Author: Giancarlo Macri and Carolina Zanotti
Illustrator: Clara Zanotti
Age Group: 2-8
Synopsis: Trouble arises when the black dots offer to help the impoverished white dots. They will need to work together to find a solution.
The Low Down:
The cover of Dot seems somewhat ambiguous and I must admit that when I picked it up I did so more because I was excited about the simple sort of art style and not because I knew what topic the story addressed. However, as I turned each page I became more and more entranced by the plot and how it was presented. Macri, and Carolina and Carla Zanotti have done a spectacular job of telling this story in a way that makes sense to young ones and simplifies a problem that is in a word: complicated.
Dot is short on text but it doesn’t need anymore than it has. The first page states very clearly: “I am a dot.” We see the life of the black dot and his friends, full of homes, food, and fun. They populate the right pages of the book. Then, in almost the exact same way, we are introduced to the white dots. They populate the left pages of the book but have no homes, food, or fun. Bug refers to them as the “sad dots.” The white dots want to know if they can move to the right pages and share in the bounty of the black dots. The black dots agree but are instantly swarmed and overrun by the white dots clambering to reach for that which they don’t have. There’s not enough room for them all. They need a solution. It is in this solution that some of the black dots move to the left pages. Together the white and black dots build homes, grow food, and create lives worth living. The book ends with two new dots greeting the reader. One is black on the left side and white on the right side. The other mirrors him. Both say the same thing: “Hello, I am a dot.”
I don’t feel like I need to explain how this book is relevant to our everyday life. Anyone who hasn’t seen or heard about the refugee crisis must be living under rock. But the importance of this story comes not from its informative value but instead in the way it delivers its message. Our children live in this world and as much as I would love Bug to go through life without being exposed to conflict, that is neither rational nor reasonable. We teach our children to deal with the small conflicts that arise in their lives with small suggestions that can be difficult to absorb now but applicable later; “Share, please,” “Let’s work together,” “Oh, how could we be friendly?” are the everyday lessons that inhabit our lives. It is through these small conflicts that they are able to confront the larger issues that they will one day be presented with. And that is where this amazing group shines. What is more simple than a dot? Yet the dots throughout the book bring this issue to life in an incredible visual experience. They are animated and relatable and oh so, pertinent.
We haven’t brought a discussion of refugees into our reading of Dot yet. A gradual introduction of difficult topics being a much better way of creating understanding. Bug will see that all eventually. I won’t shelter him from it but I won’t intentionally expose him to something prematurely either. I don’t claim to know the answers to any of the problems that we and others face in the world. All I can do it hope that when Bug does reach that point where real-life applications become bigger than who is playing with a toy, that it will be books like Dot that remind him that we are all dots and whether the problem is big or small the same rules of sharing, cooperation, and friendliness apply. It’s amazing already what children understand. Bug brought me to near tears when on one of the last pages he pointed to the black and white dots working together and creating wonderful things and said: “Look Momma, all the dots are happy dots now.” Yes, exactly.
- If your child is older using real-life situations to make this more real is always an option. There’s no need to introduce that though until they’re ready.
I need more!
If you’re living in the UK or US. You’ll need to wait until April 2017 for this book that was originally published in Italian. Giancarlo Marci and Carlona Zanotti are a couple living in Italy. They both have multiple music and artistic interests. Zanotti has also written: Camilla which looks amazing but I haven’t been able to find an English copy. Note to self: learn Italian next.
Add to my library:
Available April 2017: Dots
* In German Punkte translates to Dots but the English cover out for release says only: Dot while the title on Amazon is labeled at Dots. Translation complications!