In the form of words

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Micaela Chirif
Illustrations by Gabriel Alayza
Lima: Polifonía, 2010
ISBN 9786124590108

Mario sees everything in form of words. There are words that scare him and words that he doesn’t want to hear. Words that he shouldn’t repeat and words that are sometimes indispensable to him. But what happens when words are not necessary? This unique illustrated album is dedicated to those who love quick stroke drawings, paper and words. Old books, notebooks, dictionaries and phone books served to configure Mario’s universe.


This book has various pieces of paper as its background (parts of dictionaries, notebooks, phone books or just dirty paper) for a simple reason: words are its center. In this book, Mario approaches reality through language. There are words that make him feel proud and others that scare him. Words that he likes to shout out and others that he prefers to keep quiet. “There are words for everything” seems to tell us this original work.
With an interesting aesthetic, which focuses on the use of two colors (blue and orange) and a suggestive collage montage, this book highlights the creative power of words. It invites us to reflect on the playful capacity of language and its multiple aspects –including the possibility of silence–, from a daily perspective, close to the little reader.
Guide to literature, books and readings for children and young people. Chilean public libraries. (Guía de literatura, libros y lecturas para niños y jóvenes. Bibliotecas públicas de Chile)

Words are treasures. They open worlds and are also capable of populating the mind and endowing man with his most primitive ability: the encounter with one another. From an early age, human beings seek to learn to communicate in order to satisfy our needs and it is precisely, thanks to words, that we manage to give structure to thought. Words-treasure.
There are book-treasures, too. Micaela Chirif writes a story in which she discovers a universe of infinite possibilities to play with those structures formed by letters. And from this game comes the understanding of the intimate relationship that each person develops with words and their meanings.
And there is a fundamental element without which this book -published for the first time by Polifonía Editorial in 2010 and rightly reissued in 2017- would not be the treasure that it is: the illustrations. Gabriel Alayza creates an extraordinary collage-universe that is constantly in conversation with the text and, in turn, with the reader.
Leonard Van Schermbeek


Micaela Chirif and Gabriel Alayza: a creative partnership between words and strokes

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