January 21, 2021

Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara: "Pequeño & GRANDE talks about real women" – La Provincia

Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara: "Pequeño & GRANDE talks about real women" - La Provincia

Who they were and what the great women of history achieved. A great adventure starring designers, dancers, writers, painters, adventurers, scientists … Small & GRANDE collection by Alba Editorial arrives to its twenty-fourth title of a proposal that combines literature through the biography in the form of a story and the image created by prestigious illustrators. Unique and brave women who left an indelible mark and lessons that are still valid today more than ever. Two million copies sold around the world testify to the success of the collection. Your creator, María Isabel Sánchez Vegara, remember as if it were yesterday that day of 2014 that …

-Find a story for my nieces and meeting with "Sleeping Beauty". I thought it would be great to do other kinds of stories for them. Stories that speak of real women, autonomous, brave and dreamers.

From small to large, how has the creature grown in this time?

-When the first Small & GRANDE title appeared, the one dedicated to Coco Chanel, nobody in the bookstores knew very well where to place that strange black and pink book. Five years later, children's biographies – and especially those dedicated to great women – have their own bookshelf in any book store. Pequeño & GRANDE represented a radical change in the children's publishing world, the birth of a category. There are already more than 20 titles published in Spain, more than 20 languages ​​to which the collection is being translated and 2 million children all over the world who have fun and inspire with their stories.

What criteria are followed to choose the characters?

-A very basic: I choose those characters that I would have loved to know as a child. Actually, it is not so much that they were the first or the first in something. But they have pursued their own dream to the end by being true to themselves.

How would you define the forms and the background of the books?

-They are biographies in the form of a story, with simple rhymes and short texts that give the prominence of the page to the illustration.

What profile of readers does he have?

-I do not know which is the exact age range, because in each age the way of looking at the world is different and the way of making sense of a story, too. I guess since they start reading it's a good age for them to understand the full meaning of the story. Anyway, almost a year ago we launched a simplified version for babies and even they love it.

Is entertainment a good ally of disclosure?

-It's the best ally. Nobody cares what bores you. Much less to a child.

Are they books for the little ones that the big ones can enjoy?

-I would say yes. Many people without children in their lives write to me telling me that they are in love with the collection. And I happy.

What does such a collection bring to 21st century feminism?

-A positive look, a vindication through the celebration and a reference to follow for the girls and boys who will build tomorrow.

Are you trying to alternate well-known figures with less famous ones?

-That's the intention, yes. Although obviously there are names that seduce more to the public than others and not all titles have the same impact. In Spain it is undoubtedly Frida Kahlo who takes the cake. In the rest of the world, Coco Chanel and Marie Curie are ahead.

Are there profiles more complicated than others because of their tragic destiny? For example, Anne Frank?

-Yes. In my stories the protagonists never die, they are always girls who see their dreams come true at the end of the story. In the case of Anne, it was impossible to follow that structure without missing her memory.

Almost all the protagonists have one feature in common: they were pioneers in their field, and in some cases in worlds dominated by men. Is it intentional?

-The intention is to eliminate the stereotypes and labels that pigeonhole people. And that is just what the pioneers do: break molds from their own actions.

I imagine there is a large waiting list? Any little indiscretion about future titles?

-The list of characters is endless and right now we are working on 20 new titles. As I said, ending stereotypes is the goal of the collection. Not all girls like to play dolls or all children have a truck. That's why the collection grows incorporating new characters not only female but also male. Like Rudolf Nureyev (the great classical dancer), Mahatma Gandhi or Federico García Lorca. And of course, great women like the writer Mary Shelley, the educator Maria Montessori or the architect Zaha Hadid.

Are there women in the collection who will mark you as a child?

-If I have to be honest, the only one that marked me was Gloria Fuertes. When I came back from school, I put the TV and I was stuck listening to her recite with her bear voice. To the others, I met them much later, when I was older. Hence, the importance of the same thing happening to girls and boys today.

Is there a defined pattern for illustrators or are they free to recreate?

-At the time of choosing an illustrator for the project, I leave two premises: the first is that her style picks up part of the character of the character we are going to talk about, that is able to reflect her personality. The second is that it is consistent with the rest of the collection, that there is a certain continuity and coherence between one title and another. From here, it's a team effort, where all the contributions add up. I always suggest ideas for the cover and each of the illustrations that accompany the text. Sometimes they end up materializing on the page and sometimes the illustrator comes up with something better.


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