Children’s Literature | Geronimo Stilton: The best-selling mouse in children’s literature turns 20

when you talk about Bestselling book series Author names such as EL James (50 shade of grey), Stieg Larsson (trilogy Millennium) or Suzanne Collins (hunger Games). Of course, the JK Rowlingauthor of the world’s most famous magician books, Harry Potter. However, it also appears on that list. Mouse, journalist, which has been telling its own adventures to boys and girls for more than two decades and who is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Spain these days. It comes to Stilton Geronimofor whom books It is published in Spain by Destino Publishers (Planeta Group). “I remember that in 2003 we went to the Madrid Book Fair,” he explains. patricia bell, Director of the children’s and youth area of ​​Grupo 62 (Planeta), who was the one who brought Stilton to Spain. “We just published the first book in May and signed it. The kids were happy, but they said, ‘Look, Tooth Fairy! They loved the character, but they didn’t know who he was.'”

Twenty years later, there are already many generations that have grown up reading his books, with More than 550 published titles yet in its various combinations in more than 50 languages. In Spain, books from Stilton’s world are in the top 3 best-selling editions of children’s literature. The surprise came, says Campana, when Sant Jordi’s last day, in Barcelona, ​​was his Young twenties Who, finding Stilton was signing books, would enter the infinite queue to have them pictured with the character they had grown up with and become readers.

What is your first impression upon getting acquainted with these books? “At first it seemed very strange to us, because Children’s books were not made Like those,” Campana recalls. What caught my attention the most is Typographic games in the text; Something that other series of books have since imitated. For example, when it is said that there is fire, the word fire is written with letters like nar.”

An adventurous mouse born among hospitals

books Stilton Geronimo Published in Spain – the second market The most important in sales after Italy, where it was written – 20 years ago, but the character is about 30 years old. Elizabeth Dame (Milan, 1958), daughter of the publisher Piero Dami — a founder in the 1970s for the publishing house Dame Editor — who, after receiving the news of her inability to be a mother in the early 1990s, decides to become a volunteer in the hospital’s pediatric wards. During this volunteering, Dami told stories that she made up as she progressed, and as this became routine, she began to appear Mouse reporter and adventurer who called Stilton Geronimo. In 1997 Dami published his first book in his family publishing house, My name is Stilton, Geronimo Stilton..

When in 2002 the Stilton books (later published in Italy by Edizione Piemme) arrived in Campana, the character was very popular in Italy. but Nobody knows who wrote them. One of the conditions that the Italian publisher set for us to publish in Spain was precisely that we had to promote books that say The author was Geronimo Stilton. Campana explains that it was strictly forbidden to speak of authorship other than that of the mouse himself. “The fact is, this has been very successful.”

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Insisting on Composing the mouse itself It remains to this day. In all works with the public, it is Gerónimo Stilton who speaks, signs books, or appears at planned activities. “At first everyone asked me who the authors of the books were, and I had to publicly defend that the books were written by Stilton himself,” Campana recalls with a laugh.

Actors who play mouse They have to go through the casting, and usually do it again, because they must know the character of the mouse and know how to act like it. The Italian publisher also dictates that no events in which there is a Stilton take place in two cities at the same time, to maintain the idea that there is only one Stilton, and this applies to the different countries in which the books are published. . Even when kids know the person signing their book is an actor in costume, Campagna admits, they prefer to keep the imagination going. “It’s the same thing that happens when you find out the truth about the Three Wise Men” and tries unsuccessfully to recall some uncomfortable situations with fans.

Also, now that it’s public Elisabetta Dolls Behind StiltonHowever, she continues to publicly assert that she is in cahoots with the character. In his encounters with readers, fans ask him how he got to Ratatonia, or if it would be difficult to speak Ratatonia, the character’s native language.

Today, between 20 and 25 Gerónimo Stilton books are published annually. The main group is The origin, called the yellow chain, that have been published More than 90 titles. But there are dozens of series derived from the main series, some starring the mouse himself and others his sister, Stilton Tea, a character created to segment the audience and address the girls directly. All of these books are no longer written by Elisabetta Dummi. Today they have a file writing team Dedicated to the production of stories (about four issues per month), supervised by Dami, who characterizes plots and general lines.

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Who is Geronimo Stilton?

Geronimo Stilton is a rat who lives in Ratatonia. An inventor country in which he runs his most important newspaper, Rodent echo. He is a quiet, gentle, slightly shy and clumsy character, who is somewhat afraid to take on the adventures in which he, as a journalist, finds himself constantly embroiled. And it is those adventures that he tells in his books when he finally manages to solve them, that they are designed for Boys and girls between the ages of seven and twelve.

“I think that The secret of your success is that the world Stilton lives in is fictional, but it makes perfect sense: Ratatonia is inhabited only by mice, but it Ferrets wear suits and ties And they have to sign up for the job,” Campana explains. kiddingwhich stem above all from the fears of the character, and the values ​​she conveys (friendship, the search for truth through journalism, etc.), are, according to her, the keys to the success of the epic.

Boom: Kingdom of Fantasy

In addition to Maintain confidentiality of authorship Of the books, the second condition set by the Italian publisher so that he could bring Stilton to Spain was, as Campana explains, Prohibition of eradication of typographic games.

Was it an instant success? “Well, I had some success at first, but it wasn’t exceptional.” Revolution will come with the first title of the second series of books starring the famous mouse: Fantasy world. They are books that contain scents. In the editorial, we had doubts about the release of this series, because They are expensive books to produce.Campana explains. Not only because of the smells, but also because they have so many pages and that children of seven or eight years old have not usually read such long books. “They finally decided.” This was what brought Geronimo Stilton to world fame. “.

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Campana explains that the first books are still being sold today. “Children read Geronimo Stilton’s stories for three, four, five years, and then they get older and look for other kinds of books, but for the next generation they are new, and they discover them with the same enthusiasm.”

How did the plots evolve over the past 20 years? Has the world the character lives in changed? He replies: “Yes, of course it has evolved, although issues of concern to society now, such as environmental protection, the dangers of the Internet or misuse of screens, have always existed, adapting them to the children’s point of view.” Bill. His personal books also led him to visit places like the Prado Museum in Madrid or the celebration of Sant Jordi in Barcelona. “The fact is, it is A team of screenwriters and writers They’re always adapting stories so Stilton never stops having adventures.”

Product diversification

In addition to expanding the book series, the publisher has launched a variety of products starring Mouse: Comics, video games, cartoons (in Spain, it is broadcast on TVE), magazines, English courses … and even music.

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Now, the bold mouse rights holders get ready landing in hollywood, Produced by Radar Pictures and directed by David Soren, responsible for titles like Turbo or Captain Underpants.

In the meantime, the books will continue to appear on the shelves of bookstores: “It does not stop, we are already planning the titles that will appear until next year,” Campana admits.

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