Chile has a vast literary tradition that has earned it two Nobel Prizes in Literature, those of the poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral. Among this wide tradition, there are names that dedicated themselves to enrich the literature for kids. For many years, their works have been part of the national educational curriculum and part of Chilean homes’ libraries. Here are 4 works that have become classics of Chile’s children’s literature.
Papelucho: Written by Marcela Paz (Esther Huneeus Salas de Claro’s pen-name), this twelve-part saga, of which its first book was published in 1947, has 8-year-old called Papelucho as its main character. He has a wild imagination that takes him in several adventures. The stories, which are narrated as a journal, deal with everyday situations that any kid his age could face. For example in “My sister Ji”, Papelucho has to learn how to live with her sister, who was born at the end of the previous book. Each book of the saga takes an educational role while also entertaining its readers; such is the case of “Papelucho historian”. In a fun and appealing way for children, the protagonist narrates Chilean and American history, which sets itself apart from the school textbooks.
Perico Trepa por Chile (Perico Climbs Through Chile): A joint work between Marcela Paz and Alicia Morel published in 1978. The book narrates the story of an 8 year old boy called Perico that lives in Tierra del Fuego and has to quit school in order to become a shepherd, just like his father. This is the starting point for an adventure that will take him through Chile, teaching the readers about geography, flora, fauna and traditions from every corner of the country.
La Porota: Written by Hernan del Solar and published in 1946. The book tells the story of a little girl called Porota, who after losing her doll Mimi gets into the secret world in which toys live while their owners are asleep. In their world, toys can listen to people and see how they behave. The book deals with important topics of the time it was written, such as the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima, opening a debate in the classroom and at home.
Mampato: This comic book saga popularized by Themo Lobos has as its protagonists a caveman called Ogú, and an curious kid called Mampato. Mampato can travel through time and space thanks to a present given to him by an alien that he met in the first volume. It is in one of these journeys that he meets Ogú, who becomes his adventure partner, travelling through different episodes of world history. At first the comic was published within the magazine of the same name, which also included educational content, such as biographies, relevant historical moments, the solar system, etc. But eventually the characters reached such a high level of popularity that the comic became an independent publication. Furthermore, in 2002 the characters made it to the big screen, when the “Ogú and Mampato in Rapa Nui” movie was released.
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