Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I feel honoured to participate, and review a book from a talented Greek author, especially since I myself am Greek! And it fosters diversity, which is crucial.
Review of The Wounded Swallow By Vaggelio Kondaki-Karametou
I had the pleasure of reading this short children’s book and I was immediately drawn in. It started off in a very sweet yet mysterious way that left me wanting to know more. I could feel the love between the mother and her daughter in the opening sequence and I was curious about the swallow they kept mentioning.
Then the story traveled to another place and time, morphing into a story narrated by the mother. It was unusual and gripping. The act of war was personified, which I found to be very original.
Vaggelio also has a knack for capturing the true innocence in a child’s heart. For example, as the fields burned, the mother worried about practical things like making bread and surviving, while the child innocently wondered where she would play hide and go seek as the fields disappeared.
In actuality, the mother and daughter duo are escaping war in their country, and are seeking refuge elsewhere. The daughter doesn’t quite understand this. And yet despite being a child, she had a wisdom beyond her years.
This is my favourite quote:
“How many wars are there?”, wondered the little girl “and when are they going to end?”
She asks about what it means to be a refugee, all the while becoming one herself.
Vaggelio’s writing is whimsical, and lyrical. Her metaphors are also strong. Here’s another great quote:
“They are lucky because they have wings. Swallows are very happy. They can leave when they feel they are in danger and they can freely make a nest in the place they arrive. They are even happier because no one puts them in a cage.”
Vaggelio manages to talk about heavy topics such as war and death in a gentle way. The path of the refugee is one that many people in various countries are forced to take. These stories need to be told, as they are part of our history.
By Vaggelio Kondaki Karametou
A LITTLE GIRL WITH HER DOLL. A WAR THAT FORCES HER TO LEAVE. KINDHEARTED AND PETTY PEOPLE. FRUSTRATION MIXED WITH PURE INTEREST. ERADICATION. THE LITTLE GIRL WITH THE DOLL, THE CHILDREN OF THE ALMOND TREE, A FLOCK OF SWALLOWS.
The author, having studied texts and drawings made by refugee children, manages to speak of harsh truths in a distinctive poetic way, sensitizing without injuring the child’s soul. Picture-symbols that touch the reader emotionally. In the end a realistic hope that challenges/invites both the young and the old to take action.
I am a graduate from the Faculty of Philosophy (Department of Psychology & Pedagogical Studies). I am a mother of five children and work as a teacher of Philology at the State Senior School of Vari, Attica. I am a theatrical playwright of stories aimed for children & their parents, and also theatrical stories for adults. I am a member of an amateur theatrical group and a member of the Pan-Hellenic Network for “Theatre in Education”. I have participated in the Erasmus “Youth Doc” Programme, in which students create their own short theatrical plays elaborating on topics of teenage interest and exchange their manuscripts with students from other European countries. Within the framework of the above programme, I have been a rapporteur at a three-day seminar which was held with the assistance of the Faculty of Theatrical Studies of the University of Nafplion, Greece. Furthermore, I have been trained in methods of prevention and confrontation of school-bullying and have been in charge of a bullying mediation team, whereby some students are trained on resolving various conflicts amongst their fellow-classmates.
In collaboration with the network for “Theatre in Education” and the UN High Commission for Refugees I have participated in many programmes of students’ awareness & sensitization, as well as the dramatization of texts written by refugee-children who have attended our school during the past few years.
Finally, I have been trained in various techniques of Educational & Social Theatre, Documentary Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed.