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The dystopian novel in Primary Schools: the opinion of Ilaria Martino

Let's meet the winner of the 2019 Premio Carla Poesio

  |   TOPICS: Awards
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In the history of the Bologna Children's Book Fair, Carla Poesio, a scholar of children's literature, held a leading role: her contribution was so important for the birth of a book fair that was completely focused on children's literature and the illustrated books, a publishing sector always considered as a minor part of the industry. Carla Poesio dedicated over 50 years of her life to BCBF with her work, her precious talent and her solid and endless expertise.

Since 2019 the Carla Poesio Award has been established in her memory, a recognition of the most original and innovative Italian degree thesis in Literature for children. The first edition was won by Ilaria Martino, a graduate from the University of Genoa, with the thesis ‘The dystopian novel in Primary Schools: utopia or reality?’, she spoke to us about the reasons that led her to take part in the competition.

What encourage you to participate in the competition?

Winning the first edition of the Carla Poesio Award was a great honour for me and an unexpected recognition of my writing. But if I had to be honest: it wasn’t a ‘what’ that pushed me to take part in the competition, but ‘who’. Right before the deadline, I was contacted by my supervisor, Prof. Antoniazzi, who spoke to me about the prize recently established by the Bologna Children's Book Fair in partnership with the Children’s Literature Research Centre of the University of Bologna.

At first, I was hesitant to send my thesis because I knew that my work would be compared with similarly valid and original research theses. For this reason, I thought the chances of winning would be minimal.

Thinking back to the path taken to complete my work, to the satisfaction that this gave me, to my tenacity and to the difficulties that I had to face to complete a research thesis on an unusual topic, I decided to venture forward once more. The words of encouragement by Prof. Antoniazzi were the incentive for me searching for sending my application. And I must say I did well! 

Where did the idea to dedicate the thesis to children's literature and in particular to the dystopic novel come from?

The choice of this theme comes from a combination of personal and professional interests. In fact, I am convinced that the great classics of children's literature should be accompanied by books that tells them about our times, stories in which students can identify themselves. For this reason, I decided to focus my project on a different literary genre, often neglected or not considered adequate for school, the dystopian fantasy genre. Suzanne Collins' ‘Hunger Games’ was an inspiration to me. After having devoured one page after another, I decided to investigate the genre further. This offered to me the opportunity to read with other equally interesting and original books, many of them written by Italian authors, such as ‘Berlin’ by Fabio Geda and Magnone, and ‘Bambini nel bosco’ by Beatrice Masini.  

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The purpose of my thesis was to bring children closer to the pleasure of reading, but at the same time to encourage them to confront themselves with a book capable of arousing curiosity, interest and valid arguments for discussion. I have to say that that the dystopian novel fully met my expectations. 

Ilaria Martino

The thesis of Ilaria Martino was published by Edizioni ETS

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