A coming-of-age story:
Mio padre, il grande pirata

If I had to recommend just one book talking about the father figure, it would be this one.
Mio padre il grande pirata (My father, the great pirate) is a poignant coming-of-age story written by Davide Cali' and illustrated by Maurizio Quarello. 

A young boy only meets his father once a year during the holidays since he was little: he emigrated to Belgium to find a job and to send money back home to his family.
He thinks the father is a pirate, sailing the sea, because in his letters he tells him stories about his boat, called Speranza ('Hope') and about his crew of quirky friends.
This continues until the year of his 9th birthday: the father doesn't come back, and the boy has to leave for a long trip with his mother rom Italy to Belgium, to find out that he was actually there working as a miner, and that he had survived an accident in the coal mine.

That is the turning point, when the boy realises the lies and the humanity of his father, he must let go his childhood together with the trust in his hero.
He will need time to overcome the disillusion and put back together the puzzle of his father's identity, but he will finally be able to connect the dots and to make peace with his father figure.
What the boy achieves in the end is the vision of a real man and of a father, the awareness of him as a person, as brave as a pirate.

A beautifully written, moving story, illustrated with Maurizio Quarello's unique, intense style.
I particularly loved how the narration is punctuated by different font sizes, this creates an interesting interaction between images and words and a nice reading rhythm when reading, especially when reading aloud.
A book that all children and fathers should read, and that I hope will be published in the English language very soon.
Mio Padre-Il Grande Pirata [2013] available here
Words by Davide Cali'
Art by Maurizio A.C. Quarello
Italian edition by Orecchio Acerbo editore
Reading age: 6+
Themes: Father Figure, Growing up, Identity

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