2010 Spain

Un libro te espera, búscalo! A book is waiting for you, find it!

Once upon a time
there was a little boat,
that didn't know how to,
that couldn't

One, two, three,
four, five, six weeks went
and that little boat

We learn to play and to sing before we learn to read.  The children of my region and I sang this song before we could read.  We'd form a circle in the street, our voices competing with those of the summer crickets, over and again to sing the woes of the little boat that couldn't sail.

Sometimes we'd make little paper boats and place them in puddles, letting them sink without ever reaching a coastline.

I too was like a little boat anchored in the streets of my neighbourhood.  I would spend my afternoons on a rooftop watching the sun set in the west and foreseeing the distant future – though it still wasn't clear if I was just peering into space or my own heart – imagining a wonderful world that was yet out of my sight.

Behind some boxes, in a wardrobe at home there was a little book that couldn't sail either as no one had read it.  So many times I passed it by, not once noticing that it was there.  A paper boat, stuck in the mud: a lone book, hidden on a shelf behind cardboard boxes.

One day, my hand was searching for something and came across the spine of this book.  If I were a book I'd tell the event as follows: "One day, a child's hand brushed up against my cover and I felt my sails unfold and began to sail".

What a surprise it was when my eyes finally set upon that object!  It was a small book with a red cover and a gold watermark.  I opened it expectantly, like someone who had just found a treasure chest and was anxious to discover its contents.  I was not disappointed.  No sooner had I started to read it I saw that I would be guaranteed adventure; the heroism of the protagonist, the goodies, the baddies, the illustrations with footnotes that I looked at over and over again, the danger, the surprises… everything transported me to a world that was at once exciting and unknown.

And that is the story of how I discovered that beyond my home there was a river, and behind that river a sea, and in the sea was a boat setting sail.  The first boat I embarked was called La Hispaniola, but it could just have easily be called Nautilus, Rocinante, Sinbad's Ship or Huckleberry's Great Big Boat… All of these, no matter the passing of time, will be there waiting for a child's eyes to look upon them, unfold their sails and set them sailing…

So, don't wait any longer.  Reach out and pick up a book. Read it and you'll find that much like that childhood song of mine, there is no boat, no matter how small, that in time doesn't learn how to sail.

Written by Eliacer Cansino, translated from Spanish by Nadya Merghani
Poster illustrated by Noemí Villamuza

Download the poster here

Copies of the poster and the flyer with the message can be ordered from OEPLI: oepli@oepli.org