A Selection of International Children's and Youth Literature

Spanish / Uruguay

La mancha de humedad
(The mould stain)

Ibarbourou, Juana de (text)
Acosta, Matías (illus.)
Montevideo: Banda Oriental, 2014. – [32] p.
(Series: ¡A volar! Los libros de la mochila)
ISBN 978-9974-1-0865-3

Childhood memories – Imagination –
Picture book

Recent picture book publishing has seen a trend toward printing texts that were originally addressed to adult audiences. “La mancha de humedad” by Juana de Ibarbourou (1892-1979), first published in 1944 in the childhood memoirs “Chico Carlo” of the renowned Uruguayan writer, is a case in point. The story takes its title from the mould stain on the wall over the girl’s bed, which symbolizes the carefree first years of childhood. While the stain inspires the girl to dream up fantastic trips into imaginary landscapes, adults only see it as a blemish and eventually have it painted over. This moment marks a rupture in Juana’s childhood, her banishment from the paradise of the radiant early childhood years. The calm, melancholic text from seventy years ago is illustrated by strikingly twenty-first-century pictures by Matías Acosta, which make a surprisingly good fit. Subdued grey pencil drawings and strong abstract colour compositions lend shape to the two facets of this childhood. (Age: 6+)