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The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily (New York Review Children's Collection) Hardcover – December 31, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily is one of the noblest books I know. At once a tragic inquiry and a philosophical history, the novel examines ambition, violence, and revenge in the voice of an adult explaining things to children--a voice that is simultaneously wise, wry, and wrong. Little wonder that it is not only my favorite book, but Lemony Snicket’s as well." --Daniel Handler

"The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily is one of the noblest books I know. At once a philosophical history and a tragic inquiry, the tale also contains a magic wand, a haunted castle, and a giant sea serpent, which automatically make any story much more interesting. Little wonder that it is not only my favorite book, but Daniel Handler’s as well." --Lemony Snicket

About the Author

Dino Buzzati (1906-1972) was a painter, playwright, poet, novelist, short story writer, opera librettist, mountaineer, and science fiction writer, and—from the age of twenty-two until his death—worked as a journalist with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. In writing his books, he drew on folk tales, but he believed that fantasy should be written with all the detail of a newspaper account. Buzzati's most famous book for adults, The Tartar Steppe, shares with The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily a concern with the difficulty of keeping up one's courage in a confusing and often threatening world.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Series: New York Review Children's Collection
  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: NYR Children's Collection (December 31, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170768
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170762
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #251,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Maren Robinson on July 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dino Buzzati's THE BEARS' FAMOUS INVASION OF SICILY has the appearance of a children's book with a much more subversive political message at heart. The book starts with the author's charming illustrations and brief character descriptions- of the Bear Marzipan, the Bear Dandelion, the Bear Merlin, Marmoset the Cat and others. This introduction of the major players and their driving character traits has a theatrical almost overture-like effect of setting the stage for the action that follows.

The plot reads as a magical-realist, forgotten history lesson of Sicily and the long wars and strife between bears and humans. The overriding themes of the book involve the corruption of humans and the real moral risk faced by the bears when they begin to adopt the airs and aspirations of their human counterparts. Few children's books deal with war or politics and none so inventively. It works beautifully for the child reader and adult reader alike. A mature young reader (for example a child who easily picked up on the allegory of the Narnia Chronicles) will discern much about human/bear nature and an adult with some exposure to history will read more into the sections on war and politics. In spite of basic premise (the ease with which power and decadence corrupt) it has a healthy dose of humor, magic and hope to balance the reality.

The New York Review of Books deserves high praise for bringing back the neglected classics for the enjoyment of both children and adults.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Martha McCabe on May 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Parent and grandparents who think children ought to be shielded from reading fiction about love, honor, war, sacrifice, timidity, valor, betrayal, selfishness, vanity, illness, death, renunciation and the importance of self-awareness should on no account give Dino Buzzati's The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily to their small relatives.

In my view, the book allows children of the middle years and older to safely explore and discuss some of the big dark secrets of life, particularly adult life. With its unsentimentally stylish illustrations, intermittent, sometimes howlingly reached rhymes, but most of all its memorable characters, The Bears lives on in this hardcover version published by the New York Review Chidren's Collection.

Smaller in format then the orange cloth-covered original, the new edition sacrifices some of the visual impact of the full-page color illustrations. The pages of the new slick hardcover, too, lack the heft and hand of the immediate post-World War II original with its almost fuzzy post-scarcity paper. Those differences, though, are more than offset by the pleasure of having the book widely available again.

This is a big serious book about love, death, morality, human weakness, betrayal, talents hidden by misleading first impressions and the tendency to underestimate people who do not on first impression win favor in conventional eyes. The motive forces of love and tenderness, the importance and difficulty of discerning who is giving reliable advice, and who is not and why, the need for accuracy of information when making important decisions and of timing in determining whether action will be effective or not--like all good fables, the book teaches important, universal human lessons in readily accessible narrative form.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Andres C. Salama on February 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dino Buzzati (1906-1972) is an Italian writer that should be better known. Two of his books are outright masterpieces: The Tartar Steppe and the Mystery of the Old Forest (the latter one, as far as I know, untranslated into English so far). The Bears Famous Invasion of Sicily, written originally in 1945, is not a masterpiece, but is very much worth reading. In appearence a fable aimed at children, it's really much more. For one, it's pretty violent, so it might not be a good idea to give it to young children. The story, which was only translated into English recently, takes place in a mythical, medieval Sicily, where the bears, led by their king Leander, are forced to come down from the mountains due to the lack of food. Once in the lowlands, and without much thinking about it, they overthrow the human kingdom and take power over them. The story is basically how the bears, who were terribly naive when they were living in the forest, are corrupted by the exercise of power. The book includes some fine drawings by the author itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donna L. Ravaglia on March 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Came across this book in our public library. My 8 year grandson loved it so much he finished it in one reading! (75 minutes)
Maybe it's too violent for some children, but I ordered one for my 6 year old granddaughter and I highly recommend it. Translated from the Italian, part prose, part poetry, and never a dull moment. It's not like anything else I've seen in children's books. And the drawings are fantastic!
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By Brent on October 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book - amusing, whimsical, but it strikes a chord. Highly reccomend this to any Lemnoy Snicket fans out there.
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