Stella, the little princess of the Village of the Mirror, disappeared years ago. The only hope for the end of her parents’ tears is the water spring in the woods and its mysterious message that no one really understands. One day a little gypsy girl appears, tender and bewildered, with two carefree pigtails and a milky-coffee mark on her cheek. She is the only one with the special gift of being able to speak to the spring. In the magic of its reflections, she comes to know Princess Stella who speaks of the coming of a red star.
The people in the village make fun of the little gypsy, but she has Patapa, the local madman who holds a surprising gift of wisdom in a box that everyone thinks is empty. Then there is Nini, a true friend who loves to fire at the leaves with his slingshot and run in the Field of Wonders. There is also the elderly Hale, who understands the appeal and the danger of the spring and knows that it hides a secret for each of us.
Behind the apparently simple story is a profound message for all about hope, friendship and acceptance. The characters are endearing and heartwarming. A wonderful book.
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WHAT DO THEY SAY ABOUT THE BOOK?
There was something rather beautiful about the way this story is written – something I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. The story itself is not exactly straightforward but you get too engrossed by the story and it makes sense in the end. It begins with the Wanderer arriving in a village and then he tells the story to the reader about Scarlett.
Characters are a huge part of this story. Scarlett is a rather interesting girl who reminded me a bit of Ping in the Dragonkeeper books due to the lack of knowledge of a name or history of who she was. I like that she isn’t perfect….oh how so many books nowadays portrayal ‘perfect’ characters – she is reserved, at times cautious and other times reckless, her appearance is deshevelled, and she has the mark on her face. Her affinity with the spring and the strange, but intriguing, reflections she sees deepen the mystery of the story as your mind tries to connect the dots.
And then there is the odd, but loveable, Patapa. Patapa who is labelled as the ‘madman’ of the village. He has his quirky behaviour – such as a tic that sees his arm move and slap his own bottom – and his affection for his beloved ‘squiggels’. Supporting characters such as Nini and Hale add youth and age to the story as well. The thing is, in this story all these characters are well thought out and developed which is something I rarely see in books for this age range.
Overall this is not your typical superficial book that is all too often written for this age group. This book has depth in both the characters and the storyline and I would recommend it in a heartbeat.
Miss Jenny Read more in Miss Jenny’s blog
This is a charming and relatable story with amazing characters which come alive in each chapter. The lessons learned are valuable and insightful. I loved that it felt like a fairy tale but for kids and adults alike. Looking forward to the next book.
Absolutely loved this charming story! It was a huge delight to read an original and interesting new fairy tale, peopled with characters who are believable, sympathetic (and some not), funny and smart, nice and mean, and the story proceeds with clever twists and some very good “lessons” for all of us. The narrator of the story – the wanderer – tells the story beautifully – wonder if he has some more stories to be published? I highly recommend it for children and adults; I think both would enjoy it immensely.
First of all, I would like to thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read such a fantastic and educational book. Simplicity, magic and authenticity are the words to describe this novel. The ingredients for this enchanting masterpiece are: a mixture of Arthurian legends, medieval stories, and prose and fairytales, a pinch of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and “The Emperor’s New Clothing” by Hans Christian Andersen, imagination and creative writing. You add each ingredient with care and put them together by gluing them with imagination and writing skills. And voila! A masterpiece is born.
I find Mr. Matteo Astone’s book suitable for readers of all ages because there will be at least half of them who will see themselves through the characters, especially through little Scarlett. Virtues like: faith, trust, courage, curiosity, modesty, kindness, generosity, happiness and emotions like: anger, sadness, doubt and fear are present throughout the story. The novel is a reminder of childhood and I see it as a journey in which we all have to face identity crisis and have to grow up both physically and spiritually. Mr. Matteo Astone teaches us (the readers) how to make a difference between true friends and false friends and how faith and imagination can do wonders in our lives.
Hale’s wisdom has no boundaries, while Patapa’s way to see things and people is often misunderstood. A little wisdom and craziness never hurt anyone. I felt suspense and curiosity while reading every chapter. It’s a book that you can’t put it down. Mr. Astone opened a portal to an enchanting world where the reader finds the Village of the Mirror and all sorts of magical places that will take the reader’s breath away, mesmerize him and also make him startle.
I recommend “The Little Girl behind the Mirror” by Matteo Astone to anyone who likes to journey into a fantastic world and leave reality behind for a few minutes.
P.S. I think this quote is suitable for Mr. Astone’s book: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” (Leonardo da Vinci).
Georgiana L. Gheorghe
Sweet heartwarming story, great for children and adults. Simple story with endearing characters and a deeply profound message. Highly recommended
A lovely book for both children and adults alike. The language is simple yet never banal. Behind the apparently simple story is a profound message for all about hope, friendship and acceptance. The characters are endearing and heartwarming. A wonderful book for a bedtime story.
This was such a beautiful book. The story at face value is a creative and fresh fantasy, suspenseful and magical. But I also appreciated its messages of faith, and of discovering the beauty of your true self through authentic love. Recommended!
The little girl behind the mirror is what I would call without any hesitation the book of the year! In my opinion is one of the best books I had the chance to read this year as it is a lovely mixture of: metaphors, dream, reality and magical surroundings. The wanderer is each and every one of us as he is searching for deeper meanings of life and while he is wandering around he will also rediscovers his true self!
Matteo has the soul of an ancient storyteller as he created such an amazing universe that really kept the book in my hand until I have finished it! I would love to read more interesting stories and find out more about the Village of the Mirror!
Georgia Lohan, author and blogger
For those who love fantasy. Fantasy novel peppered with mystery. Beautiful book with a deep meaning!
REVIEWS extracts (from the Italian edition)
A simple, clean prose where extreme care is associated with simplicity. The language, always suited to the world of the small village that the author has created, succeeds in conveying the sense of a rhythm of life that is now alien to us.
Tatiana Azzola, writer
Sweetness, simplicity, a bit of magic and madness. Close your eyes, smile and dream…
Extremely evocative landscapes, described with great inventiveness. A well-built story to be fully received by the children, and endowed with that pinch of suspense to be appreciated by an adult reader. The concepts of love and tolerance are passed on to the little ones with delicate elegance, making also the adults reflect on the value of the simple joys and sincere friendship, in opposition to the hypocrisy and the pettiness of the surrounding reality.
Natascia Tiso, University Professor
An experience with the taste of another time, a regretted and sometimes forgotten time.
A book that is magic, that is a fairy tale, a book where one cultivates his dreams, where there are chocolate candies, a sort of wonderland where the reader can come back as a child.
Debora Libardi, book blogger
A bond between fantasy and reality that takes you into a distant world yet so close.
A book that is not just words but becomes pictures and emotions, it envelops you and accompanies you.
WHO AM I?
Matteo Astone is a scientist, a clown, a lover of the social circus and volunteer work. He loves it when all of this is put to play and used to educate whether in hospitals, in sheltered homes, in street slums, with children in all parts of the world. Children have taught him to wonder at the little things in life and dream large. He believes in the special power of children’s stories to help us look at the world with new eyes, to talk about important things in a simple way and to touch the hearts of the young and not so young.
Matteo was born in Padua, Italy, in 1987. He currently works in a cancer research center in Austin, Minnesota. Over the years, he has been a volunteer worker in his hometown and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Thailand, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, and the Philippines, taking his red nose and love for children wherever he travels.
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Email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to hear from you!