Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.
Source: Melita Historica. [Malta Historical Society]. 7(1977)2(197-198)
V. FENECH, A Bibliography of Children's Literature in Malta, Malta University Press 1976, 18 pp., cover design by J. Mallia. Published by the Malta Library Association, 35c.
A neat, handy, classified list of children's books, compiled by one who has had training and experience in this field. A welcome addition to our Melitensia. Entries in this compilation are split into six separate sections: Reading in stages, Narrative (Original), Narrative (Translations/ Adaptations), Bible Stories, People and Places, Poetry. Textbooks, "unless story books", have been purposely omitted. I don't really understand why. I expected to find Aldo Farini's Fior del Mondo and Fiabe, tradizioni e leggende maltesi duly included in the list. But then I found just one item — Anne Mangion's Adventures from Other Lands, Malta 1974 — which was not in Maltese. Trevor Zahra in MLA Yearbook 1977 pays homage to Temi Zammit, Annibale [p.198] Preca, Xand Cortis, E.B. Vella, A.M. Galea as being those who have most contributed to establish Children's Literature in Maltese. Their names, with the exception of E. B. Vella, are not to be found in Fenech's list. Is it because their works were not actually written as children's literature, as Fenech seems to suggest on p. 3? What age is intended to be covered by the term 'children'? All items on the list belong to the 70s, with just a few dating back to the late 60s. But did the compiler deliberately fix a terminus a quo? It is a pity the compiler did not deem it fit to explain his methodology in the introduction. Otherwise the booklet is an eye-opener to those who are not aware of the great vitality that has characterised the compilation and production of Maltese literature (including textbooks like Id-Denfil) for children over the last ten years, thanks to the initiative of dedicated writers like Victor Fenech himself, J. J. Camilleri, Trevor Zahra, Pawlu Mifsud and publishers like Merlin Library and Klabb Kotba Maltin. It is to be hoped that there will be more books (and textbooks) for Maltese children, and with a Maltese setting, in English, Italian, French and eventually other languages. To love books, it is imperative that our children should find interesting books to read. Reading is so important for the development of one's ability to express oneself easily and clearly, orally and in writing, an ability on which much of one's success in life depends. The following quotation from Victor Fenech's introduction finds me in complete agreement: "The Maltese are not exactly a reading nation, and it has been amply proved that parents who read produce children who read. Since the child is father of the man, we thus have a vicious circle which only a real and sustained programme of action can hope to overcome".