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Rationale - Re-telling - Translation - Activities - Reflection

Language: Italian
Title: Bruno lo zozzo (Bruno the filthy)
Author:  Simone Frasca
Publisher: Piemme (1995)
ISBN:  88-384-3411-5
Chosen by: Carla Poesio
Children's Book Consultant, Via Inghirami 22, 50131 Florence, Italy.

Rationale for choosing the book:
The main, recurring theme of the invisible friend is, arguably, one of the most common, yet fascinating, themes within both child psychology and the children's literature of many countries.

The plot introduces a wealth of characters that are, each in their own way, appealing to all young readers particularly from the standpoint of self-identification - as in the case of Bruno's unusual behaviour, i.e. his anarchic mood, his hostility to tidiness and his incredible greed. Because he is very different, Bruno's imaginary friend, Giovanni, is different, too. Neither are accepted by their peers. Giovanni is not a super hero at all; he is a mere pig! One day, however, when all the super-heroes are frightened in a haunted house, it is Giovanni who scares the ghosts away, thus allowing Bruno to become accepted by his friends.

p6 Bruno did not like having a bath
p7 He preferred to scramble up trees, find secret passages and eat chewing gum.
p8 All that made him terribly hungry.
p9 So he had to run back home to have a snack: 8 slices of bread and chocolate, 3 glasses of orange juice, 7 packets of biscuits, a jar of mayonnaise and 3 anchovies - although not always in this order
p10 "Bruno!" - cried his mum - "you are a greedy pig! I bet you didn't even wash your hands!"
p11 Bruno stopped for a while, quickly glanced at his hands and then started gobbling again.
p12 Bruno had three friends: Daniele, Irene and Elisa. One day Irene rang him up to tell him she had found an invisible friend.
p13 "He is a fire-eating dragon with a very soft tail. You should see him! He can also make smoke rings, just like my dad does with his cigarette!"
p14 "And he can also fly, sometimes!"
p16 The following day Daniele rang Bruno too, full of enthusiasm: "You should see my invisible friend! He is a cowboy who never misses a shot!"
p17 "With one shot he can hit a bunch of feathers on the head of a medieval Knight (that is Elisa's invisible friend) even though he turns his back on him!
p18 That afternoon Irene, Daniele and Elisa went to Bruno's for a snack and went on and on describing their invisible friends. "And what about you, Bruno?" - they asked all at the same time, why do you not have an invisible friend?"
p19 "I do have an invisible friend!" - Bruno answered - "I can find him whenever I feel like it!"
p20 But it was not so easy to find a pal who could play the games Bruno liked.
p21 Frankenstein's monster, who was so splendid in the movies, could not scramble up trees "This is the seventh tree you've destroyed!" - Bruno said "What a bore! You are more tiresome than my cousin!"
p22 Then he chose a Pteradon which was a very nice glaring red colour but, although he tried and tried, he was not able to get through the secret passage.
p23 As for the Emperor of all the galaxies, who followed, he was never able to blow bubbles with his chewing-gum, even though Bruno patiently tried to teach him. Then, one night, something happened. Bruno got up from his bed to go to the toilet.
p25 As soon as he put his head out of the door of his room, he saw that the corridor was packed with monsters. They were the usual monsters of the dark waiting for the right moment to assault him.
p26 Even the monster who lived in the cellar downstairs had joined in. This monster was very proud to show him the wonderful green dots on its body.
p27 Bruno had decided to go to his room and to wet his bed (one more time!) when...
p28 Giovanni burst in!!! He arrived through the corridor shrieking and running!
p29 The monsters were so frightened that they ran away as fast as they could!
p30 "Who are you?" - Bruno asked. "My name is Giovanni, and I am a pig"
p31 "1 am fond of chocolate and as soon as I see a jar of jam I put my snout in it! I also like to jump in muddy puddles, to rummage in the rubbish and to roll in the grass!"
"What about water?" - Bruno asked.
"What is it?" was Giovanni's answer.
p32 "I am so glad I have met you!" - Bruno said - "Would you like to become my invisible friend?"
"I am here just for that!" - Giovanni said and grunted in a rather satisfied way.
p32 Mum and Dad appeared at the door of the bathroom, where Bruno was sitting merrily on his potty.
p34 Bruno and Giovanni got on very well together. Giovanni was not a difficult, fussy pig. He took part in all Bruno's games with great enthusiasm.
p35 In addition, in a short time it was his turn to teach Bruno new games, and they were all very amusing.
p36 Bruno was very proud of his new pal and decided to introduce him to his friends. One morning he went with him to Irene's for a snack.
p37 But, regardless of their nice appearances, Bruno's friends reacted in a rather negative way.
p38 "What is this filth?"- Elisa cried. "My goodness, what a smell!" -Irene added. "Is that thingy your invisible friend?" - Daniele sneered
p39 So Bruno had to run away with Giovanni, just before the fire-breathing dragon could roast the pig's bottom.
p40 Bruno was very fond of Giovanni, but it was not easy to keep a pig at home, especially an invisible pig!
p41 During the day, as soon as Mum had turned her head, Giovanni got up to the worst mischief. And guess who was blamed?
p42 During the night, when Bruno was sleeping, Giovanni went down to the kitchen He scrambled up a chair (since he was a short-legged pig), opened the cupboard and gulped biscuits and jam.
p43 And as that was not enough, he also managed to open the fridge and to swallow several bottles of both orange juice and coca cola. Guess who got blamed the following morning?
p44 The situation had become unendurable. So Bruno was obliged to dismiss his friend and to exchange him for something more decent.
p46 One morning, he introduced his friends to a new guy who was armed with almost twelve biocellular disintegrators and another good dozen of proton rockets.
p47 "It is wonderful!" - Daniele exclaimed - "What is it?"
"You see" - Answered Bruno -" It is a Star Avenger. He is able to disintegrate a galaxy while he is eating an ice-cream" (But one could easily see that Bruno was still thinking of someone else). "Now that we all have a proper invisible friend" - Irene suggested -" we could go on a mission"
"'Why not?" - Irene added with enthusiasm - "Let's go into a haunted house!"
p48 The haunted house was an abandoned house.
p49 Many people swore they had heard strange noises there and they had seen some lights, some hairy paws, fluorescent eyes and things like that.
p50 In fact, as soon as the children entered, the door slammed behind them,
p51 the wind howled and the staircase creaked...
p52 Then, unexpectedly, the fire-breathing dragon started to cry, the infallible cowboy and the Star Avenger hid themselves behind a chair and the medieval knight asked desperately for help
p54 And then the four of them started to tremble, became transparent and vanished. Thus. Elisa, Daniele, Irene and Bruno found themselves alone in the dark house. Remaining almost breathless, the children saw some hairy paws and some fluorescent eyes...
p55 But just then a great noise was heard and something appeared running and shrieking.
p56 All four of them cried: 'Giovanni!" and jumped for joy.
p57 "Here I am!" - the pig answered while the terrified monsters flew out of the window.
p58 Then Bruno ran to the door, opened it and cried "The way is clear! Let's get out!."
p 59 And, following Giovanni, they rushed out of the haunted house.
p60 Of course, that afternoon the children laid the red carpet for Giovanni at Bruno's, organising a great snack party in the pig's honour.
p61 Giovanni was very proud of himself and behaved really badly!
p62 So, when Mum came back home, guess who got blamed for it?

NB This is a working translation for educational purpose only.

Activities for use in school:

1.a) Who would you choose to have as your invisible friend?
b) Bruno, Daniele, Elisa and Irene are Italian children. Are their superheroes the same as yours?
c) Do they have the same origins, namely comics, films, fairy-tales and legends?
2.Try to find a story, event or film plot which revolves around one of the book's superheroes. It would be ideal to find one of Italian origin where one of these characters plays a significant part. Are these characters universally recognised or do they relate to one specific country/culture?
3. Bruno enjoys playing outdoor games. Do you recognise all the things he is doing? Which games do you play and which ones are not familiar?
4. Why do Bruno's friends make fun of Giovanni? Are they right to do so? Have you ever experienced this?
5. Do you know a scary place such as Bruno's haunted house? Is there a haunted building near to your home?

Which elements of Bruno's food are not common in your country? (Maybe Nutella, which is a very well known Italian chocolate spread).
Write a letter to Bruno, inviting him (and Giovanni) to taste some of your favourite food and perhaps ask him to bring a piece of his favourite Italian cake.
If you were to invite Bruno to your house for a meal, what food would you give him that is typical of  your country?

NB Further literature and language-based activities can be found in
Picture Books sans Frontières
available from or

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ncrcl November 2004