Din xi pjaneta hi? is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Portuguese author Eduarda Lima, freshly translated into Maltese. This latest picture book, published by Merlin Publishers, takes us by hand on a journey that’s remarkably different to the journeys of most other picture books we are used to reading.
This book has as its take-off a controversial reality of our times: Technology. Endless questions arise when we think about the use of technology, especially within the confines of everyday life and even more where children are concerned. Is it healthy for children to make use of it all the time? How much time online is too much? What about how chained to technology everyone in the household is? Are parents giving enough attention to their children, because of the overwhelming presence of technology? Technology has become such an integral part of our lives that it’s difficult to extricate ourselves from it.
Yet, Lima has in Din xi Pjaneta hi? managed to open the doors to adventure and spontaneity during a blackout. Many years ago, before today’s always-on technology and when travel was relatively limited, our parents and grandparents used to travel to other places through the magic of the one book that you’d find in most households – the encyclopedia.
In Din xi Pjaneta hi? we visit exotic places, through one such magic book that a boy finds at home when there is a city-wide power cut; places hidden within the depth of the earth and others absorbed within the night sky. Living as we do a connected life that ties us to our phones, we forget that there is a real world with real places that existed long before we were merely an idea. We live in boxes, rectangles and squares, and we forget to lift our heads so that we can breathe.
Lima uses an age-old tool to bring back a sense of nostalgia which the internet has buried. She takes us to exotic destinations, ones that need no technology other than our imagination. By the end of the book, we eventually grasp the concept of disconnecting from our virtual lives to reconnect with the ones that have been within our reach all along.
Din xi pjaneta hi? is a joyful picture book that should be a happy addition to every child’s bookshelf. It is available from all bookshops, as well as online from www.merlinpublishers.com. For more Sunday Circle magazine book-related features, check out this book about trekking in Malta or the local publications longlisted for the national book award.