Charcoal Boys




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By Roger Mello

Translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn

Beautifully illustrated by Roger Mello with sophisticated, highly textural paper cutouts, Charcoal Boys is a poetic and sensitive portrait of a child living under difficult circumstances. Charcoal Boys offers a unique perspective on the life of a young boy working in Brazil’s charcoal mines: that of a wasp who follows the child throughout his day. Through the wasp we observe the hardships the little boy faces, from his work at the furnaces to his relationships with the other workers. Mello allows the little boy’s strength and resilience to shine through in this moving condemnation of child labor. Charcoal Boys was recognized by USBBY as a 2020 Outstanding International Book.

Published: October 8, 2019





  • Read Roger’s 2014 Hans Christian Andersen acceptance speech here.
  • Listen to Roger on the Fuse 8 n’ Kate podcast here.
  • Listen to Roger talk with about the book’s colors and his decision to tell the story from the perspective of a hornet.