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The God of Small Things:
L'Omino e Dio
['The little man and God']



L'omino e Dio ('The little man and God') came out in 2010 and was published in Italian by Topipittori a year later and then in Spanish and German.
I am hoping that after 'Stories of the night' which will be out in the UK in autumn, other titles by Kitty Crowther will follow. This is such an unexplained gap in the English language publishing market.

I was looking for a book that could help starting a conversation about God with my eldest daughter, since I expect questions coming in the near future. But it is really hard to find anything not religion-oriented or extremely sugarcoated.
We can of course teach history of religion to older children (well the school should do this, although it doesn't always happen), but how to explain to a preschooler the concept of God without discussing any religion in particular nor involving the catholic imagery at all?
Atheists parents must face a conversation about god as well as parents professing some religious belief.
Crowther achieves the hugely difficult task of giving a visual representation of what God (any god) means to humans, seriously testing the limits of illustration.

A little man is having a walk in a wood, and meets a figure with a golden aura sitting next to a headstone.
'Who are you?'- asks little Man politely
'I am God'
'You are God? The God? 
'I really wasn't expecting you to look like this'
'Well, first of all I am not God, I am a god'.

This is more or less what the first paragraph feels like.
God plays with stereotypes and icons: he turns into an old bearded man (Christian imagery), then into a hare and a deer (we think of the theriomorphic deities revered in ancient Egypt), then into a cowboy and a Native American, into a scary big Gorilla and finally into the man's defunct father.

Then the story takes an unexpected turn: Little Man invites God over for lunch, they share a frittata then enjoy the rest of the afternoon together doing human things that God really can't master, like swimming and climbing trees.
In what I feel is a truly hilarious ending, God politely says goodbye to Teo (which we find out is the Little Man's name) to go back to his wife for dinner.

So who is God? What is god?
Crowther doesn't mean to indoctrinate, and e get no answers (how could we?) at the end of the book, but a positive feeling of reassurance and love for our party life. 
God seems to be everywhere, he loves showing off his endless transformations which generated so many religious beliefs around the world. 
God is nature, animals and our loved ones. God is male and female, god is us.
And beyond: God kind of dreams to be human too, in order to have fun climbing trees and swimming, instead of just flying and walking above the water.

A simple narration on bright, sweet illustrations for what feels a truly irreverent, revolutionary book.
Images and words are brilliantly interconnected in the construction of meaning, with a very original take on visual humour.

No surprise then that it hasn't found a brave, enlightened publisher yet in a very conservative market, and that the only titles published in English to date are the least 'profane'.
We will keep talking about book like these and to support artists who don't try to please everyone. As art must be free, and children don't need to be told about a sugarcoated world.

-
L'omino e Dio [2010]
Words&art by Kitty Crowther
Italian edition by Topipittori [2011]
Reading age:4+
Themes: Religion, Beliefs














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