Charcoal Boys




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.

Coming in October 2019
The lives of a hornet and a boy unexpectedly intertwine in this vividly illustrated, unusual glimpse of child labor at a coal yard...An ambiguous ending makes this book truly haunting—and vital.
Kirkus Reviews

Praise for You Can't Be Too Careful!

A marvel of art, story, and imagination.
Laura Farmer, The Gazette: Eastern Iowa

Roger Mello’s illustrations allow the child to be guided through stories by their imaginations. The stories demonstrate a broad international understanding. The illustrations are both innovative and inclusive, and incorporate images that promote tolerance and respect between individuals from different cultures and traditions.
Hans Christian Andersen Award 2014 Jury

Roger Mello’s sophisticated, circular tale takes the reader from one link in the quirky narrative chain to the next through a series of precisely illustrated vignettes. Each image, produced in a variety of techniques from color pencil wash to collage, is a highly stylized feast for the eye, while the storyline pursues a range of fantastical scenarios and finally winds its way back to the first motif of a white rose. Text and images invite the patient and imaginative young reader to follow this intriguing sequence of events backwards and forwards in multiple re-readings.
Gillian Lathey, School Library Association

Elegant linework mixes with torn paper and soft, textured colors as a parade of luminous, exotic caricatures and their accoutrements unfold . . . the effect is magical. The interactions probe issues around wealth, possession, and compassion. . . . Complex and provocative, this Brazilian import will intrigue readers who like puzzles.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Through wordplay, dreamlike images, and a playful lightness of touch, You Can’t Be Too Careful! expresses serious questions about the importance of kindness and the dangers of greed.
MPR News Staff

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