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by Valentina Rizzi

When the bookseller falls in love, she ends up getting married. And she goes to her wedding on her three-wheeler, her faithful companion, all shaken and tossed in her white gown. Together they drive to the church, facing holes in the street, hydrogeological instabilities and the fear that it might soon start raining. But then the Sun peeps out and smiles from above, looking at that funny little thing strutting on its three wheels. When the bookseller falls in love, her bouquet ends up being made of paper flowers and the real flowers are those of the pages that kept her company in the cold, dark nights when she was dreaming of a man who was yet to come. When a bookseller falls in love she drives to her wedding on a three-wheeler, musical scores in her hair. And her honeymoon is made of paper. And she happens to take a plane and fly over the oceans, with an overhead locker full of Italian stories to take to the New World. Somebody asked you to read them in Italian, and you don’t care if you’re on your honeymoon. You happen to be there, flying and wondering how the Moon looks like from the other side of the Earth, and the world down there gets smaller and smaller and you see streets disappearing, the streets you know so well, to the point that the holes, the decayed corners so close to your heart, the gates of the schools that usually welcome you, they all become little dots, tiny little dots vanishing into the void as you fly up into the clouds and think. You think about who and what awaits you, about the faces of the children living on the other side, so far away, children who eat hamburgers and dream in stars and stripes. Will they understand me? Will they laugh at my jokes, dream with those characters, follow the stories I am going to tell them? Will we understand each other?
And then you find yourself on the 33rd floor of a huge skyscraper, with your little paper theatre and your stories, the ones that seemed so big back in Italy and now look so small here, becoming smaller and smaller till they vanish like the tiny little dots from the airplane. Giant Moon, Little Moon, let tomorrow come here soon. Give me the perfect voice to make listeners rejoice. But it’s the same the world over. In Chicago, children welcome me with a beaming smile. I decide to make my entrance with a map, actually disoriented after having travelled endless roads! It’s precisely them who guide me and it is fantastic to find white, red and green balloons at the door. The reading takes place in a music room: there are a lot of different instruments and I improvise a few sounds including them in my story. Carpet on the floor, everybody shoeless, free to move barefoot. A warm welcome and Italian friendliness.
My first reading in the U.S.: how can I forget it? Then we leave again, higher and higher, farther and farther towards the Pacific Ocean and while you fly over pieces of rocks evening comes and you start wondering whether there is life somewhere beyond the stars, whether somewhere among those galaxies there is an alien story-teller who tells stories about planets in a funny and absurd language. In San Francisco the ocean raises its voice with a violent wind and the Golden Gate Bridge spreads out before our eyes. The school accommodates me in a large hall with a polka-dot carpet. The most impressive thing about American schools is the spaces, but above all the idea of movement in teaching. Teachers usually pay special attention to this aspect, with games and moments dedicated to psychomotricity between one class and the other. Children seem to be more at ease with their bodies, relaxed and less nervous. “Is movement included?” is the first thing the Italian American teacher asks me as soon as we meet. “You know, if children don’t move, after twenty minutes they start to become restless.” So my storytelling becomes more interactive than usual, following the steps of the Bear, till we reach the forest where the ocean wind arrives, the wind that children in San Francisco know so well. As soon as the reading is over, I put the paper cut-outs back inside the suitcase and a little girl timidly approaches me to ask me how characters are made and how you can make them move. Movement once again! When a bookseller falls in love, she creates, dreams, gets dressed, hopes and loves... with paper. She leaves for new worlds with her Prince Charming, but she doesn’t give up her stories, and when these are appreciated she is... in SEVENTH HEAVEN.