristiana. I think her English is just right; her perfect day sounds perfect to me, too, though I’ll take some strong coffee while she has her tea and we gab about illustration; and I’m very much looking forward to her posts.)