In the children’s work “As Sobrinhas Animadas e a Auntia Estressada”, writer and pedagogue Marli Beraldi shares a valuable lesson for children and families of various nationalities. In a bilingual Portuguese-English format, the narrative highlights the need for breaks in everyday life and the importance of reminding everyone about the vitality of rest. Through a charming plot, children take on the role of heroines, helping their overworked aunt to rediscover the joy of the playful world and, together, learn that life can be lighter during this fun journey to Jacareí.
Marli Beraldi, pedagogue and master in Applied Linguistics from PUC São Paulo, weaves a narrative that goes beyond mere entertainment. Throughout the story, auntie’s learning becomes an enriching exchange, encouraging a spirit of empowerment in girls. The book not only offers representation, with diverse and plural characters, but also addresses crucial themes such as the emancipation of women and the deconstruction of gender stereotypes, all masterfully illustrated by Giannicola Nicoletti, giving life and color to this captivating story.
How did the idea of writing “The lively nieces and the stressed aunt” come about? What was your main motivation?
The desire to write a children’s book emerged little by little, throughout my career in education, and was consolidated in a sweet vacation, in a peaceful and rural environment. The driving force for writing the work was the desire to show everyone the need for a break from the busy life of big cities and the appreciation of simple things, such as adventures with little nieces excited about games and poetry.
Why did you choose a bilingual Portuguese-English format for the work? How do you believe this can impact the reach of the message you want to convey?
My choice for bilingual text comes from my own training. In addition to being a pedagogue and a master in Applied Linguistics graduated from PUC São Paulo, I am a teacher with a degree in Literature/translator-interpreter – English/Portuguese. Despite all the scope and beauty of the Portuguese language, which is the official language in ten countries, the English language has established itself as the most spoken language across the planet. In this sense, taking my message in a book in bilingual format is a good strategy for a greater number of people to have access to the book. Furthermore, it can encourage even more people to learn a second language.
Children are the heroes in this story. How important is it to present children as agents of change and inspiration for adults?
In the book “The lively nieces and the stressed aunt”, the nieces take charge as the true heroes, since they are agents of transformation for a better world. Through a clear look, children always find beauty in the simplicity of things in life. It is the nieces who help the stressed aunt to revisit the playful world, full of games and poetry, in addition to helping her to value the good times. When we show children how important they are in our lives and how they have the power to make our lives happier, we reinforce children’s self-esteem and confidence.
The work addresses the need to take breaks in everyday life. How do you hope this message influences families who read the book?
I hope readers remember good times like childhood games. But they also value the present moment, the now, to replenish their energy.Adults are always full of responsibilities and worries and all this anxiety makes them miss opportunities to value good times and make life easier.
Can you share a little about the fun trip to Jacareí? How does this scenario contribute to the narrative and the characters’ learning?
In a poetic way, the stressed aunt plans a trip from the city of Barueri to the city of Jacareí. To accompany her on this adventure, she invites her sister-in-law, who is always worried, and her cousin, who is different from the others because she is very calm. The adventure starts from choosing gifts for the nieces to the conversations during the car trip. The three women exchange experiences, remember fun stories they shared in life and enjoy the picturesque landscapes. When they arrive in the city of Jacarei and meet their beautiful nieces, it’s fun that never ends, in the enchanted garden where the girls lived they can invent games, such as costume parties and career-themed parties. Adults can enjoy girls having fun on different toys, interacting with nature and much more.
The scenario presented in the book is playful and fun, awakening the imagination of readers from planning the trip to completing it. When the aunt becomes aware of the need for a break, she is already in the process of transformation towards a better life.
Another relevant point in the story is the exchange of knowledge: while children show adults the beauty of life through valuing what is simple, the aunt shows the girls that, with effort and determination, they can be whatever they want: machinists, tightrope walkers or scientists – and they don’t just need to follow the traditional professions for women, such as teachers, doctors, dentists.
How do Giannicola Nicoletti’s illustrations complement and enrich the narrative? What do you want to convey through these images?
The book’s illustrations were made by an Italian author and illustrator, who has stood out in suspense literature: Giannicola Nicoletti. His books have already been translated into several languages. It is another look at the narrative poem created by me, bringing at the same time sweetness anda more cosmopolitan vision to the work. The images have a diversity of features and techniques, as it highlights illustrations of children of different nationalities, animals, toys, various fruits and beautiful landscapesto attract the attention of young readers. In this way, the work not only takes representation in its essence, but also gives life and color to other themes covered in the story, such as the emancipation of women and gender stereotypes.
What is the main lesson you hope children and adults take away from reading “The Lively Nieces and the Stressed Aunt”?
AThroughout the narrative poem, I sought to demonstrate the exchange of learning between children and adults. While children are the protagonists in illustrating to adults the most practical ways to smile and have fun through the simple things in life, adults can take advantage of the opportunity to encourage the spirit of empowerment, especially in girls. The message is clear: adult life You will always be happier if everyone can do what they like professionally.
The emancipation of women and the breaking of gender stereotypes are themes present in the work. How do you believe these themes can impact the way children see the world?
I believe that if these concepts are learned from a young age in a playful way. We will have generations of people with greater autonomy, who know that, with study and dedication, it is possible to be whatever we want and have a happier adult life, if they can do what they like professionally.
What was the process of creating the characters like? Is there any specific inspiration behind the personalities of the nieces and aunt?
My interest in literature dates back to childhood and has always accompanied me on my journey, both as a reader and teacher, and now, as an author published in several poetry anthologies. The book is a fictional story, but it is inspired by my own journey as a teacher and is also inspired by my nieces. They are young people who fought and chose their professions and feel professionally fulfilled. I also have little nieces enjoying their childhood with joy and fun.
As a writer and pedagogue, how do you see the role of children’s literature in children’s education? What are the main values you want to convey through your works?
I often say that books are the best gifts. I had the opportunity to launch this book at the Rio Book Biennial 2023, and it was great to see the acceptance of the book among the children who were there. Children’s books open the doors to the world of imagination, bring knowledge and help to interpret the world in a more meaningful way. The values I want to transmit are: the appreciation of a fuller and happier life through the appreciation of the simplest things; valuing the present time, without so many anxieties and worries; autonomy in professional choices, without limitations regarding gender; and, in a way, female empowerment.
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