Authors We Love: Elisabetta Dami

Although the most acknowledgeable authors tend to be writers of adult novels or even young adult books, it doesn’t mean that children’s book authors should get any less credit. At around age seven or eight, I remember my mom and I would visit the Mission Viejo Library practically every week. I would always go to the children’s section and look for another book to read—specifically any book from the Geronimo Stilton series. Only now in my high school years would I finally reminisce on my past and realize who was behind all of the stories that established my love for reading.

An award-winning author with her worldwide Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton books, Elisabetta Dami was born in Milano, Italy. Her father was a writer himself before she was born, so by the age of 13, Dami was already working for him as a book editor. At 19 years old, she began writing stories of her own but only began publishing them later in her life. In her 20s, she went through a series of adventures by earning her pilot license, traveling all around the world, running marathons, and even immersing herself in indigenous cultures.

With a passion for seeing the world, volunteering for sick children, studying different cultures around her, and creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences, Dami incorporated her love for adventure into stories for children. This was essentially the birth of the Geronimo Stilton series. The first book was titled, Geronimo Stilton: Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye (2000), starring a shy mouse who owns a newspaper company, yet falls into the most dangerous situations and uses academic knowledge to find his way out.

As the popularity of the series grew, Dami continued writing more books that branched out to create a world of her own. Some of her best books include The Kingdom of Fantasy (2003), Cat and Mouse in a Haunted House (2000), and The Phantom of the Subway (2000). The author has written over 100 children’s books, published them in 49 different languages, and has sold 180 million copies globally. She continues writing at the age of 63 and helps kids all around the world develop a profound love for reading.

I used to be a huge fan of Elisabetta’s novels; as I look back on my childhood, I’m able to see how much of an impact her books had in my life. Although it’s relaxing to sit down with a nice book, I admit that my passion for reading has somewhat diminished. Perhaps it was easier to entertain children through the art of storytelling than in our modern age, or maybe it’s simply because I haven’t picked up an enticing book in a while. Nonetheless, it’s always nice to appreciate—and thank—the authors who hold a centerpiece of our childhood.

– Natisha P.

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers is the sequel to Mary Poppins.  The story picks up just a few months from when the original book left off.  The Banks’ house is in complete disarray.  Mary Poppins had deserted the family without notice.  They had hired other nurses to take Poppins’ place, but none of them lasted long.  One nurse, for instance, had been spat at by young Michael Banks and quit immediately.  Michael fought with his sister Jane, little twins John and Barbara quarreled, the kitchen flue caught fire, the cherry trees were devastated by frost, and so on.  Mrs. Banks does not know what to do.  In despair, she sends the four children to the park so she can have some peace at home.  Jane and Michael decide to fly a kite to entertain John and Barbara.  As they pull the kite back in, to their astonishment, they see Mary Poppins herself holding the string and gliding down with the kite.

Within moments, Mary Poppins is already ordering the children around.  Much like the original book, Poppins assumes a stern and haughty attitude.  However, the children enjoy many new adventures in this sequel.  I enjoyed reading about their magical ability to fly above the park holding just one balloon each.  I also liked reading about the day they met an interesting man named Mr. Turvy.  The day happened to be the second Monday of the month.  Every second Monday, mysterious things happen to Mr. Turvy.  He flips upside-down, he finds himself outside when he wants to be inside, and he even feels sad though he normally feels happy.  This quirky episode is strange but I found it to be quite amusing.

Mary Poppins is as scornful as ever in this book.  She displays a short temper and even intimidates the children.  On one occasion, for example, we read: “Mary Poppins, in her fury, seemed to have grown to twice her usual size.  She hovered over him in her nightgown, huge and angry, waiting for him to reply.”  Poppins also proves to be quite vain.  For example, as she passed by a glass window, “Mary Poppins gave a little conceited nod to her reflection and hurried on.”  She also seems to be dishonest with the children.  After almost every adventure, Poppins denies that she had anything to do with it or that it even happened at all.

I began to wonder if all the tumult in the Banks’ household was caused by Mary Poppins herself, so that the family would appreciate her more when their situation magically improved.  Whether or not my conspiracy theory is correct, everyone still seems to love Mary Poppins by the end of the story.  Despite her periodic rude comments to the children, they seem to enjoy her company as much as ever.  The main reason for this may be that many exciting and delightful adventures seem to follow Mary Poppins wherever she goes.  These adventures make the book charming to read, if you can look past Mary Poppins’ less-than-perfect attitude and behavior toward the children.

-Oliver H.

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.