Friday, December 9, 2022

Review: Adam and his Tuba by Ziga X Gombac


Genre: Children's 4-8
Pages: 40
Published: February 28, 2023

Everyone in the circus loves to perform - except for Adam, the very youngest member of the Von Trapeze family.

Wherever Adam Von Trapeze’s family circus performs they inspire audiences with their breathtaking feats. Grandma Antonia breathes fire, Uncle Artem builds dizzying human pyramids, and Papa Alexei and Mama Anastasia dance blindfolded on the tightrope. 

Only Adam, the youngest of the family, doesn’t show an interest in circus tricks and loud applause. The family is concerned. Where did they go wrong? But one day they are enchanted by the sound of a tuba. And from that day forward, the famous Von Trapeze family circus features a new performer—the one they never expected to be part of the family tradition. And he was a star.

Two of the most famous Slovenian children's book artists take us into the world of the circus in their first joint work. Ziga X Gombac tells the story of Adam in clear, subtle words. With a reduced palette of warm sepia colors, Maja Kastelic lights up the circus world on and off the stage. Together they plead for trust in one's own path and encourage us to take our place in the world.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This is a story about the black sheep of a circus family. Everyone else has an act in the show, but he has no interest in the things they do to impress the crowds. This is a problem because everyone should contribute and he is old enough that he should be part of the show by now. 

I don't really understand why no one thought to ask Adam what he wanted to do to contribute, since surely some of them suggested their own new acts at some point. There's no way they all just learned something that someone else was previously doing. When they hear him playing his tuba, things change. 

Ultimately this is a story of a family not understanding when someone else is a little different. But ultimately they realize his differences make him great too. 

The illustrations have an antique look to them, like they were drawn 100 years ago, and they seem very fitting for this circus story. Overall I give it 3.7 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Ziga X Gombac is from Slovenia, where he studied journalism and worked as a journalist, music editor, and editor-in-chief. He is currently the editor and presenter of the first podcast for youngsters on national radio in Slovenia. He has written numerous books for children and adults, which have won many awards. Storytelling and creating, both in books and at events, is an important part of his life.

Maja Kastelic was born in Slovenia, where she studied painting, philosophy, and visual art theory. For several years she worked as a fresco restorer before devoting herself to illustrating children’s books. Prizes include the White Ravens Award, and her work has been displayed at the Illustrators’ Exhibition in Bologna. Her last book for NorthSouth was Hans Christian Andersen -The Journey of His Life.   

Olivia Hellewell is Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Translation Studies and a translator of contemporary Slovene literature.  Olivia is the recipient of two English PEN Translates! Awards, and in 2019 she was awarded first prize in the Asymptote Journal Close Approximations Translation Contest.

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