When in 1906 Il giornalino della Domenica began its publications, it represented a revolutionary novelty in the panorama of children’s press, still deeply linked in content and graphics to the nineteenth-century tradition. Pages of text, often boring, were enlivened only sporadically by some image. The historical panorama of the period of reference (Boero, De Luca, 2010) illustrates how, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the diffusion of magazines printed with modern photolithographic procedures had greatly reduced the distance between artists and illustrators and supported the gradual freeing of the image from the secondary and marginal role to which it was relegated in Italian post-unification production. The traditional conception that assigns to the image an essentially explanatory and descriptive function in relation to the written word, which is still given absolute dominance in the transmission and dissemination of educational messages, does not change and the figure continues to exist solely as a function of its capacity to translate faithfully and to clearly explain what the content of the text intends to communicate (Pallottino, 1988). Il giornalino della Domenica, however, in the years when it was improper to write for childhood, recorded the collaboration of skilled and sensitive storytellers for children and, occasionally, of well-known writers. While promising the formation of young readers, in fact the magazine always keeps in mind their childlike nature and their relative needs, presenting them with a playful, socialising and moderately “rebellious” strand. The aim is not to teach reading or writing, but to allow children to recognise their fantasies and desires through stories, poems, essays. Hence, there is also a lively, jaunty, chromatically bright and modernist iconography. In it we notice the late Liberty and pre-Deco trends (Pallottino, 2008). What the present paper intends to demonstrate is that, while consciously making use of the example of the most up-to-date children's periodicals that preceded it, Il giornalino della Domenica is undoubtedly the first in Italy to explicitly meet the challenge and impose, in the periodicals press for children, a concept of modern illustration of which the coloured covers, specially composed and designed for each issue, become an undeniable emblem. The importance that Il giornalino della Domenica attributes to the quality of the illustration goes far beyond the defence of aesthetic pleasure and the search for formal modernity, to suggest the possibility of transmitting models and educational messages also through the image, inaugurating a process of the gradual overcoming of the absolute and overwhelming formative domain of the text and its contents (Faeti 2011). The educational project that Vamba intends to carry out, even through illustrations, consciously distances itself from the tensions of the nineteenth century to affirm an idea of a different and new childhood, which is accepted in its ability to possess and exercise a taste, to prefer what is fun from what bores. The images thus also become a tool for the formation of an aesthetic taste in the readers’ consciousness, whose exercise is not limited to the vision and knowledge of the illustrious examples of the past, but extends to the most current forms and to the language of the less immediate accessibility of contemporary art. It is in this sense that, as we will try to demonstrate, Il giornalino della Domenica represented the overcoming of the canon in the periodicals press for children, renewing and imposing itself as a new canon capable of influencing subsequent production.
Barsotti, S. (2019). "Il giornalino della Domenica" during Vamba's First Editorship (1906-1911): Overcoming and Affirming a Canon. In Beyond the Canon (of Children's and Literature). Book of Abstracts. CARCL - Croatian Association of Researchers in Children's Literature.