Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

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Italophile Book Reviews offers personal views on many books that might interest lovers of Italy.  Authors and Publishers:  I review books set in Italy, or about Italy and Italian culture, or about hyphenated Italian culture.  My site is family-friendly. Indie (Self) published books, and small publishing houses are welcome.  Contact:   info @

Italophile Books is an linked shop that has only products Italophiles are sure to love.  Shop with no distractions!  You can click through to the full site at any time, keeping your shopping cart.  Checkout is through's usual secure system.




These selections are for italophile children or children of italophiles.

I've tried to provide something in all age groups:  

  • young children, 
  • pre-teens,
  • teens.

Several are enjoyable for the parents, too.  I provide click-throughs to the stores where you can read comments about the products, and get information from the publishers.  Here are the sections:




For Kindle users:


 Kindle Italy Children's Books


Emilio Salgari - The Italian Jules Verne

Italian author Emilio Salgari wrote over 100 adventure books for young adults and adventurous adults.  He's often called the Italian Jules Verne.  He's probably more comparable to Rider Haggard, and his amazing adventure books.  Or even TinTin's worldly adventures.

  • Read this mini-bio from Roh Press if you wish to know more about Salgari.
  • And here is an enthusiastic review by a newcomer to Salgari's works, who regrets not having discovered him when a teen

La Biblioteca di Babele  has put many of his books on-line in three formats, all in the original Italian. 

  • standard HTML that you can read on-line. 
  • Microsoft Reader. 
  • a ZIP file with the book for download.

Here are direct links to a few of them:

I misteri della jungla nera - The Mysteries of the Black Jungle

Il Re del mare - The King of the Sea

Le due tigri - The Two Tigers

Salgari's books have recently been republished by Fabbri in Italy to great success. 

And if you wish to purchase English translations, try the Roh Press

I've put (to the right) direct links to three of their Sandokan books available via, where you can read reviews by readers.  Roh Press provides lots of information at the Amazon book links, and on their website, about the books, the writer, and upcoming titles.  Here's their latest new release:


Tino and the Pomodori by Tonya Russo Hamilton and Britta Nicholson

Intelligently thought out, Tino and the Pomodori (Tomatoes), a children's book, begins with six illustrations depicting how a tomato seed becomes a seedling, then a plant, then a flowering plant, then the plant growing the tomatoes, and lastly, a crate of harvested tomatoes. The child gets an overview of what he is about to learn, showing that the author and illustrator are experienced educators!

"The sun woke Tino early this beautiful morning in his small Italian village."

The first line of the book introduces Tino, a young boy who lives in Italy. I like that Italy's most famous produce is linked in a child's mind to the country. Tomatoes come originally from Latin America, but no other country has made tomatoes their national produce the way Italy has, using it to make the famous pasta sauce and so much more.

The era depicted in Italy seems from a generation ago, or perhaps from today in some areas of southern Italy. We learn in a Note To Reader at the end of the book that the story of Tino is true, and is about the childhood of a grown man (the author's father). The Note is accompanied by a lovely map featuring the sort of landmarks a child would note.

Italian phrases and words are integrated into the book's text, presenting a child with the concept of another country having another language. The language is easy to understand, with translations incorporated into the text. This book is ideal for starting a child off learning Italian, or for continuing a child's study of Italian as a second language. A Glossary of Italian Terms used in the book is provided at the back of the book.

The full-page watercolor illustrations, by illustrator Britta Nicholson, are rich with authentic details characteristic of the Italian countryside, and of the basic houses and their contents. The plants mentioned are correctly depicted, and correct for each time of year. The art style is na´ve, simple and clear, colorful and endearing.

Children can be prompted to spot different details in the illustrations, with each subsequent reading of the story: the views from the open windows and doors, the cured meats drying overhead, basic cooking ingredients like flour (farina) and olive oil (olio d'oliva), the time on a clock.

The text, together with the illustrations in Tino and the Pomodori, which I received as a review-copy, teaches children about the full growth cycle and the necessary care of tomato plants. There is even a description of how the seeds are harvested from the tomatoes for the following year. Today's urban children are too often disconnected from the sources of their food. Tino and the Pomodori goes a long way to correcting that lack of education.

The text and illustrations in Tino and the Pomodori complement each other perfectly. The basic, practical Italian words are effortlessly integrated into the story. Tino and the Pomodori is the perfect book to broaden a child's education, and to start a child off on learning the Italian language. It is 56 pages long, and available in hardback, to better withstand the multiple readings.

Please visit my Italophile Book Reviews site for the full, illustrated review:


To be published June 25, 2014

Angels by Alexis York Lumbard

A children's book is as much by the illustrator as it is by the author, especially for a book intended for children aged 2 and up, such as Angels.  So much of the tale is conveyed to the child by the illustrations, and illustrator Flavia Weedn's illustrations for Angels are truly heavenly, a perfect fit for this sweet, lovely book.

I think the nicest part of Angels, that I viewed as a review-copy, is the Gift Label just inside the front cover that reads:  To my favorite angel _______ With love from ________.

This book would make a wonderful gift for a young godchild or grandchild, one that the child will want read to them over and over again before going to bed.  And the gift-giver's name will always be a part of the story, the first words read to the child after the book's title.

The soothing, rhyming verse, together with the gentle, ethereal illustrations, are perfect for putting a child to bed and blessing them with peaceful dreams.  The closing lines are just what a parent would say to their child just before the good-night kiss:

Angels, angels, always near, protecting you, my special dear!

See the full review at my blog Italophile Book Reviews.



The Adventures of Pinocchio: Story of a Puppet/Le avventure di Pinocchio: storia di un burattino

Collodi's famous tale in a bi-lingual edition:  the original Italian, and an English translation.  It's illustrated with Mazzanti's illustrations from the earliest editions.  This is an edition for both adults and children, both scholarly and charming for children.  Rave reader reviews.

Visit my Pinocchio page where I link to my free, illustrated e-book version of Pinocchio.

The Thread of Life - Twelve Old Italian Tales by Domenico Vittorini

Illustrated by Mary Grandpre (the Harry Potter illustrator).  Twelve traditional Italian folk tales retold with beautiful illustrations.  Amazon lets you take a peak inside the book.

Italian Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney

Mr. Tierney has a whole series of paper doll books.  Each has a few dolls, plus lots of outfits to dress them up in.  These three are specifically Italian, but you should check out the whole series.  He has Belle Epoch, Elsa Schiaparelli, Medieval...  All priced under 6$.  Amazon lets you ook inside a book.

See my free Renaissance Figures you can print out to color, frame or to make into paper dolls.

Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola

These books are for children 4-8.  This is the first in a series of, by now, classic books about Strega Nona by Mr. de Paola.  From a reader review:  "...I remember mom reading this one to me as a child. It was a bedtime ritual. The story is a fun blend of fantasy, magic, and adolescent mischief that ends with an interesting lesson...."  Amazon lets you look insides this one, and several others.  See my Strega Nona page with more on Mr. dePaola and this book.

Zoe Sophia's Scrapbook:  An Adventure in Venice by Claudia Mauner

For children grades 1-4.  From a reader review:  "Now my daughter keeps her own scrapbook.  This sweet book captures the adventure of travel and the beauty of Venice through the eyes of a nine-year old girl. The novel scrapbook format of the story simply illustrates the importance and value of documenting our experiences and travels. Zoe Sophia inspired my daughter!"  Amazon lets you look inside the book.

Vacation Under the Volcano by Mary Pope Osborn, illustrated by Sal Murdocca

For pre-teens.  This book is from the 'Magic Tree House' series.  From the book description:  "Their magic tree house takes Annie and Jack to Pompeii just as Vesuvius is about to erupt, and they must find a Roman scroll before everything is covered with burning ash."  Amazon lets you look in the book.

Archimedes and the Door to Science by Jeanne Bendick

For pre-teens.  From a reader review:  "I just got done reading this aloud to my home-schooled 6th grade twins. What a treasure! The author weaves together mathematical and scientific principles into a delightful story format. My kids had no trouble understanding the well-illustrated concepts."  Archimedes was a Sicilian from Siracuse, when it was still a Greek colony.  Amazon lets you look inside the book.

Flavia Gemini Series by Caroline Lawrence

For pre-teens and teens.  The mystery series is set in Ancient Rome's Ostia, the capital's port city.  Young Flavia Gemini and her friends solve mysteries as the young readers learn about that time in history.  From a young reader's review:  "The Theives of Ostia is the first of an amazing series of 6. It begins in Ostia, port town of rome in about 90 ad. 4 children meet up to solve a mystery, this book contains many cliffhangers and shocks that will send your mind reeling."  Amazon lets you look inside the book.

The Green Bronze Mirror by Lynne Ellison

First published in 1966, reprinted in 2009 with illustrations Philip Smiley, and now offered for as a free e-book via Smashwords, The Green Bronze Mirror is a wonderful example of out-of-print books getting new life from the new publishing freedom the indie-publishing movement.

The Green Bronze Mirror is a young-adult historical novel set in Ancient Rome under the Caesarship of Nero.  A teenaged girl in Wales in the 20th century finds a Roman-era bronze mirror in the sand at the beach.  When she tries to rub the green tarnish off the mirror, she activates a druid's spell that transports her back in time, to the time of the druid, circa 65 A.D.  The girl then lives a year in the Roman Empire before managing to return to her own time, with seemingly only a few hours having passed in her time period.

Smashwords is an on-line e-book shop and distribution service that offers all their books in various e-book formats including epub, Kindle (mobi), and pdf.  Where adds a surcharge onto Kindle sales to countries without official Kindle Stores, Smashwords does not.  Kindles sold via Smashwords cost the same for every customer no matter where they live in the world.

Smashwords Free E-book Link


Smashwords Free E-book Link
Scorpia an Alex Rider Adventure by Anthony Horowitz

For pre-teens and teens.  Alex Rider stars in a series of adventure books for young readers.  This one takes him to Italy.  From a young reader's review:  "This is by FAR the best book in the series.  Anthony Horowitz must make a new book somehow connecting with this ending.  Absolutely breathtaking."  Amazon lets you take a look inside the book.  This has recently been made into a film, and the films will continue with the other books in the series.





Pavarotti's Opera Made Easy - My Favorite Opera for Children

Amazon lets you listen to all 18 tracks of this CD on-line.  From a parent's review:  "...After he turned 4, he said to me one day -- let's listen to opera, and now we listen to this CD every day. This music gets his blood going; he struts around his room when he listens to this. And, he is in every respect a typical boy who likes Pokemon and the Back Street Boys. So, I consider this CD successful in introducing opera to a youngster."


The Classical Child at the Opera

This opera CD for children has all 14 tracks in English.  From a parent's review:  "My two boys received this album as a gift in tape form. We have listened to it so often we now have to purchase the CD to replace the worn-down tape. We can't live without it! My 6 year old begs for "Figaro!" and my 3 year old loves the Flower Duet! This is a wonderful gift!"





Here are some games and toys related to Italy that you might enjoy for your children.  I've not put more, because the US Amazon does not always ship these products around the world.  It's best to check your local sellers for games and toys.  There are lots of Italian dolls, puzzles, cards, and board games out there!





Holiday Treats




Visit my Sunflower Page

Visit my Italy-Related Coloring pages

Classic Poetry and Stories for Children - The Best Things in Life are Free