‘Our books discuss living in a community, conflict resolution, and ways to understand our differences,’ says Mariana Vélez of Click Arte.
After the signing of the peace deal there have been many efforts to maintain peace in Colombia; some highly publicised and political, and some more humble but no less moving. Anyone with an interest in the peace process who is making their way to FILBo today or over the last two days of the fair should be sure to pay a visit to the Click Arte stand.
Click Arte – who describe themselves as pedagogy agency – have released two children’s books which seek to benefit Colombian society, as well as being full of attractive art and storytelling.
In the preface to one of those books, ¡De otra manera! Fábulas sobre acuerdos en Colombia– In a different way! Tales of agreements in Colombia – Diana Ospina and Nicolas Chirokoff tell stories of communities who were able to use talks and agreement to move past conflict and end cycles of violence.
The characters within these stories are represented by species endemic to Colombia. For example, in the tale titled ‘Una decisión valiente’, the story of a community of hens whose chicks are recruited by pinguasand promised rewardsis used as an analogy for the recruitment of children by armed forces. However, the hens fight back, and have their chicks restored. This story is inspired by María Eugenia Zabala, a leader who in 1998 organised a group of women to negotiate with Don Berna, a feared paramilitary leader in the Valle Encantado region of Córdoba, for the return of the children he had recruited.
In the book’s preface, the authors express the idea that the stories are not only aimed at portraying the conflict and its dynamics, but as a way to show how conflicts have been resolved in a different way and as an example of resilience in the face of adversity and the ways our world can be remodeled.
In La Aldea: Historias para pensar el País– The Village: Stories to reflect upon the country – Chirokoff and Ospina portray the many challenges a turtle, a spectacled bear, a chameleon and other characters have to face in the societies they live in. La Aldeaseeks to make us all reflect on our reactions to different situations, and helps children understand concepts such as corruption, leadership, hard work and environmental awareness.
We had a short talk with Mariana Vélez, one the agency’s representatives at FILBo. She described how their books were conceived with the idea of bringing children and teenagers closer to the reality of their country. In La Aldea, for example, a tapir named Efren thinks that because he is the son of the owner he’s entitled to divert the course of the river to have his own pool. “Our books discuss living in a community, conflict resolution, and ways to understand our differences,” she offers. The authors have also made an effort to focus on animals native to the regions portrayed in the tales.
This, Mariana says, is the result of a joint effort of different professionals, including a political scientist, a writer, a psychologist, an illustrator. These books are available to families, and kids, but also to teachers at schools; La Aldeais being adapted into an animated series, and there have been talks with producers in Mexico for a film; as Mariana puts it, this is just the beginning of a more ambitious project to create awareness.
¡De otramanera! is recommended for 10 year olds and older, and La Aldeais recommended for six year olds. But, really, people of all ages should have a read. Our country needs more and more people who are aware of and understand the harsh situations which many have lived through.
Reading is a significant part of the language and reading in English is particularly useful, much more than speaking or listening, because of the massive quantity of literature available. Oliver Pritchard’s guide to reading will have you finding good texts and reading between the lines like a pro.